The Security Council this afternoon extended the mandate of the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP) for a six-month period, until 30 November, and called upon States to consider favourably requests by the Secretary-General for assistance to the Force in the performance of its mandate.
Through its adoption of resolution 1058 (1996) by 14 votes in favour to none against, with 1 abstention (Russian Federation), the Council also asked the Secretary-General to review the composition, strength and mandate of the Force, and to report to it by 30 September.
Speaking before the vote, the representative of the Russian Federation said it was time to consider reconfiguring the mission, in view of the improved situation in the region. While there was no question of winding up the operation, his country felt a four-month extension would have been more appropriate under the current circumstances.
The first speaker this afternoon was the representative of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. He expressed appreciation for the presence of the Force in his country and said its mandate should not be restructured. The threats to his country had not yet been overcome, and such issues as border demarcation remained. The UNPREDEP had helped preserve peace and security in a volatile area and thus contributed to world peace.
Statements were also made by the representatives of Italy (for the European Union and associated States), Germany, United Kingdom, Chile, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Botswana, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Egypt, Poland, France, United States and China.
Speakers drew attention to the unique role played by the United Nations first preventive deployment mission in promoting dialogue within the country and exerting a calming influence throughout the region. During the current fragile stage in implementation of the peace agreements in the former Yugoslavia, UNPREDEP's presence was seen as an important stabilizing element.
The meeting was called to order at noon and adjourned at 1:14 p.m.
Security Council Work Programme
The Security Council met this morning to consider a report of the Secretary-General, (document S/1996/373 and Add.1) recommending that the mandate of the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP) be extended, in its present configuration, until 30 November.
According to the report, the Force has a military component of two mechanized infantry battalions -- a Nordic composite battalion and a United States Army task force -- supported by a heavy engineering platoon from Indonesia. It has a total authorized military strength of 1,050 troops, 35 United Nations military observers and 26 civilian police monitors. Its total authorized civilian component is 168. On 13 February, the Council, by resolution 1046 (1996), authorized 50 additional military personnel to provide continued engineering capability and asked for recommendations on the Force's composition, strength and mandate.
The Secretary-General stated that UNPREDEP has helped the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia establish its statehood and consolidate security. The Government believes the Force is still needed to maintain stability, preserve gains and avoid undermining the still fragile peace in the Balkans -- a view shared by the leadership of other political parties and various ethnic groups in the country, as well as by troop contributors. The UNPREDEP continues to be a success for the United Nations, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and for the region as a whole, says the Secretary- General.
The Government of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, in a letter to the Secretary-General dated 8 April, advanced the following arguments to support the mandate's extension for another 12 months: the sensitive phase of the implementation of the Dayton Agreement, which faces risks and complications; the potential regional threats, especially in nearby Kosovo, and the non-demarcation of the border with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia; the country's inadequate defensive capabilities; and the positive role of UNPREDEP in establishing democratic structures and policies of good neighbourliness.
It is impossible to be sure of the effects of withdrawing UNPREDEP now, the Secretary-General says, but the Government's arguments have much force. There are less threats to the country's stability than in November 1992, when he recommended UNPREDEP's preventive deployment. However, it is too soon to be confident about the region's stability. Full implementation of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina is far from assured; the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's borderline with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, where UNPREDEP does much of its patrolling, has not yet been demarcated; the dispute between the former Yugoslav Republic of
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Macedonia and Greece has not been completely resolved; and internal inter- ethnic tensions persist. The Secretary-General expresses the hope that those potential threats to the country's stability and security will diminish during the coming months but, for the moment, he believes it would be imprudent to withdraw UNPREDEP.
However, the question remains whether UNPREDEP can execute its mandate with fewer resources, the report states. Replacing the Force's current military units with United Nations military observers -- although technically and operationally feasible -- will severely disadvantage its core function of monitoring the border between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia with only modest savings. Until now, UNPREDEP has stationed the right mix of soldiers in the right locations and patrolled areas within its theatre of operations with maximum vigilance and efficiency. At least 250 observers would be needed to replace UNPREDEP's two infantry battalions and, even that number would be a poor replacement for the current accurate reporting system.
