Press Release SC/6810 - 20000228
As long as there was no change in the Belgrade regime, the Republics of Serbia and Montenegro were on a slow but very steady collision course, Carl Bildt, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to the Balkans, told members of the Security Council today as he briefed them on the situation in the region.
The situation in Montenegro was a source of grave concern, he said. Slobodan Milosevic, President of the Federal Republic Yugoslavia, was actively creating preconditions for exercising the military option. For example, he had set up a separate television network installed by military forces to be the propaganda arm for military intervention. Those moves were not compatible with the federal constitution. Rather, they served to aggravate the problems between Serbia and Montenegro and threatened the survival of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
Montenegro, meanwhile, was suffering from sanctions imposed against all the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, while at the same time facing de facto sanctions imposed by Serbia, he said. The international community should extend political and financial help to the authorities of Montenegro. A regional settlement was not possible until key questions on the future shape of Yugoslavia had been settled. If the forces of disintegration were allowed to have the upper hand for long enough, tensions would build up everywhere, paving the way for conflicts every bit as brutal as those already witnessed, he warned.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that the briefing today was one in a series on the Balkans. It was important that the region as a whole be discussed; it must be understood in its entirety if progress was to be achieved.
The representative of the Russian Federation said it was difficult to agree with Mr. Bildt that the Belgrade regime was a hindrance to the region's development or the resolution of problems. Many problems now facing the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) came from the fact that the Mission did not sufficiently interact with the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. That approach must change, in the political, economic and humanitarian spheres.
Bias had also made it impossible to resolve problems in Prevlaka, he noted. For almost seven months the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had been requesting a resumption of bilateral talks with Croatia, but no response had been received. The Croatian side did not wish to deal with the authorities of that country, for reasons including the indictments by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. The international community must therefore consider what it would do in situations where some parties refused to deal with legitimate authorities in Belgrade.
Canada's representative observed, however, that in dealing with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the United Nations walked a delicate line between the imperative to provide for legitimate humanitarian needs and that of isolating a Government led by an indicted war criminal.
The representative of Ukraine highlighted the absence of dialogue between the Special Envoy and the Council and stressed that common efforts would be more effective with more frequent exchanges. Such briefings should be regular, to allow the Council to be better apprised of the situation, and to support Mr. Bildt's efforts.
Statements were also made today by the representatives of Malaysia, Bangladesh, France, China, United Kingdom, Namibia, Jamaica, Mali, Tunisia, Netherlands, United States and Argentina.
The meeting, which started at 12:25 p.m., was suspended at 1:16 p.m., resumed at 4:41 p.m. and adjourned at 5:45 p.m.
Council Work Progamme
The Security Council met this afternoon to hear a briefing by the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to the Balkans, Carl Bildt.
Statement by Special Envoy
CARL BILDT, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to the Balkans, said the conflict in the Balkans region was between those who favoured integration within and between their societies, and those who favoured, often in the name of nationalism, disintegration within their societies and between nations. Today, the forces of disintegration were still stronger than the forces of integration. As long as that was the case, a self-sustaining stability that also confirmed to other values would be most difficult to achieve.
He said the Dayton Peace Agreement in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1995 was still one of the most ambitious agreements of its kind in modern history. However, in 1999, efforts to seek a political settlement to the conflict in the province of Kosovo failed. The ensuing war ended with a technical military agreement. Yet, there was, and still was no proper peace agreement. That was the key factor that had made the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) so demanding and difficult. Since the core issues of the conflict concerning the long-term position of the province were not seen as settled, it had also made it much more difficult to move towards stability for the region as a whole.
There were too many expectations, and too many fears, generated by the apparently unresolved core issues of the conflict, he continued. While the time might not be ripe for concrete moves, it was certainly ripe for discussion on the core issues. The search for a regional settlement must have the solid support of the Security Council. Only when there had been a solid consensus among the key international actors had it been possible to achieve political agreements between the different warring parties. The States of the Balkans region also must be active participants in the search for a settlement. It was also fundamental to make it clear that a true deal would be one that met the minimum demands of everyone and the maximum demands of no one.
