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Ceremony in Miljevena

By Sgt. Michael Maddox
First published in
SFOR Informer #93, August 2, 2000

Miljevina - During a ceremony in the town of Miljevina July 20, Multi-National Division Southeast commander, French Maj. Gen. Robert Meille, met with local officials to discuss work German and Spanish SFOR soldiers had completed in the town and to talk about future projects.
The work completed so far in Miljevina includes the repair of 2 kilometers of road in only two weeks, 52 lights and fences at the local school were replaced, free medical and dental assistance were provided to area citizens, as was a mine awareness course. All of this work cost 6000 DM less than the original estimate at the start of the work.
During his visit, Meille told members of the town council the work shows how the town and SFOR can work together toward a common goal.
"These works show how SFOR and MND-SE take care of the local community," he said. "We help link the communities and that is the most important point."
The council members also discussed their thanks for the help SFOR has provided.
"I want to thank you on this event," said the town mayor. "I want to thank you for the work you have done in the local community. I hope that we will continue with this cooperation."
Meille then went on to explain to the council that while SFOR is willing to help, the town must also be willing to help itself.
"I studied the situation before coming here. There were 6000 people living in Miljevina before the war, 3000 Serbs and 3000 Bosniaks. Less than 300 have come back," he explained. "The international community is not satisfied with such few returns.
"The international help will become more accurate when the local authorities make the efforts and show a desire to help returnees who want to come back," Meille added. "I am here to support you in these directions, chosen and approved by the international community and your political authorities."
Meille went on to say that he has seen some signs of this progress, but much more is needed.
"Some municipalities started to sign agreements to re-establish the economic circulation that existed before the war," he said. "The international community will help with these initiatives if concrete is done.”
He added, work is also needed in the area of law enforcement.
"No Bosniak has come back so far and no eviction of illegally occupied houses has been ordered," said Meille. "You could, for example, insist on the fact that the town school is a mixed school for Bosniak and Serb children."
"I know that this is a difficult job Mr. Mayor, but you will have no help as long as you won't take on your responsibilities," he said. "There is still a long way to go, but we can see there are some positive signs."

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: France
SFOR at Work