The issue is whether the current volume of patrolling and the number of observation posts is absolutely necessary, the Secretary-General says. Recalling that he had originally recommended one infantry battalion with an approximate strength of 700 all ranks, he notes that the Council subsequently decided to add a second battalion, enabling the Force to increase the scope of its patrolling and observation. Further changes for the better in the country and the region during the coming months might make it possible to revert to the original recommendation.
In the addendum to the report, the Secretary-General states that should the Council decide to extend the mandate for a further six-month period, the cost for the extension period would be $26.2 million.
Also before the Council is a draft resolution (document S/1996/392), sponsored by France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom and the United States, which reads as follows:
"The Security Council,
"Recalling all its previous relevant resolutions and in particular its resolutions 1027 (1995) of 30 November 1995 and 1046 (1996) of 13 February 1996,
"Reaffirming its commitment to the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,
"Noting with appreciation the important role played by the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP) in contributing to the
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maintenance of peace and stability and paying tribute to its personnel in the performance of their mandate,
"Noting that the security situation of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has improved, but recognizing that it is too early to be confident that stability has been established in the region and expressing the hope that future developments in the region will not undermine confidence and stability in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia or threaten its security,
"Welcoming the signing of the agreement between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia of 8 April 1996 (S/1996/291, annex) and urging both parties to implement it in full, including the demarcation of their mutual border,
"Welcoming also the progress achieved in improving relations between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece on the basis of the Interim Accord of 13 September 1996 (S/1995/794, annex I),
"Further welcoming the close cooperation between UNPREDEP and the mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe,
"Taking note of the letter of the Charge d'affaires a.i. of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to the Secretary-General of 11 April 1996 (S/1996/389),
"Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 23 May 1996 (S/1996/373 and Add.1) and in particular his assessment of the composition, strength and mandate of UNPREDEP,
"1. Takes note with appreciation of the report of the Secretary-General of 23 May 1996;
"2. Decides to extend the mandate of UNPREDEP for a period terminating on 30 November 1996;
"3. Calls upon Member States to consider favourably requests by the Secretary-General for necessary assistance to UNPREDEP in the performance of its mandate;
"4. Requests the Secretary-General to keep the Council regularly informed of any developments on the ground and other circumstances affecting the mandate and further requests the Secretary-General to review the composition, strength and mandate of UNPREDEP and to report to the Council by 30 September 1996 for its consideration;
"5. Decides to remain seized of the matter."
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DENKO MALESKI (The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) said his Government appreciated the presence of UNPREDEP as the first preventive United Nations force. Its mandate should not be restructured. The threats to his country had still not been overcome and the situation with Kosovo must be borne in mind. His country also had a reduced defensive capability following the withdrawal of the army of the former Yugoslavia and economic difficulties as a result of the sanctions imposed by the Security Council. The UNPREDEP would help preserve peace and security in a volatile area and contribute to common efforts towards world peace.
LORENZO FERRARIN (Italy), also speaking for the European Union and Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Slovakia, Poland, and Norway said UNPREDEP had contributed decisively to the stabilization of the political situation in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia sheltering it from the dangers of a spill-over of the Bosnian conflict and helping to ease ethnic tensions within its territory. The Force represented an important precedent in the preventive deployment of United Nations forces, and was a success story whose results must not be wasted or jeopardized.
He said the Secretary-General's report brings out an unquestionable improvement in the situation in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia but the situation contained troublesome elements of precariousness. In the first place, peace and stability within its borders were still dependent to a large extent on developments in the rest of former Yugoslavia, and especially on developments in the implementation of the peace agreement in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the second place, internal ethnic tensions persisted. Third, the economic situation was still fragile and precarious.
Any withdrawal of UNPREDEP forces would be premature and potentially dangerous, and risk sending the wrong signal. Italy supported the resolution. He noted the Secretary-General's assessment that a replacement of the Force with United Nations military observers would create severe disadvantages and only modest savings, welcoming his intention to review questions relating to the concept and strength of UNPREDEP, and to inform the Council on it.
Reviewing positive developments mentioned in the report, he cited the signing of the agreement between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on 8 April.
