THREE-MEMBER PRESIDENCY OF BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL, ANNOUNCES NEW YORK DECLARATION19991115
On the eve of the fourth anniversary of the 1995 peace agreement that ended the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the three members of the joint Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina this morning briefed the Security Council and announced the "New York Declaration" in which they reaffirmed their commitment to the peace agreement, noted the progress made since then, and pledged themselves to facing the challenges that remained.
Following the 1995 General Framework for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina -- also known as the Dayton/Paris peace accords -- the central government structure in Bosnia and Herzegovina was established in 1996 with a three-member Presidency (one Croat, one Moslem and one Serb), with a rotating Chairman, as well as a two-chamber Parliament. Below the national level, the country is divided into two self-governing entities, the Croat-Moslem Federation and the Serb Republic.
By the New York Declaration, which will be issued as a Security Council document, the three-member Presidency agreed to establish a State border service, announced the creation of a permanent secretariat for the joint Presidency, reaffirmed their support for the adoption of the permanent election law, and agreed to recommend to the Parliament the creation of a single national passport. They agreed to support aggressive measures to combat corruption and lack of transparency, as these were blocking Bosnia and Herzegovina's economic development. Also, they agreed to improve inter-entity military cooperation, through means including the creation of joint units to participate in United Nations peacekeeping operations.
The Declaration further states that the return of displaced persons and refugees had not been sufficient, particularly in urban areas such as Sarajevo, Banja Luka and Mostar and agreed that it must be the Government's highest priority if Bosnia and Herzegovina was to become a truly stable and prosperous State. They endorsed the harmonized property laws announced by the United Nations High Representative in October, and committed to advocating for their expeditious implementation. They agreed to establish a joint commission to establish refugee return priorities and report to the Council on that by 1 March 2000.
The Chairman of the Presidency, Ante Jelavic, this morning stressed the importance of economic growth and foreign investment for implementing the peace accords. Economic failure would bring into question the stability of the State,
Security Council - 1a - Press Release SC/6755 4069th Meeting (AM) 15 November 1999
he cautioned. Regarding the permanent election law and the law on border service, he said those should be linked to the policy proposed by the High Representative to transfer the ownership process. The international community should accept the principle of Bosnian responsibility and allow time for debate in the process of passing laws, as opposed to insisting on over-ambitious deadlines and on imposing solutions. Imposing solutions would create a culture of dependency and promote extremism, he said.
A member of the Presidency, Alija Izetbegovic, stressed that those responsible for war crimes must be arrested and prosecuted. He hoped the Council would heed the concerns and request for action as outlined by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Without such action, the atmosphere in the region would remain dominated by the "stale smell of ethnic cleansing", he said. He said the lack of control of Bosnia and Herzegovina's borders had resulted in smuggling and lost customs and tax revenues and he supported the adoption of the law on the State border service. He emphasized the importance of accelerating refugee return, the arrest and prosecution of those responsible for war crimes, economic reform and the elimination of corruption.
The third member of the Presidency, Zivko Radisic, said there would be better results in implementing the Dayton peace accords if the norms and spirit of Dayton were fully respected. Contrary to stipulations in the peace accords, the Peace Implementation Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina had frequently expanded the authority of the international community and international organizations, at the expense of the responsibility of the entity bodies, as well as at the expense of the politically expressed will of the people who lived in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He advocated the affirmation of the institutions, and the rights and responsibilities of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the entities. That did not bring into question the role of the High Representative, he said, but rather meant the strengthening of the role of the constitutional and legal institutions. Every forced revision of Dayton would lead to instability of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The representative of the United States said it was scarcely believable that elements that had been fighting each other four years ago were sitting in the Council Chamber discussing peace. The New York Declaration was a clear statement of commitment to the principle of central governance. More must be done to enhance transparency, promote the rule of law, fight corruption, confront ethnic parallel institutions and structures of authority and weaken nationalist party control of the courts. Bosnia and Herzegovina leaders must do a better job of establishing and reinforcing institutions of statehood. It must act to represent the interests of all Bosnians, not just a particular ethnic group. He emphasized, however, that the role of the international community was far from over. It was the responsibility of the international community to support the people who had come together in Dayton to create a Bosnia and Herzegovina that was whole and free.