Perhaps the most difficult objective to achieve would be to secure an agreement that would be anchored firmly within the context of a wider arrangement for the region as a whole and, preferably, within the wider European context, he continued. There had been, and there still were, important regional initiatives. Notwithstanding those efforts, a structure would be needed that would go well beyond what had so far been contemplated in scope, firmness and perspective. All that being said, there were no possibilities at the moment to proceed along the path of peace.
"We are, mildly speaking, handicapped by the regime in Belgrade", he stressed. "We can neither make peace without Belgrade, nor can we talk about the different issues of the region as whole without taking in Serbia." The international community was in a situation in which many of its regional efforts could be seen as little more than a gigantic holding operation until change opened up the prospect of moving forward with a proper peace process, which included a wider regional agenda for reform, reconciliation and reintegration.
He said as long as there was no change in the Belgrade regime, the Republics of Serbia and Montenegro were on a slow, but very steady, collision course. President Slobodan Milosevic of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had grossly misused the federal institutions and grossly violated the rights of Montenegro within the Federation. That Montenegro had reacted to those violations, not by seceding outright, but by proposing, instead, a reformed relationship between Serbia and itself, was an indication of responsibility and statesmanship that should not go unrewarded.
The position of Montenegro was difficult as well, he said. In a way it suffered from double sanctions. On one side, it suffered from the sanctions imposed against all the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. From the other side, it faced the de facto sanctions imposed against it from Serbia. The confrontation between Serbia and Montenegro was therefore a confrontation over the future of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
A regional settlement was, thus, not possible until key questions on the future shape of Yugoslavia had been settled, he said. Such a settlement would have to balance the wider interests of the Serbs or other Slavs and Albanians. If the forces of disintegration were allowed to have the upper hand for long enough, tensions would build up everywhere, paving the way for conflicts every bit as brutal as those already witnessed, he warned.
HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) said the return of refugees and displaced persons in Kosovo and in Bosnia and Herzegovina was an immediate concern. Considerable effort had been made to facilitate those processes. In Kosovo, the problem of the outflow of refugees was a new problem, while the refugee problem remained acute in Bosnia and Herzegovina, even four years after the signing of the Dayton accords. The restoration and maintenance of law and order was important in itself, and also for encouraging the rapid return of refugees. There was also need for continued emphasis on reconciliation, in both Bosnia and in Kosovo. It was natural for communities to seek justice for their loved ones who had perished. In that regard, it was crucial that justice was served, and seen to be served. The international community must support the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. The international community should also support rehabilitation efforts. Then, underscoring the importance of local leaders, he said the success of the efforts of the international community would depend, to a large extent, on local leadership.
ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said the briefing was extremely timely, given the recent incident in the Balkans, in Kosovo in particular, which had resulted in a refreshed focus on international efforts for peace there. The recent flare-up in Mitrovica was viewed as potentially destabilizing for other regions. Mr. Bildt had long been championing a greater role for the West in reconstruction, not just in Kosovo and Bosnia, but across the whole of the Balkans. The international community had reinforced its presence to prevent inter-ethnic clashes, and that had contributed to calming the situation to some extent. But, experience showed that conflicts rooted in ethnicity tended to be prolonged. The strengthened international presence could not be a permanent solution. There should be a built-in mechanism within "their societies" to check and halt any expansion out of hostile situations. The international community should help promote a culture of peace, with participation of all parts of society, especially civil society, which was possibly the only way out.
ALAIN DEJAMMET (France) said that Mr. Bildt had great experience from which the Council could benefit. The Secretary-General had been correct to appoint a Special Envoy for the Balkans as a whole. The Balkans were being tackled in a somewhat particular way by different units with different mandates, but Mr. Bildt could look at the region as a whole. Despite the specificity of the various situations, there were a number of shared factors. Mr. Bildt had highlighted three important considerations. The first was the need to contribute to strengthening trends towards cooperation, as opposed to those towards scattering. The second was that there must be no fear of using the words "democratic reform". Some of the actors in the region must act in accordance with that concept or step into the background. The third factor was support for reconstruction. Solidarity, reform and reconstruction were the essence of Mr. Bildt's vision.
