FOCUS ON NATIONALIST ELECTION SHOWING, WAR CRIMINALS AS OFFICIALS BRIEF SECURITY COUNCIL ON BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA TRANSITION

23 October 2002
SC/7544

FOCUS ON NATIONALIST ELECTION SHOWING, WAR CRIMINALS AS OFFICIALS BRIEF SECURITY COUNCIL ON BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA TRANSITION

23/10/2002
Press Release
SC/7544


Security Council

4631st Meeting (AM)


FOCUS ON NATIONALIST ELECTION SHOWING, WAR CRIMINALS AS OFFICIALS BRIEF

SECURITY COUNCIL ON BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA TRANSITION


Seven years of the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) and a decade of peacekeeping in that country were about to end, Jacques Paul Klein, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Coordinator of United Nations Operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, said this morning as he briefed the Security Council on the planned transition to the European Union Police Mission (EUPM) on 1 January 2003.


Describing UNMIBH as a success and noting that many lessons had been learned, he said the experience had reaffirmed three fundamental points:  that the rule of law in a post-conflict situation was the foundation for democracy, economic progress and an exit strategy for peacekeepers; that reconciliation and healing were impossible unless notorious war criminals were brought to justice; and that unstable, dysfunctional societies and the detritus of war could not be allowed to fester unattended or be abandoned in midstream.


He said the strong showing of “nationalist” parties during the 5 October elections was not a vote for “Milosevic/Tudjman style” ultra-nationalism, but rather a protest against “non-nationalist non-performance”.  All opposition parties had correctly judged the mood of frustration in an electorate fed up with criminality, corruption and inaction, he noted, adding that young people, in an indictment of the entire current political class, had not voted at all.  Economic necessity and the realization that power could change through the ballot box had now started to temper the rhetoric of nationalist parties.


Paddy Ashdown, High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, said the task was to bring the country to the point at which its peace rested on firm foundations, it no longer posed a threat to itself or its neighbours, it became a dependable international and regional partner, and was firmly on course for integration into the European Union.  He welcomed the fact that the European Union was taking on a steadily increasing share of the burden within Bosnia and Herzegovina, as in the rest of the Balkan region, strategically, militarily, economically and financially.


He stressed that the entire international community must remain engaged in Bosnia and Herzegovina if success was to be attained.  Neighbouring countries, particularly Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, had special obligations to work actively for stability and reconciliation within the country.  To set Bosnia and Herzegovina firmly on a course for a brighter future required continued funding, a continued, though diminishing, military presence and, for


some time, the continued commitment of qualified people.  Above all, it would require political will to stay the course, he emphasized.


Surveying the progress made since peace had taken hold, he said troop levels had been reduced, nearly a million refugees had returned to their homes and around 60 per cent of locally registered property claims had been resolved.  Thousands of homes had been repaired and electricity generation was now at 90 per cent of

pre-war levels.  Noting that slow progress must not be mistaken for no progress, he stressed the necessity of judicial and economic reform as tens of thousands of young people left the country due to lack of jobs, persistently widespread corruption and tax evasion.


Following the briefings, Council members and representatives of other concerned States praised the work of UNMIBH, most agreeing with the priorities of "jobs and justice" presented by the Special Representative and the High Representative.  While most also agreed with their interpretation of the low election turnout, some expressed concern over the strong showing of nationalist parties.  In addition, Syria's representative expressed apprehension at the very low turnout among younger voters, describing them as crucial for the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina.


Other delegations were concerned about organized crime, customs operations and the need to bring war criminals to justice.  Croatia’s representative asked whether the international community could do anything to help in that effort, while the representative of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia said that normalizing relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina was a major priority for his country.


The representative of the Russian Federation stressed that a major condition for future success was ensuring stability in the entire country and in each of its districts, on the basis of the Dayton Peace Agreements.  It would be counterproductive to revise, selectively implement or erode those accords, he warned.


Also speaking today were the representatives of Council members Norway, United States, France, Ireland, United Kingdom, China, Bulgaria, Colombia, Syria, Mauritius, Mexico, Guinea, Singapore and Cameroon.


The Council also heard from the representative of Denmark, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States.


Beginning at 10:40 a.m., today’s meeting adjourned at 1:40 p.m.


Background


The Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  It had before it a letter dated 18 October 2002 from the Secretary-General, addressed to the President of the Security Council (to be issued as document S/2002/1176), transmitting the report of the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina.


