- Approximately 35,000 SFOR troops are currently deployed in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, with contributions from all members of NATO and from 20 non-NATO countries.
- Over the reporting period (23rd June-20th July), there were no 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 3,500 sorties were flown by combat aircraft, while the SFOR helicopter fleet flew 109 hours.
- 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.
- On 10th July, on the basis of an indictment issued by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the Hague, SFOR forces in the vicinity of Prijedor acted to detain two persons indicted for war crimes. One, Milan Kovacevic, was immediately transferred to representatives of the ICTY, in accordance with procedures contained in the May 1996 Memorandum of Understanding between SHAPE and the ICTY. The other, Simo Drljaca, fired at the SFOR soldiers as they approached and challenged him for the purpose of detaining him. One SFOR soldier was wounded in the process. Drljaca was killed when fire was returned in self defence. Immediately after the incident, SFOR took appropriate measures to increase awareness of the security situation and of possible threats to SFOR and other personnel.
Cooperation and Compliance by the Parties
- Overall, the Parties are assessed as being substantially compliant with the military provisions of the Peace Agreement. The situation in the theatre remains generally stable, despite increased tensions in the Republika Srpska.
- The attitude towards SFOR throughout the Republika Srpska in the aftermath of the Prijedor incident has remained generally negative, but thus far has not led to any widespread or significant actions by the general populace. The main reactions to the incident have been non-cooperation and low-level harassment. Between 13th and 20th July, however, 12 hostile acts were directed at international organizations and SFOR troops deployed in the Republika Srpska. In most cases, explosive devices were used, with the purpose of intimidation. Damage was relatively minor, but one SFOR soldier was slightly injured by flying glass. Newspaper editorials and media comment on the events which led to the death of Drljaca have been hostile and in many cases inaccurate.
- During the reporting period, SFOR carried out a total of 559 site inspections: 194 combat and infrastructure sites belonging to the Bosniacs; 184 belonging to the Bosnian Croats; 179 to the Bosnian Serbs; and 2 belonging to the Federation. As a result of these site inspections, and routine SFOR monitoring of actvities in the area, the following weapons were confiscated: from the Bosniacs, 180 rifles and 2 mortars; from the Bosnian Croats, 11 rifles, 2 light machine guns, 2 mortars, 12 rocket launchers, 3 howitzers and 2 M53 anti-aircraft systems; from the Bosnian Serbs, 20 SA7 launchers, 17 long-barrelled weapons, and 1 pistol; and from civilians, 3 long-barrelled weapons, 9 pistols and 1 small machine gun. Most of the confiscated weapons have been destroyed, and the rest will be destroyed shortly.
- SFOR monitored a total of 870 training and movement activities: 347 by the Bosniacs, 244 by the Bosnian Croats, 278 by the Bosnian Serbs and 1 by the Federation.
- SFOR continues its efforts to facilitate Freedom of Movement (FOM). Implementation of the new SFOR/United Nations International Police Task Force (IPTF) checkpoint policy, established in May, has led to a further decrease in the number of illegal checkpoints; over the period, 23 illegal checkpoints were dismantled - 2 Bosniac, 3 Bosnian Croat, 12 Bosnian Serb and 6 unidentified. Republika Srpska police forces have not been supportive of SFOR and IPTF activities, and have accused SFOR of improper weapons confiscation and checkpoint dismantlement, which they claim undermine their policing capabilities. Republika Srpska police continue to use illegal checkpoints on a limited basis. Overall, there has been a marked increase in the movement of people and goods around the country, with a large number of people crossing the Inter-Entity Boundary Line (IEBL) every week for planned visits or events.
- De-mining activity has increased over the summer months, with the Entity Armed Forces, under SFOR supervision, removing 2,260 explosive devices from 249 mined areas. With effect from 30th June, and until 12th August, training has been restricted to platoon size and below for the Bosniac 2nd Army Corps, for the 3rd Bosnian Serb Army Corps and for the Bosnian Croat ORASJE Group as a result of their non-compliance with the countermine campaign.
- On 27th June, there were two meetings of the IEBL Sub-Commission, between the Federation/Bosniac and Serb delegations and between the Federation/Croat and Serb delegations. The Bosniacs and Serbs discussed exchanges of territory in Western Bosnia, whilst the Croats and Serbs discussed areas along the Posavina corridor. Progress was made at both meetings. A further IEBL Sub-Commission meeting, scheduled for 4th July, was postponed until 11th July at the request of the Republika Srpska delegate, but was subsequently cancelled because that delegation decided not to participate. Nonetheless, the Republika Srpska submitted four map proposals for IEBL corrections in the Doboj pocket and in the Kijuc and Posavina areas. These proposals have been delivered to the other parties.
Cooperation with International Organizations
- Within its capabilities, SFOR continues to offer assistance to the International Organizations in theatre. This support is provided both by local forces and by SFOR's Combined Joint Civil-Military Task Force.