VOLODYMYR YEL'CHENKO (Ukraine) said the situation gave rise to both optimism and grave concern. There had been undeniable achievements in efforts for peace- building and reconstruction, but there was progressive deterioration of the situation in Kosovo. Any long-term strategy for peace must depend on reform, reintegration with European and global infrastructures and reconciliation with all States in the region. Adequate security conditions were prerequisites. The situation in Kosovo challenged the entire international community. The return of refugees and displaced persons was a core problem and must be addressed in a regional framework. Recent statements by the new leadership in Croatia gave hope for further progress in that country. But, Ukraine was deeply alarmed at the campaign to turn Kosovo into an ethnically monolithic area. The importance of the Stability Pact for South-eastern Europe could not be overestimated. It provided a chance for all countries in the region to integrate more closely into the family of nations, and provided a solid framework for economic reconstruction. A regional approach should be applied in settling all disputes.
He said his country noted the absence of dialogue between the Special Envoy and the Security Council. Common efforts would be more effective with greater two- way dialogue between the Special Envoy and the Council. Such briefings should take place regularly, to allow the Council to be better apprised of the situation, and to support the Special Envoy's efforts. Regular briefings should not replace other methods of communication.
SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said he agreed with several points made by the Special Envoy. The problem could only be resolved comprehensively and with a regional approach, both because of the number of participants and the common goal to which all aspired. He stressed the need to have the consent of the Council and the international community concerning the path towards a settlement. That was extremely important, so all could move in the same direction, rather than using particular conflicts to advance national agendas. The only way to progress was to take a joint approach, based on decisions of the Council and the European structures. In supporting a comprehensive and regional approach, he agreed with what Mr. Bildt had said about the role of Yugoslavia in the Balkans. Without the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's involvement, there would be no peace or lasting development of the region. The Special Envoy could play a positive role in helping to coordinate the efforts being made by the international community, including the Stability Pact. There were many regional initiatives involving the Balkans. He invited Mr. Bildt and his colleagues to look into what could be done to coordinate them.
It was difficult, however, to agree with Mr. Bildt's reference to the Belgrade regime as a hindrance to the region's development or the resolution of problems, he said. Many problems now facing UNMIK in respect to the implementation of Council resolution 1244 came from the fact that UNMIK was not sufficiently interacting with the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. That approach must change, in the political, economic and humanitarian spheres. The largest group of refugees in Europe was currently in Bosnia and Croatia, yet it was being ignored by donors or given only scant attention. The situation could not fail to create the impression that there was ongoing politicization of the Balkans. That tendency was also visible at the Tribunal.
Bias had also made it impossible to resolve problems in Prevlaka, he said. For almost seven months the Federal Republic had been requesting a resumption of bilateral talks with Croatia, but no response had been received. The Croatia side did not wish to deal with Federal Republic authorities, for reasons including indictments by the Tribunal. The international community must consider what it would do in situations where some parties refused to deal with legitimate authorities in Belgrade. United Nations decisions confirming the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia stated that such matters must be decided with direct participation of authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. He appealed to all involved to reconsider their positions and think about their own tasks and how the international community's decisions could be implemented. The route to finding an answer to the question lay in the mandate of Mr. Bildt. His personal qualities and experience would enable the international community to move ahead in the right direction.
The meeting suspended at 1:16 p.m.
When the meeting resumed at 4:41 p.m., CHEN XU (China) said some of the peacekeeping operations in the Balkans were successful, while others were not. There was a need for a series of stock-taking exercises in that respect, for a lessons-learned perspective. Such an approach could be an important guideline for future United Nations work. Any future work in the Balkans should observe strict adherence to the Charter, especially in such areas as State sovereignty and territorial integrity. Sustained peace and development in that region depended on political will and cooperation. The return of refugees and economic rehabilitation were also urgent tasks facing the international community in the Balkans region.
The Balkan States and the international community had made great strides, but the tasks facing both of them were still formidable. High priority should be given to assisting Balkan nations in realizing self-governance and self-reliance. His Government supported United Nations and regional efforts to realize peace in the region. It also hoped the countries and peoples of the Balkans would proceed from the interests of their respective people and deal with their ethnic and economic problems in a calm manner.
ANDRAS VÁMOS-GOLDMAN (Canada) said resolution to the Balkan crisis could only be found in a broader regional context. In dealing with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the United Nations walked a delicate line between the imperative to provide for legitimate humanitarian needs and that of isolating a Government led by an indicted war criminal. He believed that sanctions against Slobodan Milosevic's regime continued to be important in isolating his Government.
