The situation in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina
|(The Presidency changes each month to the next member in alphabetical order)|
|Mr. Chen Jian
|Mr. Yañez Barnuevo
|Sir David Hannay
Announcements by the President
Before the meeting is called to order, I wish to make two short announcements.
First, I draw attention to document S/1994/329, which members of the Council and other colleagues will recall relates to a decision it took on the distribution of the texts of statements. That decision was that the distribution of texts should take place outside the Council Chamber.
Secondly, because of urgent business that the Council may need to attend to in the course of the evening, we may have to suspend the debate briefly in about two hours’ time. I wanted to give members of the Council and other colleagues notice of the possibility that at around 7 p.m. we may need to suspend the debate for a short time. It is the intention of the members of the Security Council to complete the debate and adopt a resolution this evening on the agenda item before us.
Adoption of the agenda
The situation in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina
I should like to inform the Security Council that I have received letters from the representatives of Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Egypt, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Jordan, Malaysia, Morocco, Norway, Poland, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Slovenia, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, in which they request 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 those representatives 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.
I have received a request dated 20 April 1994 from Ambassador Dragomir Djokic to address the Council. With the consent of the Council, I would propose to invite him to address the Council in the course of the discussion of the item before it.
There being no objection, it is so decided.
I should like to inform the Council that I have received a letter dated 21 April 1994 from the Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations, which reads as follows:
"On behalf of the members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, I have the honour to request that the Security Council extend an invitation to His Excellency Mr. Engin Ahmet Ansay, Ambassador, Permanent Observer of the Organization of the Islamic Conference to the United Nations, to address the Council under rule 39 of its provisional rules of procedure in the course of the Council’s consideration of the item ‘The situation in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina’."
That letter will be published as a document of the Security Council under the symbol S/1994/482.
If I hear no objection, I shall take it that the Council agrees to extend an invitation under rule 39 to His Excellency Mr. Ansay.
There being no objection, it is so decided.
The Security Council will now begin its consideration of the item on its agenda.
The Security Council is meeting in accordance with the understanding reached in its prior consultations.
Members of the Council have before them document S/1994/465, which contains the text of a draft resolution submitted by France, the Russian Federation, Spain and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
I should like to draw the attention of the members of the Council to the following other documents:
– S/1994/400, 404, 412, 426, 451, 456 and 467, letters dated 6, 7, 9, 13, 15, 17 and 19 April 1994, respectively, from the Permanent Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council;
– S/1994/407, letter dated 7 April 1994 from the Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General;
– S/1994/418 and 449, letters dated 12 and 15 April 1994, respectively, from the Chargé d’affaires a.i. of the Permanent Mission of Yugoslavia to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General;
– S/1994/443, letter dated 14 April 1994 from the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General;
– S/1994/450, letter dated 15 April 1994 from the Deputy Permanent Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council;
– S/1994/453, letter dated 15 April 1994 from the Permanent Representative of Turkey to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council;
– S/1994/457, letter dated 17 April 1994 from the Permanent Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General;
– S/1994/460, letter dated 18 April 1994 from the Permanent Representative of Croatia to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council;
– S/1994/466, letter dated 18 April 1994 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council;
– S/1994/469, letter dated 18 April 1994 from the representatives of France, Spain and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council;
– S/1994/475, letter dated 20 April 1994 from the Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General; and
– S/1994/478, letter dated 20 April 1994 from the Chargé d’affaires ad interim of the Permanent Mission of Malaysia to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General.
Members of the Council have also received photocopies of letters dated 21 April 1994 from the Permanent Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the United Nations and the Permanent Representative of Brunei Darussalam to the United Nations, both addressed to the President of the Security Council, which will be issued under the symbols S/1994/480 and S/1994/483 respectively.
The first speaker is the representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina, on whom I now call.
Let me first take this opportunity to commend and thank the French Ambassador, Ambassador Mérimée, for the manner in which he presided over the Security Council during the month of March. Let me also thank you, Sir, in the sincerest terms, for the steady and attentive fashion in which you have directed the work of the Council for this month. It has been an especially difficult month for all of us.
I should also like to take the opportunity briefly to inform the Council that we can now confirm the reports that there is house-to-house fighting in Gorazde. This fact may make our debate and words here either of greater urgency or irrelevant. The choice is, at least partly, ours.
Let me also apologize in advance to the Council for having to take early leave of this debate, as I have urgent business to attend to on this very matter. I will endeavour to review all the comments of the Council members and the other speakers.
While Gorazde has been turned into a slaughterhouse, and Bosnia and Herzegovina has become a graveyard, unfortunately this most noble of institutions has been usurped into a Chamber of false promises and rationalizations for inaction.
I hesitate to make such a statement, but in the end, it is you, Excellencies, who are responsible for the credibility of your words. On the other hand, I owe my best and honest efforts to my battered and betrayed Republic and the innocents that are now being massacred in Gorazde.
I will keep my comments short. Almost everything has already been said and repeated on several occasions.
We endorse the 18 April 1994 letter from the Secretary-General, Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). We welcome President Clinton’s course of action with respect to NATO, and thank him for the initiative he outlined yesterday.
Finally, we endorse the draft resolution before us, although it falls short on several fronts.
Unfortunately, none of the steps I have mentioned address certain basic and most important considerations. First, this Council must act immediately to respond to the slaughter of innocents in Gorazde. Those who voted for the designation of Gorazde as a safe area cannot now avoid the moral, legal and practical burden that they bear for the lives of those 70,000 individuals. It is this designation and the Council’s commitment to it, when resolutions 824 (1993) and 836 (1993) were adopted, that was offered in lieu of our unabridged right to self-defence.
Secondly, the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina is not a haphazard composite of safe areas or urban ghettos. The Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina has a responsibility to defend all of its citizens as well as its sovereignty and territorial integrity as a whole. The Council cannot continue to impede our right to self-defence unless it accepts the responsibility in full. Otherwise, the next Gorazde will be in – God forbid – Maglaj, Brcko or some other non-safe area.
Will the Serbians be allowed to move their weapons from their besieging positions around Gorazde, as they did from around Sarajevo, to use the same weapons against some other unfortunate town and civilian population?
In addition, who will intercede on behalf of the Croats and Bosnians now being tortured, raped, "ethnically cleansed" or murdered in places like Banja Luka, Prijedor, Bijelina or Shipovo, all of which are under Serbian occupation?
Thirdly, the precedent of Gorazde has a direct impact on, and poses a danger to, the peace process in the Republic of Croatia as well as the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This issue must be addressed directly.
Finally, let me make one point abundantly clear: we are fully prepared to negotiate to end the hostilities and settle this war – that is, to take part in good faith negotiations.
Let me quote the principled and reflective words of the Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, Mr. Vitaly Churkin, after his endless efforts and talks with the Serbian party:
"I have never heard as many lies as I have heard from the Serbians in the last 48 hours."
Mr. Churkin continued:
"We should stop any type of conversation with them. The time for conversation has ended. I do not feel any desire by the Serbian side to agree on the subject [of stopping the offensives]."
So-called talks have been used as a weapon to murder the innocents in Gorazde. I urge all members of the Council, for the sake of the dead, the dying, the maimed, the endangered of Gorazde, not to call for any more talks until they have taken the very necessary and obvious steps to restore good faith to any negotiating process and once again to make talks a tool of peace rather than a weapon of genocide.
Similarly, if some mean to usurp the negotiating process in order to ratify the fruits of Serbian aggression, to adopt the consequences of "ethnic cleansing", to compel the partition of our country and to betray the United Nations Charter, let them openly accept this responsibility and not avoid accountability by seeking the cover of our acquiescence under the duress of continuing genocide.
Promises in this sacred Chamber have been made to the Bosnians for the last two years. They were made in part in lieu of the Security Council’s recognizing the Bosnians’ right to self-defence. The accumulated debt of promises has grown beyond all measure of reason. More words are inadequate and constitute a counterfeit substitute for the necessary action.
We, the Bosnians, have had to pay a very heavy price for diplomatic words and unfulfilled promises. We say to the Council: "We do gratefully acknowledge the contributions of your young men and women, the brave and committed peacekeepers, pilots, human rights and humanitarian relief workers. This, however, does not relieve you of your obligation. To the contrary, it amplifies your responsibility, for now you also owe a debt to the courageous and forthright individuals, your own citizens, who now struggle and sacrifice, at their own risk, to overcome your initial failure to respond properly. They now suffer and die with us like our own brothers and sisters."
Let me read out verbatim the communiqué of the lonely four International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) personnel who have stayed behind in Gorazde while all others have abandoned it. They say:
"Since the night of 28-29 March 1994, the international community has been receiving reports about the war in Gorazde and its tragic consequences on the population of this UN-protected Muslim enclave.
"The international community and the parties in conflict are aware that:
"- Many civilians – (children, women and elderly) were and are being killed and injured by indiscriminate shelling and sniper fire in Gorazde town and in the villages of the former pocket.
"- A large number of villages have been and are being burnt and destroyed and their inhabitants killed or injured.
"- The Gorazde hospital, the local Red Cross and its refugee center as well as purely civilian areas have been and are being exposed to shelling and constant sniper fire.
"- Access is being denied to all medical and relief convoys.
"- Reunification of families separated for two years already is being denied.
"- Residential water supplies to Gorazde town have been cut for the last two years.
"- Evacuation of urgent medical cases has been refused.
"As this is not enough to put an end to the humanitarian tragedy in Gorazde, the four relief workers still active in the field will stop all communications with the outside world for 24 hours.
"May this silent protest honor all innocent victims of this war."
The communiqué is signed by "Pablo, Olivier, Daniel, Klaus".
I remind all that the necessary authority of the Security Council and NATO already exists to provide close air-to-ground support to protect these United Nations-mandated humanitarian workers – Pablo, Olivier, Daniel and Klaus. No new debates or authority are required.
The debt of promises and commitments to the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina and to all those who provide humanitarian assistance has come due a long time ago, and we cannot afford to extend the time for delivery any longer.
I thank the representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina for the kind words he addressed to me.
The next speaker is the representative of Croatia. I invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
At first there were Vukovar and Dubrovnik, and after that there was Sarajevo, and after Sarajevo came Srebrenica, then Gorazde, a Maglaj or two in between; and, then again Sarajevo – and Gorazde again. This vicious circle of terror promoted by extremist Serb leaders – in the words of Vitaly Churkin, "obsessed with war" against their neighbours – must finally come to an end.
