SECURITY COUNCIL IS TOLD FURTHER PROGRESS IN BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA NEEDS SOLUTION TO WAR CRIMES ISSUE, ECONOMIC REFORM, GLOBAL SUPPORT

11 November 2004
SC/8242

SECURITY COUNCIL IS TOLD FURTHER PROGRESS IN BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA NEEDS SOLUTION TO WAR CRIMES ISSUE, ECONOMIC REFORM, GLOBAL SUPPORT

11/11/2004
Press ReleaseSC/8242

Security Council

5075th Meeting* (AM & PM)

Security Council is told further progress in Bosnia and Herzegovina needs

 

solution to war crimes issue, economic reform, global support

Republika Srpska Chided for Not Aiding Arrest of Karadzic, Mladic;

NATO Secretary General Reviews Plans for Further Involvement in Balkans

The Security Council was told today that, although the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina was much improved, further progress would depend on resolving the issue of past war crimes, maintaining reform efforts and sustained involvement of the international community.

In his first briefing on the situation since March, the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lord Paddy Ashdown, told the Council that, in a decade, it could become a country transformed, in a region transformed, in what was a “huge prize”, not just for Bosnia and Herzegovina, but for the entire international community.

The Council also heard from the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who reviewed the scope of NATO operations in the Balkans.

Lord Ashdown noted that, in nine years, not a single indictee had been handed over to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) by the Republika Srpska authorities, and Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic remained at large.  Time was running out, he said, for the Republika Srpska to take action to comply with international law.  Time was also running out for it to continue to block the path of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the European Union and to NATO.

He said the message from the Council to the leaders of Republika Srpska should be unambiguous and firm that the time for excuses was over, because the war crimes issue was now the biggest stumbling block towards a brighter future.  The longer it remained unresolved, the longer it would take Bosnia and Herzegovina to make that final, crucial break with the past, and embrace a brighter future as a modern European nation.

Emphasizing that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s transformation, in which NATO nations expanded the geographic scope of alliance operations in response to a series of new strategic challenges, had begun in the Balkans, its Secretary General said that the decision to go “out of the area” in that region had been a historical one.  That mission, undertaken in close cooperation with, and under a mandate from, the United Nations, had been NATO’s first peacekeeping operation and represented the birth of UN-NATO cooperation.

He said that NATO had provided continuous support to the United Nations in the Balkans since 1992, resulting in a safe and secure environment.  State institutions had been established, human rights laws were now respected, and the country had been set on the path to European integration.  Given the improved security in Bosnia and Herzegovina, it was the right time to terminate the Stabilisation Force mission.  The NATO was now working to hand over peacekeeping tasks to the European Union next month.  The NATO would retain a military presence there and had already established a new headquarters in Sarajevo.

Mladen Ivanic, Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that, despite all the difficulties of the past six months, Bosnia and Herzegovina had made significant progress towards full implementation of the Dayton/Paris Peace Agreement.

He said the report of the Srebrenica Commission not only contained the names of some 7,800 persons who lost their lives in the most tragic of all events of the conflict, and disclosed several new locations of the mass graves, but it also accepted the share of responsibility placed upon Republika Srpska and expressed remorse to the victims’ families.  Cooperation with the International Tribunal remained one of the greatest obstacles for his country’s association into the Euro-Atlantic integration processes.  There was a firm political commitment to arrest the indicted war criminals, and Bosnians were aware that full cooperation with the Tribunal was a precondition for recognition as a democratic State.

Other speakers addressed the need to resolve the war crimes issue.  The representative of the United States said that, while remarkable achievements had been made in the nine years since the war, those achievements placed at risk by the failure to bring to justice those accused of genocide.  The transformation into a stable and prosperous country could not be completed until indicted war criminals faced justice, especially Karadzic and Mladic.  While recent reforms had brought the country close to membership in NATO’s Partnership for Peace, NATO had rightly said it would not accept a State in which one part aided and abetted international fugitives from justice.  The failure to arrest war criminals rested squarely on the shoulders of the Republika Srpska, which remained in violation of the Dayton-Paris Peace Accords and various resolutions passed by the Council.

The representative of the Russian Federation said the responsibility for continuing problems should not be attributed solely to the Serbs.  Cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia was an important element of the Dayton accords, and he favoured compliance with the relevant Security Council resolutions, but Bosnia and Herzegovina’s stability and peace should not remain hostage to that one aspect of the Dayton agreements.

Also speaking in the debate were the representatives of Germany, United Kingdom, Brazil, Chile, China, Pakistan, Philippines, France, Spain, Romania, Algeria, Angola, Netherlands (for the European Union and associated States) and Japan.

Speakers today also expressed their condolences on the death of President Yasser Arafat who, it was said, had for nearly four decades expressed and symbolized the national aspirations of the Palestinian people.  Council members called his death a tremendous loss for the Palestinian people, whom they were confident would turn their grief into concrete steps in the quest for peace.

The meeting began at 11:13 a.m. and was suspended at 1:35 p.m.  It resumed at 3:50 p.m. and adjourned at 4:16 p.m.

Background

Before the Council was a letter dated 8 October 2004 from the Secretary-General attaching the twenty-sixth report of the High Representative for the Implementation of the Peace Agreement on Bosnia and Herzegovina (document S/2004/807).  The report, which covers the period from 1 January to 30 June 2004, is submitted pursuant to Council resolution 1031 (1995), in which the Council requested the Secretary-General to submit reports from the High Commissioner in accordance with annex 10 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Conclusions of the London Peace Implementation Conference of 8 and 9 December 1995.

The report notes that almost nine years after the Dayton agreements, Bosnia and Herzegovina is now within reach of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Partnership for Peace and the launch of negotiations with the European Union for the conclusion of a stabilization and association agreement.  In the period since its last report, the Office of the High Representative has continued to make substantive progress in several key areas.

The European Commission Feasibility Study identified 16 general conditions for opening negotiations on a stabilization and association agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina by December 2004, the report notes.  The Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities made significant progress towards fulfilling the legislative requirements in the first six months of this year.  Important structural changes in the fields of crime prevention, the judiciary, customs and taxation, the development of a single economic space, and the energy market have been initiated.  Staff of the Office of the High Representative worked closely with the entity- and State-level governments and parliaments, assisting them in drafting, promoting and enacting the necessary laws.

At its summit in Istanbul on 28 and 29 June 2004, NATO announced that the Stabilization Force would be terminated, the report states.  On 9 July, the Security Council welcomed the European Union’s intention to mount a military mission from December 2004.  On 12 July 2004, the European Council issued its decision to replace the NATO mission with a European Union-led peacekeeping force by the beginning of next year.  The European Union force will work in unison with the High Commissioner, the European Union Police Mission, the European Union Monitoring Mission and the European Commission’s assistance programmes to support the stabilization and association process and the Office of the High Representative’s own mission implementation plan.

Despite remarkable progress on the defence reform front, placing the armed forces under State control and fulfilling almost all the NATO reform benchmarks, Bosnia and Herzegovina failed to meet the benchmarks required for entry into the Partnership for Peace at the Istanbul summit.  The alliance expressed concern that Bosnia and Herzegovina and, in particular, a small number of obstructionist elements in Republika Srpska had prevented Republika Srpska from fulfilling its obligations to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

The report adds that Republika Srpska authorities have failed over nine years to arrest and transfer to the Tribunal’s jurisdiction a single indictee for war crimes, which is a fundamental requirement for the country as a whole to join with the Partnership for Peace.  The NATO did not, however, say “no”; they said “not yet”, with the summit acknowledging Bosnia and Herzegovina’s progress in defence reform, also a precondition for Partnership for Peace membership, and urging that it maintain recent momentum towards creating a single military structure.  The alliance reiterated that Bosnia and Herzegovina would be welcome in the Partnership for Peace once it had met the established NATO benchmarks.

