Security Council Extends by Six Months Mandate of United Nations Preventive Force in Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Russian Federation, Abstaining on Adoption of Resolution 1082, Says Mission Fulfilled, Calls for Greater Reduction of Personnel
In a statement before the Council, the representative of the Russian Federation said the mandate should not be extended beyond the new mandate period. There should be a larger reduction in the Force level. The situation in the region had changed, and the Force's mandate had been fulfilled.
By the resolution, the Council called upon Member States to favourably consider requests of the Secretary-General for assistance to UNPREDEP. It also requested the Secretary-General to report to it by 15 April 1997 with his recommendations for continued international presence in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
By the resolution, the Security Council also called upon the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to implement their Agreement of 8 April 1996, particularly as regards demarcation of their mutual border. The Council also reaffirmed its commitment to the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and welcomed improvements in its relations with neighbouring States.
The meeting was called to order at 12:14 p.m. and rose at 12:23 p.m.
Council Work ProgrammeThe Security Council met this afternoon to consider the situation in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The Council had before it a report from the Secretary-General on UNPREDEP pursuant to Security Council resolution 1058 (1996). It also had the text of a draft resolution.
In his report (document S/1996/961), the Secretary-General recommends that the Force mandate be extended for six months, to 31 May 1997, with a phased reduction of the military component by 300 personnel in all ranks by 1 April 1997. During that mandate period, the Secretary-General will consult with United Nations agencies and will recommend to the Council the type of international presence that would be appropriate after the mandate's end.
While he believes that the current strength and configuration of the military component of UNPREDEP was optimal, he states that reversion to the original infantry strength of 700 in all ranks, plus an engineering platoon of 50, would result in savings of $400,000 per month. In consequence, the Force would have to shift from active patrolling to static monitoring, particularly along the northern border.
The Secretary-General states that peace and stability in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are intimately linked to the overall situation in the region. While progress has been achieved since the Dayton Peace Agreement, continuing international political and military involvement in the former Yugoslavia will be required for some time in order to consolidate peace and security. The original threat for which the preventive United Nations mission was deployed -- that conflicts elsewhere in the former Yugoslavia might spill over -- now seems remote. The primary threat today was coming from internal political tension. The UNPREDEP has accordingly devoted considerable attention to strengthening dialogue between the political forces and has assisted in monitoring human rights and inter-ethnic relations.
The composition and strength of the mission's military component remains unchanged, consisting of two mechanized infantry battalions -- a Nordic composite battalion and a United States Army task force, each with a strength of 500 personnel -- and a 50-person heavy engineering platoon from Indonesia. The total authorized military strength is 1,050 troops and 35 military observers. The number of civilian police monitors is 26, and the authorized strength of the civilian component is 168. International civilian and military personnel are drawn from 50 countries. The mission is headed by Henryk J. Sokalski (Poland), Special Representative of the Secretary-General. The military mission is led by Brigadier-General Bo Wranker (Sweden), the Force Commander.
While there has been considerable improvement in relations between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and its neighbours, two meetings of the Joint Border Commission have yet to make significant progress on demarcation of the border with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Pending issues between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece are being addressed by talks under Cyrus Vance, the Secretary-General's Special Envoy. The parties met in New York for several days beginning 6 November and have agreed to meet again.
The domestic political scene continues to be dominated by inter-ethnic tensions, according to the Secretary-General. The Government has established a quota system that provides for proportional university enrolment along ethnic lines, and the Government has cited a steady increase in the number of staff from various ethnic groups in State institutions. Ethnic Albanian political parties have demanded the Government improve the political status of Albanians and officially recognize the "University of Tetovo" within the existing educational system. They have also called for the release of all political prisoners, including the Rector of Tetovo University.
In the run-up to the 17 November local elections, opposition parties raised concerns over discrepancies in the number of eligible voters. An active electoral campaign was conducted by all major political parties, including those that had boycotted the second round of parliamentary elections held two years ago. The first round of the elections proceeded in a "generally orderly manner", states the report.
Text of DraftAlso before the Council was a draft resolution (document S/1996/979) sponsored by France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom and the United States, the text of which reads as follows:
"The Security Council,
"Reaffirming its commitment to the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,
"Noting with appreciation the important role played by the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP) in contributing to the maintenance of peace and stability and paying tribute to its personnel in the performance of their mandate,
"Taking into consideration that the security situation of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continues to improve, but that peace and stability in the broader region have not yet been fully achieved, and expressing the hope that developments in the region will contribute to increased confidence and stability in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, permitting the further drawing down of UNPREDEP towards its conclusion,
"Welcoming the improvement in the relations between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and its neighbouring States,
"Reiterating its call on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to implement in full their Agreement of 8 April 1996 (S/1996/291, annex), in particular regarding the demarcation of their mutual border,
"Welcoming the continued cooperation between UNPREDEP and the mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe,
"Taking note of the letter of 18 November 1996 from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to the SecretaryGeneral requesting the extension of the mandate of UNPREDEP,
"Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 19 November 1996 (S/1996/961) and noting his assessment of the composition, strength and mandate of UNPREDEP,
StatementSERGEY V. LAVROV (Russian Federation) said UNPREDEP had played an important role in preventing the widening of the crisis in the former Yugoslavia and in the stabilization of the internal situation in Macedonia. He commended the Force, and said its mandate had been fulfilled. The situation in the region had changed. Hostilities had stopped, and the process of stabilization was gaining momentum with the support of the international community.
From the Russian Federation's assessment of the situation, the operation should be drawn down, otherwise, there was a risk of the previous achievements of UNPREDEP being wiped out. He noted that the draft resolution for the first time provided for a reduction of the Force level by about a third. The Russian Federation believed it was not enough. In the light of the developments in the region in the past year and the current situation, it did not see the point of maintaining the Force there beyond May 1997.
He said the extension of the mandate proposed under the draft resolution should be the final one. As its position had not been reflected in the draft, and taking account of the views of other Council members and those of the Government of Macedonia, the Russian Federation would not support the draft, but would abstain in the vote. Russia's position did not exclude the possibility of a future international presence, including the United Nations, in the region. He reiterated that the presence of the United Nations military contingent there should cease after May 1997. Russia had no doubt about that and hoped its position would be taken into account.
The draft resolution was adopted by 14 votes in favour to none against, with 1 abstention (Russian Federation), as Council resolution 1082 (1996).