Agreements on Bosnia Signed: Croatia Restores Control over Its Territories. Peace Remains Highest Priority. Situation Still Volatile

UN Chronicle, December 1995 | Go to article overview

Agreements on Bosnia Signed: Croatia Restores Control over Its Territories. Peace Remains Highest Priority. Situation Still Volatile


United Nations efforts in the former Yugoslavia continued in an environment characterized by "vicious cycles of cease-fire violations, human rights infringements, physical destruction and death", Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali declared on 22 August

The Organization was carrying out a "multiplicity of mandated responsibilities" that spanned humanitarian, military and political tasks, he stated in his annual report (A/50/1) to the General Assembly.

The hallmarks of the crisis - unceasing conflicts, entrenched hostilities, violation of agreements and a "genuine lack of commitment and good faith" - gave the impression "either that not enough is being done to find a peaceful resolution or that fundamental questions and issues that divide the parties are insurmountable", Mr. Boutros-Ghali said.

For too long, he lamented, from the start of the Yugoslav military confrontation in 1991, "all efforts aimed at reaching a negotiated and peaceful solution to the conflicts and outstanding issues have been in vain". Nevertheless, the UN and its agencies were devoting the "highest priority to bringing peace to the region and alleviating the suffering brought about by the conflict", he stated.

Setbacks and

disappointments

Mr. Boutros-Ghali's assessment reflected setbacks and disappointments that the UN and the international community had experienced in attempts to end the four-year-old Yugoslav crisis - the largest and most violent armed confrontation in Europe since the Second World War. His comments also underscored the volatility of the situation on the ground, especially in view of the dramatic events of July, August and September 1995.

Most notable among them: the Bosnian Serbs' forced takeover of the Srebrenica and Zepa "safe areas" in July; a major offensive by Croatia against its predominantly Serb-populated areas (the so-called Krajina region) in the beginning of August, forcing some 200,000 Croatian Serbs to flee the country; shelling by the Bosnian Serbs of the Sarajevo market on 28 August; massive retaliatory air strikes by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) against the Bosnian Serbs' military targets; and the 8 September Geneva statement and agreements on principles to negotiate an end to the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Geneva accords, particularly, were an "important milestone in the search for peace", the Foreign Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) - FRY - declared in a joint statement (A/50/419-S/1995/780). While not constituting an end to the tragedy in the Balkans, the principles contained many significant points that "govern the difficult negotiations to come", the Foreign Ministers stated.

The Joint Statement and Agreed Basic Principles were negotiated under the auspices of the Contact Group: France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States.

On 14 September, the Bosnian Serb party signed the Framework for a Cessation of Hostilities within the Sarajevo Temporary Exclusion Zone.

In a follow-up to those accords, an agreement providing for free, fair and direct elections in Bosnia was reached by Bosnia, Croatia and the FRY on 26 September in New York.

Replace UNPROFOR?

"There may be credible prospects for a viable and lasting peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina if all parties are at last ready to forgo the military option", the Secretary-General stated (S/1995/804) on 18 September. However, if the current peace initiative did not succeed and more enforcement action was needed, the UN Protection Force (UNPROFOR) should be "replaced with a multinational force", he suggested.

As of 29 September, a UN spokesman announced, UN peace-keepers continued their work "to the extent they can", although operating only in parts of Bosnia which were controlled by the Bosnian-Croat Federation.

The peace initiative, led by the United States since the beginning of August, was currently aimed at securing a Bosnia-wide cease-fire, he stated.

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Agreements on Bosnia Signed: Croatia Restores Control over Its Territories. Peace Remains Highest Priority. Situation Still Volatile
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