The High Representative’s Office continued to work on building the capacities of the State Court in the first half of 2004, the report says.  The Office’s rule of law team supervised the recruitment of international judges and prosecutors for the special panel on organized and financial crimes within the State Court.  Considerable progress was made in completing the economic reforms outlined in the agenda the Office of the High Representative presented to the Peace Implementation Council in December 2003.  The “Bulldozer Initiative” entered its third phase, effectively removing or amending laws that acted as barriers to entering or conducting honest business under purely local auspices.  Laws regulating the energy and other basic sectors were also adopted in the period.

Following up on the achievements of the Defence Reform Commission in 2003, the first half of the year saw the appointment of the first post-war defence minister, key appointments of general officers to the new armed forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the passage of the defence budgets necessary to make the continuation of reform possible.  The keystone in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s future intelligence and security system, the Intelligence and Security Agency, began operations on 1 June 2004.

The High Representative also reports that he imposed a permanent statute for the city of Mostar on 28 January 2004, drawing for the most part on agreements reached between the parties in the Mostar Commissions, which had met to consider the city’s future during 2003-2004.  This has initiated a process that will end the parallel structures and segregation that have prevailed in that city since the war.  The new statute provides guarantees against untrammelled majority rule and ensures that the vital national interests of the three constituent peoples and the “others” are safeguarded.

In 2003, the Bosnia and Herzegovina Human Rights Chamber ordered Republika Srpska to conduct an in-depth investigation into the fates of those persons still counted as missing following the massacres in and around Srebrenica in July 1995.  The Srebrenica Commission finally began work in January 2003 and eventually produced a report, adopted by the Republika Srpska Government, which, for the first time, acknowledged the magnitude of the atrocities committed following the fall of the Srebrenica “safe area” and provided new details on mass grave sites.

Significant progress has been achieved in all of the Office’s core tasks, including rule of law, reforming the economy, strengthening the capacity of Bosnia and Herzegovina institutions, and defence reform.  In June 2004, the Office presented an update of its mission implementation plan to the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board.  In September, it received approval for a budget for next year which will close down the rule of law pillar, and cut its budget by 20 per cent and its manpower by 25 per cent. 

Statement by Council President

At the outset of the meeting, the President of the Council, JOHN C. DANFORTH, speaking in his national capacity as representative of the United States, said the death of Yassir Arafat was a significant moment in Palestinian history.  He expressed condolences to the Palestinian people.  He said that for the Palestinian people, he hoped the future would bring peace and the fulfilment of their aspirations for an independent, democratic Palestine at peace with its neighbours.  In the transition period, he urged all in the region to join in making progress towards those goals and towards the ultimate goal of peace.

Statement by High Representative

PADDY ASHDOWN, High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, said the fact that Bosnia and Herzegovina rarely featured as a stand-alone item on the Council’s agenda these days was a sign of how much things had changed for the better in the last 10 years.  A decade ago, the situation had been very different.  In November 1994, the Council’s agenda had been dominated by Bosnia and Herzegovina, regularly denouncing bombings and demanding access for humanitarian convoys.  In all, the Council had issued 14 statements on Bosnia and Herzegovina in the course of 1994.

Bosnia and Herzegovina was a very different country now, in a very different region, he said.  To be sure, Bosnia and Herzegovina had a long way to go before it became a European Union member State or a paid-up ally in NATO.  He was convinced, however, that it would reach those goals.  Like its neighbours, Bosnia and Herzegovina today was firmly focused on its twin strategic goals:  qualifying to begin negotiations with the European Union on a Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA), and gaining admission to the Alliance’s Partnership for Peace programme.  “There is, quite simply, no other game in town”, he added.

Getting through those initial goals –- embarking on SAA negotiations and entering Partnership for Peace –- would move Bosnia and Herzegovina decisively forward, he said.  It would lock the country into a framework that would pull forward the reform process, and make possible the steady transformation in the international community’s role in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including the eventual phasing out of his position and office.

“Bosnia is moving decisively from the era of Dayton into the era of Brussels”, he said.  The pull of Brussels was starting to be as effective as, or more effective than, the push of the Bonn Powers.  Since his last briefing to the Council in March, his Office had notched up some further significant steps forward in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which had moved it closer to meeting the requirements set out by the European Union and NATO.

The year had seen steady progress in adopting reform legislation and providing for new State-level institutions, even if implementation of the laws had often lagged behind.  The process of unifying Mostar had proceeded on track and broadly on time.  A small international team in Mostar had been working closely with the authorities there to implement the new statute.  The challenge now would be to ensure that the new administration, reflecting the results of the October municipal elections, “bedded down successfully” as the New Year began.

Good progress had also been made in the judicial field, he said.  The single Judicial and Prosecutorial Council had been established on 1 May, and Bosnia and Herzegovina was on course to start trying its own war crimes cases in its own domestic war crimes chambers from January 2005.

In the economic area, he noted the passage of a new Bosnia and Herzegovina public procurement law; crucial reforms in the energy sector; the reconstruction of the entire South-East European electricity grid; the initiation of the third phase of the Bulldozer Initiative, namely, to do away with bureaucratic barriers to honest trade and business; and, most significantly, the resolution of the painful and difficult issue of internal debt, which could have derailed the entire economy.

On the municipal front, legislation providing for the direct election of mayors had been adopted in time for the 2 October municipal elections, he said.  The first Brcko District elections had been held, which was a precondition to normalizing the district’s autonomous status and paving the way towards winding up the supervisory regime.

He said the Office of the High Representative continued to be guided by its Mission Implementation Plan, and the four core tasks it contained, namely, establishing the rule of law; economic reform; institution-building and defence/security sector reform.  Within that umbrella, six key priorities had been identified for implementation in the coming year.  One of those priorities was the State Court, which was already starting to deliver real results.  Indictments and now trials of the once high and mighty were beginning to convince citizens that there would be no immunity for the rich and powerful from any national community.

Another was the Council of Ministers, he continued, which needed to become functional, with properly staffed and functioning ministries.  The State-level Intelligence (OSA) had formally commenced operations on 1 June, and the merger of its entity predecessors, a huge and delicate task, was proceeding relatively smoothly.

With the help of the European Union Police Mission, progress was being made in reforming the police, and creating an effective policing structure, he said.  The State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) was operational and becoming an increasingly credible body in the law enforcement community.  A Police Restructuring Commission had been established at the initiative of Prime Minister Terzic on 2 July.  Charged with devising a single policing structure for the country, the Commission would report by the end of the year.

On the question of police certification, he noted that, following the issuance of the Council’s presidential statement in June, the presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina had requested all competent Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities to harmonize their laws to give full effect to the United Nations certification decisions.  He expected that Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities would adopt such amendments shortly.  Although significant progress was being made on the issue of implementation, a solution with respect to problematic cases was still needed.

In May, it had been agreed with the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations that efforts to ensure full implementation of United Nations decisions would be delinked from those related to problematic cases.  The Human Rights Commission within the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina had rendered a decision in the summer, making clear that the implementation of the United Nations certification decisions by domestic authorities did not violate the rights of police officers under the European Convention on Human Rights.  He believed that the need to review all United Nations decisions on questions of law and fact could now be measured against the Commission’s decisions.

Facing daily allegations of procedural shortcomings, however, he said many examples were sent to his Office by the representative of another United Nations agency in Bosnia and Herzegovina and had been shared with the United Nations during joint meetings this summer.  The United Nations in New York had been so far unable to provide evidence that would contradict such allegations.  The United Nations capacity to do so was key to the determination of whether a review mechanism was necessary for such cases.  A review of decisions rendered pursuant to a mandate from the United Nations would require the Organization’s authorization.

