Security Council meeting 3344

Date4 March 1994
S-PV-3344 1994-03-04 18:35 4 March 1994 [[4 March]] [[1994]] /

The situation in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina

The meeting was called to order at 6.35 p.m.

Adoption of the agenda

The agenda was adopted.

The situation in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina

The President

I should like to inform the Council that I have received a letter from the representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in which he requests to be invited to participate in the discussion of the item on the Council’s agenda. In conformity with the usual practice, I propose, with the consent of the Council, to invite that representative to participate in the discussion without the right to vote, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Charter and rule 37 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure.

There being no objection, it is so decided.

At the invitation of the President, Mr. Sacirbey (Bosnia and Herzegovina) took a place at the Council table.
The President

The Security Council will now begin its consideration of the item on its agenda.

The Council is meeting in accordance with the understanding reached in its prior consultations.

Members of the Council have before them document S/1994/224, which contains the text of a draft resolution submitted by France, the Russian Federation, Spain, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America.

I should like to draw the attention of the members of the Council to the following other documents: S/1994/216, letter dated 24 February 1994 from the Permanent Representative of Croatia to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council; S/1994/221, letter dated 24 February 1994 from the Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General; and S/1994/249, letter dated 3 March 1994 from the Permanent Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council.

Members of the Council have received photocopies of a letter dated 3 March 1994 from the Permanent Representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina and of Croatia to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General. That letter, together with its enclosure, will be issued as a document of the Security Council under the symbol S/1994/255.

The first speaker is the representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina, on whom I now call.

Mr. Sacirbey (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

If I have not had a chance personally to congratulate you, Mr. President, on the new position you have undertaken, let me now wish you all the best. Let me also thank the Permanent Representative of Djibouti for his able leadership last month, when so many important issues came before the Security Council.

For the first time since the aggression and genocide against our Republic was initiated, there is a sense of optimism that we may have finally begun to reverse the long and unfortunate trend of aggression and the legitimization of the consequences of such aggression. In this context, three recent developments have been especially critical. They have borne out the importance of confronting aggression resolutely and of stemming those forces and trends of fragmentation in favour of a return to pluralism, multiculturalism and reintegration. At the same time, we must be extremely careful not to slide back into the old, discredited behaviour and options for resolving this problem. There are signs that the Serbian forces are testing our resolve and our commitment to previous measures designed to bring peace.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ultimatum to the Serbian forces besieging Sarajevo, designed to, at least in part, bring about the implementation of Security Council resolutions 824 (1993) and 836 (1993), stopped the shelling of Sarajevo. The current draft resolution should move towards the full implementation of those resolutions in regard to Sarajevo by, first, the full withdrawal of Serbian forces – to quote resolution 824 (1993)

"to a distance wherefrom they cease to constitute a menace to [its] security and that of [its] inhabitants" (resolution 824 (1993), para. 4 (a));

secondly, the full lifting of the road blocks of Serbian forces impeding access to the city; and, thirdly, the restoration of essential services to the city and its population.

Clearly, allowing the status quo to continue and using

the forces of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR), from whichever country they may originate, to interject themselves between besieging Serbian forces and the defenders are not consistent with the aims of lifting the siege or maintaining the unity of this multicultural symbol or with resolutions 824 (1993) and 836 (1993).

Before we even move ahead with the implementation of this draft resolution, those who have the responsibility of liberating the city from shelling must now take steps to stop the increasing shelling and sniping and other violations of the Sarajevo exclusion zone that are increasingly testing the resolve of the United Nations and NATO.

Finally, we must be fully honest with ourselves. Unless the current draft resolution is correctly implemented in order to lift the blockade of Sarajevo and remove Serbian checkpoints that are impeding movement, Sarajevo will remain under siege. In effect, the partial implementation of this draft resolution, as well as of resolutions 824 (1993) and 836 (1993), will make UNPROFOR and the Security Council unwitting parties to the institutionalization of the siege of Sarajevo.

The second development giving us hope is the recent confrontation by NATO planes enforcing the United Nations no-fly zone over our Republic with Serbian planes that had invaded our airspace. Unfortunately, though, Serbian invasions of our airspace in violation of the no-fly zone have been too frequent – indeed, almost daily occurrences. On the other hand, this appropriate response on the part of NATO planes was unique and came only after the Serbian planes had ignored numerous warnings and dared to carry out a bombing attack against one of our towns, in full view of NATO planes. Clearly, the arrogance had been reinforced by the sense that the NATO planes enforcing the no-fly zone would not respond this time and, therefore, that the provocation would not be met with the appropriate resolve. Still, we must thank those countries, and in particular the United States, that finally took the position of intercepting these violators and that placed their citizens at risk.

The third development that signals a positive step may be the most critical. It is the long-sought agreement between the Republic of Croatia, the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Bosnian Croat elements. This agreement certainly brings to an end an unnatural combat between victims of fascism. It also establishes close cooperation – that is, a confederational agreement between the Republic of Croatia and the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as a federation within the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

But most critical of all is the fact that this agreement reverses the long and ill-advised approach to negotiation that seeks solutions on the basis of ethnic division, fragmentation and even appeasement. This agreement and the very helpful role played by the United States Government and certain European Union members should signal an end to at least some of the discredited policies of the past. It also follows the logical road to peace that emphasizes solutions based upon the legitimization and encouragement of moderate and tolerant elements.

The road to peace cannot be based on new, arbitrary lines drawn on maps which divide what has not been segregated in the past. Instead, the road to peace is most simply to pave the way for a return to a centuries-old formula for success in Bosnia and Herzegovina – that is, tolerance, pluralism, multiculturalism and open societies. This not only has been a successful formula for coexistence but, in fact, has been successful in terms of our prosperity and development as a society. We now call upon those Serbs who have found themselves on the other side of an arbitrary line and who are free of war crimes to join us on this natural road to peace, a return to our proven formulas of success.