The major responsibility for the pursuance of the peace process lay with the Bosnians themselves, the representative of the Russian Federation asserted.
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A lasting reconciliation on the part of all Bosnians was required and the leadership must overcome political and national disagreements. He noted that the existence of three independent armies did not help to strengthen a unified Bosnia. He stressed, however, that he did not agree with imposing on Kosovo decisions made about other countries. Those decisions had nothing to do with Kosovo and could be construed as interference in the affairs of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
At the outset of the meeting, the Council observed a moment of silence in honour of the 24 persons who lost their lives in the crash of the aircraft of the World Food Programme on Friday, 12 November, in Kosovo, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The Council President said they would be remembered as men and women who lost their lives in the cause of peace, and expressed the international community's condolences to the bereaved.
Statements were also made by the representatives of France, Canada, Malaysia, Argentina, United Kingdom, China, Brazil, Bahrain, Netherlands, Gambia, Namibia, Gabon and Slovenia.
The meeting began at 10:14 a.m. and adjourned at 1:14 p.m.
Council Work Programme
The Security Council met this morning to hear a briefing from the three-member Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was scheduled to hear from: Ante Jelavic, Chair of the Presidency; Alija Izetbegovic, Member of the Presidency; and Zivko Radisic, Member of the Presidency.
ANTE JELAVIC, Presidency Chairman of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said he was honoured to address the Council on the fourth anniversary of the 1995 General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, initiated in Dayton and signed in Paris. The visit was not merely to mark that anniversary, however; rather, it was to advance implementation of that agreement. Through the New York Declaration adopted by the Presidency last night, agreement had been reached on the State border service. In the context of strengthening inter- entity cooperation, there had also been agreement reached to form joint units that would take part in the future United Nations peacekeeping operations.
Further, the Declaration addressed the question of return into urban centres, about which the Presidency would provide information every three months, he continued. The Declaration foresaw the formation of a Presidency secretariat, and improved consistency in the work of all State ministries. Also, it supported activities in the fight against corruption, promoting transparency, and establishing a central database for passports, while common travel documents were envisioned.
He said it was appropriate to debate with frankness the criticisms directed at the accords, but it was inappropriate to dramatize the situation and fail to take into account the point from which the process had begun. There was real progress in the stabilization of peace, freedom of movement, rebuilding infrastructure, the fully functioning common currency, common documents, passports and symbols, the return of refugees and displaced persons. In addition, a spirit of peace reigned in the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Dayton had provided moral responsibility, military equilibrium and a political framework to ensure the stability and prospects of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Those advances were due in large measure to the international communitys support.
Still, there were many tasks ahead, he continued. Those included the issue of the functioning of joint institutions, and especially the reorganization of the Council of Ministers in accordance with the decision by the Constitutional Court. It was important to accomplish that while maintaining the principle of consensus in the decision-making of the Council of Ministers. That Council should also take on a greater share of responsibility in the resolution of issues.
Implementing economic and social reforms was another priority, he continued. The respect of human rights, and the right to ownership was a top priority. The issue of consistent and effective work by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the apprehension of most wanted individuals was another. The fight against terrorism, organized crime and corruption was a key task. The territorys laws must be harmonized and there was need to pass a consistent law on border services.
Of all the priorities, the issue of refugees and displaced persons must be emphasized, he said. Over 50 per cent of the pre-war minority residents had returned to the Croat majority areas; more than anywhere else in Bosnia and Herzegovina, more than in Croatia, more than in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and more than in Kosovo. About 40 per cent of pre-war non-Croats in the western municipalities of Mostar had never left or resided there again. Focus should be directed where return had been minimal.
There would be little progress in implementing peace accords without economic growth and foreign investment, he said. Economic failure would bring into question the stability of the State. Attention must be focused on creating a unified and open market.