He said the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia must demonstrate its commitment to reforms and building a democratic and secure society. There was also a need to encourage Montenegro to prudently pursue its process of economic and democratic reforms. Canada was particularly interested in the idea of providing financial assistance to Montenegro.
STEWART ELDON (United Kingdom) said Mr. Bildt's image of balancing disintegration with integration and ensuring that in the final analysis those in favour of disintegration won out was extremely helpful. It was also clear that chances of success would be improved when all the key outside players could work together. The base of dialogue with those in the region must be broadened to ensure that any structure remained viable in the long term.
How to deal with the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was an issue to which there was no easy solution, so long as those indicted for war crimes remained in power, he said. He did not agree with the representative of the Russian Federation on that matter. The solution was not to lessen the weight of institutions involved, particularly the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. A crime against humanity was a crime against humanity. No one should forget that, or that the Tribunal was an impartial body established by the international community.
The situation of Montenegro, and the linkage between the Serbian and Montenegro governments, was a source of concern, he said. He asked for Mr. Bildt's assessment on where Montenegro's Government was going and what could be done to ensure that it did not "go bad". Over the weekend, the United Kingdom had announced a doubling of its contribution to the civilian police in Kosovo. He hoped that, in a small way, that would fill the gaps that existed there.
MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said a regional framework for the stability of south-eastern Europe should have its foundation in the United Nations Charter and relevant international conventions. The international community must move expeditiously to address the problems there in a regional framework, taking into account the cultural characteristics of various communities. To resolve the situation in the Balkans, a series of regional security conferences should be instituted by the international community to provide a comprehensive settlement plan. That plan should guarantee the right to return to homes and countries of origin, with property restored. The stability pact should be reviewed and adjusted to include the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
Also, he said it should provide for institutional capacity-building, training and socio-economic programmes, which would ease the entry of those countries into the larger European market. While the international community must provide the people of the Balkans with the assistance needed to rebuild social institutions and economic stability, it was also essential that the Balkan people cooperate with the international community to ease their integration into the larger European economic system.
M. PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said the Balkan region had preoccupied the international community for most of the decade, and despite successes, there was still a long way to go. Incidents such as those in Mitrovica might further set back the peace process. There was still a critical role for the United Nations to play in building peace in the Balkans. Peaceful coexistence and the building of a multi-ethnic society were critical to the long-term development of the Balkans.
She said that among the areas in which the United Nations must continue to work if it was to contribute to building peace, were: maintenance of law and order; safe return of refugees and internally displaced persons to their places of origin; combating of corruption; and strengthening of civil society. Strengthening local institutions and building capacity were other key elements. But, the ultimate success of efforts in the region would depend on the political will of leaders there. As Mr. Bildt had said, any lasting agreement must meet the minimum demands of all and the maximum demands of none.
SEKOU KASSE (Mali) said his country was convinced that national reconciliation and reconstruction and the regional approach continued to be the pillars of any global and universal solution to the Balkans conflict. The Security Council must render its full support in the search for a solution.
SAID BEN MUSTAPHA (Tunisia) said his delegation encouraged all the peace missions that were achieving positive results in the Balkans region to continue to do so, despite the various obstacles. The issue of refugees was still one of concern and he appealed to all parties to promote their return. The solution proposed by the European Union was an opportunity for peace and security. It offered a secure framework and should be implemented as soon as possible. Integration of the Balkans into the wider area would also marginalize extremists of all kinds.
