The Security Council this morning extended the mandate of the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP) until 31 August 1998.
By unanimously adopting resolution 1142 (1997), the Security Council decided that the military component of the mission serving in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia -- which will remain at its current strength of 750 troops -- will be immediately withdrawn upon the expiration of that extension.
Further, the Security Council requested the Secretary-General report to the Council by 1 June 1998 on practical aspects of the termination of UNPREDEP, including steps for the complete troop withdrawal immediately following termination of the mandate. The Council also requested the Secretary-General to make recommendations on the type of international presence appropriate as a follow-on to UNPREDEP.
Statements were made by the representatives of the former Yugoslav Republic Macedonia, Germany, Italy, Portugal, China, Japan, France, Sweden, Poland, Kenya, Egypt, Republic of Korea, Chile, United States, Costa Rica and the Russian Federation.
The meeting which began at 12:28 p.m., adjourned at 1:27 p.m.
* Pages 2-10 should indicate P.M. meeting.
Council Work Programme
The Security Council met this morning to consider a report of the Secretary-General (document S/1997/911 and Add.1), in which he recommends that the mandate of the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP) be renewed for an additional six months until 31 May 1998. The current mandate expires on 30 November.
The Secretary-General states that, should the Security Council decide to extend the mandate, the cost of $3.6 million per month to maintain the Force at its reduced strength until 31 May 1998 would be within the resources already appropriated by the General Assembly in June.
In recommending the extension of the mandate, the Secretary-General states that peace and stability in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continues to depend largely on developments in other parts of the region. The uncertainty of the outcome of the presidential elections in Serbia and its possible repercussions have raised concerns in the area. Increased violence in Kosovo has also raised fears of a spillover effect on ethnic Albanians in the host country. Similarly, the slow progress in implementing the civilian aspects of the Dayton Peace Accords in Bosnia and Herzegovina, particularly in the Republika Srpska, has underscored the need for a longer-term commitment by the international community in that country.
In his report, which covers developments in the mission area since his report of 11 August (document S/1997/631), the Secretary-General recommends that the present strength of the Force be maintained at the 750 troop level, pursuant to Council resolution 1110 (1997). By that resolution, the Council decided on a two-month phased reduction of the military component by 300 all ranks to be completed by 30 November.
By that date, the Secretary-General continues, the strength of UNPREDEP would consist of the following: two mechanized infantry battalions, each with a strength of 350 personnel; a 50-person heavy engineering platoon; 35 military observers; and 26 civilian police monitors. The authorized strength of 203 in the civilian component, including local staff, would be cut by at least 14 posts.
The Secretary-General states that by the end of the troop drawdown, the total number of observation posts would have been reduced from 19 to eight, all of which would be situated at the most sensitive border points. The reduced capacity of the reconfigured Force to monitor the areas along the northern and western borders of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia would partly be compensated by the increased patrolling flexibility and more frequent resort to temporary observation posts. The civilian component of the mission has been involved in monitoring and reporting on developments that might affect the maintenance of peace and stability in the country. It has also pursued the good offices mandate vested in his Special Representative to
Security Council - 3 - Press Release SC/6451 3839th Meeting (AM) 4 December 1997
assist in promoting mutual understanding, and has advanced the use of preventive techniques.
The reduction of the military component can be viewed as the beginning of a phased exit in response to the improved situation in the region, he says. Any decision to further decrease the military component could not be implemented before the spring of 1998 -- due to the severe winter conditions in the region -- and the Council may wish to observe the effectiveness of the initial reduction before contemplating its next step.
While he intends to return to the Council with recommendations for further reductions, the Secretary-General submits the following two broad options for consideration:
-- In addition to the current 35 United Nations military observers, UNPREDEP would consist of two task forces composed of a total of 400 soldiers operating from three to four base camps. The predominant task of the military would be to act, through their presence, as a psychological deterrent. The limited, yet flexible and mobile, capability of the Force would still allow monitoring and patrolling in critical areas, including by establishing temporary observation posts. Such a force would also contain a rapid, self-defence reaction capability.
-- A total of 100 United Nations military observers would operate from eight team offices, located throughout the Republic's northern and western border areas. That option would provide a reasonably flexible patrolling and monitoring capability.