The permanent election law and the law on border service should be linked to the policy proposed by the High Representative to transfer the ownership process to us, he said. For the success of the peace agreement, the question of who built the State - the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina or the international community -- was paramount. He called on the international community to accept the principle that Bosnia and Herzegovina should be responsible and to allow sufficient time for debate in the process of passing those laws, as opposed to insisting on over-ambitious deadlines and on imposing solutions. To impose solutions would create a culture of dependency, and promote extremism. The best solutions were those that were acceptable to all three constituent parts.
The election law was now being reviewed, he said. The issue of the election law was the most sensitive question for the least numerous constituent component. The law must secure the election of legitimate representatives from all peoples into common State institutions. Proposals would be presented for that shortly.
Turning then to the International Criminal Tribunal, he said that it played an essential role in the countrys reconciliation. There was a problem of the so-called big fish who remained out of reach of justice. Not a single indictment had been brought against perpetrators of crimes where Croats had been the primary victims in Bosnia and Herzegovina -- that was extremely worrying. The work of the Tribunal should be advanced in regard to the rights of the accused. The defence must have the same resources and access to international documentation of the war as the prosecution.
Long-term stability demanded a balance of rights for the three constituent peoples, he said. All three must have the same modalities to access institutions of authority, and each citizen must have the same rights throughout the territory.
ALIJA IZETBEGOVIC, Member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that compared to the war and fighting the forces of ethnic racism and cleansing, his current role was preferable. In the past four years, almost every school, bridge and hospital had been repaired. Postal service and electricity had been restored. There were more students than before the war. The return of almost half of the refugees and displaced persons had been facilitated. The task of privatization of small, medium and large companies remained and was crucial to the strengthening of peace and stability in the country,
The rate of refugee return, however, must be accelerated, he said. The idea that two entities in Bosnia and Herzegovina were ethnically homogenous must be changed. Moreover, both entities must embrace the three constituent peoples and others in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The joint Presidency had agreed to provide to the Council, in three months, a progress report regarding refugee return.
He went on to say that those responsible for war crimes must be arrested and prosecuted. He hoped the Council would heed the concerns and request for action as outlined by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Without such action, the atmosphere in the region would remain dominated by the "stale smell of ethnic cleansing", he said.
The rebuilding of the country and economic reform must be quickened, he continued. While that was the responsibility of the country itself, real assistance was needed. Regarding the issue of corruption, he said the most powerful means to resolve the situation was effective control of Bosnia and Herzegovina's borders. Lack of control produced smuggling and lost customs and tax revenues. It was also a major risk in terms of international crime and terrorism. He supported the adoption of the law on the State border service.
He said the Dayton agreement had endowed Bosnia and Herzegovina with an opportunity to end the war, but not with the means to manage its affairs. Particularly at the central government, common mechanisms for a functioning and unified country were lacking. Consensus decision-making was too frequently misused to obstruct. Also, he wanted to emphasize the continuing mine problem.
Regarding the issue of security, he said a decision had been made to unilaterally reduce military expenditures by 15 per cent in 1999. An appropriate contribution to global peace would be to offer soldiers and police from Bosnia and Herzegovina to the United Nations peacekeeping efforts. Their experiences could be used as a valuable lesson for others in need of peacekeeping.
He noted that in the past he had stated that the Dayton accords were not only a compromise between different parties, but also between justice and injustice, between democratic and undemocratic ideas. Nonetheless, he stood behind his signature to the peace agreement and the commitments. He trusted that the Council would also stand by the agreement and that it and other endorsers and signatories would promote the evolution of the agreement.
ZIVKO RADISIC, Member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said the Dayton peace accords had strong support in the Republic of Srpska; it paved the way to peace, economic development, the development of democracy and respect of the political will of the voters. Important results had been achieved in implementing the accords. In addition to advances in tolerance and understanding, as well as in reconstruction and economic recovery, a particularly significant advancement had been seen during the past year in the return of refugees and displaced persons to their dwellings. Over a 10-month period this year, more families of minority people had returned to the Republic of Srpska than in the past three years.