The Indirect Tax Authority was now up and running, he said, and they were currently in the process of merging the entity customs administrations and preparing the introduction of Value Added Tax (VAT) in 2006.  On defence reform, the Office had continued to move forward in meeting the 14 benchmarks set by NATO, with the appointment of the first post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina Defence Minister and key general staff officers, as well as the downsizing of entity armies.  In December, NATO would take on the leadership of that Commission and of defence reform, in general.

Taken together, all of those developments meant that Bosnia and Herzegovina was moving decisively down the road to membership of the European Union and NATO, and to life as a normal, peaceful European country.  Bosnia and Herzegovina was changing and it was, therefore, appropriate that the international community should start to adjust its presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina too, to reflect changing times and challenges.

Continuing, he said that the Office of the High Representative had steadily evolved in its role -- acquiring the Bonn Powers two years into its mandate, and using them in different ways to promote peace implementation.  Now, the use of those powers was being reduced, and the size of the Office was being cut, with 25 per cent reduction in staff for 2005, and a 20 per cent cut in the budget.  The same had been true of the NATO-led international military presence, which had been reduced in size as stability had increased -- from 60,000 at the outset to 7,000 today.  On 2 December, SFOR -- the multinational stabilization force -- would terminate and NATO would hand over leadership of the military mission to the European Union.  He was confident that the transition would go smoothly and well.

He said that, hopefully, most Bosnians noticed little difference.  Some 80 per cent of the troops on the ground were already European, and while shoulder flashes would change, the commitment to a safe and secure environment would not.  The new force would be very like SFOR.  It would be militarily robust and it would brook no challenges to peace and order in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  That signalled, unmistakably, the country’s European destiny, and the commitment of the European Union to assist it on its journey to eventual membership.  The process would allow the European Union to bring together all of its assets to bear in Bosnia and Herzegovina more effectively, as that country moved into a qualitatively new stage in its relations with the Union.  He maid that point, he said, not just as High Representative, but also as the European Union Special Representative, a role that would grow in importance in the months and years ahead.

The fact that that transition from SFOR to “EUFOR” was possible was a formidable tribute to NATO and all it had achieved in Bosnia in the last nine years, he said.  He expressed his profound gratitude to the Alliance, whose Secretary General would address the Council later today, and to all those soldiers -– NATO and non-NATO –- who had served under the NATO flag as part of IFOR -– the international force -- and SFOR.  They had done an outstanding job; they had not only ended a war, but helped to build a peace.  “You are handing on a situation immeasurably better than the one you found in 1995”, he said.  The fact that NATO would continue to play a vital, but different, role in Bosnia after EUFOR took over, with a United States general at the helm of a new NATO headquarters, was “hugely welcome”.  Its responsibilities would encompass, not just defence reform, but work on counter-terrorism and a continued effort in the hunt for indicted war criminals.

As the move got under way into the next phase of Bosnia’s transition to fully-fledged statehood and membership of Euro-Atlantic institutions, he cited three points of concern.  The first was economic.  Bosnia and Herzegovina’s economy was still not growing fast enough to relieve the pain of its suffering people.  The second was the financial viability of the State in its present shape, which might make it necessary to consider, before too long, the pressing need to make the State’s constitutional structure more functional.  The third was his most immediate concern, and posed the biggest threat to the entire country, but most especially, prospects for the Republika Srpska entity.  He had made clear to the Council in March that there was a “very real risk” that, despite the country’s remarkable progress on defence reform, the Republika Srpska entity’s complete failure to meet its obligations to the ICTY could well scupper the country’s chances of getting into the Partnership for Peace at NATO’s Istanbul summit in June.

As everyone knew, that was precisely what happened, he said.  The record spoke for itself, and it made dismal reading.  In nine years, the Republika Srpska had not handed over a single ICTY indictee –- not one.  In nine years, it had failed to give the ICTY the information it needed to track down indictees.  In nine years, it had failed to take any significant action to do so itself.  There had been some more hopeful signs in recent months.  A speech by the Republika Srpska’s President Cavic in June had acknowledged the scale of the crime committed at Srebrenica.  The work of the Srebrenica Commission itself, which Carla del Ponte had described as a “significant milestone on the road to truth and justice”, only two days ago saw a formal apology offered to the victims of those “blackest pages in European history”.  But the fact remained that in nine years, not a single indictee had been handed over to the ICTY by the Republika Srpska authorities, and Karadzic and Mladic remained at large.  It was “an affront to justice and an affront to the values of the institutions which Republika Srpska leaders claim they wish to join”. 

He said those leaders needed to be in no doubt that, when NATO and the European Union said that if they wanted Bosnia and Herzegovina to join those institutions, they must cooperate with the Yugoslavia Tribunal.  Those were not empty words, but deadly serious ones.  They also needed to be in no doubt that they could not treat that solemn obligation, to which they signed up in Dayton, as if it was written in invisible ink, when it was there in black and white.  And, they needed to be clear that the international community, and the Security Council, would not permit them to remain in “fundamental breach” of a cardinal requirement in Dayton, with impunity.  Justice had a long memory, and Srebrenica made an indelible impression on it.  Nine years was already too long -- far too long.

Time was running out for the Republika Srpska to take action to comply with international law, he said.  Time was running out for it to continue to block Bosnia and Herzegovina’s path to the European Union and to NATO.  Time was also running out for those who thought they could abuse the protections offered by Dayton.  So, he hoped that the message would go out unambiguously and firmly from the Council to the leaders in Republika Srpska that the time for excuses was over.  Because that was now the biggest stumbling block towards a brighter future, the longer it remained unresolved, the longer it would take Bosnia and Herzegovina to make that final, crucial break with the past, and embrace a brighter future as a modern European nation.  That was what citizens across the country so desperately wanted to see and what they so manifestly deserved.

He invited Council members to cast their minds forward 10 years and imagine what Bosnia and Herzegovina could be like then.  There was now real prospect that, if that crucial issue involving the past could be resolved, if the country could maintain its reform efforts, and if the international community could maintain its interest and support, Bosnia and Herzegovina would be, in a decade, a country transformed, in a region transformed.  That was a “huge prize”, and not just for Bosnia and Herzegovina, but for the entire international community which the Council represented.  “So let us resolve to stick at it, until the job is done”, he urged.

Statements

MLADEN IVANIC, Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that, despite all the difficulties of the past six months, Bosnia and Herzegovina had made significant progress towards full implementation of the Dayton/Paris Peace Agreement.  The NATO had announced at its recent summit in Istanbul that SFOR had successfully fulfilled its mandate.  Upon the termination of the SFOR mandate, a new EUFOR mission would be established, and this very moment was marking a new stage in the process of Euro-Atlantic integration.  At the same time, NATO would continue to be present with the headquarters in Sarajevo, aiming at assisting the Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities in the field of defence reform, apprehension of persons indicted for war crimes, as well as the fight against organized crime and terrorism.

He said that that handover was a clear sign that a new phase in the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina was beginning.  It had transformed itself into a virtually normal EuropeanState in transition from an old-style socialist to the free-market economy, from a communist pre-war regime to a Western-type democracy, from war conflict to the stabilizing factor in the region. 

Turning to section XIII of the report on the Srebrenica Commission, he said that last Monday, the Human Rights Chamber of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina had accepted the report of the Government of Republika Srpska on the events in and around Srebrenica in July 1995.  The Special Commission, established by the Government of Republika Srpska, had, thus, completed its historical mission and had laid a cornerstone for the successful post-war reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  The report not only contained the names of 7,800 persons who lost their lives in certainly the most tragic of all events of the conflict and disclosed several new locations of the mass graves, but it also accepted the share of responsibility placed upon Republika Srpska and expressed remorse to the victims’ families.  Crimes had been committed on all sides, and he expected all sides to follow that example, since there would be no true reconciliation and re-establishment of the trust until all the missing persons were accounted for.