The international community has made many attempts to bring this tragedy to an end, but without much success. The horrors of "ethnic cleansing" continue unabated not only in Gorazde, but also in Banja Luka, Mrkonjic-Grad, Prijedor and elsewhere in Bosnia. Intensive attacks against the Usora region in the Posavina corridor have not let up since January.
After two years of unthinkable suffering, and with 150,000 innocent lives lost, the time has come to impose peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. A credible threat of resolute force combined with equally assertive diplomatic efforts should finally bring peace to the impoverished people of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The initiative presented yesterday by the President of the United States is a firm step in such a direction. Diplomacy may work with politicians, but only force will work with wayward generals and militant fanatics. My delegation therefore strongly supports President Clinton’s call that the Sarajevo model of a clear ultimatum be extended to Gorazde and other safe areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
A North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) threat of wider, ultimatum-type air strikes could give a new opportunity for finding a political settlement in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Without such a credible threat of force, no new negotiations will be possible. This will be true not only for Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also for Croatia.
NATO’s lack of response to the Bosnian Serbs’ aggressive acts against the community of civilized nations in Gorazde has made negotiations with them a mockery. They have agreed to a cease-fire in Gorazde just about every day in the last seven days without any genuine commitment to respect it.
Similarly, last week the Serb insurgents in Croatia decided to disregard the agreement on confidence-building-measures talks with my Government. Their leadership has now raised frivolous obstacles regarding the venue for the second round of the peace talks, stubbornly refusing to accept the implementation of the Security Council resolutions and the gradual reintegration of the United Nations protected areas into the legal system of the Republic of Croatia. Further, they have taken dangerous steps in violation of the 29 March cease-fire agreement.
The Security Council’s lack of resolve to respect its own resolutions and to protect its own assets and personnel in Bosnia and Herzegovina has had a debilitating effect on the peace process in the region. The promising process that began in November with the European Union Action Plan and culminated with the Washington agreements of 18 March for Bosnia and Herzegovina and the 29 March cease-fire agreement for United Nations protected areas in Croatia is now in jeopardy.
While my Government will pursue all possible avenues so that those agreements are maintained, the international community will need to respond quickly with most decisive measures, which make it clear to the belligerent side that the agreements and the Security Council resolutions do in fact correctly represent the will of the international community.
The strengthening of the sanctions regime against Serbia and Montenegro, instead of promises that the sanctions regime might be revoked, is indeed a telling sign that the international community is willing to stand by its principles and its objectives in the region. My Government cannot emphasize enough the value of such a policy message.
Moreover, the conditions for the lifting of the sanctions regime must be firmly linked not only with the peace process in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also with implementation of the agreements and resolutions in Croatia, consistent with resolution 871 (1993).
Croatia is genuinely committed to continuing to play a constructive role in the peace process, and the Council must consider our forbearance with respect to the United Nations protected areas as well as our enormous contribution to the care of Bosnian refugees to date. But the patience of the Croatian people regarding reintegration of United Nations protected areas and our ability to care effectively for an increasing number of Bosnian refugees is limited.
In such circumstances, my delegation must insist on more vigorous engagement by the Council, lest, without decisive action now, the conflict spill over east and west of Gorazde. An even more detrimental consequence of inaction is the possible indefinite stifling of the negotiating process, which has been very successful recently.
The success of the Washington agreements for Bosnia and Herzegovina can best be confirmed on the ground. The battlefields in central Bosnia have become very quiet, and the Bosnian Muslim and Croat leaderships are working intensively to form a new government for the proposed federation. Progress in this regard will be significantly affected by the willingness of the international community to support the agreements it assisted in brokering.
The assistance of political leadership at the highest level was a major factor in the success of the Washington agreements. It is the view of my delegation that the Washington agreements would have come with much greater difficulty had it not been for the personal involvement of President Clinton.
That is why my delegation was very pleased to learn that a new major diplomatic initiative involving the highest political leadership of the United States, the Russian Federation and the European Union may soon become a reality. We also hope that the leadership of the Organization of the Islamic Conference will be able to play a major role in this initiative. Their participation at this point in the negotiating process may be very constructive.
If the international community is not able to impose peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina by the resolute use of substantive force and assertive diplomatic progress, the Security Council will have to consider other ways to achieve the desired balance of power in the region, including the right of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Croatia, under Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, to defend themselves.
We must emphasize in this regard that the capacity to defend oneself does not increase violence. On the contrary, an increased capacity of self-defence creates a balance of power which decreases violence and promotes non-military solutions to conflicts. The fact that the cold war never turned "hot", and was eventually defused, attests to this.
My Government will continue to support any initiative that would impose peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina – which is indeed possible and justified – after two years of tragic bloodletting that has shamefully culminated in Gorazde today. However, my Government would support the use of the Sarajevo ultimatum model in the implementation of the Security Council’s resolutions and the peace agreements for the occupied territories in Croatia. Similarly, my Government would seriously consider the extension of the exclusion zones for certain safe areas, such as Bihac and Tuzla, into the territory of the Republic of Croatia. The Bosnian safe area of Bihac, for instance, is being attacked by rebel Serb forces in the occupied territories in Croatia, while conversely, Zupanja, a Croatian town, is being shelled by the Bosnian Serb militia from the Tuzla region in Bosnia.
Heavier involvement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and new high-level leadership in the negotiating process can bring peace to the region, a peace which the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, but also of Serbia and Montenegro, finally deserve. Sixty-five thousand desperate citizens of Gorazde appeal to the Council today to recognize that their fate is in its hands. Millions of people around the world would plead likewise. The Council cannot disregard these calls for decisive action. There is too much at stake.
The next speaker is the representative of Turkey. I invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
It gives me great pleasure to congratulate you, Sir, on your assumption of the presidency of the Security Council for the month of April. We are confident that, under your able guidance, the Council will successfully carry out its responsibilities. I would also like to pay a tribute to Ambassador Jean-Bernard Mérimée of France for the remarkable manner in which he conducted the work of the Council in March.
The Council has called this urgent meeting to consider the extremely grave situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. With deep shock and indignation, we have been witnessing a new round of Serbian acts of carnage in the United Nations designated safe area of Gorazde. Unfortunately, Gorazde, which has become a new symbol of moral and humanitarian catastrophe, is at the mercy of the Serbian aggressors. The blatant violation of Security Council resolutions 824 (1993) and 836 (1993) remains unchallenged. Gorazde is now not only a test case for the United Nations commitments in Bosnia and Herzegovina but also for the role it will play in shaping the future of the international system.
The latest Serbian aggression in Gorazde is part of a consistent pattern of "ethnic cleansing" and genocide committed by the Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina over the last two years. The momentum created by the ultimatum of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) of 9 February and the Washington agreements of 1 and 18 March has been overtaken by the Serbian brutality in Gorazde. The Serbian aggressors have been allowed once again to pursue their defiance of international law.
Wrong signals sent to the Serbs set the grounds for the plight of Gorazde. Appeasement, which is nothing but partnership in wrongdoing, has encouraged the aggressors to intensify their attacks. They have succeeded in turning Gorazde into an open prison, a living hell for its defenceless residents waiting for their public execution under the supervision of the United Nations. Yesterday alone, the Serb aggressors massacred 44 people, most of them in the hospital, which was directly targeted by the Serbs. Today, the Serbian extremist forces besieging Gorazde continued their defiance of the international community by issuing an ultimatum and threatening to level the city to the ground. There are even alarming reports that the Serbian forces have today entered the city and that hand-to-hand fighting is going on in Gorazde at this very moment.
Threats against the Serbs have turned into failed bluffs. The prestige and moral authority of the United Nations are at their lowest ebb. The United Nations cannot even defend its own personnel. The concept of a United Nations designated safe area has become a joke. Bosnians are in a state of frustration and seem to have lost all their confidence in the international system.
On several occasions, we have voiced before this body our deep anguish over the inability of the Security Council to protect the Bosnians from genocide and to act effectively against the Serbian defiance. Along with many others, these appeals and the draft resolution before us would not have been necessary had the Security Council followed up its resolutions with strict and dedicated enforcement. It is precisely the lack of such decisive action that has sent wrong signals to the aggressors that they might push the imperiled Bosnian people into practical extinction. As long as the Serbian aggressor is allowed to continue to impose its ill-designed plans for a Greater Serbia through the use of force and "ethnic cleansing", there will be no incentive for credible negotiations. Hence, any viable peace process should be backed by sufficient force to make the Serbs realize that more war gives them more pain than gain.
This is only possible when the Government and people of Bosnia and Herzegovina are given the chance to acquire the means to exercise their right to self-defence. Indeed, nothing is more important for deterrence than letting the Bosnians defend themselves. The arms embargo adopted by Security Council resolution 713 (1991) is in clear contradiction of Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. I must underline once again that we would like to urge the Council to clarify the legal opinion that its resolution 713 (1991) does not and should not apply to the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. While the Council has – in words if not in deeds – reaffirmed in all relevant resolutions the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and rejected the acquisition of territory through the use of force and the practice of "ethnic cleansing", it should no longer remain indifferent to the right of self-defence of a country whose very existence is at stake.
The concept of safe areas was based on the assumption that resolutions establishing them would effectively and immediately be implemented. Regrettably, we are still far from that. The safe areas are almost abandoned by the United Nations. In this context, I wish to emphasize that Security Council resolutions 824 (1993) and 836 (1993) provide a clear legal framework for the use of all necessary means, including air strikes against the aggressors for the defence of all safe areas. What we lack is resolute action. It is in line with this reasoning that we welcome the letter sent by the Secretary-General to NATO on 18 April 1994 and the announcement of an action plan by the President of the United States yesterday as steps in the right direction. Yet, we would like to see concrete action. The Secretary-General will have our total support for the implementation of the air strikes. As a NATO member, we will spare no efforts in the NATO Council to ensure a positive reply to the letter of the Secretary-General.
As I explained to the Council two months ago, we are strongly in favour of a negotiated settlement. However, it should be just and viable. To this end, an atmosphere conducive to credible negotiations should first be created. In this respect, we welcomed and contributed to the peace momentum gained by the Washington agreements between the Bosnians and Croats. On 5 and 6 April 1994, the political directors of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Turkey held a meeting in Ankara on the basis of a permanent political consultation mechanism and confirmed their joint efforts for the maintenance of the momentum for peace in Bosnia. They also reiterated that the agreement concluded between the Bosnians and Bosnian Croats is aimed at preserving the integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina with a multicultural, multireligious and multi-ethnic society and that it is open to the participation of the Bosnian Serbs.