The Presidency had decided to reduce the military contingencies and military spending by 15 per cent compared to last year, he said. Demilitarization might potentially become a final goal, since in that manner conditions for lasting peace and rapid economic development could be created. There were intensive activities to create conditions for Bosnia and Herzegovina to become a member of the European Council next year. Also, the time was approaching when conditions would be ripe for membership in the World Trade Organization.
Better results would be achieved in implementing the Dayton peace accords if the norms and spirit of Dayton were fully respected, he said. The arbitration ruling on Brcko had infringed on the premise of the territorial integrity of the entities and caused a certain crisis and dissatisfaction among citizens of the Republic.
Economic aid given by the international community at the donors conferences held up to now had been unbalanced, which in turn resulted in the slowing down of the economic recovery and the development of the Republica Srpska, as well as its lagging behind in development compared to the other entity. The behaviour of certain institutions of the Republic of Srpska had also had impact in that area. Direct damage from the war had been estimated at over $50 billion; to date, the international community had approved some $5.1 billion in aid.
The financial support of the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Bosnia and Herzegovina must be continued, with the goal of creating minimum conditions for establishing a self-sustaining economy as a factor for economic and political stability, he said. He hoped for support to the request to hold more donors conferences. Bosnia and Herzegovina would create the institutional conditions and a favourable environment for foreign investments. Life in Bosnia and Herzegovina remained difficult; the country had not achieved 50 per cent of its pre-war level of development, and even then it was lagging behind Europe. Economic development and social stability must be absolute priorities in all efforts. That was the only way to stem mass emigration, speed the return of refugees, strengthen institutions of State based on law, and fight crime, corruption and terrorism.
Contrary to clear stipulations of the Peace accords, the Peace Implementation Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina had frequently expanded the authority of the international community and international organizations, he said. That was at the expense of the responsibility of the entity bodies, as well as at the expense of the politically expressed will of the people who lived in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He advocated the affirmation of the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the entities, the rights and responsibilities of the parliaments of the entities and the joint institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and less imposition. That did not bring into question the role of the High Representative, but rather meant the strengthening of the role of the constitutional and legal institutions. It was possible to guarantee development, democratization and integration into Europe and the world only if the Dayton peace accords were respected more consistently. Every forced revision of Dayton and its unilateral interpretation would lead to instability of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Bosnia and Herzegovina was a great challenge and opportunity for the entire world, he said. It must forever be a part of a contemporary democratic and prosperous Europe and the world.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE (United States) said that attending today's Council meeting was an extraordinary gathering of members of the United States Congress. He introduced the Congressmen and women and said that their presence spoke to the importance of the work of the United Nations and their commitment to supporting Bosnia and Herzegovina's transition into the twenty-first century.
He said today was a historic day and noted that, in addition to the New York Declaration, China and the United States had reached an agreement on the World Trade Organization and it had been announced that there would be talks on Cyprus. Moreover, according to accounts in the press, there had been a breakthrough on the question of United States arrears on its United Nations assessment.
He went on to say that it was scarcely believable that elements that had been fighting each other four years ago were sitting around the Council Chamber discussing peace. Several people in the room had been in Dayton at that difficult and tense time. They had made tough choices, signing the Dayton agreement and giving Bosnia and Herzegovina a foundation for peace. Four years ago to this day, the world watched tensely as the negotiations at Dayton entered their third week and the critical endgame. Six days later, the leaders of the former Yugoslavia signed the Dayton agreement, giving Bosnia a foundation for peace. That agreement only ended a war; winning the peace still lay ahead. The past four years proved how difficult it was to overcome years of bloodshed and ethnic hatred.
The New York Declaration was a clear statement by the Presidency that they were committed to removing the remaining obstacles to Dayton's full implementation, he continued. With that act, a major step had been taken towards consolidating the progress of the past few years and taking another step towards a unified, democratic Bosnia and Herzegovina. The commitments made this morning had important practical, as well as symbolic value. By establishing the State border service, supporting a single national passport, creating a permanent executive staff for the joint Presidency, and by expressing their commitment to fund the State ministries fully, the Presidency was committing itself to the principle of central governance.
