|Updated: 03-May-2002||Week of 15- 21 April 2002|
NATO reasserts its commitment to Bosnia and Herzegovina
The Secretary General, Lord Robertson, and NATO's 19 Permanent Representatives on the North Atlantic Council travelled to Bosnia and Herzegovina on 18-19 April, to reiterate NATO's commitment to a safe and secure environment in the country. During the trip, Lord Robertson announced that NATO will be reducing SFOR troop levels this year, but stated that "We came to assure people that NATO is not going away and we will remain in sufficient numbers and with sufficient strength to do the job we set out to do".
NATO's high-level delegation met the Commander of SFOR, Lt. General John Sylvester, the Tri-Presidency (Mr Beriz Belkic, Mr Jozo Krizanovic and Mr Zivko Radisic) and senior representatives of the international community, including the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ambassador Wolfgang Petritsch. They discussed the general situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and focused on a series of internal reforms that need to be implemented to ensure that the country reaches the stage where it will no longer be reliant on the international community for its future development and security. Lord Robertson stressed this point during a press conference at Sarajevo airport: "So, NATO troops have done a great job but there is still a lot more that needs to be done. But the responsibility for doing that lies in the hands of the people in this country and the people they elect to run it. General Sylvester and all of the forces of SFOR are doing a superb job and the NATO Council is very proud of them. But the next stage is in the hands of the people of this country and they must take ownership of their land."
The areas of reform which have been identified are the enhancement of state-level institutions, the return of refugees, cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and public security. In the area of defence, more specific reforms were advocated: army restructuring, civilian control of the armed forces, a transparent defence budget and reductions in the armed forces.
This visit comes just one month after the visit of the
Tri-Presidency to NATO HQ on 13 March 2002. The North Atlantic Council
last travelled to Bosnia and Herzegovina in July 2001.