- Approximately 35,000 SFOR troops are currently deployed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with contributions from all members of NATO and from 20 non-NATO countries.
- Ireland joined SFOR on 27th May 1997, and is providing a Military Police contingent. An advance party arrived in Sarajevo in June, and the main body is expected to deploy at the beginning of July. Over the reporting period (23rd May- 22nd June), there were no other significant changes in the overall size and composition of the force. SFOR has continued to conduct reconnaissance and surveillance by means of ground and air patrols, and to make random inspections of weapons cantonment sites. During the period, approximately 17,000 sorties were flown by combat aircraft, while the SFOR helicopter fleet flew over 2,500 hours. Since the end of April, the number of aircraft available has been reduced from 126 to 92. These remaining provide sufficient capability to support SFOR's mission. SFOR's Operational Reserve troops continued their training, which began in April, as noted in last month's report, with the conduct of Exercise JOINT RESOLVE on 16th-22nd June.
- Support continues to be provided to the United Nations Transitional Administration in Eastern Slavonia (UNTAES), with SFOR maintaining its regular, coordinated training missions over Eastern Slavonia in order to exercise plans to provide close air support if necessary.
Cooperation and Compliance by the Parties
- Overall, the Parties are assessed as being substantially compliant with the military provisions of the Peace Agreement. Nonetheless, illegal movements, unauthorized training and inventory shortages continue to be discovered, and illegal checkpoints have again been found and dismantled over the reporting period. All Parties continue to be responsible for violations due to reprisals and maltreatment of other ethnic groups. Some returning ethnic groups have been attacked, houses have been destroyed and some have been forcibly evicted. Further details are provided in paragraphs 5-11 below.
- On 3rd June, an air defence radar at a Bosnian Serb army site was confiscated after being activated on 28th May, outside its approved operational period. The confiscation was completed without incident. An immediate ban was imposed on all Bosnian Serb army flights, until 18th June.
- On 10th June, following an inspection of the General Staff Headquarters of the Bosnian Serb army, SFOR discovered and confiscated a piece of undeclared radio equipment without incident.
- On 18th June, SFOR confiscated heavy vehicles (1 tank and 2 infantry fighting vehicles) and artillery (2 x 76mm mountain howitzers) which had been detected in a non-declared Bosnian Serb army site. The operation was conducted without incident.
- Over the reporting period, SFOR troops conducted a total of 588 site inspections: 190 combat and infrastructure sites belonging to the Bosniacs; 153 combat and infrastructure sites belonging to the Bosnian Croats; and 225 combat and infrastructure sites belonging to the Bosnian Serbs. As a result of these inspections, together with inspections of civil police stations, monitoring of illegal checkpoints and routine patrolling, the following weapons (including those mentioned above) were confiscated: from the Bosniacs, 1 unauthorized military vehicle, 1 EW radio receiver and 1 sniper rifle; from the Bosnian Croats, 1 electronic warfare device and 12 small arms; from the Bosnian Serbs, 1 infantry fighting vehicle, 1 tank destroyer, 1 armoured fighting vehicle, 1 SA-6 radar, 3 x 76mm mountain guns, 2 mortars and 114 small arms; and from civilian elements, 1 armoured personnel carrier, 1 radio and 2 small arms. Most of the confiscated weapons have already been destroyed, and the rest will be destroyed shortly.
- SFOR monitored a total of 1, 268 training and movement activities: 514 by the Bosniacs, 313 by the Bosnian Croats, 434 by the Bosnian Serbs and 7 by the Federation.
- Freedom of movement (FOM) continues to be impaired. Implementation of the new SFOR/United Nations International Police Task Force (IPTF) checkpoint policy, outlined in last month's report, has led to a dramatic increase in the number of unauthorized checkpoints dismantled, and SFOR removed, or participated in the removal of, 53 unauthorized checkpoints over the reporting period - 2 Bosniac, 6 Croat, 18 Bosnian Serb, 2 Federation and 25 unidentified. The new checkpoint policy is receiving a mixed response from the Parties. being implemented with the full cooperation of Federation officials but with less support from Republika Srpska officials.
- Over the reporting period there have been a number of incidents involving the return of refugees and displaced persons. On 21st June, Bosniac refugees blocked the Zenica-Maglaj road to protest against expulsions from several villages in the area by unarmed Bosnian Croats, despite an agreement with local authorities to allow them to work on their homes and farms during the day. The demonstration dispersed peacefully after an agreement was reached between SFOR, the other international organizations in the theatre and the mayors of Maglaj and Zepce. Under the terms of this agreement, Bosniacs were allowed to return to their homes between 7a.m. and 7p.m. daily in order to carry out repairs to make them suitable for future occupation. In Mostar, there have been reports of eviction threats against Bosnian Serbs and Bosniacs living in the Bosnian Croat controlled western part of the city. On 23rd June, Bosnian Croat police attempted to prevent approximately 100 Bosniacs from participating in a Muslim holiday celebration in a village in the Bosnian Croat enclave of Kiseljak. The Bosniacs reacted by erecting road blocks, thereby completely stopping traffic. After the intervention of SFOR troops, using armoured vehicles and helicopters, the ceremony proceeded with the agreement of the police, and the road blocks were dismantled.
- Continued close coordination between SFOR, the IPTF and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has enabled the UNHCR bus lines to continue to operate over the reporting period. Fourteen cross-IEBL lines are now open. The European Union (EU) bus lines operating in ethnic majority areas have also benefitted from this close coordination.
