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SFOR supports HR's actions on Hercegovacka Banka

By 1st Lt. Javier Donesteve
First published in
SFOR Informer#111, April 18, 2001

Sarajevo - A joint operation by OHR (Office of the High Representative), IPTF (International Police Task Force), Federation Financial Police and SFOR was carried out April 6 to take over the head office and branches of the Hercegovacka Banka. This was in support of the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina Mr. Wolfgang Petritsch's decision of appointing a provisional administrator in the said bank, in the person of Ms. Toby Robinson.
The decision was based on the exercise of the powers that Article V, Annex 10 (Civilian Implementation of Peace Settlement) of the GFAP (General Framework Agreement for Peace, or Dayton Peace Agreement) vested in the high representative. Due to the lack of transparency, unclear activities and a demonstrated relationship between the bank and the illegal so-called Croat National Congress (HNS), whose activities creating parallel structures in BiH, have been recently condemned by the United Nations Security Council.
The goal of the operation was to provide to the provisional administrator and her personnel full and unrestricted access to the bank and all its records, in order to secure the assets, protect the interests of its depositors and prevent any illegal actions. This aim was only partially accomplished due to the violent response of the bank employees and other "spontaneous" participants.
The action took place in Mostar, Medjugorje, Grude, Siroki Brijeg, Posusje, Orasje, Vitez, Livno and Tomislavgrad, places where the majority of the population is B-Croat, with different results. Forces from the three SFOR multinational divisions were involved.
SFOR's task was to ensure the security in the surroundings of every Herzegovacka Banka branch office, using minimum force, as well as providing the support needed. Meanwhile, OHR and IPTF personnel entered the branches.
The reaction was organised and extremely violent, especially in Cantons 7 and 8 (Mostar and Western Herzegovina) including throwing of stones and setting of barricades among other displays, with the result of 22 SFOR soldiers and other international officials injured, two vehicles burned and three others seriously damaged.
Officials of the international community, including U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, European Union's High Representative for external affairs Javier Solana, or Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe), Romanian Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana, have strongly condemned the violence against international representatives, as well as fully supported the high representative's actions.

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