Unfortunately, while we are speaking here of potential options for peace, there are clear threats that will send us tumbling back to the labyrinth of despair. Serbian forces have not chosen as yet to walk the path of peace; rather, they have increasingly used the focus on Sarajevo and a continuing lack of will by the international Powers to confront them to launch new attacks on Brcko, Bihac, Maglaj and Usora. They have reinvigorated campaigns of terror, rape, torture, murder, "ethnic cleansing" and genocide in areas they now attack as well as occupy. Civilians in Banja Luka are exposed to daily Serbian terror and many are expelled. If the Council wishes to maintain any semblance of progress, it must respond promptly and resolutely to the plight of those whom the Serbians consider to be fair game because they do not appear on the television screens or in the newspapers.

Finally, we must add that the Serbians are encouraged in their cowardly and aggressive actions by certain attempts to legitimize the fascist philosophy in their control of occupied territories. This has even reached capitals of certain members of this noble body and this Council Chamber.

The Government of the Republic of Bosnia and

Herzegovina welcomes the assistance of all Governments in trying to bring peace. However, we will not feel bound by any agreements reached between the brutal force occupying our country and members of this Council unless such agreements are consistent with our status as a Member of the United Nations and with our sovereignty and territorial integrity. The latter principle has to be the basis for the implementation of the present draft resolution as well as any further endeavours to bring about a solution.

The President

I thank the representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina for the kind words he addressed to me.

It is my understanding that the Council is ready to proceed to the vote on the draft resolution before it. If I hear no objection, I shall put the draft resolution to the vote.

There being no objection, it is so decided.

I shall first call on those members of the Council who wish to make statements before the voting.

Mr. Marker (Pakistan)

Pakistan has consistently advocated the need to act decisively and resolutely in order to halt and reverse aggression against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This is necessary for reaching a just, equitable and durable solution of the tragedy in that country.

We therefore welcomed the decision taken by the North Atlantic Council on 9 February 1994, giving a credible ultimatum to the Serbs to remove their heavy weaponry from the Sarajevo exclusion zone and to lift the siege of Sarajevo or to face punitive air strikes.

We note also with a degree of satisfaction that as a result of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ultimatum, progress has been achieved in securing a partial withdrawal of Serbian heavy weaponry from some areas around Sarajevo and the consequent saving of innocent lives in that besieged city.

We are, however, concerned that the Serbs have once again begun to defy the will of the international community by persisting with the siege of Sarajevo and refusing to remove all their heavy weaponry from certain locations around the city. The international community should not become complacent and must not relent in its resolve to secure the safety and security of the civilian population in all designated "safe areas" and other threatened towns and cities in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

We note with satisfaction the recent exemplary action taken with regard to the implementation of Security Council resolution 781 (1992) concerning the no-fly zones in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

An official statement issued by the Government of Pakistan on 28 February 1994 emphasizes that the momentum generated by the success of the ultimatum for the Sarajevo area must not be lost and that the United Nations must now urgently take the necessary political, diplomatic and military steps required to bring a cessation of hostilities all over Bosnia and to further the peace process. It welcomes the cease-fire agreed upon by the Bosnian Government and the Croats on 23 February and the commencement in Washington of talks on the formation of a unified Bosnia comprising Muslim and Croat areas. The statement expresses appreciation for the vital part played by the Russian Federation in persuading the Serbs to agree to the terms of the NATO ultimatum and underlines the fact that Russia has a key role in the peaceful settlement of the Bosnian conflict and that it will use its influence in a constructive manner.

Although we would have preferred a stronger and more comprehensive text to the draft resolution, somewhat on the lines originally envisaged and drafted, we nevertheless feel that the draft resolution before the Council adequately portrays the evolution of the situation after the 9 February ultimatum. It reflects the determination of the international community to secure the effective lifting of the siege of Sarajevo, including the restoration of essential services and a return to normal life, in accordance with the objectives set forth in Security Council resolution 824 (1993). In our view, the draft resolution could have been reinforced by a reference to the threat of air strikes, in the event the aggressors resume bombardment of Sarajevo or redeploy their heavy weaponry in the exclusion zone.

With the adoption of this draft resolution, the Security Council will be setting in motion a process which could lead to the effective lifting of the siege of Sarajevo. It should lead to a mechanism to secure protection of other safe areas and threatened towns such as Maglaj, Mostar and Vitez.

We therefore express the hope that this draft resolution will become an important instrument to consolidate and expand the initial positive trends emerging in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The tragedy in Bosnia and Herzegovina constitutes the darkest chapter in contemporary history. The appalling apathy of the international community in responding to aggression against Bosnia and Herzegovina has caused unfathomable human suffering. But the brave and determined people of that beleaguered country have not relented in their resolve to stand firm against the aggression and to reject any unjust dispensation at gunpoint. The international community must, therefore, demonstrate its resolve to arrive at a just and lasting solution to the crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina by taking all appropriate measures to reverse the consequences of aggression against that country. All lands seized by the use of force and "ethnic cleansing" must be returned. The sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina must be restored and respected.

Sarajevo will always remain as a shining symbol of the indomitable human spirit of resistance against aggression and of determination to live in freedom no matter what the odds. For months the valiant people of Sarajevo have endured every form of terror and privation that has been visited upon them by a ruthless enemy, bent on breaking their will through shellfire and strangulation. Sarajevo’s heroism under prolonged siege has been an inspiration to the entire world. By adopting the draft resolution before us today, we shall be not only signalling our acknowledgement of the heroism of Sarajevo, but are also taking the first small step towards the establishment of a just and lasting peace in a region that has suffered from the most outrageous cruelties perpetrated in recent history. My delegation firmly believes that all peace proposals and initiatives must conform to the principles contained in the relevant resolutions of the Security Council, the General Assembly and those enunciated by the International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia.

