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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