Reviewing recent developments, the Secretary-General states that domestically, inter-ethnic tensions and socio-economic difficulties continued to negatively affect the strengthening of the country's stability. The political scene continues to reflect strains between the ruling coalition and the opposition parties, which are still calling for early parliamentary elections. The Government has advanced work on the new electoral laws, on which it intends to consult both the opposition and international institutions, including the Council of Europe. Measures are under way to make the recently created Office of the Ombudsman fully operational. That office could play an important role in safeguarding the constitutional rights of citizens and promoting the concept of the rule of law.
The most notable positive development of recent months has been the beginning of an inter-party dialogue, under the auspices of the President of the Republic, he continues. As a consequence of that dialogue, on 23 October, a joint statement was signed by the leaders of 11 political parties on three major issues: the country's integration into the European Union, membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the country's relations with its neighbours.
Security Council - 4 - Press Release SC/6451 3839th Meeting (AM) 4 December 1997
The Secretary-General's report also provides information on the activities of United Nations organizations, agencies and programmes that are engaged in different forms of assistance to the country. Several of them have established permanent offices in Skopje while others, as part of an imminent exit strategy, have been encouraged by UNPREDEP to take over responsibility in their respective areas, pending the arrival of a Resident Coordinator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to assume the coordination functions temporarily carried out by the Special Representative.
According to the Secretary-General's 11 August report, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has stated that the Albanian parliamentary elections, held from 29 June to 6 July, should be the foundation for a strong, democratic system in Albania. Taking into account those new developments, the Secretary-General concludes that it is advisable to pursue the implementation of the Council's decision to start, as at 1 October, the two-month phased reduction of UNPREDEP's military component. In addition, he has instructed his staff to begin consultations with the host Government, other international organizations and interested Member States on the type of international presence that would be most appropriate for the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia after 1 December 1997.
In a letter to the Secretary-General, dated 3 November, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (document S/1997/838 and Corr.1) requested a 12-month extension of the UNPREDEP mandate. The Minister expressed his Government's concern at the continued sources of destabilization in the region, citing in particular the situation in Montenegro and Kosovo, and in Bosnia and Herzegovina; the lack of security along the border with Albania; and the absence of progress in the demarcation of the border with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
The Council also had before it a draft resolution (document S/1997/948) sponsored by Costa Rica, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Russian Federation, Sweden, United Kingdom and the United States, which reads as follows:
"The Security Council,
"Recalling all its previous relevant resolutions concerning the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, in particular its resolutions 1105 (1997) of 9 April 1997 and 1110 (1997) of 28 May 1997,
"Recalling also its resolutions 1101 (1997) of 28 March 1997 and 1114 (1997) of 19 June 1997, which expressed the Council's concern over the situation in Albania,
"Reaffirming its commitment to the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,
Security Council - 5 - Press Release SC/6451 3839th Meeting (AM) 4 December 1997
"Reiterating its appreciation for the important role played by the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP) in contributing to the maintenance of peace and stability and paying tribute to its personnel in the performance of their mandate,
"Reiterating its call on the Governments of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to implement in full their Agreement of 8 April 1997 (S/1996/291, annex), in particular regarding the demarcation of their mutual border,
"Welcoming the phased reduction and restructuring of UNPREDEP troop strength which has taken place pursuant to its resolution 1110 (1997),
"Taking note of the letter of 31 October 1997 from the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to the Secretary- General, requesting the extension of the mandate of UNPREDEP (S/1997/838, annex),
"Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 20 November 1997 and the recommendations contained therein (S/1997/911),
"Taking note of the Secretary-General's observations that there have been a number of positive developments in the overall situation in the area, in particular the stabilization of the situation in Albania, but that peace and stability in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to depend largely on developments in other parts of the region,
"Bearing in mind the intention of Member States and interested organizations to consider actively the instituting of possible alternatives to UNPREDEP,
"1. Decides to extend the mandate of UNPREDEP for the final period until 31 August 1998, with the withdrawal of the military component immediately thereafter;
"2. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council by 1 June 1998 on the modalities of the termination of UNPREDEP, including practical steps for the complete withdrawal of the military component immediately after 31 August 1998, and to submit recommendations on the type of international presence that would be most appropriate for the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia after 31 August 1998;
"3. Decides to remain seized of the matter".
Security Council - 6 - Press Release SC/6451 3839th Meeting (AM) 4 December 1997
NASTE CALOVSKI (The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) said the action of the Council to extend UNPREDEP would be important in supporting peace and stability in his region. The mission could now continue its important preventive deployment operations. Concerns raised about matters in the region were real and it was appropriate for the Council to consider those matters when deciding to extend the operations.