Mr. Ayewah (Nigeria)

Let me convey to you, Sir, the courtesies of the Nigerian delegation on your assumption of the office of the presidency of the Council for the month of March. By the same token, we should like to express our appreciation to the Permanent Representative of Djibouti, Ambassador Olhaye, for the effective manner in which he carried out his duties during the month of February.

Since the outrageous incident of the shelling of the marketplace in Sarajevo on 5 February, international attention has become more focussed on developments in that city. On the positive side, however, developments have occurred which enhance the prospects of peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In particular, it has been a considerable relief that the cease-fire has held in Sarajevo and that incidents of sniper fire have diminished.

The cooperation between the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), demonstrated in this instance, portends well for international cooperation between our Organization and regional organizations or arrangements in an effort to promote international peace and security.

There are, however, other developments which are not so positive and which continue to give cause for serious concern. The cease-fire may have been observed so far, but the siege of Sarajevo has yet to be lifted and the supply of electricity and water and other essential public services are still disrupted.

Secondly, we are concerned that some of the heavy weapons in the exclusion zone are still not fully under the control of UNPROFOR. Furthermore, an attempt was made recently by one of the parties to remove some of the weapons that have been placed under UNPROFOR control in the exclusion zone. That same party has also tried to limit the number of UNPROFOR personnel and vehicles stationed at the weapon-collection sites.

Thirdly, and of more serious concern, is the continuation and, in some cases, escalation of attacks in other towns and "safe areas", such as Maglaj, Mostar and Vitez. My delegation feels that it is important for the Security Council to reaffirm its commitment to ensuring the implementation of its earlier resolutions, in particular the desirable objective of an end to the siege of Sarajevo to enable the restoration of normal life.

These measures will certainly be crucial in confidence-building and advancing the cause of peace in Bosnia. We see merit in the decision to request the Secretary-General to appoint a senior civilian official who would be entrusted with appropriate authority to assist in the restoration of public utilities and services in Sarajevo, as well as in carrying forward the purposes of UNPROFOR.

During the debate on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina here on 14 February, my delegation stated that protection of Sarajevo was only one part of the wider problem of ensuring the safety and protection of the country, especially from "ethnic cleansing" and occupation by force. We stressed the need for the international community to take urgent action to protect those areas in Bosnia, in particular those which have been designated as safe havens. We therefore fully support the request for the Secretary-General to report to the Council on the modalities of ensuring the safety and protection of those areas.

The result of "ethnic cleansing" and forced displacement of peoples from their homes should be neither condoned nor accepted. We welcome, therefore, the application of the relevant provisions of the pertinent resolutions to enable the early return of refugees and displaced persons to their homes.

It is quite clear that, when the international community is firm in its resolve, a lot can be achieved. The firm determination of the international community over Sarajevo in the past few weeks has created a window of opportunity which should be exploited to advantage in the settlement of the problem in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The draft resolution before the Council represents a step in efforts to find a lasting political settlement to the Bosnian conflict. My delegation will therefore vote in its favour.

The President

I thank the representative of Nigeria for his kind words addressed to me.

Mr. Kovanda (Czech Republic)

Let me congratulate you, Sir, on your assuming the presidency for the month. You have navigated us through the first few days of this month with such deftness and élan, such a voracious appetite for work, that you will no doubt dispose of all the remaining issues the Council is facing by mid-March.

Let me also thank and congratulate your predecessor, Ambassador Olhaye of Djibouti, who discovered that the shortest month of the year means anything but the least busy month. He amply demonstrated his diplomatic skills and led us is doing a great deal of work indeed.

Mr. President, one of the outstanding achievements of your predecessor was the marathon session we held under his stewardship, during which we reflected upon the aftermath of the Sarajevo marketplace massacre of 5 February. Today we are discussing matters concerning Sarajevo, amongst others, yet again. The difference is this: last month we were mostly looking back, condemning what had happened. This month we are looking forward, thrilled that the steps which the international community has taken since that fateful Saturday of barely a month ago have yielded important results. It appears that the people of Sarajevo have come to enjoy their winter: they are taking in fresh air which is no longer polluted by the stench of gunpowder.

Fresh air is free, and enjoying the snow is effortless. The people of Sarajevo are, however, far from living a normal life. The city lacks basic amenities: medical facilities, reliable water, fuel of all kinds, electricity, disposal of garbage, upkeep of city streets. Sarajevans themselves have compared their life to life in a giant detention camp. They can move about the city, or at least around parts of it, with less fear than they could a month ago. Nevertheless, there is a world of difference between free movement around Sarajevo and free movement per se.

Our draft resolution today is directed at capitalizing on the February successes that the international community has had in stanching the blood-letting. As every toddler learning to walk finds out, one successful step requires another or the baby will fall. Our draft resolution is aimed at making that additional step, maybe even two. It aims at restoring even more normalcy to the life of Sarajevo by calling for freedom of movement to be restored, about the city and into and out of the city. Sarajevo must shed its detention-camp-like atmosphere.

Our draft resolution, furthermore, requests that a senior civil official be appointed to act, in effect, as an administrative officer for the city, to help figure out how essential city services can be restored and then to help actually restore them – working all along hand in hand with the Government of the country, the mayor of Sarajevo and the local administration of its 10 districts. He will benefit from the work done the joint civil mission that the United States and the United Kingdom are about to dispatch to the city to assess what is needed.

