SENIOR UNITED NATIONS OFFICIAL IN BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA ANNOUNCES PLANS FOR BURIAL GROUND AND MEMORIAL FOR VICTIMS OF SREBRENICA MASSACRE20001026
Report of High Representative Discussed in Security Council; Changes in Belgrade Welcomed, But Vigilance Said to Remain Essential
At an opening briefing of the Security Council this morning, Wolfgang Petritsch, High Representative for the Implementation of the Peace Agreement on Bosnia and Herzegovina, said he intended to make available a plot of land in Srebrenica to bury the victims of the massacre that had taken place there, and to erect a memorial to them.
Mr. Petritsch said he considered that as a first but important step in Bosnia and Herzegovinas path to coming to terms with its past. The future for the country, he said, looked very different today because of the changes in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and in Croatia. Yet, despite those changes in Belgrade we should not drop our guard, he stressed. The destructive nationalisms that pulled the region apart had not fallen with Slobodan Milosevic. Political changes in Belgrade were watched more with apprehension than relief in Kosovo, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, he added.
He went on to say there was talk among some former Balkan mediators of the need to compensate Serbia for its allegedly inevitable loss of Kosovo. That would have disastrous consequences right across the region. We should make it crystal clear that cynical, nineteenth century map-making has no place in our peacekeeping efforts today, he said. A failure to speak clearly on that now would have disastrous consequences in the future, and would destroy five years of hard and fruitful work since the Dayton accords were signed.
The representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina told the Council it would be false to say that all that had gone wrong was the fault of Bosnia and Herzegovina and that the international diplomats were responsible for all that had gone right. He said the ethnic stratification of political institutions was not the choice of the Bosnians; it came about as a result of the Dayton peace accords, which the Bosnians were told they had to accept. He welcomed the decisions to allocate land to bury the victims of Srebrenica and erect a monument. That was also the moral responsibility of the Security Council.
Security Council - 1a - Press Release SC/6940 4209th Meeting (AM) 26 October 2000
He said the bottom line was that no one had conquered Bosnia and Herzegovina. While the assistance and leadership of the international community was too often needed, there should not be any underestimation of the will and comprehension of the situation by the Bosnian people.
Statements were also made by the representatives of the United States, Russian Federation, Argentina, Malaysia, Tunisia, France, Bangladesh, Ukraine, Netherlands, China, United Kingdom, Mali, Canada, Jamaica, Namibia, Germany and Italy.
The meeting which began at 11:14 a.m. adjourned at 1.30 p.m.
Security Council - 3 - Press Release SC/6940 4209th Meeting (AM) 26 October 2000
Council Work Programme
The Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and to hear a statement from the High Representative for the Implementation of the Peace Agreement, Wolfgang Petritsch.
The Council had before it a letter dated 18 October 2000 from the Secretary- General (document S/2000/999) addressed to the President of the Security Council transmitting a letter dated 18 October 2000 from the High Representative. Attached to Mr. Petritsch's letter is the seventeenth report on the activities of his Office.
Report of High Representative
The report covers the activities of the Office of the High Representative and developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina from the middle of April this year to the beginning of October.
According to the report, the Peace Implementation Council, which met at Brussels on 23 and 24 May 2000, set three key strategic targets concerning consolidation of Bosnia and Herzegovina State institutions, economic reform and refugee return.
The report states that a new Council of Ministers, including three new ministries, was established; the main Bosnia and Herzegovina State institutions, however, were still dominated by ethnic rather than State interests. In addition, 21 public officials were dismissed for serious obstruction of the Peace Agreement. Also, the Constitutional Court announced its third partial decision on the Constituent Peoples' Case. The report further states that a single national passport was imposed due to the inability of State institutions to reach a decision; the first passports will be issued this autumn.
According to the report, there was a high increase of returns to pre-war homes, even in areas previously considered dangerous. In addition, laws on State treasury and party financing were adopted, thus strengthening accountability at the State level. Finally, the report noted that a new Bosnia and Herzegovina-wide telephone numbering plan had been successfully implemented.