He said that during the next nine months the situation would not improve as much as hoped and for several reasons his Government had requested a 12-month extension of the mission. He noted that the UNDP would soon be opening its office in his capital, relieving UNPREDEP of some of its current responsibilities.
GERHARD HENZE (Germany) said UNPREDEP operated in a volatile and unstable region. With preventive missions -- which UNPREDEP was a model of -- it was difficult to gauge the degree of success. It was also difficult to decide when a preventive mission had completed its task. While there could never be absolute certainty that the preservation of stability was due to the mission, there seemed to be agreement that UNPREDEP had been a success story of the United Nations.
The Council should not take chances by ending the international military presence before a sufficient degree of stability was achieved throughout the region, he said. Thus, he supported the extension of UNPREDEP for nine months. He also looked forward to the Secretary-General's recommendations on what type of international presence should remain after the expiration of the UNPREDEP mandate.
FRANCESCO PAOLO FULCI (Italy) said UNPREDEP had promoted dialogue among the political forces and ethnic communities. It had also provided humanitarian assistance to the local population and enhanced social integration and institution building. The operation had made a decisive contribution to the stabilization of the political situation in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. However, the peace and stability that the country was enjoying depended largely on the developments in other parts of the region. The international community could not ignore the precariousness of that situation.
While the situation in Albania had improved in the past months, tensions persisted, he said. Circumstances would make any withdrawal of UNPREDEP forces at the current stage premature and risk sending the wrong signal. With the original purpose of UNPREDEP being to prevent destabilization, the situation must be considered in the context of regional developments. He supported the nine-month extension of UNPREDEP in its present configuration. That nine-month period appeared to be the minimum requirement for ensuring
Security Council - 7 - Press Release SC/6451 3839th Meeting (AM) 4 December 1997
that proper successor arrangements would be in place at the termination of the operation.
ANTONIO MONTEIRO (Portugal) said UNPREDEP had performed with remarkable success and he supported the Secretary-General's intention on the exit strategies of the Force. The continued uncertainties in the region made it important that the programme be pursued with caution. The success achieved so far should not be jeopardized. He supported the extension of the mandate.
QIN HUASUN (China) said the general situation in the region was stable and continued to improve. He was pleased to note that the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and countries in the region were working to improve their relations and he hoped they would continue to do so. The actual situation on the ground should be taken into account in the implementation of the withdrawal programme. He would vote in favour of the draft resolution.
HISASHI OWADA (Japan) said his Government attached great importance to the stability of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as a key to the maintenance of peace and security of the entire Balkan region. The UNPREDEP represented one of the most successful examples of the preventive deployment of peacekeeping forces. The international community should remain sensitive to the factors that could undermine the stability, such as the still fragile situation in the neighbouring countries and the inter-ethnic relations within the country itself.
He agreed with the Secretary-General's suggestion on the commencement of the termination of the UNPREDEP operation and took note of the observation that any decision to further downsize the military component could hardly be implemented before the spring of 1998, owing to the severe conditions in the region. Furthermore, he said, ample consideration should be given to the exit strategies and to the type of future international presence that would be most appropriate. He would vote in favour of the draft resolution.
ALAIN DEJAMMET (France) said UNPREDEP had been a success, helping to prevent the spillover of the crisis in the Balkans. It demonstrated how a United Nations mission could help prevent the unleashing of negative events. Such a model could be used in other crisis regions, such as Africa. There was still cause for concern, due to risks relating to Kosovo. The modalities of the international presence in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia would at some point need to be altered, but that action should not be rushed. He would vote in favour of the resolution.
ANDERS LIDEN (Sweden) said that since the situation on the ground had improved, it was now possible to start considering alternative forms of international presence in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The withdrawal of the military component of UNPREDEP in August 1998 must not mean the end of international support for the sovereignty and stability of the host country. Therefore, his Government looked forward to the Secretary-General's
Security Council - 8 - Press Release SC/6451 3839th Meeting (AM) 4 December 1997
recommendations in June 1998 on how to assist the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
The success of UNPREDEP highlighted the importance of the concept of preventive action, he said. The lesson learned was that the international community, and particularly the Security Council, must act early and choose adequate measures from the wide range of conflict resolution instruments available. In addition, for such a mission to be considered a success and an example for the future, it should not be prolonged indefinitely and without change. As circumstances on the ground evolved, the international community must be prepared to adjust the instruments of conflict resolution accordingly.