He also welcomed the progress achieved in improving relations between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece on the basis of the Interim Accord of 13 September 1995 and expressed full support for the Secretary-General's Special Envoy, Cyrus Vance. The situation in the former
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Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia should not be considered in itself, but only in the broader context of developments in the former Yugoslavia. Given the precariousness of the progress so far, a continuation of UNPREDEP was of crucial importance not only for the stability and security of that country, but also for the contribution that it could make to restoring a lasting peace to a region that in recent years had been torn by a long and painful conflict.
GERHARD HENZE (Germany) said the Government of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia believed it was in the best interest of its country that UNPREDEP continued its mandate without substantial changes. The troop- contributing countries had make it known that UNPREDEP's mandate should be reaffirmed for another six months. The Secretary-General's report laid out with remarkable care and clarity the arguments for and against a possible extension of UNPREDEP's current composition and mandate. The comprehensiveness of his analysis made a compelling case, and concluded that the Force's mandate in its present configuration should be extended for a further six months. Germany fully supported that recommendation.
He said it had been argued that the situation of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had improved to such an extent that UNPREDEP could be drastically downsized or at least given a much shorter mandate. Although the situation of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had improved, when the overall situation in the former Yugoslavia was examined, it would be unwise to be overly confident that reliable, lasting stability had already been established in the area. That was the strongest reason to continue UNPREDEP for at least another six months. Germany was not opposed in principle to change the configuration of UNPREDEP or reduce its size. The draft resolution explicitly pointed to the possibility to change in UNPREDEP's composition at a later stage in the light of further changes for the better in and around the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
He said that yesterday, during informal consultations, the Council President had recalled an important principle according to which "every peace- keeping operation should not only have a beginning but also an end". Germany fully subscribed to that principle and would be among the first to welcome a situation in which peace and stability had been secured in the region in such a manner that UNPREDEP could be sent home. Unfortunately that point had not yet been reached. With UNPREDEP, peace and security in the area still had to be secured.
Sir JOHN WESTON (United Kingdom said that UNPREDEP was a strikingly successful example of preventive action by the United Nations and had come to be seen as "a symbol of the international community's commitment to Macedonian sovereignty and territorial integrity". It was gratifying to the United Kingdom, which had been so closely involved in the international efforts to
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restore stability to the Balkan region,, that real progress had recently been made towards solving those difficulties.
The last six months had been great strides towards the restoration of stability throughout the Balkan region, he said. "So far, so good." But the new-found stability remained fragile, and it would be wrong to imagine that the achievements to date could not be reversed or that they were immune from future developments, principally in Bosnia, as implementation of the Peace Agreement entered a critical phase. That was why the United Kingdom believed that now was not the time to withdraw UNPREDEP, or to change significantly the structure of its mission. It had therefore co-sponsored the draft resolution. To extend for a shorter period would be unwise.
However, he continued, particularly at a time of financial stringency within the United Nations system, it was right that the Secretary-General should continue to keep all peace-keeping missions, including UNPREDEP, under review. The Secretary-General would undertake a thorough review of UNPREDEP by September. He would be ready to consider the Secretary-General's recommendations to ensure a better use of scarce United Nations resources, so long as any such recommendations were compatible with UNPREDEP's ability to carry out its mandate. The time would come when the Council would judge that UNPREDEP had fulfilled its mandate.
JUAN LARRAIN (Chile) welcomed the positive work being done by UNPREDEP. That preventive deployment force represented a model which might be applied much more frequently to keep crisis situations from deteriorating into more grave problems which would be more difficult to resolve. The UNPREDEP had also engaged in confidence-building measures through which it exercised a calming influence throughout the region.
He welcomed the enormous progress in improved relations between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and its neighbours. He also appreciated the progress made internally, with the establishment of democratic and pluralistic institutions. However, regional instability persisted. Inter- ethnic tensions were aggravated by the precarious economic situation, comprising a long-term threat to the country's social structure. The question must be analysed in a broad, regional context.
Application of the Dayton Agreement had brought about significant progress, he said. However, further efforts were needed. Chile supported the extension of UNPREDEP's mandate. Any other course might bring about consequences that all would regret. However, that did not mean the Force should be prolonged indefinitely.
NUGROHO WISNUMURTI (Indonesia) fully endorsed the extension of UNPREDEP's mandate for a further six months, consistent with the request of
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the Government of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The UNPREDEP's continued presence was necessary to preserve the gains already achieved, help in establishing democratic structures, and avoid undermining the still fragile structure of peace in the Balkans.