The terrorist aggression against Gorazde underlines once again the urgency of bringing the perpetrators of crimes against humanity before the International Tribunal set up by Council resolution 827 (1993). We welcome the preambular paragraph of the draft resolution before us reaffirming this fact. But we need a quick prosecution process. Furthermore, we think that the diplomatic isolation and economic embargo imposed on the aggressor should be tightened. We were hoping to see in the draft resolution before us a reference to this end.
We should like to hope that this draft resolution will not remain empty words. The time has come for determination and action. We should stop supplying the Bosnians with unenforced resolutions and unsafe "safe areas". Instead, we should give them effective protection and means to defend themselves. The arms embargo, which is inherently illegal and invalid with respect to Bosnia, should be removed to increase the chances of a real peace process without any further delay.
We must set a final deadline for Serbian compliance with the Council’s resolutions. We should act decisively to put an end to the bloodiest aggression and cruellest crimes against humanity in Europe in 50 years. There is no moral ground for remaining "neutral" and "impartial" between aggressors and their victims. The aggressors should bear in mind that we shall never give up actively supporting the brave people of Bosnia and Herzegovina in their struggle for survival, justice and democracy.
I thank the representative of Turkey for his kind words addressed to me and my predecessor.
The next speaker is the representative of Tunisia. I invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
On behalf of my delegation, I should like first of all, Sir, to congratulate you on your assumption of the presidency of this body and to tell you how very much we appreciate the way in which you are discharging your responsibility. My congratulations also go to your predecessor, Ambassador Jean-Bernard Mérimée of France, who as last month’s President displayed courage and tenacity.
It is with profound bitterness that my delegation takes part in today’s meeting of the Security Council on the question of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which, if we are not careful, will go down in the annals of modern history along with Munich. In this aggression, "ethnic cleansing", systematic murder and genocide are the macabre instruments chosen by the Serbs to achieve their ends, thus flouting the most basic rules of international and humanitarian law, in full view of and with the full knowledge of the entire international community.
The painful and repugnant images that reach us from that Republic, which is recognized by the United Nations as a sovereign and independent State, will for ever remain etched in the world’s conscience if the international community does not now – immediately – resolutely take matters in hand.
Must we let the Serbs, backed by the power of Belgrade, annihilate before our impassive eyes an entire people, an entire culture, an entire history and an entire territory in order for us to realize at last that we have failed in our duty? Must we wait until the Serbs proceed to the final execution of their diabolical plan of annihilation before we finally understand the scope of the tragedy?
The credibility of the United Nations is today taking a beating from the irresponsible and bloody acts of the Serbs, who, in their mad rage continue, in the absence of a forceful reaction, making a mockery of our Organization. They have gone beyond all limits in violating Security Council resolutions, particularly those adopted under Chapter VII of the Charter. They have been deaf to all appeals, even those coming from their own friends. They have deceived United Nations negotiators, abused the good will of the Muslim side in Bosnia, kidnapped members of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) and taken back and begun to use again the heavy weapons that had been confiscated from them. With almost total impunity they have openly declared war on the United Nations and on the forces of the Atlantic Alliance.
Today we are facing the certainty that the measures taken so far by the Organization have been in vain and that the solutions recommended have proved ineffective. The policy of appeasement has clearly not paid off.
We must see to it today that the Serbian gangrene does not spread, that it does not poison a world already afflicted by numerous hotbeds of tension.
We must act so that the Bosnian people, in danger of losing all their confidence in the United Nations, have the means to defend themselves. If we are incapable of playing our full role in the defence of that assailed Member State, does it not run counter to the very Charter of the United Nations, especially Article 51, if our Organization prevents the Bosnian people from defending themselves and preserving their sovereignty and territorial integrity?
The Serb war machine, having several times tested the limits of the United Nations apparatus, will surely not stop in Gorazde. That machine, which violated with impunity resolutions 781 (1992), 816 (1993), 819 (1993), 820 (1993), 824 (1993) and 836 (1993), will implacably advance towards other cities and regions declared protected areas and will return to Sarajevo, which is merely experiencing a lull.
My country has on several occasions condemned and denounced the Serbian aggression and the iniquitous acts committed against the Bosnian people, disarmed and held prisoner in their own territory. We have constantly exhorted the United Nations and the Security Council, as guarantor of international security, to take the necessary measures to put an end to this tragedy. We have denounced the plot against this young Republic and warned against its implications for all of Europe and the Mediterranean. Regrettably, however, despite the measures decreed and the extraordinary number of resolutions adopted by the Security Council, the situation worsens daily. This requires that the United Nations, especially the Security Council, immediately review its whole strategy, whose failure has become obvious.
The draft resolution before the Council today should, in our view, have indicated in the clearest and most direct manner the Council’s determination to use any means to put an end to the systematic violation of its resolutions by the Serb side. In fact, it is a question of the Council’s credibility.
Increasingly, questions are being raised about the applicability of the provisions of resolution 713 (1991), which imposed an arms embargo against the former Yugoslavia. In fact, given the limited mandate of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR), the repeated incursions by Serb forces into safe areas, and the depredations they have carried out in Muslim areas, we are entitled to wonder whether the Security Council did not actually disarm the victims of aggression by confining them to these so-called safe areas, which have become veritable killing grounds.
Article 51 of the Charter stipulates that
"Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations".
In our view, this Chapter-VII provision permits resort to Article 42 of the same Chapter, since two years following the first Security Council resolution on this matter it is clear that the provisions of Article 41 – which have been the only ones invoked thus far – have not had the desired results. But if the Council is not ready in the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina to follow the sequence of the various provisions of Chapter VII, it should redefine the applicability of resolution 713 (1991) with respect to imposing it on the Bosnian Muslim side.
With respect to safe areas, we are very pleased at the Council’s interest in them and at the trend towards applying the Sarajevo model in the other five areas. But we want to stress that the Council must bolster their status through appropriate measures and, above all, prevent any deliberately twisted interpretation of this concept by the Serb forces. The fact is that the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina is not confined to a few zones defined by the Security Council; we are dealing with the single and indivisible territory of that State. To avoid rewarding the Serb war machine with other Bosnian towns, the Council must therefore explicitly declare the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina to be a safe area, and that any acquisition of any portion of that territory is null and void and will not be the subject of negotiations.
It is time for the Security Council to take the measures demanded by this situation, whose infernal evolution is overtaking both the pace and the content of its decisions. It must respond to the expectations of an entire people whose desperate pleas accuse the entire community of nations. The scope of the tragedy can justify no half-measures.
The Council must vigorously stress that the sovereignty of States is not a vague notion to be revised according to the whim and interests of certain parties.
The Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina is an integral part of the international community. We have agreed in the Charter to delegate a portion of our responsibilities with respect to the maintenance of international peace and security, but only on the understanding that under all circumstances the Council will be the instrument of legality and right.
I thank the representative of Tunisia for the kind words he addressed to me and to my predecessor.
In accordance with the decision taken earlier in the meeting, I now invite Ambassador Dragomir Djokic to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
The international community, the United Nations and the Security Council have been exerting great efforts in the past two years with a view to resolving the crisis in the former Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Despite the enormous political and material resources which have been invested, the prevailing circumstances on the ground and the chances for a political resolution and the stabilization of the situation are still precarious. The fact that peace is still elusive in former Bosnia and Herzegovina is due primarily to the fact that the approach and the activities of the international community have been based on false premises and misconceptions concerning the nature and origin of the conflict and concerning ways to resolve it.
A civil, interethnic and religious war provoked by unconstitutional separatism and forceful secession has been treated as aggression by one indigenous and constituent nation of Bosnia and Herzegovina – the Bosnian Serbs – against the others. Instead of seeking a comprehensive solution which would take into account the vital interests of the three constituent peoples on the basis of equality, support and legitimacy have practically been given to one side only: the Bosnian Muslims. At the same time, only the Bosnian Serbs and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which is not a party to the conflict, have been confronted with harsh sanctions as well as with an unprecedented media campaign directed against the whole Serbian nation.
The situation on the ground is much too serious and complex for the Security Council to take decisions according to rhetorical outbursts and unsubstantiated and biased media reporting. If the Security Council is truly seeking to contribute to resolving this crisis it is imperative that the facts be separated from assessments based on political interests.
These, however, are the facts:
First, for almost a year, until the Washington agreement of 17 March 1994, the war in Bosnia was waged primarily between the Bosnian Croats and Muslims. Unfortunately, in past days we have been able to witness that the long announced spring offensive of the Bosnian Muslims against the Serbs has begun to materialize. That evidently indicates that the Muslims have continued to persist in the military option regarding the resolution of the civil war. They have taken advantage of the situation in the wake of the Washington agreement to regroup their forces and launch large-scale offensives throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the region of Gorazde in particular. Counting on the continued support of the international community, and particularly encouraged by the positions of certain important factors, they have rejected all proposals on a comprehensive cease-fire and cessation of hostilities.
Secondly, since the beginning of the conflict, it has been the Muslim side that has been opposed to a political agreement which would take into account the vital interests of the three parties to the conflict; it has been the Muslim side that has been trying to provoke foreign military intervention, whose aim would be to establish a unitary Bosnia and Herzegovina under Muslim domination. With this aim in mind, the Muslim side obstructed the negotiation process and rejected the plan of the European Union.
Peace was within reach on several occasions last year and this year, but it has always been spiked by the Muslims and their patrons, who were not interested in the restoration of peace. The Bosnian Muslim leadership flatly rejected the agreement reached in negotiations in which they themselves took part on the British aircraft carrier Invincible last September.
The agreement, containing a detailed set of arrangements on constitutional and military issues, regarded by the co-Chairmen of the Conference on the Former Yugoslavia as fair and reasonable, did not materialize because it was in the interest of the Bosnian Muslims to protract the war, and they were unfortunately supported by some influential international factors, including in the United States. The Bosnian Muslims were obviously determined to persist in the military option; this can be best illustrated by the fact that they constantly insisted on maximalist demands and demonstrated a total lack of readiness for a reasonable settlement.
Thirdly, instead of an agreement having been concluded and implemented, steps contrary to peace have been taken. One side to the conflict, the Bosnian Serbs, have been totally excluded from the negotiating process. The basic premise – negotiations on the basis of equality – has again been abandoned. All attention has been focused on a rapprochement between the Bosnian Croats and the Bosnian Muslims. The Bosnian Serbs, on the other hand, have been excluded and isolated from negotiations, and no serious effort has been made to determine the basis for their inclusion in the political process. The hesitation of the international community about putting pressure on the Bosnian Muslims – and they have been putting pressure all the time on the Bosnian Serb side – to join negotiations in good faith and provide their bottom-line demands, has contributed largely to the break-down of the negotiation process and the escalation of hostilities.