WOLFGANG PETRITSCH, High Representative for the Implementation of the Peace Agreement on Bosnia and Herzegovina, said the future for that country looked very different today because of the changes in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and in Croatia. Yet, despite the changes in Belgrade and Zagreb, we should not drop our guard, he stressed. The destructive nationalisms that pulled the region apart had not fallen with Slobodan Milosevic. Political changes in Belgrade were watched more with apprehension than relief in Kosovo, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, he added.
He said Croatias Foreign Minister, Tonino Picula, had made his first official visit to Sarajevo - a clear signal that his country fully recognized Bosnian sovereignty. He said that last week when he met the newly elected President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Vojislav Kostunica, he urged him to act similarly, suggesting that was the safest way of ensuring that Kosovo remained within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. He also called on the Yugoslav President to end Belgrades patronage of anti-Dayton forces in the Bosnian Serb entity who continued their efforts to secure the ill-gotten gains of ethnic cleansing. He said Mr. Kostunica also assured him that he would work to establish diplomatic relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina as soon as he formed his own Government.
He went on to say there was talk among some former Balkan mediators of the need to compensate Serbia for its allegedly inevitable loss of Kosovo. That would have disastrous consequences right across the region. We should make it crystal clear that cynical, nineteenth century map-making has no place in our peacekeeping efforts today, he said. A failure to speak clearly on that now destroyed five years of hard and fruitful work since the Dayton Accords were signed. That was even more the case when the majority of the people of the region were now seeing that nationalism made them poor and isolated.
He said Europeanization was the one thing that nearly all sides aspired to and the one factor used to drive reform in Bosnia. Last May in Brussels, the Peace Implementation Council approved his three strategic priorities to help Bosnian citizens achieve that dream: comprehensive economic reform; accelerated refugee returns; and the strengthening of State institutions. Overall progress had, however, been slow since his last report to the Council in May. The countrys nationalist incumbents were unwilling to take tough decisions - especially with a general election looming. They also refused to accept that donor money was fast running out and that there was increasing competition for that money from countries like the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
He said the real headache was the trade balance. Preliminary data showed that the country was only covering imports by 25 per cent of exports, and that was unsustainable. Clear banking laws had been put in place enabling transparent financial operations across both entities. Those measures would rid the country of an expensive non-transparent means of settling payments which the nationalist parties would no longer be able to milk. Local judicial and police services were clamping down on corruption for the first time, as well. But we are still unhappy with the slow pace with which political leaders are tackling this issue, he said. We are also studying ways to cut damagingly high taxes - foreign investors are loath to put their money into a country where they end up paying more than 80 per cent in taxes, he said.
He said the latest figures of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) showed that, by the end of August, about 30,000 minority returns were registered. What was truly extraordinary was where those returns had taken place - in or near towns like Srebrenica and Foca, synonymous with massacres and rape camps during the war. Yet, while the rule of law had begun to melt the permafrost covering the return process, there were still hundreds of thousands of people who were either displaced or refugees. He hoped ordinary Bosnians in the November general elections would vote out the nationalists who were intent on keeping the return process frozen. He said that since he last addressed the Council he had removed 24 public officials for persistent obstruction of the Dayton Accords.
He said Bosnians themselves must create their own prosperous and tolerant country. They must take ownership of their destiny in order to realize their dream of a place in Europe. Their neighbours must also turn their backs on the past and look forward by helping Bosnia and Herzegovina. The international community must also do all it could to help bring Bosnia and Herzegovina home.
In conclusion, he said, that he had taken a decision yesterday: a plot of land in the municipality of Srebrenica would be made available to bury the victims of the massacre that took place there and to erect a memorial to them. He considered that as a first but important step on Bosnia and Herzegovinas way to coming to terms with its past.
JAMES B.CUNNINGHAM (United States) said he was encouraged by the positive developments noted in the High Representatives report, in particular, the re- establishment of the Council of Ministers and the increased rates of return of those displaced by the war. He also welcomed steps to establish an independent judicial council and noted that a multi-ethnic court in Mostar had begun to try those war crimes approved by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia for prosecution under the so-called Rules of the Road.