- SFOR continues to support the OSCE Joint Election Operation Centre, and has provided 7 HQ SFOR staff and 11 CIMIC staff to the Centre. SFOR is also working with other members of the international community to plan for security operations during the September municipal elections period. An Elections Response Group will be formed shortly, composed of representatives from SFOR, the other international organizations in theatre and the Parties, in order to respond to any crisis which might develop. SFOR is also involved in supporting the OHR's efforts to improve access to the media, aiming to create better conditions for free and fair elections. The Information Campaign Radio (Radio MIR) has recently moved location in order to ensure better coverage, particularly into the Eastern part of Republika Srpska, and SFOR is assisting the OHR and the OSCE in the establishment, respectively, of the Open Broadcast Network and the Free Elections Radio Network. An SFOR Media Action Working Group has also been established, with the aim of re-vitalizing the information campaign.
- SFOR continues to support the OSCE in its responsibilities under the Article IV Sub-Regional Arms Control Agreement. Recently, officials representing the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office met with SFOR officials in Sarajevo in order to design a format for use by SFOR when passing cantonment data to OSCE experts in Vienna. This new format, which is already in use, means that the data being passed to the OSCE is much more suited to the Organization's needs. SFOR also remains ready to transport heavy weapons from cantonments to reduction sites, where they are destroyed under the terms of the Article IV Agreement.
- SFOR continues 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.
- Support continues to be provided to the Office of the High Representative (OHR), through the provision of SFOR technical experts, assistance in telecommunications and engineering, air transportation and through the Information Campaign. SFOR is working with the OHR, the OSCE and others in providing balanced access to information through the Bosnian media and expanding coverage by alternative television and radio networks. This support will continue on a routine basis.
- Over the reporting period, SFOR and the OHR held several meetings with the Parties on the initiative to open up to civilian traffic the regional airports of Banja Luka, Mostar and Tuzla. SFOR and the OHR have held consultations with the Parties to try and resolve outstanding issues and work will continue.
- SFOR continues to support the OHR in the establishment of a fully-functioning Standing Committee on Military Matters (SCMM). The SCMM has still to agree its Rules of Procedure, a revised version of which has been issued by the OHR. The Joint Presidency has addressed the issue on several occasions without reaching final agreement, although outstanding issues have now been narrowed down to membership and chairmanship.
- SFOR provides direct liaison to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on a permanent basis as a member of the International Housing Commission (IHC), chaired by the UNHCR. Local SFOR forces contribute substantially towards facilitating refugee returns through information gathering, co-ordination with the UNHCR and other organizations, negotiations with local authorities and close monitoring of the situation on the ground.
- SFOR is currently providing assistance in over 250 civil projects ranging in cost from DM 500 to over DM 1 million. Notable projects include: the management of the Brcko-Tuzla rail project; support to the Telecommunications Emergency Reconstruction Plan; and the disposal of expired drugs for the World Health Organization.
- On 12th July, the Combined Joint CIMIC Task Force hosted a working group meeting to design a strategy for prioritizing and accelerating small projects throughout the theatre, the main objective being to prioritize, track and coordinate a system to identify funding sources and then to link them up with CIMIC project coordinators in the Multi-National Divisions. Priority will be given to those projects which provide the most incentive to economic, social and political stability at the municipal level.
- SFOR also provides a liaison team to the World Bank. Senior liaison officers will meet later this month to discuss the allocation and administration of the funds pledged by the Japanese Government for economic recovery in the Republika Srpska.
- Several International Organizations have had to curtail travel in selected areas of the Republika Srpska as a result of the unrest there. As noted above, there have also been isolated acts of harassment or violence, with the result that CIMIC Task Force Liaison Teams have received numerous requests from the other International Organizations in theatre to review internal security and employee safety policies and plans. The Task Force expects additional such requests from the OSCE, the OHR and the UNHCR as the municipal elections approach.
- A first specially-conducted NATO course on international security for Bosnian military and defence officials was held at the NATO School in Oberammergau, Germany, from 23rd June-4th July. Military and defence officials representing both entities and the three ethnic groups in the country participated. Approximately half of the course was devoted to the challenges of the peace consolidation process in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the speakers included Ambassador Eide, the United Nations Secretary General's Special Representative in Bosnia, as well as UNHCR officials. The course fully realized the overall objective of contributing to the process of reconciliation, and it is intended to conduct further such courses in December 1997 and January 1998.
- The overall situation in the theatre is expected to remain stable, despite continuing increased tension in the Republika Srpska. SFOR will continue to carry out its mission firmly but fairly, without tolerating any recourse to force or violence, or the unauthorized deployment of military or paramilitary forces. Temporary force adjustments within each Multi-National Division for the election period are expected to be made in mid-August.