Fourthly, the newly created situation has further encouraged the Muslim side to fulfil its intentions and acquire a military advantage by launching fresh offensives against the Bosnian Serb forces on virtually all fronts throughout Bosnia. As is confirmed in the report of the Secretary-General, the Muslims abused the sanctuary of the safe areas
"as locations in which its troops can rest, train and equip themselves as well as fire on Serb positions …".
Particularly in the region of Gorazde 8,000 combatants were additionally armed in violation of the existing arms embargo.
From the time of the establishment of a safe area around Gorazde, the Bosnian Serbs refrained from any military activity and withdrew their forces from the area. On the other hand, the Muslims took advantage of the presence of UNPROFOR in the safe area of Gorazde, and with its consent and tacit approval, used it to launch attacks against the Bosnian Serbs. The United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), though fully aware of the situation, did not prevent the Muslims from abusing the safe area.
In such circumstances the Bosnian Serbs had no other option but to defend themselves.
Fifthly, instead of deterring the Muslim forces from escalating the military activities, the United Nations and NATO not only tolerated this but even took part themselves in the military intervention against the Serb side by carrying out the aerial bombardment of the Serb positions near Gorazde. By military intervention against the Republic of Srpska and the Serb people, the United Nations and NATO have entered the civil war in the former Bosnia and Herzegovina, siding with the Muslims. By this decision, the United Nations has abandoned neutrality in dealing with the crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina; this constitutes a dangerous precedent for peace operations all over the world. In doing so, the United Nations discredited its reputation as a peace-keeper as well as its mediating role in the peace process in the former Yugoslavia. The pretext that military action has been carried out to protect the vaguely defined safe areas is neither convincing nor acceptable. In the interest of truthful presentation of the events around Gorazde, it has to be acknowledged that the real cause of the current escalation is primarily the failure of UNPROFOR to prevent the abuses by the Muslim side of the safe area for military action.
Before NATO air strikes on Bosnian Serb positions, the Serb side offered the Muslims an immediate and unconditional cessation of hostilities throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, the Muslims wanted a partial cease-fire, namely in Gorazde, where their air offensive was facing a defeat and, at the same time, they wanted to have a free hand to continue the offensives against the Serbs elsewhere in Bosnia. Despite repeated proposals by the Bosnian Serbs for the comprehensive cessation of hostilities, the Muslims were vigorously attempting to improve their military standing and to portray themselves as victims so as to provoke a foreign military intervention.
There will not and there cannot be peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina if the pressure is put only on one side – the Serb side – demanding that only it make concessions whereas the Muslim side enjoys massive political and even military support to advance the military option.
The only solution to the Bosnian crisis should be a peaceful and negotiated outcome which takes into account legitimate interests of all three peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina on the basis of full equality. To that end, it is of the utmost importance that the peace process be revived, with the full engagement of the parties concerned and the United Nations, the European Union, the Russian Federation and the United States.
Any taking of sides in the civil war bears with it the risk of a loss of credibility, and this is exactly what could happen to the United Nations. The policy of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is directed towards establishing peace and a political solution in the former Bosnia and Herzegovina. A political solution is not possible if one of the sides in the conflict is approached as an adversary. It is to be hoped that the lesson of Gorazde will be well studied and that appropriate conclusions may be reached.
Calls for the lifting of the arms embargo against the Bosnian Muslims and offensive air strikes against the Bosnian Serbs can only lead to a very dangerous and uncontrollable escalation of the conflict, with increased chances of its spreading to other regions. If this were to be accepted, the United Nations would become fully engaged on one side in the civil war.
Once again the Security Council finds itself at the crucial juncture. Either it can pursue the path of peace and work towards a negotiated settlement or it can opt for an escalation of the war with unforeseeable consequences. In this very dangerous and delicate phase, it is vital that the Council demonstrate wisdom and statesmanship as well as restraint. Any hasty measures might provoke an uncontrollable chain of events, which should certainly be avoided.
What is the most important in this moment is that the Security Council give full support to an urgent, unconditional cessation of all hostilities and that a comprehensive cease-fire be reached without prejudice to the final political solution, which can be arrived at only through negotiations on the basis of equality, and this implies also the lifting of sanctions. Instead of the policy of double standards, it is necessary for all international factors to take impartial stands.
Consistent with its principled and peaceful policy in solving the crisis in former Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is vitally interested in the easing of the present tensions and the attainment of an unconditional and urgent cessation of hostilities. To that end, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia will continue to render necessary support to all constructive efforts in finding a just political solution to the crisis.
In connection with some of the statements made during our debate this evening, my delegation would like to make the following comments:
We categorically reject the untrue and malicious qualifications and unsubstantiated allegations that have been expressed by certain delegations during this debate. The situation in Bosnia is far too serious for this Council to be manipulated for the satisfaction of domestic political propaganda. Those delegations that have chosen to advance uncorroborated allegations have by their biased position shown their true intentions, which are not directed towards reaching a just and lasting peaceful solution.
On the contrary, such outbursts against and vilification of the whole Serbian people are designed to incite a foreign military intervention and align the United Nations on the side of one party in the civil war. By constantly fuelling the hopes of lifting the arms embargo, of air strikes and even of full-scale intervention, these delegations are not contributing to ending the ethnic and civil war, but are, on the contrary, generating a further escalation of the flames of war.
Peace in Bosnia cannot be achieved through military means or by threatening and punishing one side with air strikes while encouraging the other side to continue with its provocations. The only possible solution was, still is and must be a political and negotiated one.
The next speaker is the representative of Greece. I invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
At the outset, I should like to congratulate you, Sir, on your assumption of the presidency of the Security Council. I have no doubt that your wealth of diplomatic experience and diplomatic skills will be of invaluable assistance in conducting the affairs of the Council. I also wish to congratulate the Permanent Representative of France, Ambassador Jean-Bernard Mérimée, on the highly efficient and professional manner in which he conducted the work of the Council during the month of March.
The European Union is appalled at the ongoing hostilities in and around Gorazde, as well as in other areas of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which have resulted in the death of numerous civilians and tremendous human suffering. We are particularly concerned at the consequences of this situation on the negotiation process aimed at an overall political settlement.
The European Union strongly condemns the continuing Bosnian Serb attacks against the civilian population, humanitarian relief workers and United Nations personnel, in blatant violation of international humanitarian law and all relevant Security Council resolutions. We call for an immediate, effective and unconditional cease-fire in and around Gorazde, the deployment of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) and the pullback of Bosnian Serb forces which threaten the security of this safe area. The Bosnian Serb party must realize that its failure to uphold its commitments is not acceptable and has considerably undermined its credibility to negotiate in good faith.
The European Union condemns the harassment and the detention of UNPROFOR personnel by the Bosnian Serb forces. It calls for the immediate release of all United Nations personnel currently held, and for unrestricted freedom of movement in the performance of their mandate. Furthermore, the European Union also calls on all parties, and in particular on the Bosnian Serbs, to allow the unimpeded delivery of humanitarian assistance throughout Bosnia, especially to Gorazde.
The European Union demands that the Bosnian Serbs honour their word and obligations, and cease forthwith all hostilities. The European Union calls on all the parties, and in particular the Bosnian Serbs, to exercise maximum restraint. The effective implementation of a cease-fire agreement in and around Gorazde is the first essential step. This should be followed quickly by a general cease-fire throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, which would be a prelude to a political settlement involving the whole of Bosnia.
The European Union expresses its full support for the efforts of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and UNPROFOR commanders and confirms its support for Atlantic Alliance forces in their underpinning of United Nations action.
The European Union also calls for an intensified diplomatic effort by the international community, involving the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and Russia, to ensure the convergence of their initiatives. It is imperative that the parties engage, as soon as possible and in good faith, in negotiations based on the European Union plan and taking into account the Washington accords and the talks on the Krajinas. In this connection, the European Union continues to give full support to the role and the efforts of the two Co-Chairmen.
Finally, we would wish to pay tribute once again to the committed work of the men and women of UNPROFOR, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian agencies, including many European Union citizens, who continue their humanitarian mission despite the appalling and unacceptable difficulties that they face on the ground.
I thank the representative of Greece for his kind words addressed to me and my predecessor.
The next speaker is the representative of Egypt. I invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
Allow me at the outset, Sir, to express our thanks to you for the sincere efforts that you have been making during your presidency of the Council. Undoubtedly, your wisdom and your leadership qualities will lead to positive results in dealing with the important international crises before the Council. Allow me also to express our thanks to Ambassador Mérimée, the Permanent Representative of France, for the efforts he made during his presidency of the Council last month.
Today, once again, the Security Council is considering a blatant act of aggression that has grave repercussions on international peace and security. The situation is deteriorating with alarming speed, so much so that the statement prepared by the delegation of Egypt for today’s debate may have been overtaken by events.
The deterioration of the situation in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been epitomized by the plight of the city of Gorazde, a city which had been declared a safe area by the Security Council. That city has been and continues to be subjected to the fiercest forms of savage attacks by the Serbian forces, which practise the most heinous violence against civilians and even against hospitals.
The personnel of UNPROFOR have been targeted for attack. All this is taking place, and the world stands unable to put an end to this human tragedy. The United Nations stands unable to provide protection for the "safe areas", which are theoretically supposed to be under the protection of the United Nations, in accordance with Security Council resolutions.
How can anybody remain silent or lax in the face of the continued Serbian attacks when the civilian population is being subjected to killing, expulsion and displacement under heinous, racist pretexts such as "ethnic cleansing", which constitutes a crime of genocide – all this for the realization of expansionist dreams and territorial ambitions whose aim is the establishment of a so-called "greater Serbia"? To stand silent against territorial expansion and aggression could be the beginning of the end of the international order as we know it today.
The United Nations Charter and the principles of international law provide the basis for the international community, to use all the means at its disposal resolutely to confront such illegitimate, illegal positions, ensure that all parties comply with international norms of behaviour, stand up to aggression, render justice to the victims and restore the territories seized by force to their legitimate owners.
The Council is called upon to discharge its responsibility and to correct this situation. The United Nations must take these measures in full cooperation with the lawful Government of the State which has fallen victim to this aggression – the Government which had been established when this State was admitted to membership of this international Organization.
Despite the continued call of the international community for resolute action in the face of this tragedy, the Security Council has followed another approach to maintaining what little remains of the territory of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Pursuant to resolutions adopted under Chapter VII of the Charter, the Council declared six areas as "safe areas", to which the United Nations committed itself to providing protection and security. The Council also adopted various resolutions, including resolution 824 (1993) and 836 (1993), which mandated the use of all means, including military power, to provide protection for those areas.