Whatever is needed will have to financed. In our draft resolution, we therefore invite the Secretary-General to establish a voluntary trust fund for this purpose. The Czech Republic has already stated its determination to help restore amenities in Sarajevo, and I trust that our authorities will find the trust fund a useful vehicle for doing so.

During our debates last month, a number of speakers expressed their apprehension lest Sarajevo be singled out for special treatment and the rest of Bosnia and Herzegovina be forgotten. Our draft resolution today demonstrates that the rest of the country has indeed not been forgotten. It takes for granted that the rotation of UNPROFOR troops in Srebrenica will go ahead as planned and that Tuzla airport, long a difficult bone of contention, will also be opened up for humanitarian efforts, as envisaged earlier.

Moreover, the draft resolution focuses on three other cities: Mostar, which last month’s discussion highlighted as a prime candidate for "safe area" status; Vitez, a Croatian enclave in central Bosnia which has been the target of Bosnian Government military efforts in recent weeks; and Maglaj, a predominantly Muslim community besieged by the Serbian party and desperately suffering. As for Maglaj, it would be tragically ironic if the Serbian party managed to break through its defences with the very weapons it has redeployed from around Sarajevo, which is what they are apparently trying to do, according to a recent letter from Bosnia’s President Izetbegovic.

Our draft resolution requests the Secretary-General to report on whether and how these three cities could also be afforded the protection envisaged in resolutions 824 (1993) and 836 (1993). It is particularly gratifying in this connection that the Bosnian Government and the Bosnian Croat party have recently signed a peace accord in Zagreb which might make the implementation of such protection all the more feasible, at least in Mostar and Vitez, and that these two parties, plus the Croatian Government, have in recent days embarked on even farther-reaching plans for constitutionally linking their respective territories and countries.

Several warning points have to be made in this context however.

First, we have already declared as safe areas not one city, Sarajevo; not three cities mentioned in the preamble to today’s draft resolution – namely, Sarajevo, Tuzla and Srebrenica; but six cities, including also Zepa, Gorazde and Bihac. In capitalizing on the Sarajevo success, we have to pay great heed to seeing that these earlier commitments of ours are met as well, especially since we are receiving very disquieting news about attacks having been renewed on some of them just as soon as they fade from the limelight.

Secondly, the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) is already stretched quite thin, especially with additional troops having been seconded to Sarajevo. I am proud to announce this evening that the Czech Republic is doubling the size of its UNPROFOR unit even as we speak. Moreover, we have every reason to expect that a part of this unit will be redeployed to Bosnia and Herzegovina very soon indeed. We still feel it important, though, that the size of UNPROFOR be commensurate to the tasks the Security Council gives it.

Thirdly, while the draft resolution welcomes the significant developments in peace negotiations between the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Bosnian Croats and the Croatian Government, there still remains the vexing issue of the involvement of troops of the Republic of Croatia – the HVO – in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Czech Republic finds such involvement unacceptable under any circumstances and rejects any attempts to link their withdrawal with the political process under way, welcome though this political process is. These troops must leave, as demanded in the presidential statement your predecessor, Sir, issued last month.

In closing, let me thank you, Mr. President, and your delegation for the strenuous efforts you have made in ushering this draft resolution through. It was a complex task, as you know best. For our part, we feel a certain disappointment that in order for it to be adopted – as we hope it will be – it had to be watered down. It takes unambiguous and clear-cut determination to attain success in negotiations and on the ground, and we are not quite sure that the Security Council is demonstrating such determination amply enough.

The President

I thank the representative of the Czech Republic for his kind words addressed to me.

Mr. Yañez Barnuevo (Spain)

My delegation is especially pleased to see you, Sir, presiding over our work. I wish to assure you of our full cooperation so that the Council can complete the numerous tasks before it this month.

Allow me also to express our gratitude to Ambassador Olhaye of Djibouti for the efficient work carried out under his presidency during February.

For the last two weeks Sarajevo has found itself no longer subjected to the incessant bombardments that until recently tormented it. The withdrawal of artillery pieces from the city and from around it, or their placement under United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) control, has opened the door to peace for the city’s inhabitants. For the first time a glimmer of light can be seen in the long tunnel of war that has afflicted Bosnia and Herzegovina for almost two years. Our primary objectives continue to be to consolidate the progress made to date, preserve the cease-fire and proceed to the definitive silencing of the weapons poised for battle. For their attainment, both parties must cooperate with UNPROFOR fully and in good faith.

In support of UNPROFOR, in view of the possibility that one side or the other might waver, the States members of the Atlantic Alliance remain steadfast in their decision of 9 February last, taken in conformity with Security Council resolutions 824 (1993), 836 (1993) and 844 (1993). In order to protect the civilian population, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is still prepared to use air power, in coordination with the Secretary-General, if Sarajevo is bombarded anew or if there is non-compliance with the ways envisaged for the demilitarization of the city and its environs.

Silencing the weapons is not enough. We must continue moving ahead until the siege of Sarajevo is lifted. That is the main objective of the draft resolution the Council is about to adopt. Stemming from a French initiative and taking shape in a draft sponsored by the European Union countries of France, the United Kingdom and Spain, along with the United States and the Russian Federation, it calls for the earliest possible return of normal life to Sarajevo, with complete freedom of movement for humanitarian aid and for the civilian population. With the same objective, it requests the appointment of a senior United Nations official to foster the restoration of essential public services, in conjunction with the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina and in coordination with the competent local authorities.

The recent initiative of the United States and the United Kingdom on sending a joint mission of civilian experts to Sarajevo to evaluate requirements on the ground and the draft resolution’s invitation to the Secretary-General to establish a voluntary trust fund will also contribute to Sarajevo’s regaining some semblance of normal life. In any case, it is extremely important for Sarajevo to conserve, as a unified city, its centuries-old character as a centre of multicultural, multi-ethnic and pluri-religious coexistence.