He emphasized that the role of the international community was far from over. Despite today's progress, Bosnia and Herzegovina remained far from where many had hoped it would be, he said. The Presidency must not shirk its commitment on refugee returns. While nearly twice as many minority refugees had returned to their homes as last year, most actual returns had been to damaged and unoccupied housing in rural areas and outlying villages. Efforts on refugee returns must now focus on promoting returns to urban areas and all the challenges that brought, including the implementation of new property legislation.
Continuing, he said more must be done to enhance transparency, promote the rule of law and fight the cancer that was called corruption. The governments of Bosnia and Herzegovina could do far more to fight corruption than they had in the past four years. There must be a stronger fight against the forces of darkness; the murderers, the fascists, the crooks, the thugs. More must be done to confront ethnic parallel institutions and structures of authority. He reiterated his call for a ban on the Serb Radical Party, which much be removed from the political process it sought to destroy. Nationalist party control of the courts must be severely weakened. Bosnia and Herzegovina leaders must do a better job of establishing and reinforcing institutions of statehood. They must act to represent the interests of all Bosnians, not just a particular ethnic group. The goal was one country consisting of two democratic, multi- ethnic entities.
He said there were those who would continue to try to stop progress and reconciliation, but it was the responsibility of the international community to support the people who had come together in Dayton four years ago to create a Bosnia and Herzegovina that was whole and free.
ALAIN DEJAMMET (France) said the presence of the three-member joint Presidency in the Council four years after Dayton was both historic and symbolic. The Dayton accords had created the means for establishing a common State through which ethnic rivalry ravaging the country could be overcome, and by which all parties could work together to reconstruct a Bosnia and Herzegovina capable of resuming its full place in the world. The presence of the Presidents bore witness to the importance that the Presidency attached to the work of the United Nations, and particularly the work of the Council.
The progress achieved since Dayton demonstrated that the effort to ensure a multi-ethnic and democratic Bosnia and Herzegovina was within reach, he said. At the same time, all knew that much remained to be accomplished before the common institutions could truly function on a daily basis. The Presidency was at the centre of those common institutions with attendant duties and responsibilities.
International support was needed, but it should be realized that such support could not be maintained at the current level, he said. Increasingly, Bosnia and Herzegovina would have to rely on its own resources. But, it now had the political and moral authority required to encourage the people in that direction. It had already undertaken commitments acknowledged by the Council, such as the commitment to work unequivocally for a united Bosnia and Herzegovina, the establishment of a legislative and economic framework for investment, creating a common educational structure, and promoting the return of refugees and displaced persons. The Council had been told by the High Representative that, at the present pace, it would take more than 20 years for all to return to their homes. It was thus essential that the law on property be implemented to facilitate returns. Also, of great importance, was the commitment to reduce military expenditures.
But, those commitments, on which the High Representative had worked with the Presidency, were not enough, he said. It was highly positive that the Presidency had availed itself of the opportunity to travel to the United Nations to give concrete shape to the implementation of shared institutions. The New York Declaration enshrined the establishment of border services that would be a single instrument of sovereignty of a single State. A permanent secretariat had been announced, which was essential, because for the Presidency to be effective, it must have a professional administrative service. He also noted agreement on the establishment of a single passport. Those were a series of concrete decisions that reflected the will to move towards a single State with viable common institutions.
SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said the major responsibility for the pursuance of the peace process lay with the Bosnians themselves. A lasting reconciliation on the part of all the Bosnian parties was required. The leadership must overcome political and national disagreements. He welcomed the positive changes that had been noted, including the effective joint work of the Presidency on military matters. Such cooperation and independent contribution by the Bosnian parties was important, because of such unsolved issues as the court system, unified border systems, adoption of electoral law and the return of refugees. He was satisfied that those issues were the subject of the Declaration just adopted and he would look carefully at the document to see that the obligations were consistently complied with.