Cooperation with the ICTY remained one of the greatest obstacles for association of his country into the Euro-Atlantic integration processes, he said.  If it were not for that one condition, probably all conditions from the feasibility study would have been fulfilled and the Stabilization and Association Agreement would have been signed with the European Union, and the country would be a member of Partnership for Peace.  Apprehension of the indictees of The Hague Tribunal was a delicate matter, however, both for local authorities and the international community, but that was no longer a political issue.  As a result of continuous requests by the international community, the authorities of the Republika Srpska had recently made several attempts to arrest some of the indictees, one of which attempts, in April, had the most unwanted consequences:  death of an innocent civilian and two police officers being prosecuted.

He said there was a firm political commitment to arrest the indicted war criminals, and there was an awareness among Bosnians that full cooperation with the Yugoslavia Tribunal was a precondition for recognition of it as a democratic State. As a result of the reforms, State capacity for dealing with that problem had increased significantly.  The State Intelligence Service had been established, as well as the State Investigation and Protection Agency, with a special department to deal with war crimes.  He was deeply convinced that all of those measures would produce concrete results.  Bosnia and Herzegovina especially underlined the importance of close cooperation among neighbours in that particular matter.  He was also convinced, however, that without full coordination and collaboration on that issue with the international organizations present in Bosnia and Herzegovina, apprehension of indictees would be less certain.

As far as regional cooperation was concerned, he said his country continued to play an active role within regional organizations, as well as bilaterally.  The emphasis had been on stronger and more open cooperation between the countries of South-east Europe, in light of the changing image of the region and the desire to attract foreign investments.  Economic progress and prosperity regionally was dependent on its stability, with which it had not been formerly blessed, but which now continued to improve.  It was determined to keep improving relations with its immediate neighbours –- Serbia and Montenegro and the Republic of Croatia, as well as with all other countries in the region.  Bosnia and Herzegovina was also determined to continuously meet all of its obligations as a part of the Partnership for Peace programme.  Together with the countries of the region, it had been exposed to a very active approach in the Adriatic Charter, which was the forum through which it received the support from the countries of the region towards achieving the final goal:  full membership in NATO.

In order to complete the mission and achieve the common goal, he advocated full political stability and economic sustainability.  Much more hard work was needed, along with many more joint efforts, both locally and internationally.  The detailed analysis of current conditions in his country, as well as an overview of the remaining tasks, had been presented in the High Representative’s report.  He assured the Council that the authorities would make all necessary efforts to fulfil the goals, for which he sought the international community’s continued support.  None of the reforms would have been possible without the firm readiness of his country to take responsibility and make the necessary compromises.  Local elections took place last month, and for the first time they were independently organized and financed.  Yet, poor voter turnout persisted, possibly because the voters still failed to recognize the local politicians as the true bearers of authority, despite the numerous reforms.  For its part, the Office of the High Representative had played a very important role, but the time had come to reconsider its mandate.  Ten years after Dayton, the High Representative’s Office should be transformed by the end of next year.  In that regard, he assured the Council that the Bosnian authorities were more than ready to assume the full powers and responsibilities for the future of their country.

GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany) said that with the passing of President Arafat, the Palestinian people had lost their historic leader.  Germany offered condolences to the bereaved family and the Palestinian people.  Mr. Arafat’s life had testified to the tragic history of the Palestinian people and the Middle East, in general.  His life reflected the hopes for peace of many people, but it also reflected progress and setbacks on the road to peace.  He hoped the Palestinian people would have the resolve to continue their efforts towards a sovereign, democratic and independent State.  He also hoped the Palestinian people would soon have a new elected leadership committed to the search for peach and justice.

Turning to the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, he said that despite the deficits outlined, the Council could reflect on important progress today.  In line with the principle of “local ownership”, and with an approach to a true partnership, core tasks had been achieved, in particular, in the fields of economic and defence reform, the rule of law and the strengthening of the institutions on the State level.  Nine years after the Dayton agreement had been signed, that ownership should be enlarged to encourage the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina to promote and implement their own political, judicial, economic and social ideas within their own State institutions.  The cooperation of Prime Minister Terzic’s Government and the other political forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina had been and would be essential for the reform process.

As a member of the European Union, as well as in its national capacity, Germany would continue to support the process in all its aspects, including the integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina into Euro-Atlantic structures.  The security of all its citizens was the precondition for the reforms.  Germany would, therefore, remain dedicated to the military support necessary for a secure environment.  With more than 1,100 soldiers, Germany would be the largest troop contributor to Operation Althea.

The transition to EUFOR, under a new Security Council mandate he hoped would soon be adopted, was proof of the strategic partnership of the European Union within the region, as well as the growing institutional cooperation between the United Nations, NATO and the European Union to their mutual benefit in peacekeeping.  He welcomed, therefore, the chance to discuss that cooperation later today with the Secretary-General of NATO.  After 2 December, NATO would remain an important political partner in Bosnia and Herzegovina and be present as an adviser with a new headquarters in Sarajevo.

The High Representative had been clear on the demands to meet on the road to European integration, he said.  The benchmarks set out by the European Commission in order to finalize its feasibility study, and by NATO as conditions for entering its Partnership for Peace programme, remained the principle framework for the success of the Bosnian Government.  He fully subscribed to the joint appeal with the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia last month in The Hague.  There could be no compromise on the commitment to the rule of law.  The War Crimes Chamber must become operational soon and must have the full support of the Republika Srpska.  To reach a sustainable peace, all persons indicted had to face their judge.

ADAM THOMSON (United Kingdom) said the briefings had provided a sharp reminder of just how extensive and painstaking the work was to build a post-conflict State.  He thanked Lord Ashdown and his team for their role in the significant achievements of the past two years.  On the ICTY issue, the extent of the progress made in the last two years had been reflected by the fact that two key milestones of European-Atlantic integration -- membership in NATO’s Partnership for Peace and negotiations on the peace and stability agreement with the European Union –- were within Bosnia and Herzegovina’s grasp.  But, as Lord Ashdown had made eloquently clear, that country’s failure and, much more specifically, the Republika Srpska’s failure to grasp the nettle of ICTY cooperation represented a fundamental barrier to the realization of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s European-Atlantic aspirations.  More immediately, that represented a fundamental barrier to membership in the Partnership for Peace and the opening of talks on a stabilization agreement.

He said the statistic presented by Lord Ashdown that not one single fugitive had been arrested in the course of nine years in the Republika Srpska had been very sobering.  Until the ICTY issue was resolved, the path to the European and NATO integration, where he firmly believed Bosnia and Herzegovina’s future lay, would remain blocked.  The Security Council had made clear several times the obligation on all Member States, particularly those in the region, to do everything possible to bring ICTY indictees to trial in The Hague.  It was important that Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Serbia and Montenegro and Croatia, should be in no doubt about the importance the Security Council attached to that.

Regarding the developing relationship between NATO and EUFOR, he thought things were on track for a smooth transition from SFOR to a European Union military mission, which would be led, for the first year, by the United Kingdom.  The remaining NATO presence would also continue to play an important role.  The rate of progress to date had reflected the excellent relationship between EUFOR and SFOR commanders and the future NATO senior military representative.  That close cooperation should continue for the benefit of the effectiveness of both organizations on the ground.  It had been very important that NATO had made clear its continued commitment to Bosnia and Herzegovina.  The presence of NATO troops had been key to everything achieved since 1995, and NATO would continue to play a vital, although different, role after EUFOR took over the main peace and stabilization role.