He expressed concern, however, that some government officials and other individuals continued to block the return of refugees and displaced persons. The message must be clear - We will not tolerate continued obstruction, he said. The Council would work only with those political leaders who were committed to implementing the Dayton Agreement. The United States supported full and active use by the High Representative and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Bosnia of the mandates provided by the international community. The international community should seek to remove or restrain all those standing in the way of Daytons full implementation: war criminals remaining at large, organized crime figures and nationalist extremists.
The Office of the High Representative should adopt a firm and forward- leaning approach to meet the targets which had been set by the Peace Implementation Council in Brussels: consolidation of joint institutions, economic reform and returning refugees. He hoped the new leadership of President Kostunica would have a positive influence on events in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the same way that Croatias change in regime had helped to normalize relations between Croatia and Bosnia.
GENNADI GATILON (Russian Federation) said the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina continued to remain fragile . While positive changes had taken place, it was often at the expense of the stabilization forces. The Russian Federation continued to be actively involved in the Dayton Agreement, but was not bound by the Brussels Declaration.
He said he had understanding for how the High Representative was establishing his priorities, but there was too much use of the special powers of the High Representative. Those actions had the effect of placing Bosnia and Herzegovina in the position of being an international protectorate. International structures should not replace the legislative powers of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
He said he hoped to see the fruitful cooperation between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia without imposition of conditions by either side. The international community should focus on helping to establish the political powers in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the ability to cooperate among themselves and with the international community.
LUIS ENRIQUE CAPPAGLI (Argentina) said that strengthening State institutions apparently remained a distant goal. There was a lack of the commitment needed to overcome obstructionism and the lack of political will. He supported the firm and resolute managing style of the High Representative.
He said he hoped Bosnia and Herzegovina would overcome the obstacles it faced and adopt a definitive electoral law as soon as possible. He hoped the positive trend demonstrated in the last elections would hold true for the 11 November elections. There must be no tolerance for attacks on freedom of the press.
He said measures designed to deepen economic reform were indispensable, if Bosnia and Herzegovina was to become self-sustaining and less dependent on the outside. He urged the Government of Croatia to adopt measures to streamline the return of property. He hoped the democratic change in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia would make it possible to restore normal relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina.
MOHAMMAD KAMAL YAN YAHAYA (Malaysia) said that the Peace Implementation Council last May had set targets to strengthen State institutions, economic reform and the return of refugees. His Government had supported those goals. Those efforts provided a clear framework in which all the people should work together for the peace process.
While, progress was limited in some cases, it had indeed taken place. He recognized that many important decisions had had to be imposed, or were made after the direct intervention of the High Representative. That was regrettable. The international community would like to see the Bosnian leaders and politicians assume greater responsibility for working together to promote effective functioning of common institutions.
He said he welcomed the ruling regarding the constitionality of all three nations. That was a significant contribution towards the statehood of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The recent development pertaining to the final arbitration award was equally encouraging, as was the progress in the return process. But more needed to be done. There should be full implementation of the package for property restoration. He said judicial assessment programme had carried out work that could contribute to the efforts to reform the Bosnian judiciary, and he welcomed the establishment of an independent judicial commission.
SAID BEN MUSTAPHA (Tunisia) said the report of the High Representative showed slow progress. Recent developments in the region, however, were conducive to creating a new and positive momentum that could contribute to regional stabilization. It would be necessary, nevertheless, to overcome local intransigence to achieve a true and lasting peace. That peace also had to be grounded in tolerance and respect for others. Bosnia and Herzegovina should, therefore, allow specific expression by its three communities while pursuing co-existence.
He said the consolidation of institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina was a strategic goal that his country supported. Strengthening political institutions was also essential in establishing State authority. He hoped that positive trends initiated in the April municipal elections would take root and continue in the upcoming general elections. The return of refugees and displaced persons was also an essential condition for the implementation of the Dayton peace accords. In addition, an independent, impartial and effective judiciary was the best defence against impunity.
JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) said he hoped that at the November general election, the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina would be able to vote for democracy, the rule of law and to fully belong to the European family. The report of the High Representative had candidly pointed out that the suffering in that country would remain for a long time. The burial of the Srebrenica victims would, of course, contribute to easing that. He also hoped the forthcoming elections would produce gains for the moderates and less support for errant radical nationalists.