Nevertheless, the world is witnessing today an unprecedented development: the Serbs are riding roughshod over the resolutions of the Security Council. They are disregarding all the rules of international legitimacy. They are violating the "safe areas". The deterioration reached its peak with the storming by Serbian forces of the city of Gorazde, which constitutes a blatant challenge to the United Nations.
Faced with this deteriorating situation, the United Nations is losing its credibility and has but two alternatives: either to invoke the collective security measures under the Charter to end the aggression against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and force the aggressors to withdraw, or to lift the arms embargo against the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The delegation of Egypt repeatedly alerted the Council to the grave repercussions and consequences of a failure to take decisive measures to deal with this deteriorating situation. Today, my delegation reaffirms this position and calls upon the Council to take immediate measures to put an end to this untenable tragedy – notably the following:
First, the use of the collective security measures under the Charter to force the Serbs to evacuate the territory they have seized by force;
Secondly, approval of the call for the Secretary-General to deal immediately with the deteriorating situation in Gorazde so that NATO, as a regional organization under Chapter VIII of the Charter, would be mandated to carry out the necessary military actions – including air strikes on the military positions and arms depots of the Serbs as well as on supply and logistical lines – in order to end the siege of Gorazde and to force Serbian forces to withdraw therefrom.
The Council must support the right of the Government of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina to exercise its inherent right to self-defence under Article 51 of the Charter. It must also lift the arms embargo immediately, since the very existence of Bosnia and Herzegovina is being put to the test.
As my delegation has cautioned, half-solutions will not solve the problem or mitigate the tragedy in Bosnia and Herzegovina. What is called for now, and urgently, is the adoption of measures that will ensure the implementation of and respect for resolutions already adopted by the Council – resolutions designed to maintain the independence and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The draft resolution before the Council today falls short of dealing with the true problem, in that it deals with the question of a cease-fire without discriminating between the aggressors and the victims of aggression. Neither does it contain appropriate measures to end the siege of Gorazde or to force the aggressors to withdraw therefrom.
Although the draft resolution does deal with the important question of the security of UNPROFOR personnel, it nevertheless ignores one basic element: how to ensure the safety of the "safe areas" whose protection is called for. In my delegation’s view, the draft resolution should have been so worded as to deal effectively with the real crisis – not simply some of its symptoms.
The time for talk has passed. It is time for action.
I thank the representative of Egypt for the kind words he addressed to me and to my predecessor.
The next speaker is the representative of Morocco. I invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
It is an honour for me to offer you, Sir, my sincere congratulations on your assumption of the presidency of the Council for April. Your wisdom and far-sightedness, with which we are all very familiar, will certainly allow you to take on the delicate task of guiding the Council’s work in these difficult times.
I also wish to commend the effective and resourceful manner in which the Ambassador of France conducted the Council’s business last month.
We are meeting once again to deplore the tragedy of Gorazde and to add that city to the long list of martyred cities. Sarajevo gave rise to a glimmer of hope, but, sadly, that hope has died with Gorazde. We no longer even need to watch television to know that the Bosnian Serbs are relentlessly pursuing their dirty work. We no longer need to read the newspapers to know that they are not content to win, but that they wish to sweep everything away and impose their own rules of the game and their own rules of partition.
All the resolutions adopted by the Security Council have been trampled underfoot in the most barbaric manner. In attacking Gorazde, the Bosnian Serbs and the Serbs have sought to demonstrate that they can with impunity achieve their dreams and ambitions.
Gorazde the safe area, Gorazde the zone of peace, has been violated, sacked and destroyed in an ultimate gesture of humiliation and defiance. But the defiance of the Security Council is really defiance of the international community as a whole. We must ask ourselves whether the latest chapter in this horror story will finally convince us that we made a mistake in preventing the Bosnians from defending themselves, because we ourselves were incapable of defending them.
The Serbs and the Bosnian Serbs have apparently, in a diabolical fashion, learned to recognize our limits and weaknesses and they have taken advantage of all our hesitations and disagreements. And yet Sarajevo could have taught us a lesson, because it is now very clear that only force can compel the belligerents to stop their warmongering and destruction.
Yesterday, a French newspaper wrote: "The United Nations is dead". Certainly, everything would seem to point that way. But are we to give up and allow this monstrous idea to take root because a group of men far away, inspired by a barbaric ideology, wish to discredit and demolish everything we have built so patiently since 1945? Are we to allow the dream of a few bloodthirsty leaders to come true? Are we to bury for ever the hope still entertained by the poor residents of Gorazde, who are expecting a miracle?
We are in a position to bring about that miracle, but only if we wake up soon – this evening or tomorrow – sound the alarm and have our muezzins cry: "Stop this massacre". The latest massacre has begun, because, as the Council knows, the Serbs are in the streets of Gorazde. We sincerely appealed earlier for the Sarajevo ultimatum to cover other areas, because we already feared then what has now happened. What are we waiting for?
It is true that the prestige of the United Nations is at stake. It is true that the future of the United Nations is in jeopardy. But cannot we at least allow these poor people, these innocent victims, to defend themselves, to have equality in weapons, until we can do something to save them?
The world knows exactly what must be done. Let us do it. Let us wait no longer. The draft resolution on which the Council is about to vote contains elements for the salvation of Gorazde and other cities. But is it not too late, at least for Gorazde? Will this not be merely the umpteenth resolution to be neither respected nor observed by people who have neither faith nor law, whose only rules are mass murder, "ethnic cleansing", rape and intolerance?
I wish to add a few words, because a short time ago we were horrified to hear a dizzying, picturesque depiction – the only one of its kind – of the situation in Bosnia. We heard the very original theory that everything now happening in Bosnia is being done solely by the Muslims, wishing to establish Muslim supremacy and daring to refuse to agree to eliminate Bosnia and Herzegovina. They are the only ones to blame, apparently.
Like me, Mr. President, you heard the United Nations condemned for managing once – just once – to prevent Sarajevo from becoming Serb as well. You, too, heard that all the Bosnians dying every day by the thousands are guilty because they do not wish to die or to abandon fast enough the territory they occupy – that is their land, their homeland. What a pity it is that people no longer die of shame!
I thank the representative of Morocco for his kind words addressed to me and my predecessor.
The next speaker is the representative of Hungary. I invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
The trap awaiting the international community in the debate on the former Yugoslavia is in the sense of the banality of evil, a sense which is liable to take root in our hearts and minds and inure us to the tragic panorama before us in several parts of the former federation, particularly in Bosnia and Herzegovina. One wonders whether our collective conscience is still able to register and absorb the succession of horrors that relentlessly ravage this land of many ethnicities, many cultures and many faiths.
We therefore run the risk of resigning ourselves to this spectacle of aggression, massacre, "ethnic cleansing", concentration camps, merciless sieges of towns and villages, atrocities committed against civilian populations, the exodus of refugees and the destruction of a priceless cultural and religious heritage. We are also at risk of accepting as inevitable what is in effect an antibody that has set about destroying human society from within, the devastating impact of which could have been forestalled if the international community, the regional institutions and individual Governments had managed to act in time with the necessary determination and commitment.
The very latest convulsion in this explosive chain of events is the situation in Gorazde, which defies all rational analysis. In this United Nations safe area we have faced many challenges which, if they were to go unanswered, would be likely to plunge the United Nations and the other international organizations concerned into paralysis, inconsistency and ignominy. In an affront to the entire international community, the Bosnian Serb forces are continuing to attack Gorazde relentlessly, preventing the personnel of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) from fulfilling their mandate under the relevant Security Council resolutions, continuing blindly to pound civilian targets, seizing UNPROFOR soldiers as hostages and aiming at them deliberately and fatally wounding them. They also fire upon aircraft carrying out the United Nations mandate and have even shot one down. There is no explanation or any possible justification for these acts of madness. We therefore welcome the letter which the Secretary-General recently sent to the Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) with a view to finding a way to end the situation that has developed within and around the city of Gorazde.
We should like to make it clear that when the cannons are silenced and the difficult work of implementing settlement agreements is begun, those who provoked such situations, who ordered or committed atrocities and acts that run counter to all the civilized international norms of behaviour, will have to be held individually accountable for their actions, actions which have caused – and continue to cause – immeasurable harm to relations between States, nations, communities, individuals and, I might add, to the building of Europe.
In this context we note with satisfaction that the draft resolution before the council leaves no doubt as to which side bears the responsibility for what has come to pass in the Gorazde region. We note also that the Gorazde phenomenon is far from being an isolated or unusual one. We cannot but see that the history of the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina is replete with identical or similar events, with scenes that have become all too familiar in various parts of that Republic throughout the crisis.
We consider most positive the draft resolution’s reaffirmation of the Security Council’s responsibility with regard to the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its noting that the situation there is a threat to international peace and security. The least one could say is that it would be a fatal error to remain indifferent in the face of the high stakes in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where, basically, mythical, aggressive and obscurantist nationalism is pitted against the spirit of openness, tolerance and human solidarity.
We call for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Gorazde and throughout the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina because, without question, our top priority must be to stop the bloodshed. At the same time, a cease-fire arrangement must not prejudge the parameters for a final political settlement; nor must it freeze in place situations born of violence, in spite of the decisions taken by the international community and the injunctions of authorities and personalities participating in the talks on the crisis in the former Yugoslavia.
Hungary continues to support the diplomatic efforts aimed at bringing about a political settlement of the crisis. Given this context, the relevant consultations now being stepped up should also take into account the interests and positions of the countries of the region. In the context of efforts now under way to find the most appropriate means of putting an end to the situation in Gorazde and throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, one recalls, quite naturally, the issue of the sanctions regime implemented against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro), because this approach amounts to an important tool in the United Nations arsenal for promoting a settlement of the conflict in former Yugoslavia.
As a neighbouring country on the Danube, Hungary has suffered considerable damages and losses over the last two years as a result of these sanctions. However, it is quite clear that in the current grave circumstances, the political conditions that might make possible the relaxation and ultimate elimination of the sanctions have not yet been met.
We therefore express the hope that when this draft resolution has been adopted, it and the various major initiatives and political contacts in process will be capable of restoring momentum to the peace process and bringing us nearer the end of this dreadful conflict, which, without doubt, will remain one of the darkest pages in the history of our times.
I thank the representative of Hungary for his kind words addressed to me and to my predecessor.
