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SFOR helps to preserve national monuments

By 1st Lt. Luis Sanchez
First published in
SFOR Informer#115, June 13, 2001

As stated in the General Framework Agreement for Peace (GFAP), Annex 8, SFOR troops are ready to provide support to international organisations and local authorities also in all matters related to national monuments.

Stolac A soft force has been deployed on the outskirts of Stolac, a village south-east of Mostar. This time its mission differs from patrolling and monitoring; but not less important, its task today is to support local authorities and International Police Task Force (IPTF) as needed.
Stolac is located in the area of responsibility of the Spanish Battle Group, Multinational Division - Southeast (MND-SE). That's why these forces are carrying out this task; it helps the local police and IPTF in their duty of maintaining law and order. A company-size unit has been prepared, in reference to the GFAP, Annex 8, agreement on commission to preserve national monuments. The subject in dispute was the ruins of a mosque, known as Emperor's Mosque, that is believed to have been constructed by the Ottoman Empire over a Christian Temple; the site is on the list of National Monuments in BiH.
Ambassador Colin Munro, regional representative of the high representative, chaired a meeting with local authorities at the office of OHR (south) June 1. Dr. Zdravko Kuzman, mayor of Stolac, Hadzi Seid ef. Smajkic, Mostar Mufti, Don Rajko Markovic from the Stolac Parish, Brig. Gen. Castro, deputy commander of MND-SE, Col. Roland Sinteff, regional commander of the IPTF and Javier Fernandez, special envoy of the high representative for Stolac were present. Participants welcomed the construction of a fence on this site, with a sign wearing the appropriate inscription, in order to ban any work except that authorised by the GFAP.
Today, a wooden fence has already been erected and in front of it people can see a sign explaining the reason (GFAP, Annex 8), trespassing is forbidden and the Spanish troops are in charge of the implementation of the decision.
Several BMR (a Spanish-made APC) and cars were deployed along the road, not in an intimidating way, but quite the opposite to create a safe and secure environment. Spanish soldiers from the 11th Infantry Brigade remain all day, without impatience, standing ready to deal with any eventuality. All the equipment has been checked; one Squadron is located in the entry to the village, the other on the exit. The atmosphere is calm; people are friendly and salute the cavalrymen; they know that they are there to assist them.
Slowly, the sun is setting, normality is the best news, the coy moves on leaving the zone towards the Spanish Camp, leaving behind them Stolac, a nice place. For all of them the mission has been accomplished in the best way: the proof is they had "nothing significant to report."

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: Spain
SFOR at Work