On police decertification, he said it had sounded this morning as if the United Nations needed to take “more of a grip” of that issue.  Lord Ashdown had talked about the eventual phasing out of the Office of the High Representative.  He had been right to highlight the fact that use of the Bonn Powers had evolved and should continue to do so.  Important changes to the role of the High Representative and of his Office should reflect progress on the ground, however, rather than any preconceived idea of what should come next.  The peace and implementation steering board would be considering those issues in due course.

RONALDO MOTA SARDENBERG (Brazil) said the Office of the High Representative had provided important assistance to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s effort to build the State structures needed for functional governance. The drafting of new legislation had been a decisive element for the advance of those structures, and he encouraged authorities to eliminate the bottlenecks that hindered the adoption of much-needed legislation.  The implementation of laws, including those establishing indirect taxation structures, was crucial.  In that regard, he noted that the Bosnia and Herzegovina tripartite presidency had confirmed its support for tax law reform and for the wider process for meeting the benchmarks for the European Union.

Turning to the issue of refugees, he noted that only a small number had returned permanently to their homes.  In that regard, he stressed the need for the Republika Srpska to stop obstructing the legislation on refugees and displaced persons.  Despite efforts to unify Mostar, Croats and Muslims still remained segregated.  Apologizing for the first time for the massacre of Muslims might be an important step towards healing the wounds left by war and bringing to justice the perpetrators of those crimes.  For its part, EUFOR must continue to fulfil tasks such as monitoring weapons and assisting in defence reform.  He also noted that NATO would maintain a presence in its Sarajevo headquarters.  With the international community’s assistance, Bosnia and Herzegovina must remain firm on the path to structural reforms.

ANDREY I. DENISOV (Russian Federation) noted with satisfaction the positive dynamic of the processes taking place in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the key role being played by the High Representative in the success of the reforms under way.  First and foremost among those was strengthening the supremacy of the rule of law.  Despite visible progress, however, the stabilization process was still moving at an “uneven” pace.  Mutual trust persisted between the peoples of the country; substantive divergences remained regarding its strategic objectives and future.  He also drew attention to problems in the economic and social spheres, including the high unemployment level, despite some positive steps taken to offset it.  International patronage was still necessary at present for the country’s development.  That, by no means, obviated the need for a phased policy of transfer of responsibility to the Bosnian authorities.  He continued to favour a gradual reduction of staff and competencies of the international presence.

He said that the stated dedication of the countries of the west Balkans to the “European perspective” had been a stabilizing factor in the region.  Nevertheless, the process of a settlement in Bosnia could not fully align itself with the European agenda.  The most important thing now remained implementation of the Dayton peace accords, which should not be reduced to the 16 demands of the European Union Commission and the Partnership for Peace programme.  Moreover, responsibility for continuing problems should not be attributed solely to the Serbs.  Cooperation with the ICTY was an important element of the Dayton accords, and he favoured compliance with the relevant Security Council resolutions.  His country had now fully paid its financial obligations to the Tribunal.  At the same time, he did not consider that Bosnia and Herzegovina’s stability and peace should remain hostage to that one aspect of the Dayton agreements.

Turning to the increasingly harsh criticism of the Republika Srpska’s lack of progress in that area, he urged the international community to carry out a balanced and objective policy regarding all three peoples forming a State and regarding both of the Bosnian entities.  An extremely important objective of a peace settlement remained ensuring the equality of all citizens across the entire territory.  He attached great importance to the 1999 amendments to the Constitution; their work must be concluded while the process was still in the so-called “Dayton era”.

The Republika Srpska still had much to do to fulfil its obligations.  He was counting on the fact that the police reform would be conducted in a highly balanced fashion, involving all planned transformations and without artificially pressing for decentralization.  The Office of the High Representative should also continue to follow closely the social problems especially those of property and pensions, which would determine the speed and extent of the stability.   The transfer of the military component to the European Union was also extremely important.  A smooth transfer with SFOR’s drawdown should be ensured, with the retention of appropriate Security Council monitoring.

HERALDO MUÑOZ (Chile) agreed that the current situation of Bosnia and Herzegovina was very different from that in the 1990s, which had witnessed one of the most brutal chapters in its history.  In addition to the High Representative’s priorities, his decision to focus on improving the effectiveness of government institutions was wise.  The recent period had been characterized by significant progress in legislative reforms and the beginning of important structural changes, including energy sector reform.  Defence sector reform and the ability to develop intelligence activities, however, needed to be strengthened.

In spite of the progress achieved, he said, it was an ethical imperative to continue to pressure those responsible for resolving human rights violations.  It was unacceptable that Republika Srspka authorities had not been able to bring a single person accused of war crimes before the Tribunal.  There was an urgent need to work against those who obstructed the work of the ICTY.  Chile supported the measures adopted by the High Representative to punish persons and organizations that supported war criminals.  He had been shocked to read the report of atrocities carried out in Srebrenica between 10 and 17 July 1995.  No effort must be spared until those who had committed those crimes were brought before the Yugoslavia Tribunal.  The progress made in the years of implementing the Dayton Agreement had brought Bosnia and Herzegovina a long way, and Chile would continue to cooperate so that Bosnia and Herzegovina could regain its traditions of progress and peaceful existence.

WANG GUANGYA (China) said he hoped that, on the basis of current work, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s authorities would continue to take effective measures to strengthen the rule of law, revive the economy, and gradually enhance the Government’s administrative capabilities.  He welcomed the fact of the military transfer to EUFOR, for which he sought a smooth transition. Over the past 10 years since Dayton, and with the joint efforts of the parties and the international community, Bosnia and Herzegovina had made encouraging progress in all areas of national reconstruction.

He said he was confident that the parties would continue to deepen mutual confidence and unity, and gradually take the people of that country on the road of harmonious coexistence and joint development, aimed also at eventually achieving the goal of European integration.  Peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina were of great significance in achieving lasting peace and development in the region.  His country had been following all developments and would continue to work with the international community to help Bosnia and Herzegovina achieve lasting peace and stability, and economic development.

MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said his delegation appreciated the considerable progress made towards the objective of becoming a peaceful, viable State, on the course to European integration.  That progress was, in large part, due to the resilient people of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as to the international community’s sustained commitment.  He also commended the efforts played by SFOR in providing security assistance in Bosnia and Herzegovina following the role played by IFOR, in which Pakistan had participated.  He hoped EUFOR would complete the stabilization process in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

He appreciated the achievements of the Office of the High Representative and noted Lord Ashdown’s intention to continue to assist in improving the effectiveness of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s governing institutions.  Noting that the historic bridge in Mostar, which had been destroyed during the war, had been rebuilt, he said moves were also under way to build political and social divides in the city.  He was pleased to note progress in addressing issues of truth and justice for Bosnian Muslims massacred in that town.

In spite of such achievements, several hurdles stood in the way of national integration, he continued.  The issue of just and national reconciliation remained fundamental to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s future as a viable national State.  Economic development was essential for sustainable peace.  He appreciated the fiscal reforms being carried out by the Office of the High Representative.  Those reforms, however, needed to be sustained by foreign assistance and investment.  Political integration was predicated on economic growth.  He hoped the pull of Europe would become stronger.  Pakistan would continue to cooperate within its means and was deeply committed to the goal of peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and its emergence as a modern State.

BAYANI MERCADO (Philippines) said he had been encouraged to hear that much had been accomplished since the last briefing on the situation in March.  Recent developments had brought the country within reach of the Partnership for Peace programme.  Eight months ago, his delegation had expressed grave concern about the slaughter of so many civilians, whose perpetrators had continued to evade justice.  Five months ago, it again raised that concern.  He hoped that the Republika Srpska would correct that record, and now its authorities had acknowledged the killings of many thousands in Srebrenica in 1995 for the first time.