Briefings


The Council received a briefing from PADDY ASHDOWN, High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina.


He began by paying tribute to the work of those who had served in the country under the flag of the United Nations and to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Jacques Klein.  Surveying progress in Bosnia and Herzegovina, he said troop levels had been reduced, nearly a million refugees had returned to their homes, and around 60 per cent of locally registered property claims had been resolved.  Thousands of homes had been repaired and electricity generation was now at 90 per cent of pre-war levels.  There was democracy in Belgrade and Zagreb, though the region was still fragile.  Overall, he said, slow progress must not be mistaken for no progress.


Turning to the recent elections, he said they were the first to be run by the Bosnians themselves, and they were conducted efficiently and without violence.  The turnout was disappointing, reflecting widespread frustration with the political process and some election fatigue, but the analysis of a return to nationalism was not accurate.  The low turnout was a protest against the slow pace of reform.  The new Government and the international community needed to hear that cry.


As a priority, there had been a start in establishing the rule of law, he said, with a new unit to tackle crime and corruption, a new Legal Reform Unit, and a restructuring of the court system.  A High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council was now in place, and a special prosecutorial office for organized crime had been established.  There were changes happening in policing.  But there was much to do before the justice system worked, including central legislation and an operating court.  International assistance was required.


Economic reform was also needed quickly, he added.  Aid was tapering off, debts were mounting, and foreign investment was lagging.  Almost half the population lived close to the poverty line.  Tens of thousands of young people were leaving due to lack of jobs.  Some important laws with economic effect had been passed in recent months, but they must be implemented.  There was still widespread corruption and tax evasion.  He described efforts to stop it.  However, he went on, Bosnia’s central government needed to change.  Structural reforms had been proposed.  Those reforms, coupled with aggressive economic reforms, were the next keys steps to make Bosnia and Herzegovina work.  There was a need to get rid of "a raft of absurd regulations" which drove local businessmen to distraction and discouraged potential foreign investors.


In all areas, the core remaining tasks of reform must be focused on and completed.  It was most important not to slacken efforts during 2003, so that there would be a successful handover to Bosnian authorities at the end of next year.  For that to happen, tasks must be handed over at a faster pace.  In that regard, a Mandate Implementation Plan for the Office of the High Representative would be ready by 21 November.


The task, he said, was to bring the country to the point at which its peace rested on firm foundations, when it no longer posed a threat to itself or to its neighbours, when it became a dependable international and regional partner, and when it was firmly on course for integration into the European Union.  He said he welcomed the fact that the European Union was taking on a steadily greater share of the burden within Bosnia and Herzegovina, as in the rest of the Balkan region  -- strategically, militarily, economically and financially.  The arrival of the European Union Police Mission (EUPM) next January would be particularly important.


He said the entire international community must remain engaged in the country, particularly the United States, if success was to be attained.  Neighbouring countries, particularly Croatia and the former Republic of Yugoslavia, had special obligations to work actively for stability and reconciliation within the country.  Setting Bosnia and Herzegovina firmly on a course for a brighter future required continued funding, as well as a continued, if diminishing, military presence and, for some time, the continued commitment of qualified people.  Above all, it would require political will to stay the course.


The Council then heard a briefing from the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Coordinator for the United Nations Operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, JACQUES PAUL KLEIN.


He said the work of United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) was about to be completed; the work of Paddy Ashdown had just begun.  The presence of both today underlined the primary responsibility of the Council in the supervisions of implementation of the Dayton (Ohio) Accords.  It sent the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina a clear message:  the international community intended to continue its commitment to sure completion of the process started in 1995.  The strong show of “nationalist” parties during the recent elections did not mean that the peace implementation process would stop, but presented a more challenging political environment requiring strong intervention and continued commitment to keep Bosnia and Herzegovina on the path of reform.


The result was not a vote for “Milosevic/Tudjman style” ultra-nationalism, but a protest vote against “non-nationalist non-performance”, he said.  All opposition parties had correctly judged the mood of frustration in an electorate fed up with criminality, corruption and inaction.  Indicting the entire current political class of leaders, youth did not vote at all.  Economic necessity and the realization that power could change through the ballot box had now started to temper the rhetoric of nationalist parties.  Pragmatists and reformers were emerging.  The UNMIBH had received better cooperation from the “nationalist” authorities in the Republika Srpska and in the Mostar region than from the “non-nationalist” coalition and the Federation Ministry of Interior.


