The Security Council this morning welcomed a 15 March decision by the Arbitral Tribunal on the dispute over the inter-entity boundary in the Brcko area, by which an international supervisory regime there shall continue with the same powers and responsibilities pending a final arbitration phase at the end of 1998. The regime was established by the Tribunal in February 1997.
Through a statement read out by its President, Abdoulie M. Sallah (Gambia), the Council welcomed the 15 March "Supplemental Award" and called upon the parties to the peace agreement in Bosnia and Herzegovina to implement the decision without delay, as they were obliged to do.
Recalling that the Tribunal's 1997 decision had helped to promote the start of a peaceful, orderly and phased return process in Brcko and the beginnings of the establishment of a multi-ethnic administration there, the Council considered the current decision to represent the best interests of the peace process.
The Council underscored the importance of prompt and full cooperation by the parties to implementation of the Dayton peace agreement in its entirety, including their cooperation with the supervisor for Brcko and with the Office of the High Representative.
The international supervisor is empowered to issue such orders and regulations as might be necessary to guide the parties towards full compliance with the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina -- known commonly as the Dayton accords.
The full text of the presidential statement, to be issued as document S/PRST/1998/7, reads as follows:
"The Security Council welcomes the announcement of the decision on 15 March 1998 relating to Brcko by the Arbitral Tribunal pursuant to Article V, Annex 2 to the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina
and the Annexes thereto (collectively the Peace Agreement, S/1995/999, annex) and to the Award of 14 February 1997 (S/1997/126).
"The Security Council, recalling that the 1997 Award helped to promote the start of a peaceful, orderly and phased return process in Brcko and the beginnings of the establishment of a multi-ethnic administration, considers that the decision of 15 March 1998 represents the best interests of the peace process. The Council commends the efforts of the Presiding Arbitrator and of the International Supervisor for Brcko.
"The Security Council calls upon the Parties to Annex 2 to the Peace Agreement to implement the decision without delay, as they are obliged to do. The Council underscores the importance of prompt and full cooperation by the parties to the Peace Agreement in carrying out their commitments to implement the Peace Agreement in its entirety, including cooperation with the International Supervisor for Brcko and the Office of the High Representative."
The meeting, which was called to order at 1:13 p.m, was adjourned at 1:16 p.m.
Council Work Programme
In considering the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Council had before it a letter from that country's Permanent Representative transmitting the text of the Tribunal's recent decision (document S/1998/248), which states that the supervisory regime established in 1997 shall continue with the same powers and responsibilities.
Among his responsibilities, the international supervisor is mandated to promote and protect the legitimate interests of both parties in the Brcko area, the decision states. He is empowered to remove from office any public official considered by him to be inadequately cooperative with his efforts to achieve compliance with the Dayton accords, to strengthen democratic institutions in the area and to revitalize the local economy. He is also encouraged to take a series of specified measures aimed at economic revitalization.
In March 1997, Ambassador Robert W. Farrand (United States) was selected to serve as supervisor, the decision states. "Since April, when he actually arrived on the scene, Ambassador Farrand and his staff have vigorously and skilfully pressed forward with the Herculean task of building, from scratch, new programmes for achieving real freedom of movement in the area, bringing about the return to Brcko of former residents (particularly Bosniac and Croat residents), creating a whole new system of multi-ethnic municipal governments and revitalizing the local economy."
Security Council - 3 - Press Release SC/6487 3862nd Meeting (PM) 19 March 1998
However, despite those tremendous efforts, the authorities of the Republika Srpska in Brcko, directed by the Serbian Democratic Party headquartered in Pale, had effectively resisted all of the supervisory programmes looking towards Dayton compliance in the Brcko area, the decision states. "The apparent objective of all these Pale-sponsored Dayton violations was to maintain the Serbs-only 'ethnic purity' of the region and thus completely frustrate the Dayton objective of returning Bosnia and Herzegovina to its pre-war multi-ethnicity."
However, the record of compliance by the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina was not perfect, the decision states. It cites "considerable evidence" that Federation authorities acted to inhibit the return of former Serb residents to Sarajevo and other communities within the Federation. That was relevant because several thousand Serbs who formerly lived in Sarajevo were now living in the Brcko houses of Bosniacs and Croats, who would like to return to Brcko but could not do so while Serbs occupying their Brcko homes were unable to return to Sarajevo.
"Nevertheless, during most of 1997, the Republika Srpska's systematic resistance to Dayton in the Brcko area appeared clearly to be tipping the balance of the equities in favour of the Federation's claim to either exclusive or shared control of Brcko", the decision states.
However, the installation of Milorad Dodik on 18 January as Prime Minister of the Republika Srpska might represent a fundamental change in the positions of that entity, the decision states. The new Prime Minister has openly rejected the positions of the Serbian Democratic Party and has called on the Republika to comply with the European Convention on Human Rights as an integral part of the Dayton Agreement.
The decision also cites the new Prime Minister's "recognition of the ideal that Bosnia and Herzegovina should become such an integrated multi- ethnic democratic State that the boundary between the two entities will cease to be relevant". Mr. Dodik has specifically agreed that Bosniacs and Croats should be permitted to return to Brcko and that they should be allowed to control the local administration in Brcko if they earned that right at the ballot box, the decision states.
The Tribunal therefore tends to feel that the final decision on the location of the inter-ethnic boundary line should be deferred until early 1999, at which point it will be able to take into account "any significant development that may have occurred in this critical period of change". A reasonable delay in the boundary decision was likely to provide the Tribunal with a firmer foundation for selecting the most equitable result.
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Pending further action by the Tribunal, which may be requested by either party, the boundary line shall therefore remain unchanged. The Tribunal will entertain and act upon any request from the parties that is received between 15 November 1998 and 15 January 1999.
The current decision also gives notice that "any further Tribunal action is likely to be significantly affected by the degree to which the respective parties have acted in good faith to comply with the Dayton accords and the Tribunal's orders". It provides for a final arbitration phase to take place at the end of 1998.
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