He reiterated his desire to see indicted war criminals stand before the ICTY and face trial for their war crimes and crimes against humanity.  He expected the relevant authorities to investigate and prosecute those crimes, starting early next year.  Yet, he noted with concern, the analysis in the report that most major crimes had had an international dimension and that the current system was ill-equipped to deal with those complex challenges involving organized crime and money laundering.  He looked forward to the end-of-year report on police restructuring.  The country had come a long way, and it was slowly but surely evolving into a peaceful and viable State, on course with integration into the rest of Europe.  The best and only way forward was for it to extend its full trust and cooperation to the international community.

MICHEL DUCLOS (France) said his delegation fully shared the ultimate goal of making Bosnia and Herzegovina a peaceful and viable State committed to the path to European integration.  France was deeply dedicated to the cooperation of all the country’s authorities to the ICTY.  Specific results were needed in that regard.  France supported measures by the High Representative to overcome the obstacles within the framework of the Dayton Agreements.  The NATO had played a critical role under the Council’s watchful eye in stabilizing Bosnia and Herzegovina and in implementing the military component of the Dayton Agreement.  The SFOR would soon be replaced by a European operation, called Operation Althea.  It would be the biggest foreign operation carried out by the European Union.  The increased involvement of the European Union was a major factor for progress in the region.

Noting that constitutional debate was an internal question which fell solely within the competence of Bosnia and Herzegovina itself, he said it would be useful to know the attitude of the High Representative regarding whether or not the international community should be encouraging that debate.  In the economic sphere, he asked how the High Representative was planning for the implementation of programmes which dealt with the strengthening of the rule of law and the creation of jobs.  Should those two programmes be carried out simultaneously or consecutively?  Also, how could the international community assist the High Representative in those actions?  Those two points had been flagged by the High Representative as two major issues on which the Council needed to continue its thinking.

JUAN ANTONIO YAÑEZ-BARNUEVO (Spain) hailed the sound advances towards implementation, nine years after Dayton.  The enormous tasks entrusted to the High Representative had been nothing less than setting an entire country on its feet.  His efforts had contributed to the taking of effective and reliable measures internally and among neighbours -– all were yielding fruit.  He cited the feasibility study on the readiness of Bosnia and Herzegovina to begin talks on an agreement of association and cooperation with the European Union, which had set  16 benchmarks, and the establishment by NATO of criteria to be implemented in order for that country to join the Partnership for Peace programme.  That had been a sign that Bosnia and Herzegovina was moving in the direction of integration into European-Atlantic structures.  That had also had a direct impact on the country’s situation, providing a strong stimulus for reform.

He noted, in particular, the enactment of very important laws to strengthen the rule of law, create an independent judiciary and a State investigation and protection agency.  He also underscored the strengthening of the economic rules of the game through the adoption of a law for the investment of public funds and public acquisitions.  Progress had also been made in strengthening institutions, with the restructuring of the police, public administration and the creation of a ministry of defence and of intelligence services.  There had also been explicit recognition by the authorities of the Republika Srpska of the atrocities perpetrated in Srebrenica in 1995, although further cooperation was still required with the ICTY.  He was also following with great interest the transfer of NATO’s SFOR to a European mission with a military component.  That transfer would take place with the utmost order and efficiency, once it had the Council’s endorsement.

Also welcome, he said, had been the symbolic achievement on 23 July with the opening of the old MostarBridge.  Although grave problems remained in that city, the bridge’s opening had been a milestone towards the normalization of a true victim of the conflict.  Building bridges should be the commitment of the Council, to which Spain would be fully committed.

MIHNEA IOAN MOTOC (Romania) said the significant progress achieved in Bosnia and Herzegovina was highly commendable.  The full implementation of the Peace Agreement in letter and spirit, and the fostering of inter-entity cooperation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, still required sustained efforts.  Bosnia and Herzegovina was laying the proper foundation, however, and was moving closer to European institutions and further away from the tragic era of war.  The High Representative was right to base the Office’s strategy on core issues, such as defence.  He supported the efforts of authorities in Sarajevo to implement the feasibility study for launching an SAA with the European Union.  In South-Eastern Europe, he was heartened by every sign of success on that path.  Lasting stability was a long-held goal in the western Balkans, and he was confident that it could soon be achieved.

He commended the active role played by Bosnia and Herzegovina in the area of regional cooperation.  Romania joined in encouraging the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to maintain the pace of reforms and ensure their adequate implementation.  The recent formal apology constituted initial steps for achieving cooperation with the ICTY.  When the task would be fulfilled, it would be a cornerstone for the implementation of the Peace Agreement.  Romania supported strong international commitment to the consolidation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.  The European Union was a driving force of the process, and Romania was ready to support the future European Union mission.

MOURAD BENMEHIDI (Algeria) said Bosnia and Herzegovina was resolutely turned towards the future, and it had successfully bound up its wounds and painstakingly undertaken the quest for stability and nation-building.  Reform of the defence forces and information and security services, as well as the establishment of the State Investigation and Protection Agency, all represented significant progress in the strengthening of State institutions.  Those advances could bring Bosnia and Herzegovina closer to its objective of building a sovereign, strong and stable State, and opened the way for European integration.  He had also appreciated the progress made in consolidating the rule of law.  Establishment of a legal framework, the creation of competent bodies and improvement of the judicial system had all helped to consolidate the rule of law and defeat major threats of organized crime and terrorism.

Nonetheless, he said, adequate means should be made available to strengthen the country’s capacity to more effectively combat those scourges.  Despite the encouraging achievements, such as major efforts to develop a legal, budgetary and structural framework to relaunch the economy, much more was needed for Bosnia and Herzegovina to overcome the difficulties related to implementation of reform, including problems of internal indebtedness, lack of investment and high unemployment.  Elimination of those obstacles was more than necessary, and the efforts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, alone, were not enough.  Meanwhile, lack of cooperation with the ICTY was another obstacle to participation in NATO’s Partnership for Peace.  Bringing the perpetrators of the war crimes to justice, together with the reunification and strengthening of the status of the city of Mostar, were part of the reconciliation process and the building of a tolerant and multi-ethnic society.  Progress made in the return of refugees and displaced persons had been welcome.  Hopefully, remaining difficulties would be overcome.

JULIO HELDER DE MOURA LUCAS (Angola) extended his appreciation to the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina.  After many years on the Council’s agenda, he said, he was pleased to take stock of the main trends in the report, including notable progress in fulfilling legislative requirements, significant steps towards establishing the rule of law, economic reforms, ongoing reforms of public administration, and restructuring of the police force under a single structure.  Such progress translated into an impressive record.  Much, however, would always remain to be done.

Regarding measures to prosecute those responsible for war crimes, he recalled the clear message of resolution 1503, which expressed the need for the countries concerned to improve cooperation with the ICTY. He shared disappointment on the failure of the Republika Srpska to cooperate with the ICTY; the leaders of the Republika Srpska should receive a clear message on those responsible for war crimes.  He welcomed the signing by all parties of the common platform to take measures for the Euro-Atlantic integration, which he fully supported.  A key challenge was the establishment of a statute for the city of Mostar, since it demonstrated the possibility for the different people of Bosnia and Herzegovina to live together in harmony.

JOHN C. DANFORTH (United States) said the situation described by the High Representative was remarkable in many ways.  Nine years after a war that killed and wounded hundreds of thousands and displaced nearly 2 million, almost all properties had been returned to those who had been displaced.  More than 1 million refugees and displaced persons had returned to all parts of the country, even to the sites of the worst war crimes.  Armies that had fought each other now served under unified command and control.  Intelligence services that plotted against each other were being unified.  That progress was a tribute to the High Representative’s work and, most importantly, to the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina who had shown determination to overcome their past.