There were, however, already ominous signs of renewed political interference in the police forces.  It was of deep concern that some Ministers of Interior and members of political parties were seeking to exercise undue pressure on some of the Police Commissioners who had been selected through open competition.  The challenge was to hold the newly elected politicians to their promises of reform.  He was gratified that the rule of law had been placed at the centre of the reform programme by the High Representative.  The focus of UNMIBH had been on police reform and restructuring.  Reform of the judiciary and the entire legal system lagged far behind and required strong measures that had only just begun.


For UNMIBH, he said, the elections had been an unqualified success.  They had taken place in conditions of full security.  That achievement built on the impressive record of local police in implementing security plans for minority returns and sensitive public events such as religious gatherings and sports events.  Bosnia and Herzegovina had now a lower general crime rate than many countries in Western Europe, underpinning the largest number of returns of refugees and displaced persons since the war.  Bosnia and Herzegovina was no longer the principal entry point into Europe for illegal migrants.  Those achievements were based on the progressive completion of the six core programmes of the Mandate Implementation Plan.


On 18 October, UNMIBH had begun announcing final certification of the  16,832 local police officers who, in 1999, were only provisionally authorized to work.  Three police administrations (Brcko District, the Republika Srpska and the Una Sana Canton) had received UNMIBH accreditation as meeting the basic standards of democratic policing, while accreditation of the remaining 12 police administrations was scheduled in November.  The project to minimize political interference in police work by establishing the post of an independent Police Commissioner, chosen by open competition, was in its final stage.  Ten per cent of police forces were now from minority groups in each specific area, and there were now 490 serving female police officers.


In 14 out of 15 different judicial districts, the Criminal Justice Advisory Unit had completed a specialized training course for criminal investigation police.  The current week also marked the completion of a three-year project to establish, train and equip Court Police serving all 174 courts.  With the establishment of the State Information and Protection Agency, Bosnia and Herzegovina now had all the mechanisms and institutions to participate fully in the regional and international fight against terrorism and organized crime.  A major concern was the practical problem of funding.  The fundamental crime fighting institutions were too important to be allowed to fail through low and irregular salary payments, he said.


He commended the work of UNMIBH’s Special Trafficking Operations Programme working full time against trafficking in human beings.  In the past year, 147 sex establishments had been forced to close, and 230 victims of trafficking had been assisted to go home.  A Rapid Intervention Force removed victims from nightclubs quickly and took them to a safe house.  However, the problem of trafficking would not be resolved until local prosecutors and the judiciary took it seriously.  That was another area where weaknesses in the rule of law diminished the impact of effective police work.


Arrangements for a seamless transition to the EUPM in January 2003 were in place, he said.  The drawdown of the International Police Task Force (IPTF) and the gradual build-up of the EUPM had been carefully coordinated, with the first Mission deployment scheduled for 4 November.  He welcomed the fact that the EUPM had agreed to give priority to the State Border Service, the State Information and Protection Agency, and the maintenance of effective counter-trafficking measures, and that it intended to take a robust approach to organized crime.  The first operation by the European Union under the European Security and Defence Policy was the practical embodiment of the recommendations of the Brahimi Report.


He said seven years of UNMIBH and a decade of United Nations peacekeeping in Bosnia and Herzegovina were about to end.  The record was mixed, not disastrous.  The UNMIBH had been a success and many lessons had been learned.  The experience had reaffirmed three fundamental points:  the introduction of the rule of law in a post-conflict situation was the foundation for democracy, economic progress, and an exit strategy for peacekeepers; reconciliation and healing were impossible if notorious war criminals were not brought to justice; and unstable, dysfunctional societies and the detritus of war could not be allowed to fester unattended, or to be abandoned in midstream.


Statements


KIM TRAAVIK, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Norway, said the general election of 5 October was the first election that the Bosnian authorities were solely responsible for; it was encouraging that they had been assessed as free and fair.  As those were the first “normal elections” since the end of the war, one would have hoped that the electorate had shown greater interest.  Also, the election results indicated strong support for the three nationalist political parties.  The results must nevertheless be respected.  However, the election results could also be interpreted as a protest against the lack of progress, rather than a victory for nationalistic forces.  The situation in many parts of the region remained fragile.  It was not the time for the international community to withdraw.