ALPHONS HAMER (Netherlands) said the international community could not hope to achieve self-sustainability for the Balkans while the Milosevic regime remained in power. It was the chief perpetrator of violence, instability and disintegration. The only way out was for the people of Serbia to put a stop to Mr. Milosevic and his followers. The Stability Pact was the only viable framework for a comprehensive approach in restructuring the region and returning refugees.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE (United States) said he had come to the Council to praise Mr. Bildt. They had been close friends since 1994. As co-chairman of the Dayton peace process, Mr. Bildt and he had been close colleagues at moments of high drama. The United States Government listened to what Mr. Bildt said with the highest attention. His report today should encourage the Council somewhat regarding Bosnia and Herzegovina and focus it on where to move forward. There were two issues involved: the question of leadership in the international community -- though in Bosnia and Kosovo that would take slightly different forms -- and the underlying problems of the goals and designs of the leadership in Belgrade. The first matter was really a question of leadership and will. Too often, there were institutional rivalries between the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the United Nations, or between other actors, despite the fact that all had the same objectives. It was important to remember those common goals.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the common goal was to make the Dayton Peace Agreement work. He was encouraged by some of what Mr. Bildt had reported on Bosnia. The Office of the High Representative was critical to success, and should be supported. Regarding the regional situation, he shared Mr. Bildt's view that the newly elected government was a major step forward. The number one test of that government would come with what happened in Mostar, which was the most broken city in Europe. Zagreb held the key, and he called on Croatia to "help fix the broken city of Mostar". "We remain handicapped by the actions of the regime in Belgrade, and we remain handicapped by the fact that a number of indicted war criminals remain at large", he said. He said his comments on Kosovo would be made during Council meetings next week. He welcomed the United Kingdom's announcement that it would double its contribution to the civilian police in Kosovo.
ARNOLDO M. LISTRE (Argentina) said that a long-term strategy to bring about peace depended on such factors as economic, political and social reforms, as well as reconciliation within and between countries. There was a domestic and an international dimension. The past century had been a time of convulsions in the Balkan region. It was where the First World War had been ignited. The forces of disintegration would only be overcome when all participants - the population and leadership - came to the realization that plurality was the basis for a democratic society based on the rule of law, and that it was not worth living in a society based on fear. That was a long-term process, and international assistance would be required to create the conditions of peace and security in the region in the meanwhile.
Responding to the statement, Mr. BILDT noted the widespread support for efforts to set up structures of self-sustaining stability in the region, but also the understanding that much remained to be done. The Council would be considering Kosovo in detail next week, but he wanted to stress today that Kosovo was a difficult, but small place in a region that was unstable. The United Nations task of running Kosovo de facto was complicated by the fact that there was no peace agreement, among other factors.
The representative of the Russian Federation had raised certain issues, including the coordination of different initiatives and how authorities were being dealt with, he said. The regional approach had been part of the United Nations system from the start. Called on early in the 1990s to deal with the humanitarian consequences of the various wars, the United Nations had been advocating a regional approach from the start. The launch of the Stability Pact was a recognition of the fact that the countries could not be dealt with in isolation. He had been trying to facilitate United Nations support for the pact. But it was a two-way process. It was not simply a funding mechanism for projects. It was also an undertaking by those countries to start to cooperate. Those countries all needed substantial economic and political reforms. They also needed reconciliation, for political and economic reasons.
Regarding political settlement for the region, there was need for a structure that went beyond what was now on the table, he said. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was a very complex problem. On the one hand, there was need to help people in desperate circumstances in Serbia. A large refugee population was living in one of the poorest countries in Europe, but the United Nations must be careful to help the people, not fund the regime. The structures of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia/Serbia were to some extent "deliberately corrupt", designed to fund the regime, not help the people. There was a need to be on guard to ensure that ordinary people received the benefits of programmes. It was regrettable that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had excluded itself to large extent by retaining among its leaders those that were indicted by the Tribunal. There should be no dealings with such persons. Also, it had not undertaken the reforms necessary to have a functioning democratic life or a functioning economy. That was a major dilemma both for the international community and for the country.
The situation in Montenegro was a source of grave concern, he said. It was moving in the wrong direction marginally faster than he would have anticipated even weeks ago. There was not doubt that Mr. Milosevic was actively creating the preconditions for exercising the military option. For example, he had set up a separate television network installed by military forces to be the propaganda arm for military intervention. Those moves were not compatible with the federal constitution. Rather, they served to aggravate the problems between Serbia and Montenegro and threatened the survival of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The international community should highlight those concerns. Also, it could extend political and financial help to the authorities of Montenegro.
The issue of the return of refugees was essential for obvious humanitarian reasons, but also for future political stability, he said. The Peace Agreement for Bosnia was ambitious, but despite problems, progress was being made. He would have wanted to see greater responsibility being taken by the leaders of Bosnia. But if progress could be made on Mostar, progress might be made on other problems. In 1995, agreement had been achieved setting the political rules for Bosnia, but that was not the case i