He said the institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina must be consolidated and the economy reformed. The return of refugees must also remain a priority. Dialogue was the best way of making Bosnian leaders shoulder their responsibilities, end the voluntary paralysis of the country and deal with recalcitrant officials. He also hoped the current changes in the region would create a new state of mind.
He underscored the commitment of the European Union, as the main donor and a major troop contributor, to the process of reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He also highlighted a recent Union initiative in the city of Mostar, which had resulted in the adoption of the Mostar Document. That was an important step towards a final statute on a unified and self-reliant administration for the city.
C.M. SHAFI SAMI, Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh, said progress in implementation of the Dayton Peace agreement had been slow thus for, primarily due to the existing political climate of the region. A propitious moment was now in the offing for speedier implementation. He encouraged the High Representative to establish a dialogue with Belgrade for advancing the peace process.
He said it was important to inject vigour into the economy of Bosnia and Herzegovina. What was needed was the facilitation of a climate for investment, both domestic and international. It would need major reform in the administrative structure. The small workforce was well suited for small- and medium-sized enterprises. Their entrepreneurship had to be nurtured.
The status of refugees was of major concern, he said. Five years after the war, there were still a quarter million people outside the borders and 3 million remained internally displaced. Facilitating their return was a priority undertaking. He appreciated steps taken by the High Representative to reform legislation on property return, and also for taking stern action against public officials with a record of obstructionism. He would like to know about the results of steps taken by the High Representative earlier in the year.
He said the tide had turned against those who put obstacles in the way of inter-ethnic cooperation. He hoped that with the change in the leadership of the Balkans, the efforts of the High Representative would be rewarded with quicker returns.
VOLODYMYR YU YELCHENKO (Ukraine) said it was unfortunate that the lack of commitment among politicians, and specifically the lack of dialogue among the three Presidency members, continued to block the effective functioning of common institutions and a proper decision-making process. He encouraged the High Representative to pursue further his resolute stance on the subject. He welcomed the sound decision of the High Representative to impose the single national passport in Bosnia and Herzegovina, following the failure of the Parliament to adopt the necessary legislation.
He regretted recent deterioration in the political situation in the Republic of Srpska which required frequent interventions by the High Representative to ensure the functioning of that entitys parliament and government. He hoped the new political environment would help stabilize the political situation in the Republic, and speed solutions to many other problems in the relations between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
He said his Government supported efforts to create a single economic space, enabling private sector growth and fostering privatization. He was encouraged that the number of minority returns registered through last August was more than double those during the same period last year. That testified to the steady progress made by the international community in the normalization of life in Bosnia. The international community should redouble its efforts to ensure the security of the returnees and their citizen rights. He stressed that the role of the High Representative in the implementation of international efforts to restore peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in the entire Balkans remained vital.
ALPHONS HAMER (Netherlands) said he shared the hope that the trend in favour of multi-ethnic parties would be continued in the next general elections. Despite the evidence of some progress, there was still a lack of dialogue and engagement between the various groups. He supported the actions of the High Representative. His efforts served the interests of all of Bosnia and Herzegovina, not just that of particular interest groups.
He said the economy of Bosnia and Herzegovina remained an area of concern. Economic reform had been slow and then had fallen 10 years behind in its development. He stressed the importance of privatization. Preservation of the economic status quo would only preserve vested interests, he said.
He asked for clarification on the relationship between the Republic of Srpska and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
CHEN XU (China) welcomed the report of the High Representative for the Implementation of the Peace Agreements on Bosnia and Herzegovina. He noted that while that document had outlined some positive developments, highlighting progress made in many different and difficult areas, it seemed nevertheless that overall progress was still very slow and sometimes even at a standstill. He insisted that the choices made by the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina should be respected, particularly those pertaining to economic reforms.
Sir JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said that what was happening in Mostar was an encouraging indication of the change under way. The downside was that progress had been at the initiative of the international community rather than the Bosnians themselves. He commended what the High Representative had been doing and his determination to remain above the fray. He shared the hope that the general elections would see a more responsible group of politicians elected.