ZBIGNIEW M. WLOSOWICZ (Poland) said his country believed that UNPREDEP had played an important and highly effective role in the preservation of peace and security in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and in the region. Its deployment and activities had clearly demonstrated the justification for and the merit of the concept of preventive diplomacy. The further presence of the United Nations Force would undoubtedly have a stabilizing and confidence- building effect in the country and the entire region.
His Government was concerned about: the increased violence in Kosovo; incidents on the border; the slow progress in implementing the civiian aspects of the Dayton Peace Accords in Bosnia and Herzegovina; and a lack of progress in the demarcation of the border between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. He believed the nine-month extension of the mandate was sufficient.
NJUGUNA M. MAHUGU (Kenya) said the presence of UNPREDEP in the region had brought an improvement of relations between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and its neighbours. Since its deployment five years ago, UNPREDEP personnel had worked hard to prevent the spillover into the host country of conflicts occurring elsewhere in the region. The UNPREDEP had also promoted conflict resolution among the various political forces and ethnic communities. By reaching out to the vulnerable segments of society through institution-building, UNPREDEP had built confidence between the people of the host country and the mission. Other United Nations missions, present and future, could benefit from such an approach.
He said slow progress in implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords underscored the need for a longer-term commitment by the international community in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Developments in neighbouring countries and the threats posed were unpredictable. For example, there were 3,500 Bosnian refugees in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and only 252 had returned to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Thus, a long-term commitment by the international community was needed in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Security Council - 9 - Press Release SC/6451 3839th Meeting (AM) 4 December 1997
MAGED A. ABDEL AZIZ (Egypt) expressed thanks for the preventive role of the United Nations operation in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The Council in 1992 had laid the basis for the first preventive deployment operation by authorizing the deployment of the United Nations Protection Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNPROFOR) to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The change of the name to UNPREDEP better reflected the true role of the Force. The decision to extend the mandate for nine months was appropriate, taking into account the current situation in the region. He hoped that the study of the preventive experience would support future preventive deployment of operations in trouble spots. Also, he looked forward to the Secretary-General's recommendations on a future international presence following UNPREDEP.
PARK SOO GIL (Republic of Korea) said, although headway had been made in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, his Government shared the concerns regarding the lingering uncertainty and volatility of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania and Kosovo. Also, the lack of progress in border demarcation between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, as well as domestic inter-ethnic strains, warranted attention. He supported the extension of UNPREDEP and welcomed the compromise reached among the Council members to extend the operation for nine months. He hoped the Secretary-General could, in due course, recommend an appropriate and viable successor arrangement to UNPREDEP.
JUAN LARRAIN (Chile) said the Force had, since its establishment, played an important role for stability in the country and in the region as a whole. However, adverse factors still prevailed. Despite the progress made in relations between the country and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, no definitive agreement had been reached on the demarcation of their common border. Ethnic tensions also continued. Those problems had strengthened his conviction that the level of stability required had not yet been reached. He would vote in favour of the draft resolution.
BILL RICHARDSON (United States) said UNPREDEP had been an unequivocal success. The United States remained deeply concerned, however, that significant risks remained in the region and on the borders of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The evidence of increasing violence and tension in Kosovo and along the Albanian border underlined the fact that now was not the time to remove or further reduce the military component of the highly successful mission.
FERNANDO BERROCAL SOTO (Costa Rica) said his Government welcomed the work of UNPREDEP, which had prevented the spread of the conflict in the Balkans. In addition to that achievement, UNPREDEP had provided humanitarian assistance and other support services. He was concerned about continued regional stabilization. For that reason, the presence of UNPREDEP was still required. Also, when the UNPREDEP mandate did come to an end, appropriate
Security Council - 10 - Press Release SC/6451 3839th Meeting (AM) 4 December 1997
mechanisms must be in place to assist in maintaining stability. He supported a final extension of UNPREDEP for nine months.
The draft resolution was adopted unanimously as resolution 1142 (1997).
SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said that the original mandate given to UNPREDEP was not appropriate for maintaining stability in the region. The centre of gravity should now shift to the civilian sector, with a focus on the civilian police. The positive experience of UNPREDEP should be strengthened. Taking into account the position of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the recommendations of the Secretary-General, his Government had demonstrated its flexibility in agreeing to the final extension of UNPREDEP for nine months, with the immediate withdrawal of the operation's military component following that period. He looked forward to the report on the termination of UNPREDEP, including practical steps for the military withdrawal. He suspected that the Secretary-General would provide suggestions on the ultimate format for a follow-up to UNPREDEP.
* *** *
Security Council - 11 - Press Release SC/6451 3839th Meeting (AM) 4 December 1997