He said extensive reform efforts continued to be required, as Bosnia and Herzegovina’s future lay with enhanced cooperation with Europe.  It was up to the country’s newly elected authorities to demonstrate their readiness and political will to fulfil the responsibilities entrusted to them.  Now was the time to follow-up their rhetoric for reform with actions.  He supported the High Representative’s priority tasks for further reforms in the coming six months.  Although Bosnia and Herzegovina had the benefit of strong international community support, that engagement would not last forever.  Engagement of the people and political leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina must come strongly into the fore, sooner rather than later.


He expressed gratitude to Mr. Klein.  He said as the “homestretch” for UNMIBH was approaching, the United Nations would fold the operation with flying colours.  He appreciated the readiness of the European Union to take over the responsibility for the police mission, and to take on a larger responsibility in the wider south-eastern European region.


RICHARD WILLIAMSON (United States) asked what the response of the High Representative would be if nationalist parties made gains and did not cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.  His Government, he said, did not accept outcomes as inevitable.  Cooperation with the Tribunal must continue.  He also asked about controlling exports to Iraq and other kinds of trafficking, and whether the EUPM was ready to take on those tasks and others. 

MICHEL DUCLOS (France) said he supported cooperation between the United Nations and the European Union.  He said the low turnout in the elections did not reflect a turn to a course counter to the country’s interest.  Future leaders should be urged to commit themselves urgently to the path of reform, with priorities of justice and jobs.  Particular stress should be put on combating organized crime.  That programme would be successfully carried out only if the international community and all actors engaged in the country were mobilized.


RICHARD RYAN (Ireland) said the peaceful environment of the recent elections represented an achievement, and he agreed with the analysis of the High Representative regarding the low turnout.  The parties must commit themselves to clean politics and verifiable reform.  The rule of law and the fight against corruption were preconditions for economic growth, as was a functioning court and judiciary, and he supported the priority tasks in the area of justice.  The transition to the European Union Police Mission was valued, as was the high rate of refugee return.  But for those returnees to be reintegrated required strengthening the economy and stability.  In addition, he said there must be further cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal.  He expressed strong support for the work of the High Representative and the Special Representative.


ADAM THOMSON (United Kingdom) said the rule of law must be the international community’s number one priority in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and war criminals must be brought to justice through the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.  There was a need to ensure that the transition process between the IPTF and the EUPM continued to run smoothly.  Practical support for the rule of law was needed.


The reform agenda must be speeded up, and the future Government must be committed to the reform process.  The international community must support the agenda and stay with the process through practical support.  Both reform of justice and economic reform would be essential.  The Bosnian electoral commission had done a superb job, and democracy was taking root.  The low turnout and strong showing of nationalist parties were disappointing, but low turnout would only be reversed if the future Government made progress on reform.


He asked if the High Representative or Mr. Klein thought a moderate coalition in the Republika Srpska was possible and how much the shape of a future coalition mattered for implementation of the reform agenda.


JIANG JIANG (China) said he appreciated achievements made in Bosnia and Herzegovina on all fronts.  China had taken note of the new measures of the High Representative to promote the reform process, as well as measures to strengthen the judicial and legal system.  He hoped the new Government would make priorities of the promotion of national reconciliation, return of refugees and reform of judicial and legal systems.


There were still reports of problems among the three ethnic groups, he said. Only when peaceful coexistence was achieved could Bosnia and Herzegovina stand on its own.  He hoped the Council would continue to express concern about the situation in the region, and that lasting peace and stability in the region would be established.


ALEXANDER V. KONUZIN (Russian Federation) said a major condition for future success was ensuring stability in all of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in each of its districts, on the basis of the Dayton agreements.  It would be counterproductive to revise, to selectively implement or to erode those agreements.  He supported the work of the High Representative, as well as his priorities.  Implementing them should be done in strict conformation with the Dayton agreements.


He said that, given the fragility of the situation, the international community must continue to monitor the public security situation in the country and the work of the police.  He understood that after completion of UNMIBH, the Council would continue to receive regular reports on implementation of police reform in that country.  He welcomed the harmonious relations between Belgrade and Zagreb.  Croatian and Bosnian relations were also important for the stability in the Balkans.  He emphasized that attempts to force Bosnian parties to create one army contradicted the peace agreements and Bosnia’s Constitution, and would upset the delicate balance between the Serbs, Bosnians and Croats.  He asked the High Representative’s assessment of how a dialogue in that regard was proceeding.


STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria), aligning himself with the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union, praised the work of the Special Representative and the High Representative, and agreed that Bosnians wanted more reform.  It was important to encourage the emerging pragmatism, he said, stressing, however, the international community must note that the Bosnians were sending a message of “democracy fatigue”.  There should be a continued strong international presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but the country’s future was in the hands of the Bosnians themselves.


