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A safe and secure environment

By Mr. Thierry Domin
First published in
SFOR Informer#111, April 18, 2001

In accordance with its mandate, as stated in General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (GFAP, Annex 1 A), SFOR's mission is to provide a safe and secure environment. The events that took place during the last 10 days all over the country remind SFOR of its core tasks.

It's not without reason that SFOR Informer publishes in this issue several articles about Joint Military Affairs and various operations conducted in BiH. Recent events in the political arena have finally affected the Federation Army (VF), SFOR and the country itself. With the passing of time one can stand back and judge events better.

It is perhaps useful to go back to the origins of the crisis: December 1999, when Croatian President Franjo Tudjman died. General elections following his death brought power to the moderate politicians at odds with Tudjman's hard-line nationalism.
This new approach of regional and international relations was felt as a betrayal by some of the more extremists among Bosnian-Croats. One has to keep in mind that, during the war, a so-called "Croat Republic of Herceg Bosna" was unilaterally proclaimed in the south and southwest of the country, seceding from Sarajevo's central power. The aim of this "republic" was, of course, to join the fatherland of Croatia once the conflict ended.
Appalled by what they looked upon as a denial, B-Croat hard-liners, among them one of the tri-partite presidents of the state, Mr. Ante Jelavic, decided last year to add more pressure in order to obtain new advantages for their community. Fortified by the very narrow success of their party (HDZ, Croat Democratic Party) on Nov. 11, 2000, general elections, during which he organised a parallel and illegal referendum, Jelavic boasted about his being the unique representative of the B-Croats in BiH.
That was not the case. Other B-Croat political parties, even though they are smaller than the HDZ, formed a coalition after the elections with other non-nationalist parties, such as SDP (Social Democrat Party) of Mr. Lagumdzija and SBiH (Union for BiH) of Mr. Silajdzic. This coalition, called "Alliance for Change," finally represented a larger group - with more seats in the different assemblies - than any of the hard-line parties and, among others, the HDZ. It is within the "Alliance for Change" that responsible political leaders have been selected to head the state and the Federation in both the legislative and executive branches. In our countries, one calls that democracy.
Seeking escape
Jelavic did not accept this reversal of the situation. He indeed has been, with his friends, leading the country for the past five years - since the end of the war. Backed by funds of uncertain origin, he had, under cover of the protection of B-Croats rightful interests, attempted to perform a coup. His behaviour was in full opposition to both the Dayton Peace Agreement (Nov. 10, 1995) and the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (GFAP), signed in Paris Dec. 14, 1995. The international community's patience was tested for a long time.
Finally, High Representative Wolfgang Petritsch, noting that dialogue was impossible, sacked Jelavic from his posts as president of the state and president of the HDZ on March 5. Jelavic then started to embellish in several areas, re-iterated his refusal to take part in legislative and executive authorities and called for secession and desertion of B-Croat military, policemen and state servants. The decision of the high representative to appoint a provisional administrator for the "Hercegovacka Banka" sparked the incidents. But the firmness and the wisdom of legally elected authorities, backed by the whole international community, wrecked Jelavic's autonomous and subversive activities. Better, the state and the Federation could be strengthened after those events.
In accordance with its mandate as stated in GFAP, Annex 1 A, SFOR re-established, on a theatre-wide scale, a safe and secure environment.

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