He said UNPREDEP was playing an active role in promoting political dialogue with all political factions and ethnic groups. It was a significant instrument in facilitating dialogue, restraint and compromise. Its military component provided a calming effect at the country's northern and western borders, and also offered various community services, as well as humanitarian assistance to the local population.
Today, there was a remarkable transformation in the regional environment within which UNPREDEP operated, he said. The guns and mortars were for the most part silent. Agreements had been reached between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the former Yugoslavia regulating relations and promoting cooperation between them. Progress had also been made between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece.
Nevertheless, the peace process in the region remained at a delicate stage, and the termination of UNPREDEP would be premature, he said. The need to review its composition, strength and mandate in the light of future developments was recognized in the draft resolution. Continued success of the mission was contingent upon the political will of the parties to refrain from activities detrimental to peace and security.
PARK SOO GIL (Republic of Korea) said UNPREDEP had been largely successful and played a very constructive role in promoting internal political stability by facilitating dialogue and compromise among various segments of society. It had also provided much needed humanitarian aid to the local population and assisted with national capacity-building. The situation in the different parts of the former Yugoslavia were inextricably linked. Therefore, the Balkans must be considered as a whole when UNPREDEP's future was being considered. The structures in the former Yugoslavia were flimsy at best. Although direct hostilities had ceased in Bosnia and Herzegovina, there was a long way to go before a sustainable peace could be realized. The return of refugees and displaced persons and their resettlement was a formidable task. The holding of free and fair elections was also daunting.
The situation in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and its relations with its neighbours were also volatile, he continued. Despite improvements, inter-ethnic tensions were a concern and the economy, devastated by years of war, was a destabilizing factor. Relations with Greece were still delicate. The country's border with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia still had to be demarcated. It would therefore be premature to consider the downsizing or withdrawal of UNPREDEP. Given the fluid situation in the
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Republic and throughout the Balkans, his Government welcomed the Secretary- General's intention to keep the Council informed of developments on the ground and looked forward to his recommendations regarding the composition and strength of UNPREDEP.
SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said UNPREDEP represented the United Nations first preventive peace-keeping operation. Its deployment had played an important role in preventing the spread of the Yugoslav conflict. There had been dramatic improvements in the situation in the region. It would therefore be strange if UNPREDEP were to be maintained in the same form as it was when there were active hostilities. It was now time to consider reconfiguring the mission, to adapt it to changing situations.
He said it was necessary to take account of the United Nations financial situation and the need to address peace-keeping requirements in other international hot spots. The proposal to employ observers was feasible. At a time when the armed struggle in Bosnia had come to a close, it would be logical to reduce manpower. Nevertheless, in view of the need to maintain stability in the region, there was no question of winding up the operation.
The Russian Federation had proposed extending UNPREDEP's mandate in its present form for four months, he said. That proposal had not been accepted. His country would abstain in the voting.
MOTHUSI D.C. NKGOWE (Botswana) said that under normal circumstances, UNPREDEP would now be winding up its mission. However, the peace that had been engendered by the Dayton Accords had not yet reached the stage of irreversibility. The people still had threats about the security of their country and would feel abandoned if UNPREDEP was to be ended now.
Botswana believed that peace-keeping missions should do their job and then depart, he said. However, UNPREDEP still had a role to play in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and should remain in the country at its current force and composition, so that it may carry on its good work. Nevertheless, it was important that every effort be made to use the scarce resources in the most rational manner.
ADELINO MANO QUETA (Guinea-Bissau) said UNPREDEP played a very important preventive role in the region, particularly at the current delicate stage of implementation of the Dayton Accords. He therefore supported maintenance of the Force at its current strength, while hoping that progress in the region would enable its subsequent reductions.
JULIO ANTONIO RENDON BARNICA (Honduras) said UNPREDEP's deployment had led to a growth of confidence within the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, as well as in its relations with its neighbours. Threats to the
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country were no longer as grave as they were in 1992. Nevertheless, the region as a whole had not been stabilized, the peace agreement had not been fully applied in Bosnia and Herzegovina, border questions remained unresolved and inter-ethnic problems persisted, peace and security could not be guaranteed. It was therefore necessary to maintain UNPREDEP at its present strength and composition. Honduras supported extension of UNPREDEP's mandate.