As we stated earlier, it is not enough to save Sarajevo, or what remains of the city. We are particularly concerned about the situation in other safe areas, such as Srebrenica and Tuzla. In the former, the rotation of the UNPROFOR contingent must be completed as soon as possible, while in the latter the airport must be reopened to facilitate the flow of humanitarian aid to Tuzla and the region.

We also find worrisome the situation of the civilian population, be it Muslim, Croat or Serb, in other parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially in communities such as Maglaj, which has recently been subjected to attacks, and Vitez, not to mention the tragedy of Mostar, to which we are highly sensitive since a Spanish battalion is serving in UNPROFOR in that area.

We trust that the Secretary-General will report to us as soon as possible on the viability of applying the concept of safe areas to those cities and the ways to make it effective so that they can finally be free of armed attacks or other hostile actions of any type.

Some recent, important achievements deriving from initiatives of prominent members of the international community are given coherent shape in the draft resolution. The agreement reached in Moscow with the Bosnian Serbs on reopening Tuzla airport, and, especially, the agreements reached in Washington between the Government of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Bosnian Croats and the Government of the Republic of Croatia, in an effort that we hope will soon also embrace the Bosnian Serbs, are worthy steps in the quest for an early end to the conflict.

Now, more than ever, we must relax our efforts. We shall succeed to the degree that we remain united, as we hope will be the case in the adoption of the draft resolution before us. Our actions must be coordinated, and we believe the International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia is the proper framework for that. Above all, the parties in conflict must make the necessary effort, for at the end of the day they have the last word on the achievement of peace. Only in this way – through the parties’ showing greater flexibility and through the coordinated efforts of the international organizations and the countries with influence in the region – will it be possible to attain the peace we all desire for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The President

I thank the representative of Spain for his kind words addressed to me.

I now put to the vote the draft resolution contained in document S/1994/224.

favour against
abstain absent

favour=15 against=0 abstain=0 absent=0

Argentina, Brazil, China, Czech Republic, Djibouti, France, New Zealand, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Russia, Rwanda, Spain, United Kingdom, United States

The President

There were 15 votes in favour. The draft resolution has been adopted unanimously as resolution 900 (1994).

I shall now call on those members of the Council who wish to make statements after the voting.

Sir David Hannay (United Kingdom)

Mr. President, may I begin by congratulating you on the assumption of your office and thanking your predecessor for his remarkable services to the Council during the month of February.

The adoption of this resolution, which my delegation co-sponsored and strongly supports, comes at a time when, for almost the first occasion since this tragic conflict broke out, there have been a number of positive developments on the ground in Bosnia. The cease-fires in Sarajevo and along the Croat/Muslim confrontation lines in central Bosnia are for the most part being observed. Heavy weapons have been either withdrawn from around Sarajevo or put under United Nations control. We pay tribute to the efforts of the United Nations – in particular, those of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and his military commanders – in having seized this opportunity to make substantial progress. We also welcome the active United States and Russian involvement, both in the peace process and on the ground. We particularly welcome the progress made by the United States in securing a Croat/Muslim agreement as a vital step towards reaching an overall settlement, and we fully support their continuing efforts to this end.

It is vital that efforts now be made to build on the progress achieved so far. Conditions in Sarajevo are better than they have been for many months, but that is not yet saying very much. The people themselves are beginning to see that peace and stability can be re-established. But they cannot, by themselves, create the conditions for normal life and reconstruction. The United Nations is already engaged in vital work on the ground, but huge problems remain to be overcome. My delegation therefore strongly supports the appointment of a senior United Nations civilian official to harness all efforts to this end, and to draw up an action plan for the restoration of essential public services to Sarajevo. As part of an international effort to restore normal life to Sarajevo, my Government, together with the Government of the United States, have already announced their intention to send immediately a joint civil mission to Sarajevo. Working with the Bosnian Government, with the Sarajevo city authorities, the United Nations and the European Union, this mission will assess the priority requirements for the restoration of public utilities. But re-establishing normal life in Sarajevo will require the active involvement of the international community as a whole, and it is in this context that my delegation also supports the establishment of a voluntary trust fund to finance projects designed to bring about a return to normal life in Sarajevo. We hope that all members of the international community will contribute generously towards this work.

It is important also to build on recent achievements and to make progress elsewhere in Bosnia. We support the United Nations plans to press ahead with the rotation of United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) troops in Zepa, and to reopen Tuzla airport. In this context, we welcome the Russian initiative to persuade the Bosnian Serbs to co-operate fully with UNPROFOR to this end. My Government stands ready to provide practical assistance to the running of the airport for humanitarian flights.

We also look forward to the Secretary-General’s report on the feasibility of protection for, and access for humanitarian convoys to, the besieged area of Maglaj. Mostar and Vitez have suffered greatly, too, and will be covered in that report. UNPROFOR’s intention to monitor the Croat/Muslim cease-fire in central Bosnia is another necessary step towards the de-escalation of the conflict.

In the Council’s addressing each of these individual issues, it is important that it should not lose sight of the overall goal of securing a durable political settlement. Efforts must be intensified towards that end. Now is the moment for all concerned – in particular, the parties themselves – to participate actively and constructively in a peace process which has recently been re-invigorated by the strengthened support of the United States and the Russian Federation.

Mr. Ricardes (Argentina)

Allow me first, Mr. President, to congratulate you on assuming very important responsibilities for the month of March, and to assure you of our fullest cooperation.

I should also like to express our appreciation for the excellent job done by the Permanent Representative of Djibouti last month.

The Argentine Republic voted in favour of the important proposal in the resolution we have just adopted. Referring basically to the situation in Sarajevo, it is aimed at ensuring that essential public services in that city are immediately re-established and that as a result normal life is restored to its inhabitants.