He said the existence of three independent armies did not help strengthen a unified Bosnia. Also, he was concerned by the arbitration decision on Brcko. It was important to implement the decision, so as to make it stable, and to achieve solutions that were acceptable to all parties.
During his recent trip to the region, he had concluded that the situation in Kosovo was not encouraging. There had been an increased number of incidents in Kosovo that were a reflection of an organized policy to shove out all non- Albanians. Those actions undermined the relevant Council resolution. For the time being, the international force in Kosovo -- KFOR -- could not stop the provocations and could not ensure the proper level of safety for all. That did not mean they were not trying hard enough, but that there was an absence of a proper level of security.
There continued to be uncontrolled activities of former Kosovo Liberation Party (KLA) elements which were firing on villages with heavy artillery and on churches, he said. The international community must use all of its power to eliminate the current threat to all of the international structures in Kosovo.
He stressed that he disagreed with the idea of imposing decisions made in relation to other countries on Kosovo. Those decisions had nothing to do with Kosovo and could be construed as interference into the affairs of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
ROBERT FOWLER (Canada) said that the international community and the Office of the High Representative could provide support, but ultimately, Bosnia and Herzegovina had to implement its own peace. That was the substance of the ownership strategy. Canada supported that strategy and urged the Presidency to cooperate fully with the High Representative in bringing it about. He also urged the Presidency to cooperate with other levels of government, including the entities, to undertake the appropriate measures to reform national institutions in order to make them more effective and more democratic. The draft election law must be adopted as soon as possible.
Despite progress, there were elements of the peace implementation process that required more resolve from Bosnia and Herzegovinas governments, he said. Canada was concerned about the slow pace of resettlement and urged the Presidency to accelerate implementation of measures likely to foster returns. The flawed judicial system was a major obstacle. A self-sustaining peace could only be achieved with a judiciary that was independent from political pressure.
He then urged the Council of Ministers and Members of the Presidency to adopt in a timely manner the proposed border service law. Regarding economic development, he said it was a major condition for the success of Dayton. Authorities must help create an enabling environment in which business could thrive and prosper.
AGAM HASMY (Malaysia) said that, with the necessary political will, the obstacles to peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina could be achieved. Much remained to be done. The issues of the return of refugees, reconciliation and minority protection had to be addressed. The international community accorded high priority to the return of refugees to all parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina. If the process continued at the current pace, it could take 20 to 40 years to complete. Another challenge was the intransigence of certain political parties. There must be a move to strive for tolerance between the different ethnic communities. He welcomed the New York Declaration and said Malaysia's experience had convinced it that tolerance was the essential ingredient for coexistence and nation-building.
He said Malaysia had participated in the peacekeeping forces in the region and had organized a forum for non-governmental organizations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which had taken place in Kuala Lumpur last year. The aim was to expose the participants to Malaysia's experience as a multi-ethnic and multi- religious society. While the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina was different, there were lessons to be learned from the Malaysian experience. Success in Bosnia and Herzegovina could only be guaranteed by the cooperation and participation of the people themselves. At the same time, a durable peace required the full cooperation of its neighbours.
He stressed that the indicted war criminals should be brought to justice. Their arrest and prosecution would mete out justice and help the goal of national reconciliation, freeing the country from its ghosts of the tragic past.
FERNANDO ENRIQUE PETRELLA (Argentina) said there was real evidence that the common Presidency was beginning to function in practice. He valued the New York Declaration as a document that strengthened that trend. He hoped the draft law on border services would be adopted as soon as possible, as such legislation was an essential instrument for any State to prevent crime. The New York Declaration reflected progress in that. The situation of some 800,000 internally displaced persons and the thousands of refugees abroad must be addressed; those persons must be able to return to their places of origin.
The draft law on property must be adopted, as it met the priority concerns of those people, he continued. He encouraged the Presidency to adopt the frameworks needed to foster foreign investment and an open economy. Bosnia and Herzegovina should embark on the path they had identified today. He welcomed the attendance of legislators from the United States Congress. Their presence was a reminder of the importance of holding open meetings, so all could witness the useful and effective way the United Nations fulfilled mandates.