NABIL A. ELARABY (Egypt) said UNPREDEP was one of the major successes of the United Nations in the field of preventive diplomacy. Progress in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was linked to progress in the entire region. The agreements reached between that country and its neighbours should not be used as a reason to reduce the Force. Its core function of monitoring the border must be ensured. Adoption of the draft resolution would help in the maintenance of peace in the region of the former Yugoslavia.
ZBIGNIEW MARIA WLOSOWICZ (Poland) said the decision to extend UNPREDEP's mandate was the right one. The mission had proven that preventive deployment might be an effective form of peace-keeping, when carried out at the right time and with a clear mandate. The Force was involved in good offices, early warning, fact-finding and it facilitated dialogue between groups within the country. Through those activities, it promoted peace and stability.
He said the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had gained international respect, joining a number of international and regional bodies. The threats to its security were less dangerous now than when UNPREDEP was first deployed and international agreements had been reached. However, the demarcation of borders must be completed. It must be also remembered that the country still faced many difficulties, including the need for economic reform, and enduring ethnic, political and social tensions. The presence of the United Nations Force would undoubtedly have a stabilizing influence.
Action on Draft Resolution
The draft resolution was adopted by 14 votes in favour to none against, with 1 abstention (Russian Federation), as Council resolution 1058 (1996).
ALAIN DEJAMMET (France) said the text of the resolution essentially reflected the Secretary-General's recommendations and his Government had voted in favour of it. Clearly, UNPREDEP had played a stabilizing role in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, whose Government wished it to continue its mandate. Undoubtedly, there had been progress and the political and economic situation had been strengthened. The signing on 8 April of the agreement between the Federal Republic of Yugoslav and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had been a priority for countries of the European Community and was most welcome.
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However, he continued, the demarcations of the common border between the two countries still had to be worked out. It would be premature to reduce the weight and authority of UNPREDEP, but there was no reason why, in six months, the Council could not reconsider the situation. Now, it was important for Member States to make up UNPREDEP's funding arrears which totalled $770 million, $591 of which was owed by a single contributor. Such a shortfall in payments was a burden to troop contributors and a solution was urgently needed.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT (United States) said that UNPREDEP's purpose was to prevent conflict in the region from spreading into, and possibly beyond, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. For three and a half years, it had met and passed the test. Her Government was pleased with the role its forces had played in the Force's accomplishments. The question before the Council was whether UNPREDEP should continue. Clearly, the situation in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was far different and more stable than when UNPREDEP was first deployed. The fighting in Bosnia and Herzegovina had stopped and there had been the 8 April agreement between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. She commended the improvement in bilateral relations between the latter government and Greece.
However, as the Secretary-General's report pointed out, it would always be a matter of judgement as to when a preventive operation was no longer required, she continued. Certainly the imminent risk of war had been reduced, but the peace process in Bosnia and Herzegovina and elsewhere in the former Yugoslavia remained fragile. The UNPREDEP's presence had a reassuring, stabilizing and confidence-building effect in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and within the region. It provided a measure of assurance that was well worth the costs, at least for the period of the mandate. The next six months would be critical in consolidating gains in the region. Any change to UNPREDEP's mandate or configuration would have a potentially destabilizing effect on the Balkan's peace process. It was vital to avoid adding any uncertain elements to the critical mid-September elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The United States concurred with its fellow troop contributors that UNPREDEP should stay at its current strength and continue to perform its mission, she said. Her Government believed strongly that peace-keeping mandates should be examined periodically to determine whether they were still necessary or could be implemented with fewer resources. The UNPREDEP was no exception, and should not continue indefinitely. The United States would certainly consider a reconfiguration, if warranted, in future.
The Council President, QIN HUASUN, speaking in his capacity as the representative of China, said that ever since its deployment, UNPREDEP had
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carried out its tasks. The situation in the region of the former Yugoslavia was moving towards stability. The sovereignty and territorial integrity of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia must be respected. That country's agreement with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia served the interests of both countries, and helped promote peace, stability and security in the region.
He said that United Nations peace-keeping missions, including preventive deployment operations, should be terminated when they were completed. The UNPREDEP should be brought to a point where it could terminate its mission in a smooth fashion.
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