Recent reports from the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) confirm in essence the neutralization, withdrawal or ceding of control over heavy weapons in and around Sarajevo, as well as continuing adherence to the cease-fire. In this context, the resolution is aimed at consolidating that situation. It is based on respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina. By the appointment of a senior civilian official, who will act under the authority of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the former Yugoslavia, the Security Council wishes to strengthen and give greater stability to the improvements in the situation on the ground throughout the Sarajevo area. Because of its importance, this step will be seen as a substantial contribution towards bringing about a comprehensive settlement of the conflict at the negotiating table.

We place particular emphasis on the need for respect for all the norms of international humanitarian law. We again appeal to all parties to abide by them, since violations of fundamental aspects have already presented the world with terrible consequences, for which those responsible will have to answer.

Another major aspect of the resolution is its call upon the parties to allow complete freedom of movement to and from Sarajevo, which would be tantamount to lifting the siege of that city. That is the unanimous demand made by the international community.

I should like to conclude again appealing, on behalf of the Argentine Republic, to all the parties to make every effort to achieve a just and lasting settlement in the negotiations under way. We believe there is now an opportunity in international affairs to give added thrust to dialogue and the negotiations. We must not lose this opportunity.

The President

I thank the representative of Argentina for his kind words addressed to me.

Mr. Walker (United States)

Let me congratulate you, Sir, on your assumption of the very difficult office of President; we pledge you our full support. May I also thank your predecessor, the representative of Djibouti, for his successful efforts to guide the Council through a very difficult month.

The United States was happy to co-sponsor the resolution just adopted, which we believe represents an important step towards our common goal of restoring normalcy to the lives of the people of Sarajevo and easing the humanitarian crisis in Bosnia. While we cannot support attempts to impose a solution for Sarajevo, we believe that easing the suffering of the civilian population there will be a significant step towards peace.

Over the course of this conflict, we have continued to support negotiations between the sides that would lead to a just and viable settlement freely agreed to by all the parties. At the same time, we have continued to do what we could to alleviate humanitarian suffering in Bosnia. These objectives will remain the basis of our policy.

The United States continues to believe that the Bosnian crisis can be settled only at the negotiating table. A number of recent developments allow us to hope that we have, at the very least, taken some steps in that direction. The decision by the Bosnian Serbs to comply with the ultimatum issued by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and withdraw or put under United Nations control their heavy weapons around Sarajevo was one such step. The 9 February cease-fire agreement between the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Bosnian Serbs, and the cease-fire in central Bosnia, were others. Finally, we are encouraged by the 1 March signing in Washington by the Governments of Bosnia and Herzegovina and of Croatia, and representatives of the Bosnian Croat party, of a framework agreement for the establishment of a bicommunal federation in Bosnia and an outline of a preliminary agreement on establishment of a confederation between Bosnia and Croatia. We hope these agreements will provide the basis for a larger political settlement with the Bosnian Serbs.

Much remains to be done. As we said at the time the agreements were signed, they show how much can be accomplished, even after bitter years of violence, when two sides sit down together to reach an understanding. They also demonstrate that while negotiations will undoubtedly be difficult, they are possible. My Government expects the Bosnian parties to comply strictly with all these agreements.

Similarly, the United States urges all the parties in Bosnia to do whatever they can to facilitate the restoration of essential public services in and around Sarajevo. Peace in Bosnia will be built brick by brick. We hope that this resolution will be an important part of that effort.

The President

I thank the representative of the United States for the kind words he addressed to me.

Mr. Li Zhaoxing (China)

Let me congratulate you, Sir, on your assumption of the presidency of the Council for this month. I am confident that with your wisdom, talent and rich diplomatic experience, you will provide excellent guidance for the success of our work. I also wish to thank your predecessor, Ambassador Olhaye, for his tireless efforts, which left a deep impression on us.

Recently, with the help of the international community, the parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina have made efforts for the political settlement of their conflict. This has led to some relaxation of the situation in the war-ridden area. The agreements between the Bosnian Serbs and the Bosnian Muslims on a cease-fire and the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the Sarajevo area have basically been implemented. The Bosnian Croats and the Bosnian Muslims have just signed a framework agreement in Washington. Progress has also been made in opening the Tuzla airport. We wish to say that we sincerely welcome these developments and hope that the parties to the conflict will earnestly implement the agreements already reached. The international community, including the United Nations, which has made a number of efforts in this regard, should encourage them to continue to promote the peace process for a comprehensive political solution to the question of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The main purpose of the resolution just adopted is to improve the humanitarian situation in Sarajevo and to restore water, electricity and other essential public services there so as to reduce the suffering of the local people. On the basis of humanitarian considerations, the Chinese delegation voted in favour of the resolution.

All along, China has advocated that conflicts should be settled by peaceful means through dialogue and negotiation and has opposed the use or threat of force. In our view, further military action in Bosnia and Herzegovina will make the situation there more complex, and might even endanger the ongoing diplomatic efforts of the parties concerned. We therefore have reservations on the invoking of Chapter VII of the Charter in this resolution.

We maintain that the establishment of safe areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina is only a temporary measure, and not a fundamental solution. When considering additional safe areas, it will be necessary to conduct a serious review of whether the expected results have been achieved in the safe areas already established and whether in the present circumstances the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) has sufficient human and financial resources to perform additional tasks. Otherwise, it is highly possible that a decision made in haste could become a mere scrap of paper. This is something no one wishes to see.

The sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a State Member of the United Nations, should be respected by the international community. Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, should be maintained as a united city and a multicultural, multi-ethnic and pluri-religious centre. The final solution to the Sarajevo question depends on the comprehensive political settlement of the question of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We hope that through the efforts of various parties the humanitarian situation in Sarajevo will continue to be improved and that essential public services and the lives of the inhabitants will be restored to normal as soon as possible so as to help bring about a comprehensive political settlement of the question of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The President

I thank the representative of China for the kind words he addressed to me.

