14 October 1999

Press Release



The Secretary-General flew to Sarajevo at midday on Monday, 11 October, where he was briefed by his Special Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jacques Paul Klein. He also addressed local and international staff working for the UN mission there, thanking them for being “the face of the United Nations” in the country. (See Press Release SG/SM/7167.)

He then met with the heads of United Nations agencies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, who reviewed with him the status of their programmes.

In the late afternoon, he met with the three-member Presidency of the Bosnian Government -- Arte Jelavic, the current Chairman, Zirko Radisic and Alija Izetbegovic.

At a ceremony at which the Government announced its intention to build a memorial to all United Nations staff members who contributed to peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Secretary-General remarked that the United Nation’s experience in Bosnia was one of the most difficult and painful in its history.

“No one regrets more than we”, he said, “the opportunities for achieving peace and justice that were missed. No one laments more than we the failure of the international community to take decisive action to halt the suffering and end a war that had produced so many victims.”

”We will never forget that Bosnia was as much a moral cause as a military conflict”, he added. “The tragedy of Srebrenica will haunt our history forever.” (See Press Release SG/SM/7168.)

In the evening, the Secretary-General attended a reception for Sarajevo’s political, diplomatic and religious leaders, hosted by Jacques Klein, and then had a private dinner with Mr. Klein.

The Secretary-General began his second day in Sarajevo with a meeting with Col. Graeme Williams, the United Nations Chief Military Observer in Prevlaka. They discussed the current work of the United Nations Mission of Observers in Prevlaka (UNMOP), a strategic peninsula overlooking a waterway dividing the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Republic of Croatia.

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He then travelled to the Foreign Ministry to meet with the Prime Minister of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Edhem Bicakcic, and the Deputy Prime Minister of the Republika Srpska, Sore Loncar. The meeting was hosted by the Foreign Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jadranko Prlic.

They discussed progress made since the Dayton Peace Agreement and where work needs to be done, namely, further integration of the two entities, judicial reform, a multi-ethnic police force and a sustainable economy.

The Secretary-General then met with three members of the Council of Ministers, Co-Chairs Svetozar Mihajlovic and Haris Silajdzic and Vice-Chair Neven Tomic. They agreed on the fundamental importance of judicial reform, not just the adoption of laws, but their fair and consistent application.

Concerning the need to accelerate the return of refugees, the Secretary-General suggested a trial return programme to lure back badly- needed professionals. The Government and the United Nations agreed to discuss this idea further.

The Special Representative, Jacques Klein, then hosted a working lunch for the Secretary-General with members of the so-called Principals’ Group -- the Deputy Commander of the Stabilization Force (SFOR), the two Deputy High Representatives, the Head of the Mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the Head of the Mission of the High Commissioner for Refugees.

After lunch, the Secretary-General went to the Kosevo Hospital, where he greeted the symbolically designated six billionth world citizen, born at 12:01 in the morning to Fatimah Mevic. The Secretary-General presented the mother with flowers and Baby Six Billion with a United Nations peace medal, consistent with a local custom of giving a coin to a newborn child.

The Secretary-General also announced a gift of $50,000 to the Hospital's maternity ward, made up of a $30,000 grant from the United Nation's Foundation, set up by Ted Turner, and $20,000 from the United Nations Population Fund. (See Press Releases SG/SM/7169 and SG/SM/7170.)

He then visited a multi-ethnic Children's Home, where youngsters danced and sang for him. "So my message to you is to build a future of tolerance", he told the children, "a future of diversity, a future of respect for each other, and for us to accept that we are all born equal and we have our individual dignity."

"We failed you", he concluded, "but you should not fail."

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He also made a statement following this visit, the text of which is in Press Release SG/SM/7172.

He then gave a press conference before attending a dinner in his honour, hosted by the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

On Wednesday, 13 October, he flew to Pristina, Kosovo, to visit the United Nations mission there.

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