Sir JEREMEY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said that despite the progress achieved, he was disturbed that common institutions were not functioning properly. Outside assistance was still necessary and the participation of the High Representative was essential. He took issue with Mr. Radisic, stating that the High Representative must receive support and cooperation.
He praised the role of the High Representative and the United States, in particular Mr. Holbrooke, for their role in assisting the emergence of the New York Declaration. He welcomed the establishment of a Presidency secretariat that would report to the Council.
He said he was interested in the role of the joint Presidency in terms of what came next and he would like to hear statements as to their future priorities. He welcomed the inclusion in the Declaration of their commitment to act against corruption and he hoped they would be sincere in implementing that commitment. He also hoped they would understand their important role in implementing the agreement beyond local ethic concerns.
The time had come for a more wide-ranging commitment to reconciliation, he said. The refugee return was a good start. He hoped the dialogue begun today between the members of the joint Presidency and the Council would continue.
SHEN GUOFANG (China) said his delegation welcomed and supported the New York Declaration. Bosnia and Herzegovina was a typical case for the United Nations participation in post-conflict peace-building. Therefore, careful considerations of the lessons learned there could be of real use to the Organization. China was pleased to note the reports of the ways that peace was being implemented. It noted that mutual tolerance was increasing. While peace implementation was slow, it was moving in the right direction. Flawed peace was better than war.
Economic reform was needed, he stressed. The leaders of the three parties must proceed from the starting point of the fundamental interests of their people. The comprehensive settlement of the crisis depended on the Bosnian people themselves. He had noticed that the Presidency was supportive of the concept of ownership. He hoped it would further implement such concepts.
GELSON FONSECA (Brazil) said the current debate illustrated the continuing interest of the United Nations membership in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Despite all obstacles, the progress must not be reversed. Much depended on the Presidencys commendable commitment to the Dayton accords.
He hoped the United Nations efforts in Bosnia and Herzegovina would be complemented by the political will in that country, he said. The people, inspired by their leaders, must speed the process of the countrys transformation. The concept of ownership should be fully incorporated by the leaders. The international community was committed to Bosnia and Herzegovina, but ultimately the country itself bore responsibility for its affairs.
The creation of a State border service would consolidate the concept of statehood, he said. Economic recovery was another pillar that would help Bosnia and Herzegovina achieve an irreversible and self-sustaining peace. Stability was essential to creating a climate for private investment. Stressing the importance of perseverance and determination, he said the leaders should redouble their efforts to create a viable society based on multi-ethnicity and diversity.
JASSIM M. BUALLAY (Bahrain) said that the presence of the joint Presidency in the Council today could not have even been dreamed of several years ago. Since Dayton, concrete progress had been made. But, the normalization of life required further cooperation and concerted efforts. That was what the Council expected from the country. For international support to continue, the people themselves must redouble their efforts. He urged more cooperation with the Office of the High Representative to overcome current difficulties.
As for refugee returns, more must be done to ensure the return of all ethnic backgrounds, he continued. That required both protection and opportunities for work. The property law would also help in that regard. As for the International Criminal Tribunal, he noted that the Presidency had raised the issue. The Council, too, had raised the issue on several occasions, including during last weeks briefing by Carla Del Ponte, the Prosecutor of the Tribunal.
The principal indictees remained at large, he continued. They had perpetrated their crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina and then moved to Kosovo. The barbarity of those crimes required that the perpetrators be prosecuted. The Tribunal must be supported and assisted in arresting those who perpetrated the crimes, especially the big fish. He said he agreed that local criminal courts did not have the capacity to undertake the difficult tasks, which fell within the jurisdiction of the International Tribunal.
Border service, economic reform, fighting corruption - those issues required further efforts, he said. He called on all parties concerned to hold fast to those agreements, and ensure that all the provisions therein were implemented in good faith.