He said that all of those achievements, however, were in jeopardy, placed at risk by the failure to bring to justice those accused of genocide, running rape camps, and holding hostage United Nations officials.  The transformation into a stable and prosperous country could not be completed until indicted war criminals faced justice, especially Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic.  Recent reforms had brought the country to the cusp of membership in NATO’s Partnership for Peace, yet NATO had rightly said it would not accept a State in which one part aided and abetted international fugitives from justice.  The failure to arrest war criminals rested squarely on the shoulders of the Republika Srpska, which had not made a single war crimes arrest in nine years since the end of the war.  Republika Srpska remained in violation of the Dayton-Paris Peace Accords and various resolution passed by the Council.

In the Dayton-Paris Peace Accords, the parties had made a solemn commitment to turn over indictees to the ICTY, he continued.  That commitment must be fulfilled if the achievements of Dayton were to be secured, which included the creation of the Republika Srpska itself.  The people had borne the heaviest consequences of the failure to apprehend indicted war criminals, through greater poverty, insecurity, and international isolation.  But the ones who should bear the consequences were the political leaders who had failed to fulfil their promises, and the individuals who had helped the fugitives evade justice.  He, therefore, commended the High Representative for his ongoing actions to identify and penalize individuals and organizations supporting indicted war criminals.  The consequences of the failure to arrest indicted war criminals could only grow.  It was long past time to bring them to justice.

DIRK JAN VAN DEN BERG (Netherlands), speaking for the European Union and associated States, commended the contribution of the High Representative to peace and stability in the country, and said the European Union continued to support his policy of strengthening State institutions, reviving the economy, and promoting the rule of law.  The report showed that Bosnia and Herzegovina was on the right track, even though the Union remained concerned about the continuing failure of the Republika Srpska to cooperate fully with the ICTY.

He said NATO had decided in June to terminate SFOR on 2 December 2004, at which time the European Union would assume the main peace stabilization role under the Dayton Agreements.  The NATO would remain in Bosnia and Herzegovina, through its headquarters in Sarajevo, providing advice on defence reform, and undertaking certain operational supporting tasks.

The European Union commended NATO for its constructive role during the past years, he said.  The NATO-led operations, IFOR and SFOR, had been key factors in establishing stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in implementing Dayton.  The Security Council had welcomed in resolution 1551 the transition from NATO to the European Union.  In anticipation of the final authorization by the Council, he said he welcomed the upcoming transition, which was significant, first and foremost for Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also for the European Union itself and the United Nations.

Operation Althea, as the European Union military mission would be called, was the final element in a comprehensive policy of the European Union towards Bosnia and Herzegovina, he said.  It was also part of a broader European Union strategy for the Balkans.  The combined European Union activities in the political, economic, development and now security field should mutually reinforce each other.  The ultimate objective was to put the country on a track towards the European Union.  That would be achieved through the strengthened stabilization and association process.  The European Union military mission would complement the process, as well as other European Union activities such as its police mission, its monitoring mission, and a development programme.

The comprehensive approach reflected the European belief that the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina lay firmly in Europe, he said.  It was now up to the Bosnian population to make a vision come true.  They would have to make the eventual choice of joining the European political and economic union.  Such a choice required fundamental reforms of structures -- State, economic and judicial.  Equally, they would have to confirm the decision to join the European community of values.  Such a decision required an environment of tolerance, dialogue and respect for religious freedoms.  It also required a tough stand in words and deeds against impunity of war criminals.

He said the correct political will and popular support by the Bosnians, combined with the comprehensive role of the European Union, could and should lead the country away from conflict into a stable and peaceful future.  Operation Althea, as the first major military mission of the European Security and Defence Policy, had significance not only for the European Union, but for the United Nations, as well.  Regional organizations had an increasingly important role to play in peacekeeping and peace-building.

He said it was not just a matter of resources given the recent surge in peacekeeping operations, but also an acknowledgement of the principle of subsidiary.  Which organization had the most added value in a given situation?  Regional organizations embodied regional values.  As such, they had a deep understanding of the local situation.  Regional organizations could frequently offer a comprehensive approach not only entailing security and political arrangements, but trade and aid aspects, as well.  Under the leadership of the United Nations, as the primarily responsible body for peace and security, he looked forward to the development of creative and constructive partnerships between the United Nations and regional organizations.  The European Union hoped that Operation Althea would prove to be an outstanding precedent for such cooperation.

SHINICHI KITAOKA (Japan) said that among the achievements since Dayton, his Government particularly appreciated the unification of the city of Mostar under a single city government and the establishment of the defence ministry and the intelligence and security agency at the State level.  It was also particularly appreciative of the efforts of the High Representative and his staff.  Nevertheless, much remained to be done, for which he expected the political leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina to take the initiative towards progress on the remaining urgent tasks.  Those included consolidation of the rule of law, further economic reforms and strengthening of the State institutions, with the cooperation of the international community.

He said that resolution of the war crimes issue was essential for the true execution of peace in the former Yugoslavia. He, therefore, called on the relevant authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to fully support the activities of the Tribunal and to extradite every indicted individual to it.  He said it was important to enhance the capacity of the War Crimes Chamber to enable it to prosecute less serious war crimes.  In that connection, Japan was now considering a proposal to provide support to the project of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to train staff for the Chamber.  As an active member of the steering board of the Peace Implementation Council, Japan had pledged $500 million to support rehabilitation and reconstruction in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and had been steadily implementing that assistance.

In April in Tokyo, he recalled, Japan had co-chaired with the European Union presidency the Ministerial Conference on Peace Consolidation and Economic Development of the West Balkans.  At the Conference, his country had expressed its view that, in order to ensure the irreversibility of the region’s stabilization and development, regional efforts should focus on the following key elements:  consolidation of peace; economic development; and regional cooperation.  For its part, Japan was assisting in the War Crimes Chamber, fostering a better investment climate through the dispatch of advisers, and the holding of a workshop on the promotion of tourism, among other initiatives.  In cooperation with the international community, it intended to adhere to its commitment to achieve stability and prosperity in that region; stabilization of the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina was essential for the stability of all of South-Eastern Europe.

Statement by NATO’s Secretary General

When the Security Council resumed its meeting this afternoon, JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER, Secretary General of NATO, said that the alliance’s transformation, in which NATO nations had expanded the geographic scope of alliance operations in response to a series of new strategic challenges, began in the Balkans.  The Bosnian mission had been undertaken in close cooperation with, and under a mandate from, the United Nations.  The decision to go “out of the area” in the Balkans had been a historical decision for the alliance.  It was NATO’s first peacekeeping operation but, just as important, it represented the birth of UN-NATO cooperation.

He said that since 1992, NATO had provided continuous support to the United Nations in the Balkans.  In 1995, some 65,000 troops deployed to Bosnia and Herzegovina, under a United Nations mandate, to implement the military aspects of the Dayton Peace Agreement.  United Nations and NATO cooperation had resulted in a safe and secure environment.  State institutions had been established, human rights laws were now respected, and the country had been set on the path to integration into Euro-Atlantic and European structures.  Today, only 7,000 troops remained in the country –- a clear indication of the considerable progress that had been made.  That progress was also due, to a very large extent, to the relentless efforts and very hard work of the successive High Representatives for Bosnia and Herzegovina, from Carl Bildt to Lord Ashdown.