Mr. Vorontsov (Russia)

It gives me pleasure to congratulate you, Sir, on your assumption of the presidency of the Security Council for this month. I wish you success in this important post, and assure you of our readiness to cooperate with you in every way.

We are also grateful to your predecessor, the representative of Djibouti, Ambassador Olhaye, for his able and effective leadership of the work of the Council in February.

The Russian delegation joined co-sponsored the draft resolution submitted by France, because its provisions are consonant with the consistent position of Russia, which sees the normalization of the situation in Sarajevo and the other safe areas as a step towards an overall settlement in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Our priorities have always included the restoration of peaceful conditions in Sarajevo and other cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the solution of humanitarian problems in that regard. That is why the Russian Federation decided to send a Russian contingent to the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) in the Sarajevo area in response to the appeal of the Secretary-General and in accordance with decisions of the Security Council.

Now that the direct threat of artillery shelling of the city has been removed, it is essential to take a new step towards strengthening peaceful conditions in the Bosnian capital and, by restoring public services in Sarajevo, to ease the lot of the long-suffering population of that city.

We clearly realize that the positive developments in and around Sarajevo constitute but the first step along the road to the re-establishment of peace and security throughout the territory of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the basis of an agreement to be reached through a negotiated settlement involving all three parties to the conflict. The Russian Federation desires serious talks with all the interested parties as regards Sarajevo and also other safe areas, and also as regards a Bosnian settlement as a whole. The final objective of that process would be to prepare carefully tested and verified proposals for a comprehensive unblocking of the Bosnian conflict that could be approved by leading States at the highest level, with the participation of the United Nations. That is the aim of the initiative of the President of the Russian Federation, Mr. Yeltsin.

We are convinced that there is now a need for concerted, careful work. The study of approaches and agreements on concrete recommendations could be carried out both within the framework of the United Nations and through bilateral channels.

We note with satisfaction that during the process of reaching agreement on the draft resolution adopted today there prevailed a spirit of partnership and concertation of action. We hope that our positive interaction with our partners in the Security Council on this issue will be further developed now that the process of settlement in Bosnia and Herzegovina is entering a highly responsible stage.

The President

I thank the representative of the Russian Federation for the kind words he addressed to me.

Mr. Sardenberg (Brazil)

Let me extend my warmest congratulations to you, Sir, on your accession to the presidency of the Council. Our work this month will greatly benefit from your well-known professional skills and personal qualities. You can count on the full cooperation and support of my delegation.

May I also express the deep gratitude of the delegation of Brazil for the admirable way in which Ambassador Roble Olhaye of Djibouti conducted our work during the month of February. Thanks to the adroit way in which he presided over the Council, February was a very productive period of activity for the Council.

Resolution 900 (1994), which we have just adopted, represents another effort by the Security Council to lessen the suffering of the civilian population in Bosnia and Herzegovina and to promote conditions for the attainment of an overall political settlement.

Brazil is encouraged by the agreements between the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and between the Bosnian Serb party and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on a cease-fire and measures related to heavy weapons in and around Sarajevo. It is our expectation that this first and, hopefully, irreversible step may spread throughout other parts of the country, bringing about the restoration of peace and security to the entire region. Brazil calls upon all the parties to continue their endeavours in this regard. In this connection, we also welcome the framework agreement reached between the Bosnian Government and the Bosnian Croat party in Washington. The reopening of the airport at Tuzla in the near future for relief flights will be another encouraging sign of positive movements by the parties concerned.

We are aware that much remains to be done. The situation in Mostar, Vitez and Maglaj continues to be a cause for deep concern. The siege of Sarajevo should be effectively lifted in order to allow for the restoration of normal conditions of life and security to the population. In this respect, all parties must facilitate the unhindered flow of humanitarian assistance, including the provision of food, water, electricity, fuel and communications in the capital city as well as in all other areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In resolution 900 (1994) the Security Council requests the Secretary-General to appoint a senior civilian official to draw up an overall assessment and plan of action for the restoration of essential public services in Sarajevo. We shall be looking forward to considering the report to be presented by the Secretary-General in the near future concerning ways and means for the implementation of the plan of action.

Resolution 900 (1994) was the fruit of an intensive process of negotiation within the Council, and we praise the spirit of mutual accommodation that made possible its unanimous adoption. Nevertheless, the international community should not lose sight of the difficulties that still lie ahead for the full implementation of decisions taken today and on previous occasions. This new and crucial phase we are entering should be handled with great care and attention in order that the window of opportunity for attaining lasting peace not be closed. It is essential that the international community continue to encourage the parties to pursue a fair and practical agreement which would be acceptable to all of them and could put an end to this appalling conflict. Any such solution should take into account the legitimate interests, and ensure the protection of the basic rights, of all parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The President

I thank the representative of Brazil for the kind words he addressed to me.

Mr. Keating (New Zealand)

Like my colleagues, I wish to welcome you, Sir, as President of the Security Council. We congratulate you on your assumption of the office and look forward to supporting you and all your endeavours this month.

I also extend my delegation’s appreciation and thanks to the Ambassador of Djibouti, your predecessor, who presided over the Council last month. My delegation was greatly impressed by the way in which he and his delegation contributed to the Council’s achievements.

When the Security Council debated the consequences of the attack on the market in Sarajevo, three weeks ago, I said that New Zealand fully supported the actions taken by the Secretary-General and Member States, acting through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), in the execution of the Council’s mandate to protect the safe areas in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We noted that the United Nations had reached a turning point in the Bosnian conflict. So it has proved.