PETER VAN WALSUM (Netherlands) said the return of refugee minorities to their places of residence was the core of the Dayton agreement. The spontaneous return of refugee minorities was a sign of hope and should be financially supported. He welcomed the efforts of the High Representative to persuade the European Commission and other donors to continue providing flexible funds for that purpose. If, however, the Bosnian authorities at the national, cantonal and local levels did not facilitate the return process, the common goal would not be attained.
The fact that the new property law was adopted only after instructions from the High Representative had been issued demonstrated that improvement was needed, he said. Another example was the inadequate budgeting for returnee programmes. Institutions like a State border service, which could generate revenue, could hardly get off the ground. Delays in taking the necessary measures also occurred in the field of privatization.
He said the leadership of Bosnia and Herzegovina must not resign itself to those shortcomings. It must muster its courage and set an example for all the subsidiary levels of government, by embarking on genuine cooperation for the benefit of all the inhabitants of the country.
BABOUCAR-BLAISE ISMAILA JAGNE (Gambia) said the forces of evil and darkness must be challenged and neutralized. For that reason, it was crucial that there be cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal to bring to justice those indictees that were still at large. The process of healing would be incomplete without justice.
He welcomed the establishment of a State border service. Also, the intention to create a permanent secretariat for the Presidency was another step in the right direction. With the reduction of military spending, he hoped funds would be directed to such matters as the creation of conditions for the safe return of refugees. The concept of ownership came to play here, he said. The international communitys responsibility only extended so far; the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina themselves must make decisions. In that respect, he stressed the importance of the common institutions.
MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said he welcomed the positive elements in the sphere of institution-building and encouraged the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina to persevere in the task of rebuilding their nation.
He noted the improvement in the rate of return of refugees and internally displaced persons to their original homes, and hoped the Presidency would encourage Parliament to consider favourably and expeditiously the draft electoral law and private property legislation. That legislation would speed up the return of the internally displaced persons to their original homes.
He said it remained essential for the international community to continue providing the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina with the necessary resources and logistical assistance for a multi-ethnic and peaceful country.
DENIS DANGUE REWAKA (Gabon) said the presence of the members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Council today underlined their determination to put an end to the problems they faced. He urged them to double their efforts, so that pending issues would be dealt with rapidly. The Declaration was an important step along the way. He also urged the international community to continue its efforts to assist in building a strong and prosperous Bosnia and Herzegovina.
BORIS FRLEC (Slovenia) said the construction of peace required fostering internal stability, political normalization and economic prosperity. Today, those general requirements were easily translatable into more specific priority tasks. The return of refugees, including in particular minority returns, was the first priority. Other priorities were the establishment of a State border service, the creation of conditions for foreign investment, the creation of new jobs, and the strengthening of the judiciary. The peace, stability and unity of Bosnia and Herzegovina were of critical importance for resolving other problems in the region, most notably the problem of Kosovo, he continued. Therefore, every effort must be made to strengthen Bosnia and Herzegovina, and its institutions. Slovenia called upon the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina to remain committed to the principles spelled out in the Dayton/Paris peace agreement. But Bosnia and Herzegovina must not be left alone in those efforts; international assistance was still required. Slovenia would do its part. It supported Bosnia and Herzegovinas efforts to join the Council of Europe and other European institutions.
Mr. JELAVIC, Chair of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said he supported the initiative for the full and continuous cooperation of the United Nations. He expressed appreciation for the interest the Council had shown in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Presidency members had committed themselves to implement the Dayton peace agreement.
Mr. IZETBEGOVITCH, Member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, reiterated his full support for the New York Declaration and said he would do everything in his power to see that it was implemented.
Mr. RADISIC, Member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that, comparing today's situation with the one in which the country had been four years ago, much had been done. Now, however, they were at the serious beginning of a great project and a great goal. The Presidency members and all other structures in Bosnia and Herzegovina, at all levels, were committed to its success. The support of the Council meant a lot and he was convinced that the first report of the joint Presidency to the Council would prove that the progress envisaged was being achieved.
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