Given the joint success in Bosnia and Herzegovina, it was not surprising that NATO support to the United Nations there had been viewed as a template to be applied to other demanding crises, he said.  That template involved close cooperation with other major international players, including the European Union and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).  In a cooperative international effort, NATO had contributed to successfully defusing the crisis in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, paving the way for a lasting political settlement, in the framework of the Ohrid Agreement.  Since 1999, under a United Nations mandate, NATO had been involved in stabilizing the situation in Kosovo.  Last month, NATO-led troops provided security for the parliamentary elections there.  The good cooperation between the Kosovo multinational security force (KFOR) and the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) remained crucial for the province’s stability.

He said that, while there had been real progress, work remained to be done and the closely coordinated international effort must continue across the wider region.  But, given the improved state of security in Bosnia and Herzegovina, it was the right time to terminate the Stabilisation Force mission.  As Lord Ashdown said this morning, NATO was now working to hand over peacekeeping responsibilities to the European Union next month.  That did not mean, however, that NATO’s long-term commitment to the country had changed.  The NATO would retain a military presence in the country and had already established a new headquarters in Sarajevo, which would provide advice on defence reform and would remain engaged in bringing indicted war criminals to justice.

He said cooperation with the ICTY was a key conditionality for further progress in relations between NATO and Bosnia and Herzegovina, underlining the comments made earlier today by Lord Ashdown on the position of the Republika Srpska in that respect.  Cooperation with the ICTY was crucial for any further development of the relations with NATO, starting with membership of the Partnership for Peace programme.

With the imminent termination of the Stabilisation Force mission, he said, it was timely to review all that had been achieved there.  Among the lessons was the need to anticipate spill-over.  As had been seen in the Balkans, when States failed, they tended to threaten security and stability, not just in their own region, but well beyond.  That did not mean that NATO must intervene in each and every instance, but it should always be more aware that indifference might be more costly, over time, than timely engagement.

Second, he went on, success in Bosnia and Herzegovina was a clear demonstration of international institutions complementing each other, and reinforcing each other’s efforts.  A holistic approach, calling on the relative strengths of the different international organizations, was vital.  It was also valuable to involve as many individual States as practicable.  The NATO had benefited greatly from the operational participation of non-NATO nations.  He also highlighted the need for political dialogue to articulate a “clear end-state” and determination to see the mission through until that end-state was achieved.  Those were essential for reasons of political legitimacy, for sustaining public support over the long term, and for political credibility.

Those, together with a robust military capability, were the main ingredients for NATO’s success in Bosnia and Herzegovina; they would also be the key for NATO to deliver success in other operations.  He said NATO was now playing a major role, under a Security Council mandate, in Afghanistan.  It led the almost 10,000-strong International Security Assistance Force and was progressively expanding its presence throughout the country.  Last month, it assisted the United Nations by supporting Afghan government efforts to provide a secure environment for the presidential elections, as well as by directly supporting the electoral process.  Also in Afghanistan, NATO would continue to deliver on its commitments.

In Iraq, under the terms of Security Council resolution 1546, and at the specific request of the Interim Iraqi Government, NATO was providing assistance in training and equipping the Iraqi security forces, he said, adding that it was in the process of substantially enhancing that assistance.

He said he was aware that the alliance’s involvement in those two countries had prompted some people to suggest that NATO was taking on the role of “global policeman”.  He assured the Council that “nothing could be further from the truth”.  But the alliance’s security interests were affected by events in those countries, and it was, therefore, logical for it to assist the United Nations and the international community’s efforts there.  Every international institution had something to offer, and their particular skills must be used to best effect.  As far as NATO support was concerned, there were several benefits worth highlighting.

First and foremost, he said, was NATO’s utility as a framework for political dialogue and action.  It was an alliance of 26 sovereign and democratic nations and it bound together Europe and North America in a multilateral approach to security.  But, it was also a framework that facilitated participation by other nations.  During NATO-led operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, for example, the contributions of NATO’s partners had been indispensable, as were the contributions from other nations.  Overall, troops from all five continents, from more than 20 non-NATO nations, had served effectively under NATO-military command and alongside NATO troops.  That framework for action was tried and tested, and it had accumulated a wealth of experience.

He pointed out that NATO also had a unique capacity to back up its political decisions with serious peacekeeping and peacemaking power.  And, that power was flexible and easily tailored to the different demands placed upon it.  It encompassed training and advice to troops likely to be called upon to carry out peacekeeping duties, through activities such as participation in NATO-led exercises, advice on inter-operability issues, and the sharing of doctrine and documentation.  That also included operational planning, with the associated force generation, strategic movement and logistics support.  Of course, that included substantial military assets –- land, air and maritime -– which were in short supply elsewhere.  Those assets included the necessary mix of capabilities for both combat and post-conflict reconstruction, as well as the appropriate deployable command elements to ensure maximum operational effectiveness.  Those now also included high readiness units, such as the NATO Response Force.

Stressing NATO’s proven determination to stay the course, he said that its 12-year commitment to support in Bosnia and Herzegovina was testimony to its resolve and ability to sustain its operations over lengthy periods when necessary.  Bosnia and Herzegovina was the “most successful proof” of the effectiveness and potential of the United Nations and NATO working together for peace and stability.  They had developed an effective operational relationship there, and NATO had adopted the model of that cooperation to other operations.

In closing, he said that NATO nations were deeply committed to the United Nations.  In the Treaty of Washington, which founded NATO, allies reaffirmed their faith in the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, and they acknowledged the primary responsibility of the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security.  In the field, NATO had broadened its scope for support to the United Nations since its original peacekeeping mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  Its support now included missions in other theatres and active cooperation on common challenges, such as the fight against terrorism.  The alliance had already made a significant contribution to United Nations operations.  NATO nations were always prepared to consider further requests for support.  He fully expected that cooperation to continue.

Mr. DANFORTH (United States) asked the NATO Secretary-General to comment on the status of Bosnian defence reform.  As that would be an ongoing NATO responsibility, he wondered how things were going.

Responding, Mr. DE HOOP SCHEFFER said NATO would keep a residual presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina and would maintain a headquarters in Sarajevo to work together with the Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities on defence reform.  While much progress had been made on defence reform, there was much still to be done.  The NATO would consult with the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina and give advice on defence restructuring and reform.  Given the importance of the subject, NATO would closely consult with the European Union, ensuring that indicted war criminals went to The Hague as soon as possible.

Response by High Representative

Lord ASHDOWN thanked Council members for their statements, noting that the real heroes of the remarkable transformation were not the international community, but the extraordinary people of Bosnia and Herzegovina.  He welcomed in particular the expressed intention to consider increasing the number of troops for EUFOR.  He believed the scaffolding of Europe and NATO would provide the structures in which Bosnia and Herzegovina would make the second stage of its journey, which was about transition.  It was correct to say that only concrete results would do.

When looking at deficiencies in terms of cooperation with The Hague, he agreed that it was about personalities and systemic failures, which was why police and defence reform was so important.  Practical assistance would be needed to make the War Crimes Chamber work.

He said the Serbs, more than any other people, had arguably made a greater and more difficult contribution to the reform process.  It had been more difficult for the Republika Srpska to agree on reforms than any other peoples.  Standing at the gate of success, it was a tragedy that the Serbs were now the people responsible for the only barrier that remained to success.  It was not true to say that the Serbs or the Republika Srpska were the only barriers to reform.  The constitutional court amendments were a piece of unfinished work that would need to be addressed.

Continuing, he said the rule of law was essential for economic growth.  Economic and justice reform were part of the same reform package, each feeding off the other.  Those two threads needed to be addressed in parallel.  Regarding the Bonn Powers, Mr. Ivanic [who had spoken for Bosnia and Herzegovina] had his personal views.  Whatever steps were taken to ensure that the nature of the international engagement was altered had to be decided by the international community and had to be measured against progress on the ground.  Progress on the ground would enable them to move to the next stage.

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*     The 5074th meeting was closed.

For information media. Not an official record.