He said full implementation of the Bosnia and Herzegovina court decision on constituent peoples was an integral part of the Dayton accords. That decision ruled that no ethnic group constituent on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina should be excluded from exercising its rights in the entities. That decision was non-negotiable.
It was essential that the Office of the High Representative continued to engage Mr. Kostunica in the Dayton agreement. It was remarkable to think that five years of Dayton had gone by. He wished the High Representative success in the months to come.
SEKOU KASSÉ (Mali) said the establishment of a single passport, among other worthy initiatives in Bosnia and Herzegovina, was a positive step in consolidating both democracy and the multi-ethnic nature of the State. He believed that institutional reforms must be accompanied by economic reforms, since economic development was the best recipe for peace. In that light, he encouraged active cooperation between Bosnian and international financial institutions. He also urged the return of both refugees and internally displaced persons. In conclusion, he stressed that the international community expend every effort to ensure that the Dayton peace process was irreversible.
PAUL HEINBECKER (Canada) said his delegation was concerned by recent statements from Croatian Government officials about their intention to formally protest changes made to electoral regulations in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Those changes were in accordance with the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Dayton peace accords, and were also an internal issue. He, therefore, urged the Croatian Government to maintain its commitment to respect the integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Also his country strongly believed that the return of refugees and displaced persons must remain a top priority. The Bosnian authorities must fully implement measures to foster returns and cease obstructing legal evictions. Progress on that front was critical in measuring their real commitment to a lasting peace within the Dayton framework.
"We must also maintain pressure on Croatia and the Republika Srpska to ensure that they follow through on their commitments and take the appropriate actions to fully implement the agreement they signed last March on two-way refugee return", he said. Canada had assumed command of the Multinational Division Southwest in Bosnia and Herzegovina, on a rotational basis with the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. "We are determined to play a dynamic role within our sector of command, particularly with regard to refugee returns and the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia" he said.
PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said the strengthening of the State institutions along multi-ethnic lines must remain a priority for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Election law was an indispensable dimension in democratic setting. While it was disappointing that due to differences it had not been passed, she commended the efforts of the House of Representatives and the Council of Ministers to establish a working group to overcome those differences. Here delegations agreed with Mr. Petritsch that any election law must establish principles for all levels
She said that nearly five years after the Dayton peace accords, nearly 5 million refugees or displaced persons were waiting to return to their homes. The rate of minority returns, however, had been encouraging and the fact that they felt comfortable and safe enough to go home was a positive indication that the situation in the country was improving. The implementation of the Property Law Implementation Plan was closely bound up with refugee return. Those returning and those displaced must be able to reclaim their properties. All obstacles must be removed, she stressed.
MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said the report indicated that the overall situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina had been calm and stable. It encouraged the Council to continue supporting the efforts and contributions extended to the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina by the international Community.
He said his Government was happy to learn that the rate of return of refugees and internally displaced persons had picked up in the year 2000. However, the macroeconomic performance of the country had been mixed. He was encouraged by the new political climate in the region, especially the new administration in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, as well as in Croatia.
MUHAMED SACIRBEY (Bosnia and Herzegovina) said he had listened to the report of the High Representative with interest. He could respond to the individual points made, or he could indicate acceptance of the High Representatives conclusions through silence. He preferred not to dispute the individual points. To say, however, that all that had gone wrong was the fault of Bosnia and Herzegovina and that the international diplomats were responsible for all that had gone right was false. The ethnic stratification of political institutions was not the choice of the Bosnians. It came about as a result of the Dayton peace accords which the Bosnians were told they had to accept.
He said the democratic success of the elections could not be judged by the results of the election but by the process itself. He, or his successor, would be obliged to respect the result. Bosnia and Herzegovina was prepared to establish relations with the Republic of Srpska without conditions.
He said he welcomed the decisions to allocate land to bury the victims of Srebenica and erect a monument. That was also the moral responsibility of the Security Council. He reminded Council members that there were many who upheld the struggle for Bosnia and Herzegovina's place to exist as a normal State. They were at Dayton and they were still here. Yet, sometimes he felt as if the country had been swallowed up by generalizations.