He said it was important that reforms be made quickly, with justice the chief priority and building on the work done by UNMIBH.  The customs service and trafficking in human beings were matters of concern, and he asked for elaboration on efforts being made in those areas.  It was also vital that the reintegration of returnees be carried out successfully, and that all those accused of war crimes to be brought to trial.


ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia), expressing disquiet over the election results, questioned the extent to which they would provoke the international community to wonder what future conflicts might be coming.  He asked the High Representative about the creation of a single prime minister’s post in that light, stressing the importance of linking the election results to the future and to reform.


Concerning the emphasis on the rule of law, he said justice must be effective, and expressed the hope that cooperation with the international community in that area, would be successful.


MIKHAIL WEHBE (Syria) asked how the High Representative could explain the non-participation of the youth in the elections, which sent a distinct message.  To what extent had efforts been made to establish the military institutions he had referred to, and what were the obstacles in that regard, bearing in mind the limitations of European assistance?


Noting that stability had improved, as had the flow of returning refugees, he called for efforts to diminish the flight of Bosnian nationals.  Improvement in the economy would contribute to stability, he said, appealing to the international community for assistance in that regard.  He said the economy should be developed in a regional context and asked what kind of  relations the country had with other States in the region.  Finally, he expressed support for the return of refugees in all parts of the world.


BIJAYEDUTH GOKOOL (Mauritius) said the fact that participation in the elections had been low might have been expression of frustration with the authorities.  The new leadership should address the concerns of the people.  Efforts carried out to establish the rule of law had been commendable.  The new State Court would comprise some international judges for a period of time, and he asked to be updated in that regard.


He asked what programmes had been elaborated to deal with the severe domestic debt crisis, and what incentives were proposed to attract foreign investment.


ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER (Mexico) appealed to the political parties that had won in the elections to shoulder the responsibilities contracted in the political process, in particular those of the Dayton agreements, so that the existence of a multi-ethnic State could become a true reality.  To achieve the objectives set by the High Representative, deep-going reforms had to be carried out.  He underscored the importance of full support of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.  Noting the increase of refugee return, he said it was crucial for neigbouring countries to take legislative and practical steps to facilitate the return of those who were currently taking refuge in Bosnia, and he asked for clarification on that matter.


He said the Sarajevo Summit among Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Yugoslavia had indicated progress in normalization of the relations in the three countries.  The international community must ensure that the spirit of regional cooperation was sustained and strengthened.


MAMADY TRAORE (Guinea) appealed to the international community to continue support for the reforms undertaken.  At a time when UNMIBH was coming to a close, he said he wished to commend Mr. Klein for his professionalism and competence.  He said efforts should be made to return trust in the system on the part of those who had not taken part in the elections.


YAP ONG HENG (Singapore) supported the High Representative’s emphasis on the rule of law and jobs, as well as membership in the European Union.  To achieve those goals, the Bosnian Government must act on key reforms.  He also commended police reforms carried out by UNMIBH, saying they should be built upon in the transition to the European Union Police Mission.


Council President MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon), speaking in his national capacity, asked how the other countries in the subregion had greeted the results of the recent elections.  He also asked about organized crime and security issues.


ELLEN MARGRETHE LØJ (Denmark), speaking on behalf of the European Union and Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Turkey and Iceland, said the European Union regretted the low participation in the elections, which had been characterized as a protest vote.  She asked the High Representative how he saw the outcome of the deliberations for a new government, and when a new government could be expected.


She said organized crime and corruption prevented the roots of progress and democratic developments.  Organized crime was a threat to the rule of law, democracy and human rights, as well as to social progress and economic reform.  She asked the High Representative what he would like to see as an outcome of the Conference on Organized Crime in South-Eastern Europe, to be held in London on

25 November.


She emphasized the need for a sustainable solution to the issue of displaced persons, and regretted local obstruction to returns.  She said she urged all authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to honour their commitment to address outstanding legal and administrative issues in that regard.  The attribution of sufficient resources by the Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities towards the sustainability of the return of refugees and displaced persons was of the utmost importance.  She asked the High Representative to elaborate on plans to overcome such obstacles.