The next speaker is the representative of Afghanistan. I invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
I should like first to express my congratulations to you on your assumption of the presidency of the Security Council. Your great skill, which is beyond question, will serve you well in conducting the work of the Council. I should also like to congratulate Ambassador Mérimée, Permanent Representative of France, on his outstanding guidance of the Council’s work during the month of March.
Once again the Security Council, the United Nations and the international community are, tragically, faced with a fait accompli; and once again it is the Bosnian Serbs showing them utter defiance and inflicting historic humiliation on them. We are entitled to be gravely concerned at the fact that increasingly disturbing armed hostilities and aggression continue to be directed against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and that the relevant Security Council resolutions remain a dead letter, trampled underfoot.
The United Nations is becoming a tool in the hands of its adversaries. The United Nations Force Commander in Bosnia, General Sir Michael Rose, has clearly accused the Serb forces of having openly used the operations of the United Nations contingents to cover up their offensive and of ignoring all the assurances that they themselves had given to the international mediators.
Although the situation in Gorazde at this time is unclear, and while the news that reaches us is disturbing, it is important to reaffirm that the consequences of the siege or of the partial or total occupation of Gorazde must not be accepted by the Security Council. It is also important to reaffirm that the Bosnian Serbs must absolutely desist at the earliest possible moment, which obviously requires a resolute attitude on the part of the Security Council and further initiatives.
We are now informed that activities are under way to hold a high-level meeting, perhaps even a summit. What worries us is that those preparations will clearly take time. The danger is that in the meantime there could be other massacres and more bloodshed. Hence, it is necessary that preparatory work be done not only for such a meeting but also to see to it that the situation will be such that, at the time of the meeting, we need not renegotiate points regarding dangers that are not present today but that, by that time, might be a fait accompli.
The Security Council must shoulder its responsibilities under Article 24 of the Charter. It must take all action necessary to protect and fully restore the sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity and unity of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It must demand that the Bosnian Serbs withdraw from all occupied territories.
Gorazde is a city under siege. It is important for the Bosnian Serbs to lift that siege immediately, along with the siege of other safe areas and other besieged Bosnian cities. It must instruct the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) to take urgent, necessary action to protect the safe areas in conformity with Security Council resolutions on the subject.
The Sarajevo exclusionary zone must be extended to other safe areas. The situation in Gorazde is a special one. Any international action against the aggressor must be recognized as effective from the standpoint of the victims. It is vital for the Security Council to force the Bosnian Serbs to remove all heavy weapons and forces from the safe areas, and to withdraw to a distance at which they will no longer pose a threat to the security of those areas. The inhabitants should be guarded by United Nations military observers.
Alas, we all know that the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been deliberately deprived of any way to defend itself. The great majority of the world’s nations once again urge the Security Council urgently to consider no longer applying to the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina the arms embargo imposed on the former Yugoslavia in resolution 713 (1991) of 25 September 1991. The Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina is a sovereign, independent State Member of the United Nations and is therefore entitled to all the rights set out in the Charter of the United Nations, including the right of self-defence under Article 51.
So long as the arms embargo continues unjustly, illegally and dangerously against Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Serb aggressors’ policy of "ethnic cleansing" too will continue. The worst aggressors are those who attack civilians, even in their hospital beds, even those who are without weapons with which to defend themselves. To continue the arms embargo against Bosnia and Herzegovina is to be an accomplice of the aggressors.
My delegation, here and in the General Assembly, has repeatedly stated that resolution 713 (1991) should not apply to Bosnia and Herzegovina; our position is perfectly clear, and those who desire details of that position can find them in the verbatim record of the 3201st meeting of the Security Council, held on 19 April 1993.
Both Members of the United Nations and other members of the international community should offer all possible cooperation to the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the exercise of its inherent right to individual and collective self-defence as set out in Chapter VII, Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations. The General Assembly endorsed that view last December.
The consequences of this tragedy are disastrous not only for Bosnia, but for the Balkans and for the whole of Europe. No group that practices ethnic or any other kind of "cleansing" can ever serve a democratic Europe. There can be no assurances of stability in a Europe where ultranationalism triumphs in any of its regions. That is the lesson of history.
If a high-level meeting is to take place, it must be understood that flagrant aggression has taken place in Bosnia. To treat the parties to the conflict as two morally equal parties would be tantamount to equating justice with injustice. On the one hand, there are the Bosnian Serbs, led by ultranationalists who believe aggression, the expulsion of civilians and "ethnic cleansing" to be perfectly natural behaviour; on the other hand, there is the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Bosnian people, victims of that "ethnic cleansing", which has been recognized by international legal forums as genocide. That must be taken into account whenever we talk of a negotiated settlement, with the representatives of the victims sitting down at the same table as the perpetrators of genocide.
Repeatedly, the Bosnian Serbs and their protectors in Belgrade have shown that they have no wish to keep their own promises. It is therefore important that any summit conference should concern itself not only with present peace, but with ensuring that peace is backed with official guarantees, through international instruments if necessary, and that commitments agreed by all parties will be complied with. A summit conference must recognize and guarantee the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina; otherwise, there can never be a guaranteed peace. Therefore, the Bosnian lands occupied by the Bosnian Serbs must be returned to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
I think that we should be seriously alarmed if things continue in this way, if systematic acts of violence continue to be committed against the Albanians, the Bosnians, the Hungarians and the Croats, and still others are committed in Kosovo, in Sandjak, in Vojvodina by the Serb authorities. The Serb ultra-nationalists think they can do anything they want to do. Today it is Gorazde, tomorrow it will be other safe areas, and the day after tomorrow it will be the non-Serb minorities in the rest of former Yugoslavia.
If a high-level conference is to be held, the representatives of the United States, France and the United Kingdom must be fully aware that their countries, like Italy and Japan, signed the Treaty of Saint-German-en-Laye on 10 September 1919. It was also signed by the ex-Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. The countries of former Yugoslavia are its legal heirs. The 1919 Treaty of Saint-German-en-Laye is still valid. It guarantees all rights to the minorities of Kosovo, Sandjak, and Vojvodina and to the Catholics, the Muslims, the Albanians, the Croats, the Hungarians and others.
The Serb ultra-nationalists of Bosnia and Serbia are sure that they have nothing to fear, that they will not have to pay for any atrocities or destruction they carry out in Bosnia. My delegation once again puts forward the idea – and this will be my conclusion – of establishing a committee to study the question of war damages. This study should be the basis of an estimate of the reparations that should be paid by the Serbs and by Belgrade. That would be an essential factor in leading the aggressor to think about having to pay, before shooting and killing.
I thank the representative of Afghanistan for his kind words addressed to me and my predecessor.
The next speaker is the representative of Senegal. I invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
I should like, first, to congratulate you, Sir, on your accession to the presidency of the Security Council and to thank you, on behalf of my delegation, for the efforts you have been making in guiding the work of the Security Council in April.
I wish also to congratulate your predecessor, Ambassador Jean-Bernard Mérimée, on the great competence with which he led the Council’s work last month.
The signing of the framework agreement in Washington and the adoption by the Security Council of resolution 900 (1994) gave us some hope that finally a peaceful, negotiated solution was at hand in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and that the international community’s reaction to the massacre at the Sarajevo market-place would mark a decisive turning-point in this aggression against a Member State of our Organization.
We are compelled to note today that the withdrawal from Sarajevo was, in the eyes of the aggressor, only a diversionary manoeuvre aimed at letting the storm pass and then continuing to carry out the Machiavellian plan conceived in Belgrade, the aim of which is quite clearly to call into question, by "ethnic cleansing" and genocide, the existence of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina as an independent and sovereign entity.
The tragedy which, to our great regret, besets Gorazde today is the extension of a long series of acts of military aggression which, during March and April, in Srebrenica, Maglaj, Banja Luka, Prijedor and Saravejo itself, convinced the Serbs of the international community’s inertia and that they could carry out their actions with impunity.
In a letter dated 9 April 1994 addressed to the Secretary-General and to the Heads of State or Government of the five permanent members of the Security Council, His Excellency President Abdou Diouf, in his capacity as Chairman of the Sixth Summit Conference of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, stated:
"… the threat of credible air strikes must be extended to the whole of the territory of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and in particular to the safe areas defined in Security Council resolutions 824 (1993) and 836 (1993).
"Such a threat is particularly necessary since the Serb forces seem at the moment to be taking advantage of the fact that the international community is focusing on Sarajevo in order to launch deadly offensives against other safe areas, especially Gorazde and in the north-western part of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the aim of ‘cleansing’ them of their non-Serb populations.
"It is to be feared that in the absence of strong action to stop the Serb party’s quest for a military victory and to get it to undertake negotiations in good faith, the international community’s efforts and the enormous hopes for peace resulting from the tragic events in Sarajevo on 5 February will have been in vain."
Hence, my delegation strongly supports the proposal to extend the air support by NATO and the model of the Sarajevo exclusion zone to other safe areas.
Although this proposal is a step in the right direction, it unfortunately does not provide an immediate response to the human tragedy threatening the 65,000 persons who, at this very time, are left defenceless, at the mercy of the Serb aggressors – as the representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina has just confirmed.
What is at stake in the defence of the safe area of Gorazde is not only the survival of what remains of the innocent civilians but also, and above all, the credibility of our Organization, particularly the Security Council, in regard to its proclaimed determination to put an end to the aggression and the violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a Member State and to recourse to force as a means of expressing a national policy.
If it should prove to be the case that the United Nations is not able to summon the human, material and financial resources to discharge its responsibility to ensure the defence of the courageous people of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is morally unacceptable to refuse to give that Republic the means to exercise, in all dignity, its right to self-defence, under Article 51 of the Charter.
My delegation believes that the Council should, as a matter of urgency, clarify the question of the applicability of resolution 713 (1991) to the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and lift the arms embargo decreed against Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The experience of these past two weeks has shown, if further proof were indeed needed, that the quest for a just and lasting solution through credible negotiations requires, first and foremost, the establishment of a military balance to get the aggressor to accept a complete cessation of hostilities and to find a viable settlement concluded in good faith.
In the past, firm determination alone enabled the international community to put an end to the crimes, arrogance and departures from the truth of leaders who, like those of the Serbian aggressors, do not hesitate to fire at markets, hospitals, schools or refugee centres.
This same determination is more than ever necessary today if we are to reach a just and lasting solution to the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina by taking all appropriate action to reverse the consequences of the aggression against that country.
The diplomatic and economic isolation of Serbia and Montenegro must be increased and continued. The lands seized through the use of force and through ethnic cleansing must be restored.
The Government and the courageous people of Bosnia and Herzegovina must be allowed to obtain the necessary weapons to guarantee their own defence and to make the Serbs pay the price of their aggression.
The sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina must be restored.
The criminals that planned and carried out this genocide must be answerable for their actions before international justice. This is the only way we can give meaning to the daily sacrifices of the thousands of men and women of UNPROFOR, as well as the United Nations agencies and the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as they implement, with such devotion and self-abnegation, the decisions of the United Nations and the ideals that underpin them.
I thank the representative of Senegal for his kind words addressed to me and to my predecessor.
On behalf of my delegation, I should like to extend congratulations to you, Sir, on your assumption of the presidency of the Council for the month of April. We remain confident that, under your able guidance, our deliberations on the issue under consideration will lead to the initiation of effective measures. May I also avail myself of this opportunity to express our appreciation to your predecessor, Ambassador Mérimée of France, for his able leadership of the Council last month.
This meeting has been convened against the backdrop of a rapidly deteriorating situation in the on-going conflict in the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, particularly the unconscionable siege of Gorazde and the brutal and indiscriminate shelling and attacks against that city and its vicinity, whose innocent population has been subjected to the brutality of Bosnian Serb forces.
We recall in this context Security Council resolutions 819 (1993) and 824 (1993) of last year, which established the so-called safe areas, first in Srebrenica and then in Sarajevo, Gorazde, Zepa, Tuzla and Bihac. It was the understanding of many Member States, including Indonesia, that those areas would be temporary, would ensure the safety of the civilians, guarantee an international military presence and assure the unimpeded presence of UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies, as well as the right to humanitarian assistance and, most importantly, security against military attacks.
In this context, we also deem it pertinent to recall the Secretary General’s report of May 1993 which raised two fundamental questions: What would the United Nations do if the aggressors were first to accept the establishment of safe areas but later refused to withdraw their forces? Would it then clear the way for the Security Council to use force and compel them to withdraw? A credible response to these questions has now become urgent for the people of Bosnia in the face of increasingly brazen Serbian aggression with its attendant unconscionable toll in human lives and material destruction. After solemnly pledging to observe numerous cease-fires, the Serbian army has unleashed a campaign of terror which is no doubt intended to subdue and subjugate the inhabitants of Gorazde.
The military objective behind this relentless bombardment, whose targets include a hospital and refugee sites, is equally self-evident: it straddles the road that links Serbia with the illegally held territory in southern Bosnia. The consequences of this grave situation in Gorazde to the territorial integrity and the independence of the Republic of Bosnia can not escape our attention.
The imminent collapse of the city has already revealed the futility of the limited use of force. The limited air strikes which came too little and too late did not deter the aggressors. The brutal fact is that a mere pair of bombing runs has not provided protection to the besieged Bosnians. It is certainly a humbling moment for the international community to watch Gorazde’s defence crumble and Serbian tanks roll into an area that the United Nations has already declared a "safe area". These have in fact become nothing more than areas under constant shelling, open jails and refugee camps.
This intolerable situation has placed the people of Bosnia into what may become a major humanitarian catastrophe. It has been rightly described as grim. It calls not only for the immediate lifting of the arms embargo against the Republic of Bosnia, but also for a change in the mandate of UNPROFOR. And it calls for concerted military action against Serbian command posts, ammunition dumps and heavy weapons.
The Consultative Meeting of Foreign Ministers of Non-Aligned Countries held in Jakarta last February called for more effective measures by the Security Council to end the genocide and carnage in Bosnia. The Meeting also raised the possibility of convening an appropriately structured international conference on Bosnia.
Pressure, condemnation, warnings, sanctions and isolation have failed to persuade the Serbs to refrain from their murderous campaign and the willful violation of their commitments. Now more than ever, the credibility of this august body is at stake. It is self-evident that determined action by the Security Council is now imperative. The status of Gorazde and other cities as safe areas must be enforced, and Bosnia and Herzegovina must be exempted from the arms embargo imposed by the Security Council.
At the same time, new diplomatic initiatives to establish a cease-fire in Gorazde and its vicinity, and the whole territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as efforts to find a political settlement to the conflict, must be pursued.
Lastly, the safety and freedom of United Nations personnel must be secured.
I thank the representative of Indonesia for his kind words addressed to me and to my predecessor.
The next speaker is the representative of Algeria. I invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
Allow me first of all, Sir, on behalf of the delegation of Algeria, to offer you our heartfelt congratulations on your assumption of the presidency of the Security Council. Your unanimously recognized attributes guarantee success for our deliberations at a time when the Council is once again having to deal with tragic developments affecting the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Barely a few weeks ago, when the Security Council was seized of the horrible massacre in the central marketplace of Sarajevo, many Member States called for effective international protection for the six "safe areas" declared as such by the Council itself. Many, including Algeria, stressed that the international community could not go on taking an accommodating position, laboriously conceived and often imperfectly implemented, in the face of more and more faits accomplis created by the Serb side in a pitiless strategy of making territorial gains by "ethnic cleansing" and the annihilation of the Muslim population of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The unleashing of Serb aggression and violence against the city of Gorazde, with their toll of victims among the civilian population and international personnel, confirms that the Serb plan for expansion and exclusion continues. This relentless wave of aggression and violence has all the alarming characteristics of an open challenge to the international community, since it goes hand in hand with the seizing of members of the personnel of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) and attacks on aircraft helping to implement United Nations decisions.
Throughout the last two years, particularly trying for our collective conscience faced with a savage war meeting the definition of genocide, the United Nations has often hesitated over the fate of one of its Member States. The hope for a negotiated political settlement has undercut the determination to enforce international law and weakened the desire to show firmness in the face of escalated aggression, so much so that the aggressors became convinced that their escalated horror would become so commonplace that people would be inured to it all.
In this sense, Gorazde is turning into a veritable test. If the international community does not suddenly leap into positive action to keep the aggressor from creating yet another fait accompli, we must fear that history will record that the confrontation between law and force was irrevocably settled in Gorazde, with incalculable, horrendous consequences.
Aware of the gravity of the situation, Algeria, which has firmly condemned the deadly siege of Gorazde, called for an extraordinary meeting of the member countries of the Organization of the Islamic Conference to take a collective stand to contribute to organizing effective international action to deter Serb aggression.
In the quest for a peaceful resolution of conflict situations, there is sometimes a tendency imperceptibly to blur the difference in status between the aggressor and the victim and to call on the latter to make more concessions. The arms embargo, which is preventing the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina from having the means to exercise its natural right to self-defence, and the continual shrinking of the territory that some envisage assigning to the Muslim population of Bosnia and Herzegovina, seem to demonstrate this tendency.
The accelerated worsening of the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina proves that just and lasting solutions require strict application of the parameters of international legality; they are far from being accommodations responding to relationships of force.
The United Nations collective security system must fully cover the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. International protection of its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, and of its people, is imperative and urgently needed. Effective deterrent steps on the ground could, even at this late stage, keep the irreversible from actually happening.
I thank the representative of Algeria for the kind words he addressed to me and to my predecessor.
The next speaker is the representative of Jordan. I invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
Allow me at the outset to congratulate you, Sir, on your assumption of the presidency of the Security Council for this month and to express the confidence of my delegation in your ability, wisdom and sound leadership. These give us hope that this discussion will lead to serious decisions which will make this meeting a true turning point in the faltering international endeavours to stop the Serb aggression against the people of Bosnia, suffering because of their identity. I am also happy to thank your predecessor, Ambassador Mérimée, for the effort he made and the ability he showed in conducting the work of the Council last month.
Once again Member States, prompted by the intransigence of the Serbs towards the Bosnians, are meeting over yet another chapter in the crimes of "ethnic cleansing" committed by the Serb nationalists to complete their vicious attempts to occupy the territories of the Bosnians vacated by their owners and their population. The Member States look upon this horrible chapter in the tragedy of Bosnia from the perspective of Gorazde, which is supposed to be a "safe area", according to the Council’s classification. This classification, seen against the status quo in the city, has an irony which reverberates in our ears with the sound of the continuous shelling of the besieged city, shelling which does not distinguish between the city’s hospitals and the trenches of those who defend it.
This irony is all the more acute in that the United Nations, which, through the Security Council, pledged safety for the Bosnians, is completely helpless, having given up the role of player to become a spectator. Because we are human beings representing countries and peoples in this international Organization, I wonder if we have already become used to the Serb crimes because they have gone on so long, to the point where our senses have become blunted and we are unable to be moved. Have we started to hear, in the groans of the wounded, a musical tune? Has the crying of a terrified Bosnian child burying his head in the bosom of his mother turned into a school song? Have we started to see in the tears of a young virgin expecting the fearsome moment of rape the glimmer of joy in the eyes of one preparing for her wedding? Have we become unable to identify with the parents whose will to defend their country is mixed with fear for their sons and daughters, subject to the oppression of a monster that marches without any deterrent, physical or moral?
Have we lost our ability to sympathize with the mothers whose fear of the future, after having lost their husbands, is compounded by the pain of hiding their real feelings in front of their children to ease their terror? Have human rights in the West become a mere meaningless political slogan or a veneer to cover its boundless materialism? If not, how can Europe accept being, for the second time this century, a graveyard of minorities? Is it because, this time, the victim is Muslim?
I hope that I will not be taken as speaking to play on emotions and sow the seeds of sadness. My purpose is to show the depth of the wound that is still being gouged by the Serbs’ crimes into the conscience of humanity. Such a wound can only encourage the mind to work and to learn its lessons.
The first lesson to be learned from the Bosnian tragedy is that the United Nations may not be a safe haven for poor peoples or small countries. We must save its reputation and credibility by observing the principles of its Charter, without which the entire world will cease being one that seeks security, stability and peace in the cause of cooperation, development and construction and will begin sliding towards war and destruction. While my delegation fully respects and appreciates the relief work carried out by the United Nations Member States and non-governmental organizations and their persistent attempts to urge the belligerents to negotiate a political settlement, this is not enough to justify the United Nations shirking its primary responsibility to halt aggression against one of its States Members.
In the light of events in Gorazde, the humanitarian assistance being provided to the besieged Bosnians in their safe areas has become nothing more than their grooming for death by knife, bullet or bomb instead of by hunger, malnutrition or disease. In the way the negotiations have so far been conducted, they are regrettably a mere smokescreen for the Serbs to gain time to achieve their ultimate aggressive aims.
If there is a lesson to be learned from events to date, it is that negotiations and relief operations will be valid sources of pride to the United Nations only when they are accompanied by serious efforts to deter and stem Serb aggression. This will happen only when the Serbs feel that they are paying a high price for their aggression, as President Clinton said yesterday. To bring that about, my delegation emphasizes three pillars upon which the new policy of the United Nations towards the Serbs should be based.
