Meeting of the
9 Dec. 1997
by the Secretary General
One year ago, in London, I addressed the Peace Implementation Council
on how NATO planned to help consolidate the peace in Bosnia in 1997,
in particular by organizing and leading a Stabilization Force. I am
pleased to be able to report that SFOR has carried out these plans
with great success, thanks to the skill and dedication of the men and
women from the 36 countries participating in SFOR.
- There is no fighting in Bosnia. SFOR continues to ensure the
full implementation of the military aspects of the Peace Agreement.
SFOR is actively supporting the IPTF in reforming the police and
enhancing freedom of movement. It is also providing support to the
Office of the High Representative in many fields, including
restructuring the media. It has played a full part in ensuring the
successful conduct of elections.
- Last week NATO Defence Ministers reviewed SFOR's operations
and the situation in Bosnia and took two fundamental decisions:
- The first - that SFOR would continue its firm and even-handed
approach to implementing its mandate and supporting civil
implementation. To do this, SFOR will continue at its current force
levels, subject to some prudent adjustments, until otherwise directed
by the NATO Council.
- The second decision concerns the longer term - the NATO Military
Authorities will develop on the basis of the Council's
politico-military guidance a full range of options for a possible
NATO-led military presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina following the
end of SFOR's mandate.
- Defence Ministers also endorsed an initial set of security
cooperation activities with Bosnia and Herzegovina, to include both
Entities and all three parties. These activities are aimed at
promoting confidence and cooperation among the Bosnian armed forces
and encouraging the development of democratic practices and central
defence mechanisms such as the Standing Committee for Military
- For the duration of its mandate SFOR will continue to guarantee
the peace and secure environment necessary to allow others in the
international community to rebuild Bosnia and return it to normalcy.
Much more work in this regard remains to be done. I see two specific
objectives this Council should address:
- First - we need to send a clear political message from the
International Community that there is no alternative to the Peace
Agreement. We need also to obtain a renewed pledge of full
cooperation at all levels of the Bosnian authorities. We cannot
accept gridlock in the common institutions that are so crucial to
consolidating the peace. We cannot accept that while our own citizens
sacrifice to assist the people of Bosnia in transforming their
war-torn country, Bosnian politicians and officials block progress
over petty differences such as the size of lettering on passports or
the numbers on an automobile license plate.
- Second - concrete commitment. The High Representative and the
International Organisations require our full support in terms of
financial and manpower resources as they strive to implement the
peace. The governments represented here today must, in particular,
devote even more attention and commit even more resources to the
restructuring of local police, led by the IPTF, and to the reform of
the judicial and penal systems in Bosnia.
- Without a climate of public security, we cannot expect progress
in other aspects of the Peace Agreement, including economic
redevelopment, the return of refugees and the fight against
- I would like to conclude by, first, thanking the countries
contributing to SFOR, who have given so much to advance the cause of
peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Advances made by SFOR have been
significant, but not without cost. Since December 1995, 76 soldiers
of IFOR and SFOR have died. 378 more have been wounded. Furthermore,
countries around this table have expended enormous financial and
material resources in support of the same cause. We must do
everything in our power to ensure that these sacrifices have not been
made in vain.
- Secondly, to the members of the delegation from Bosnia and
Herzegovina, allow me to remind you that neither our patience nor our
resources are infinite. We are providing you and your people a chance
to rebuild your country and economy. I urge you to seize this
opportunity before it is too late.
- The rest of Europe is rapidly integrating, economically and
politically, while Bosnia lacks even a common currency or foreign
investment law. Bosnia's Central and Eastern European neighbours are
forging partnerships and preparing to join NATO and other European
institutions. Meanwhile Bosnia remains unable to agree to re-open
airports in its largest cities, or to other issues related to the day
to day life of every other civil society in Europe.
- Mr Chairman, implementation of the Peace Agreement is our common
goal. NATO will continue to play its full part by providing the
leadership of SFOR, which will carry out its mandate firmly and
fairly. The leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina must play their full
part too. I call on them to declare today clearly what steps they
intend to take and when, to meet this responsibility.