She said after seven years, UNMIBH had successfully fulfilled its mandate in the area of police reform and restructuring.  The “Status-of-Forces Agreement” between the European Union and Bosnia and Herzegovina relating to the Union’s police mission had been signed in Sarajevo earlier this month.  She stressed the importance of enhanced cooperation and coordination between different international actors in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  Through the Stabilization and Association Agreement and the EUPM, the Union would continue to work with the authorities and the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina in their endeavours to build a well functioning, multi-ethnic society.


IVAN SIMONOVIC (Croatia) said he supported the approaches of the High Representative and the Special Representative.  He agreed that the key to progress in Bosnia and Herzegovina was reform.  He congratulated the country on its successful election, saying that political parities should be evaluated according to their support for reforms.  He also supported the justice and jobs priorities.  The fight against corruption was extremely important to attract foreign direct investment.  He was worried, however, about problems caused by persons wanted by the International Criminal Court being at large.  He asked if there was anything that the international community could do in that regard.


DEJAN SAHOVIC (Yugoslavia) said regional stability was a major objective of his country, along with good, normalized relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina.  The relations had continued to improve in recent months, with many agreements in process.  He praised the work of UNMIBH, and was confident that the European Union Mission would play an equally constructive role.  He also hoped that recent measures would allow Bosnians to take their progress in their own hands.


Response to Questions and Comments


Mr. ASHDOWN, responding to questions and comments from members, said practical help was needed in the support programme for judges and prosecutors, for the witness protection programme, and for dealing with organized crime.  It was hoped that the outcome of the Conference on Organized Crime in South-Eastern Europe would provide such assistance.


He said the key problem regarding the return of refugees and displaced persons was lack of economic activity, jobs and social services.  Many people were prevented for returning because money was not available to put roofs over their heads.  He appealed to the international community to provide more funding rather than cutting back.


Although many delegates had stated that the election result was not a vote for nationalism, he said, the hard fact remained that the elected representatives were from nationalist parties.  The next government should be judged by its actions and the Council should focus on why money should be provided to a country where it would be handed over to criminals.  It might be appropriate to take a more direct approach by linking the provision of resources with reforms, he cautioned.


He said he was fully prepared to use the powers granted to him in addressing the question of transferring military material to Iraq, although that was more a matter for the multinational stabilization force (SFOR), which should determine there had indeed been such an action.


Returning to the question of elections, he said the low turnout had been disappointing to all, although 55 per cent was rather higher than in other countries.  The low turnout might have resulted from the number of elections that had been held in short order.  It was a message to speed up reform, he said, noting that the elections had given a precise balance between the number of seats held by the “nationalist parties” and the rest.  It would therefore take until January, or even March next year, before a new government was established.  He remarked that the first priority for a country emerging from conflict should be to establish the rule of law, and the second should be the establishment of democracy.


In response to another question, he said it was possible to put together a non-nationalist coalition in the Republika Srpska numerically and it did indeed matter who was participating in the coalition.  Reform would proceed more quickly if those known for reformist actions were included in government.  Expressing scepticism about the current winners, he said the process of reform could, nevertheless, not now be impeded.


Addressing other comments, he said reforms must be carried out to create a single internal market.  None of the proposals he had made contradicted the Dayton Agreements, but those accords had also been used by obstructionists.  The “sclerotic” state of the economy had not been conducive to attracting foreign investment, which was the only way to address the debt crisis.  It might be necessary to reform the economy once the new government was formed.  Huge sums of money were being lost through customs revenue failure, which was not only a local

problem, but also a regional one.  There was indeed a need for military reform, which must stay within the requirements of Dayton.


The sooner the two war criminals mentioned were brought to trial, the sooner Bosnia and Herzegovina could put its past behind it, he continued, taking comfort in the fact that although their arrest was necessary, their power was not such that they could block reform.  The fact that Yugoslavia had shown regional cooperation was one of the most hopeful signs for the future.


In conclusion, he said there were those who regarded Bosnia and Herzegovina as a black hole in the Balkans.  It was not; the country had advanced further in six years since a terrible war than the United Kingdom had done after 30.  “The worst is behind us” he said, adding, however, that the task ahead required the same commitment that the international community had shown over the last six years.


Mr. KLEIN, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, said the transition to the European Union Police Mission was on track, in the expanded version that had been requested.  Regarding regional cooperation, he said that neighbouring countries had signed agreements on cross-border issues and cooperation was strong.  The election results showed that international efforts had been sometimes uncoordinated, and the party coalitions built previously were not always wise.  He preferred the “justice and jobs” priorities of the High Representative.


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For information media. Not an official record.