Updated: 16-Jan-2002 NATO Speeches

16 January 2002
Audio file


of the Press point by NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson and Wolfgang Petritsch, High Representative of the International Community for Bosnia and Herzegovina

Yves Brodeur: Good morning and welcome to this 'point de presse'. We have with us this morning the UN High Representative of Bosnia Herzegovina, Mr. Wolfgang Petritsch. The Secretary General will start with a few words, then Mr. Petritsch and we will take a few questions. Secretary General, please!

Sec Gen: Mr. Petritsch has come to the North Atlantic Council to report on progress being made in Bosnia Herzegovina and the Council has asked a lot of searching questions about what is happening there, but is pleased with the level of progress that is being made. But of course High Representative Petritsch remains concerned about the areas that still need attention. NATO remains absolutely committed to a safe and secure environment in Bosnia Herzegovina and the NATO forces who for the last six years have kept the peace in Bosnia Herzegovina still have got the vital and continuing role to play. Thousands of soldiers from many countries have served in Bosnia Herzegovina and feel proud that not only did they stop the fighting and the killing, but that they have also been an integral part of the rebuilding of strong civic institutions and a strong internal growing democracy.

The North Atlantic Council as you know has a six month review process of the forces in the area, but the level of forces is determined by the mission that is required and not the other way round. We are looking very carefully at the moment at the mission and how it can be achieved remaining robust and flexible in what we do and in what support we give. It is possible that some reductions can be gained, partly through regional rationalisation of forces, but also in looking at the transition to the more civil aspects of maintaining law and order, but no decisions have been taken and the principle of we went in together, we are succeeding together and we will leave together remains the principle and the policy so far as SFOR troop levels are concerned. Bosnia Herzegovina moves in a positive direction and under the expert and highly successful administration of the High Representative Petritsch, more and more ownership has been taken of Bosnia Herzegovina by the people who ultimately will have to take the full responsibility. So we will continue to maintain a safe and secure environment. We will continue to press for the rationalisation of the forces, the local forces inside Bosnia Herzegovina. We will continue to co-operate with the development of civil police inside the country both local and from outside organisations. We remain committed to producing a multiethnic democracy in Bosnia Herzegovina and we will go home when that exists, and not before.

W. Petritsch: Thank you, I am very pleased, Ladies and Gentlemen, with the message that I have received here in the meeting with the North Atlantic Council the way my report was received. The questions that were asked, they all indicate that there is a resolve to maintain the necessary capability of SFOR of NATO in Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to support the civilian implementation. I was able to inform the members of the North Atlantic Council about the streamlining efforts, the so-called, 'recalibrating' of the international civilian presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the need to move even closer when it comes to implementing the necessary and the issues that Dayton is asking us to do there: to move even closer and to co-ordinate even better — not just the civilian agencies underground — but also between the civilian agencies and SFOR. So I believe this is something, which is being supported at NATO and this will indeed speed up, to be able to finish our job there and I am very glad to have again heard the message that the international community, NATO went in there and will also go out there together. This is very reassuring for our civilian work there as well as for the people, for the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Yves Brodeur: Questions please!

Question: Dragan Blagojevic, Jugoslav BETA news agency for Mr. Wolfgang Petritsch. Does that 'recalibrating' of organisations of the international presence in Bosnia mean that you are expecting some kind of revision of Dayton process?

W. Petritsch: No, this has nothing to do with the substance of Dayton. Yes, it has to do with the substance that we want to see an even more efficient implementation. But this does not imply that there is going to be any changes of Dayton. We need to implement Dayton, there is still some room for improvement, there are still some issues that have not yet been fully implemented. We are on the way, but we have not yet reached this so-called point of "no return", where Bosnia Herzegovina is indeed viable in self-sustaining state.

Question: Mr. Petritsch, Gregory Piatt from 'Stars and Stripes'. What concerns did you express to the NAC over the rationalisation in the refitting of forces into the mission of Bosnia. I mean there is some word that some bases and things and soldiers will be closed and I am wondering what concerns you expressed.

Answer: Well, I tell you, I think the message was very clear that I wanted to see an as close co-operation as possible when considering an eventual or possible draw down. I think it is very important now — as I have already indicated — to be very close and to exchange information on the progress both, in the civilian as well as in the military field, when it comes to changes in Bosnia Herzegovina.

Question: Oana Lungescu, BBC World Service. Lord Robertson, would you see any other organisations taking over the civilian maintaining of peace and order in Bosnia, the EU e.g. and Mr. Petritsch, do you have any timeframe for Bosnia joining the Partnership for Peace?

SecGen: In relation to your first question, both the European Union and the OSCE involved an exam of what needs to be done in the draw down of the United Nation's presence inside Bosnia Herzegovina. Both of them have got capabilities in that area, both of them are very interested and have a good success rate and clearly will give whatever help we can to any organisation that is willing to take on that critical new role that is part of the development of a stable civic society.

W. Petritisch: Well the Partnership for Peace criteria are very clear I believe and therefore, once they are fulfilled, then Bosnia Herzegovina should be able to join. We are encouraging to move faster and swift in the reform and restructuring of the entity of armed forces when it comes to civilian control and all these issues are of the greatest relevance and only then I would say Bosnia Herzegovina will be able to join. So it is very much in the hands of the Bosnian themselves when they are ready to join.

Yves Brodeur: Last question for the gentleman in the back, please.

Question: Krasniqi, from ZERI newspaper from Kosovo. Question for Mr. Petritisch: Mr. Petritisch, do you believe that the local Bosnian police force and military structures — which are three of them for the moment — can fit with the reduction of NATO forces at 6.000 numbers?

Petritisch: Well, the overall concern is indeed the security and the status of security and safety of the people in Bosnia and Herzegovina, so the continued — how should I say this — model with three aspects of the entity armed forces of course is detrimental to the overall security situation. This is the first point, the second point is regarding police: I think the UN has so far provided an excellent job in reforming, in downsizing and reforming the police, the local police in Bosnia Herzegovina. I think now, once the UN mandate runs out, which will be by the end of this year, the follow-on mission, which we are right now discussing and designing, will have to take care of this issue even more in the sense of local ownership. Local police forces need to be in the role of the main providers of security and safety for the citizens.

Yves Brodeur: Thank you very much, merci beaucoup!

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