At Dayton there had been no desire for an ethnic government that promoted stratification, nor for four different passports. But they had been told that it was better to accept a "bad peace" rather than a "just war". As one of the signatories, he believed that choice was a fair one. Nevertheless, many had hoped to turn that situation into a "good peace". The bottom line was that no one had conquered Bosnia and Herzegovina. While the assistance and leadership of the international community was too often needed, there should not be any underestimation of the will and comprehension of the situation by the Bosnian people.
HANNS HEINRICH SCHUMACHER (Germany) said that after the change of power in Zagreb, the recent Belgrade developments had opened the doors for finally achieving regional stability and full implementation of the Dayton accords. The onus of proof and delivery was now on the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Political leaders who had failed in their responsibilities should now be strongly reminded of their obligations to both the international community and the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
He said the 11 November general election was crucial and the Bosnian people now had a real choice. The Dayton peace accords were irreversible. That could not be stated often enough to those political forces who continued to look back. His delegation could only strongly encourage the High Representative to continue his energetic approach by taking full advantage of the power vested in him to ensure that implementation of the peace agreements went through.
PIER BENEDETTO FRANCESE (Italy) said his country had contributed $110 million to social and economic reconstruction in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Its commitment was based on decentralization for cooperation, linking entities in Italy with their counterparts in Bosnia and Herzegovina. For instance, the Italian carabinieri and Bosnia and Herzegovina police were developing plan to enhance the professionalism of police in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He noticed the importance of the coordinating activities developed by the High Representative. The High Representative had shared thoughts which encouraged hope, but he had also warned the international community to remain vigilant.
He said he was gratified to hear about increasing action against corruption and about economic reform. The picture concerning refugees did not seem quite so promising, but there had been progress in strengthening institutions. He hoped the coming elections would show that progress was possible in that direction.
He said the light at the end of the tunnel meant integration into Europe. Now that Belgrade had chosen democracy, the peoples of southern Europe could grow closer to the European Union. The electoral process was a milestone in that direction. He hoped that it would enable Bosnia and Herzegovina to soon join the Council of Europe. Democratic developments in Belgrade would contribute to strengthening State institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He hoped that economic reform would attract interested investors. He also hoped that Sarajevo would show the same commitment to ethnic integration. Italy had offered to help promote more harmonious growth n the military sector.
Responding to the discussion, Mr. PETRITSCH, the High Representative, said his mandate was to coordinate all civilian agencies and peace efforts. That meant he had a wide range of issues to address. He welcomed the presence today of the representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina, since open criticism was needed if a solution for the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina was to be found.
Addressing the issue of State institutions, he said strengthening them was intimately tied to the powers invested in him. Without the imposition of the State Border Service this year the country would be in a different situation, due
to the surge in illegal transmigration through Bosnia and Herzegovina into other parts of Europe. Now that that Service was in place, illegal migration and transmigration could be fought.
He said the new passport had other implications and one was economic. Without an internationally recognized passport, business people from Bosnia and Herzegovina would have difficulty travelling and establishing businesses. In many ways it had therefore been an absolute necessity to come to a decision on the passport.
Addressing the decisions of the constitutional court, he said he appreciated its efficiency and professionalism. Its landmark decisions would positively affect State-building. Those decisions were also irreversible and that must be understood by local entity governments.
He said economic reform was the engine of change in the country, but there were differences between the two entities in the state of the economy. The first two years in the Republika Sprska had been lost due to political differences and it was now lagging behind. In the privatization process, however, it was more advanced than in the rest of the Federation.
He said the return of refugees was at the core of the Dayton peace accords and was not confined by it. There were, therefore, no restrictions to the process. During this year and next, figures indicated that return efforts, coupled with a plan for property legislation, would see the issue of those returns turned into self-sustaining efforts that local authorities could manage. Due to the great success in returns this year, however, he said there was a lack of flexible funds and alternative accommodation.
He said there were now fresh winds of change in the whole region and the environment was more conducive to peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Within 10 months the three main actors in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had stepped down in one way or another, and that provided opportunities for the peace process to progress.
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