- During the reporting period, the Entity Armed Forces, under SFOR supervision, removed 2,305 explosive devices from 231 mined areas. In the period since October 1996 when the linkage was first made between de-mining efforts and freedom of training and movement, 8, 177 mines and unexploded ordnance have been removed from a total of 775 mined areas. It is expected that the de-mining activity will continue to increase throughout the summer. A training ban was imposed from 23rd May until the 21st June, and was subsequently extended until 7th July, on the 3rd Bosnian Serb Army Corps due to a lack of de-mining effort.
- On 6th June, at a meeting of the Joint Military Commission in Sarajevo, the Army Commanders of the Parties reported on mine clearance, the reduction of cantonment sites and the recovery of vehicles belonging to the United Nations. Revised Instructions to the Parties were issued, reflecting amendments to procedures governing , inter alia, the definition of ordnance factories and the tasking of helicopters for medical evacuations or search and rescue missions.
Cooperation with International Organizations
- SFOR continues to provide assistance, within its capabilities, to the International Organizations in theatre. SFOR liaises directly with officials of the Office of the High Representative (OHR) in Sarajevo, Mostar and Brcko and continues to provide technical experts and assistance in telecommunications and engineering. Air transportation and Information Campaign assets are also provided on a routine basis.
- In cooperation with the OHR, SFOR continues to work towards the opening of airfields within Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the re-constitution of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to reflect equal representation from the entities. However, the Parties have not yet signed Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with SFOR to enable the regional airports of Banja Luka, Mostar and Tuzla to be opened. Added impetus to this initiative was provided at the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) Ministerial Steering Board meeting in Sintra on 30th May, when Ministers insisted that the Parties show progress on opening the regional airports, and reconstitute the CAA by the end of July. If progress is not made by that time, international cooperation with the existing CAA will cease. On 19th June, COMSFOR met with Dr. Silajdzic, the Co-Chairman of the Council of Ministers, to impress upon him the importance of the matter. A meeting of the Council of Ministers was subsequently held on 20th June, at which a large number of amendments were presented by the Minister for Civil Affairs and Communications, Mr. Albijanic. No date for a further meeting of the Council of Ministers has been set.
- The Standing Committee on Military Matters (SCMM) met for the first time on 1st June 1997, in the presence of the United States Secretary of State. The meeting had been called by the out-going High Representative, Carl Bildt. COMSFOR and representatives from the OHR and the OSCE attended as observers. It was agreed to set up a working group to consider a proposed set of Rules of Procedures. After being postponed from 16th June, the first official SCMM meeting was held on 19th June, to consider the draft Rules of Procedures. No agreement was reached on a large number of amendments presented by President Krajisnik, and a revised set of Rules of Procedures is currently being worked on by the OHR in cooperation with SFOR.
- With respect to the forthcoming municipal elections, SFOR continues to guarantee the secure environment necessary for the conduct of voter registration and for campaigning by the political parties. Logistic assistance is being provided, as required, to the OSCE, and SFOR also continues to provide personnel to support the OSCE Joint Election Operation Centre.
- SFOR is continuing to support the IPTF through surveillance, communications, transportation and the ability to call for armed reinforcements. SFOR also provides general area support to the IPTF.
- SFOR provides direct liaison to the UNHCR on a permanent basis, as a member of its International Housing Commission (IHC) and works with the UNHCR on organized returns, especially in the Zone of Separation (ZOS). SFOR has also provided assistance through humanitarian civic action projects aimed at assisting Displaced Persons and Refugees. The SFOR Civil-Military Task Force has now assessed the conditions for return in 83 cities and made this information available to the Repatriation Information Centre which it helped the UNHCR to establish in Sarajevo.
- SFOR is continuing to provide information on cantonment holdings of heavy weapons to the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office for the Article IV Sub-Regional Arms Control Agreement. Recently, SFOR's offer to move heavy weapons to reduction sites was accepted by the Bosnian Serb Army. Multi-National Division (MND) North helped the Bosnian Serb Army to move 39 tanks, 5 armoured personnel carriers and an assortment of howitzers and mortars to reduction sites. On a national basis, some NATO members are providing technical expertise and equipment to the Parties for the destruction of heavy weapons under the reduction provisions of Article IV.
- SFOR is also continuing to confirm with the OSCE that the Parties are notifying exercises, in accordance with the provisions of the Article II Confidence-and-Security-Building-Measures (CSBM) Agreement. If this is not the case, SFOR will not grant permission to hold such exercises. With respect to the implementation of CSBM, a seminar on military doctrine took place on 11th-12th June, in which participants from both entities agreed on a number of elements for their joint military doctrines. These include, inter alia; that armed forces should operate in accordance with the Peace Agreement; that there should be no use of force to solve outstanding issues; that there should be democratic control of the armed forces and the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. In addition, Hungary and Romania carried out an Open Skies demonstration flight over Bosnia and Herzegovina.
- Although the overall situation in the theatre is expected to remain stable, resettlements in minority areas and in key towns such as Brcko over the coming weeks and months could lead to incidents.
- A forthcoming milestone in implementing the Peace Agreement are the municipal elections in September. SFOR will provide the general security framework for the elections as well as other direct support to the OSCE, including appropriate logistic and communications support and assistance. The force will be adjusted accordingly.