The events of the last three weeks have demonstrated that with a mixture of appropriate resolve and effective diplomacy the international community is able to bring about a change in the situation in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The silencing of the guns which had bombarded Sarajevo for 22 months is the first product of that resolve. The citizens of Sarajevo can, with increasing confidence, start to rebuild their lives and go about their daily business without fear of sudden and random violence.

But this is only the beginning of a process to reconstruct Sarajevo and Bosnia. The draft resolution on which we have just voted, and which New Zealand fully supports, moves us farther along that path.

First, it sets out plainly the determination of the United Nations that the cessation of bombardment of civilian targets must now be complemented by the restoration of public services to that city. The citizens of Sarajevo must not have to wonder daily whether and for how long the supply of gas, water and electricity will last. The basic services which have been denied to much of the city’s population must be restored. This resolution sets out a process by which the United Nations can assist the Bosnian authorities to undertake this work.

It is imperative that action get under way immediately and that all parties concerned support the fundamental objective: the restoration of civilized life to the capital of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The free movement of people and of humanitarian relief in and out of Sarajevo must be permitted. The restoration of public services must be facilitated.

Secondly, the resolution points to the need to make similar progress in the other safe areas in Bosnia – those named in earlier resolutions, and the three cities, Mostar, Vitez and Maglaj, on which the Secretary-General is asked to report. Their circumstances are different, but their plight is horrifyingly common. Recent reports suggest that the hideous practice of "ethnic cleansing" still continues behind the front lines. It must cease.

New Zealand supports the extending of the application of the concept of safe areas to these three places. They, and all safe areas, must be able to enjoy protection from attack; refugees and displaced persons must be able to return; the appalling conditions in which the citizens of the safe areas have had to survive must be brought to an end; and political and military interference with humanitarian convoys must stop.

This resolution also notes other developments which we believe will contribute to the alleviation of suffering and the peaceful settlement of the conflict. In particular, we welcome the recent agreement reached in Washington between the Bosnian Government and the Bosnian Croat party. It too is a further turning point. The momentum it has created must be maintained.

We believe that it is important to remember that the establishment of safe areas is not an end in itself. But the measures embodied in this resolution will, in the view of my Government, contribute to creating an environment in which peace can return to the whole Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the war be brought to an end.

The President

I thank the representative of New Zealand for the kind words he addressed to me.

I shall now make a statement in my capacity as the representative of France.

My Government welcomes the resolution that the Council has just adopted. It was indeed essential for the Security Council, after the establishment of a cease-fire and the withdrawal of heavy weapons or their turning over to the control of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR), to decide to consolidate the gains won in Sarajevo thanks to the firm stand taken by the international community.

This resolution, focussed on specific measures designed to restore normal life in Sarajevo – measures that I will elaborate on later – is part of the wider context of the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and of initiatives to spur the peace process forward. It was indeed important, in my Government’s view, not to isolate the steps taken for the benefit of Sarajevo from other steps regarding Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The resolution thus recalls the measures adopted in and around Sarajevo under resolutions 824 (1993) and 836 (1993), which made it possible to secure the withdrawal of heavy weapons. It also recalls the goals set for relieving UNPROFOR personnel in Srebrenica and for the reopening of the Tuzla airport. It marks the Council’s concern at the stark situation in Magaj, Mostar and Vitez, and requests the Secretary-General to report on the possible extension to these cities of the protection envisaged under resolutions 824 (1993) and 836 (1993). Finally, it welcomes recent developments in the peace negotiations among the Government of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Croats of Bosnia and the Government of the Republic of Croatia.

At this point, I should like to emphasize the measures decided upon under the resolution for Sarajevo.

To ensure that city’s return to normal, the parties are asked, with the help of the United Nations, to bring about the total freedom of movement for the civilian population and for humanitarian goods, and to lift any and all impediment to this freedom of movement. This is an essential demand which will have to be met if a swift end is to be put to the sufferings so unjustly imposed, for nearly two years now, on the people of Sarajevo.

From a practical point of view, the resolution requests the Secretary-General to appoint a senior official who, in liaison with the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina under the authority of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, will carry out an evaluation and work out a programme for restoring essential public services. This official will be invested with the power to assist the Government of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and to ensure implementation of the plan in close coordination with the local authorities concerned.

This decision, for my delegation, constitutes a very important measure. On the one hand, the steps designed to restore public services for the benefit of the people of Sarajevo, in terms of how they are defined and how they are to be implemented, will be centrally directed so as to achieve maximum efficacy. On the other hand, the work of the official appointed by the Secretary-General without violating the sovereignty of the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina, will, at the local level, be done together with all those concerned.

I should like to stress, moreover, that we have adopted this resolution under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, as the other resolutions on Bosnia and Herzegovina have been since August 1992. In this context, not to have resorted to Chapter VII would for the parties have been the worst of signals, at the very time when the international community has just successfully demonstrated its determination to bring about a halt to the bombing of Sarajevo. Beyond that, application of Chapter VII, which does not imply an automatic resorting to force, will give UNPROFOR the authority it needs to surmount the obstacles that might be placed in the way of the execution of its mandate.

In conclusion, I wish to state that my Government will spare no pains to ensure the successful implementation of this resolution.

As I have already said, the measures decided on for Sarajevo fit into the wider context of the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and of initiatives aimed at advancing the peace process. My Government thus intends to pursue its efforts to bring about a comprehensive political settlement, together with the other countries of the European Union and in coordination with the other Governments committed to and involved in the quest for peace.

I now resume my functions as President of the Security Council.

There being no further names on my list of speakers, the Security Council has thus concluded the present stage of its consideration of the item on the agenda.

The Security Council will remain seized of the matter.

The meeting rose at 8.05 p.m.
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