First, the protection of the safe areas and the continuation of relief operations for those areas must be ensured. Secondly, all Security Council resolutions pertaining to the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the pursuit of peace efforts must be implemented. Thirdly, the arms embargo imposed on the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina must be lifted immediately. It is untenable to continue pursuing a policy that deprives a State Member of the United Nations of its legitimate right of self-defence in accordance with the Charter. Building on all these pillars together, and not on just one or two, is the only way to deter the Serbian aggressors and to raise the price of their aggression.
In conclusion, my delegation thanks the Council for convening this meeting to hold a general debate on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We hope that members of the Council will make it a turning point in United Nations policy and save the Organization’s credibility by halting an overt aggression against one of its Member States.
I thank the representative of Jordan for his kind words addressed to me.
The next speaker is Mr. Engin Ahmet Ansay, Permanent Observer of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, to whom the Council has extended an invitation under rule 39 of its provisional rules of procedure. I invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
At the outset, I would like to extend to you, Sir, my warmest congratulations on your assumption of the presidency of the Security Council during this difficult period. I am confident that your vast experience and well-known professional skills will serve you well as you ably guide the work of the Council.
I should like to take this opportunity to thank your predecessor, the Permanent Representative of France, Ambassador Mérimée, for his able performance in steering the work of the Council during the month of March.
The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) is deeply concerned, frustrated and angered over the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in particular over the inhuman barbarities and public execution of civilians and hospital patients in the United Nations safe area of Gorazde. The OIC Contact Group on Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Islamic Group of the whole held meetings recently here in New York to consider the extremely grave situation prevailing in Gorazde in particular and Bosnia in general and to coordinate action vis-à-vis the Security Council.
Consequently, it has been decided, inter alia, that the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the member countries of the OIC Contact Group on Bosnia and Herzegovina should hold an extraordinary ministerial meeting in New York early next week and make other necessary representations with the United Nations Secretariat and the members of the Security Council with the clear aim of securing all necessary measures to be taken by the United Nations in accordance with Security Council resolutions 824 (1993) and 836 (1993) to protect the safe areas.
Meanwhile, the Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Mr. Algabid, urges this body to take effective steps to enforce the observance of its resolutions relating to the protection of safe areas, in particular the Muslim enclave of Gorazde, which is being overrun by the Serb forces murdering everybody in the city. Mr. Algabid has already addressed a letter to the President of the United States of America echoing the sentiments and sensitivity of the Islamic world with regard to the latest Serbian atrocities.
The wilful and brutal assault against Gorazde, the killing of United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) soldiers, the abduction of United Nations personnel, the disruption of United Nations humanitarian operations, the snatching of heavy weaponry, attacks on aircraft of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the imminent massacre of thousands of Muslims in the United Nations protected areas should be sufficient proof of total Serb defiance of the United Nations. These gruesome acts not only constitute a serious affront to the international community, but are an indelible blot on the conscience of the entire civilized world. Reports that the United Nations is considering the withdrawal of its personnel from Gorazde, and thus abandoning the unfortunate inhabitants to be massacred, are very disappointing.
It is also distressing to hear some arguments that NATO should not "take sides" and must remain "neutral" as its effective involvement could "tilt" the military situation. These expressions are the ultimate in the appeasement of the Serb aggressor and a source of humiliation of the powerful and prestigious institutions concerned.
The Organization of the Islamic Conference also urges the Security Council to authorize strong retaliatory action, including NATO air strikes against the Serbian aggressor, to prevent the continuation of the massacres and genocide in Gorazde and the spreading of the conflict to other areas, in particular Zepa and Srebrenica. Simultaneously, it should restore without further delay the right of individual and collective self-defence of the Government of Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In this context, the OIC membership believes that any measure or decision precluding the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina from exercising its inherent right to self-defence, in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, is unconstitutional. In any event, the relevant Security Council resolution on the institution of the arms embargo on former Yugoslavia does not apply to the independent and sovereign Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which enjoys, as much as any other sovereign State facing aggression, every right stipulated within the United Nations Charter. The only entity that should be strictly bound by the embargo is the Serbian aggressor.
The need to allow the Bosnian Government to defend itself has become all the more urgent, given recent reports of the presence of regular troops of the Serbian army in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Serbia and Montenegro have been violating the arms embargo by supplying arms and equipment to their surrogates in Bosnia and Herzegovina continuously since the beginning of the conflict.
The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) warns that the continuation of the massacre of Muslims in the United Nations protected area of Gorazde will have incalculable consequences for the entire region and will do irreparable harm to the authority of the United Nations. In this context, it requests the Russian Federation to reassess its policy and to use its considerable influence with the Serbs to prevent the genocide of Muslims and others in Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially in the light of the most recent, unfortunate experience of the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Mr. Churkin, who stated, following his tireless negotiations with the Serb party, that he had never heard so many lies as he heard from the Serbs.
The European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the international community as a whole must take urgent steps to restore the status quo ante in Bosnia and Herzegovina and demonstrate that they are prepared to stand up in defence of international law and morality by all necessary means at their disposal to stop the Serb aggression and atrocities.
The OIC also believes that for the sake of international justice and the prevention of more acts of genocide and other crimes against humanity, the international war-crimes Tribunal established to examine the crimes perpetrated in the former Yugoslavia should start functioning without delay.
Over a period of two years, many appeals regarding Bosnia and Herzegovina were made by the membership of my Organization and by several countries and other bodies before this Council, the General Assembly and other international forums. After the loss of over 200,000 Bosnian lives, it is, indeed, about time we resolved this crisis, if the credibility of the highest of all institutions is to be maintained. If the United Nations system and its ideals and the security umbrella of NATO collapse, the world will not be a better place in which to live for generations to come.
We welcome every meaningful initiative determined to accomplish an honourable peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina We denounce and reject categorically, however, the series of lies constantly being pronounced by the Bosnian Serbs and their masters in Serbia, including the ones shamelessly pronounced here tonight.
As has been declared on numerous prior occasions by the OIC, any process with regard to the settlement of the problem should ensure the following elements:
First, the independence, territorial integrity, sovereignty and the unity of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina;
Second, a geographically and economically viable and defensible territory for the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina;
Third, compelling the Serbs to return all lands seized by the use of force and "ethnic cleansing";
Fourth, the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s retention of its sovereign exit to the Sava river and the Adriatic Sea;
Fifth, Sarajevo’s remaining the undivided capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as a symbol of unity, tolerance and integration;
Sixth, the return of refugees and displaced persons to their homes; and,
Seventh, international guarantees for the implementation of peace agreement and guarantees for future security.
In conclusion, the Organization of the Islamic Conference reaffirms its strong and unswerving support for the just struggle of the Bosnian people against aggression, genocide and ethnic/religious "cleansing". The OIC fully endorses the constructive Bosnian Government position on the principles of a peaceful settlement to the conflict. Unless all parties concerned take cognizance of the legitimate demands of the Bosnian people, as I said earlier before this Council, peace will remain elusive in the entire Balkan region, and, thus, the security of the area as well as that of the world at large will continue to be in jeopardy.
I thank His Excellency Mr. Ansay for his kind words addressed to me and to my predecessor.
I should like to inform the Council that I have just received a letter from the representative of Sudan 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.
The next speaker is the representative of the United Arab Emirates. I invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
It gives me pleasure to express to you, Sir, on behalf of the United Arab Emirates, warm congratulations on your assumption of the presidency of the Council for this month. We are fully confident that your well-known abilities and your diplomatic experience will contribute to the success of the Council’s deliberations. It is also a pleasure for me to pay a tribute to your predecessor, the Permanent Representative of the friendly country of France, for his able and effective stewardship of the business of the Council last month.
The speakers preceding me have been unanimous in their portrayal of the tragic situation in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the threat it poses to international and regional peace and security, particularly in the light of the most recent Serbian attacks in the city of Gorazde. That city’s inhabitants are being subjected to barbaric crimes and massacres by the Serb forces, which persist in their acts of aggression and violations of human rights, of principles of international law and of resolutions adopted by this Council.
The failure of the international community to put an end to the aggression against Bosnia and Herzegovina would have grave repercussions for international peace and security. The continuation of Serbian aggression would undoubtedly increase the fears of those small States that can defend their sovereignty, territorial integrity and political system only through resort to the United Nations Charter. Failure by the international community – in particular, by the Security Council – to take the steps necessary to deter this aggression would lead those States to lose confidence in the international Organization. Such a failure would also encourage States with territorial ambitions to defy the international community and to pursue aggressive policies to achieve them.
The international community is fully aware of the manoeuvres, procrastination and prevarication to which the Serbs have resorted during the negotiating process in order to buy more time and, thus, to be able to impose their fait accompli through the perpetration of the most savage massacres, in particular in the besieged "safe areas" established by Security Council resolutions. International diplomacy has thus far been unable to arrive at solutions to the conflict, solutions that should be based on international legality and the principles of international law and that would ensure the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina while also deterring the aggressor through the non-recognition of the results of acts of aggression and the occupation of territories by force.
The Government and people of the United Arab Emirates have expressed their deep sorrow over the tribulations of the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in particular its Muslim community, because of brazen Serb aggression. The United Arab Emirates has condemned the brutal practices of the Serb aggressors and has repeatedly called for the adoption of firm measures to deter the aggression and put an end to the crimes against humanity. We believe that a settlement of the differences between the parties must be achieved through peaceful negotiations and dialogue in accordance with the letter and the spirit of the United Nations Charter and international law.
The situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina poses a historic challenge to us all. The Security Council, particularly its permanent members, must shoulder its responsibilities under the United Nations Charter. It must take action to restore security and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina through the achievement of the following goals: the withdrawal of all Serb troops from all territory occupied since the beginning of the crisis; the release of all personnel of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) detained by Serb forces and the enjoyment by them of unrestricted freedom of movement in accordance with Security Council resolutions; a cease-fire, as a prelude to genuine negotiations towards a just, lasting and comprehensive political settlement guaranteeing the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political system of Bosnia and Herzegovina; the continuation of the economic embargo against Serbia and Montenegro; the lifting of the arms embargo against Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is imperatively necessary.
With respect to the latter point, my country joins the majority of States represented in this international Organization in reaffirming our full support for the right of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina to self-defence under Article 51 of the Charter. We are convinced that lifting the arms embargo would genuinely support future peaceful negotiations.
Other goals are: increased international efforts to ensure unimpeded access for humanitarian-assistance convoys, with no obstacles placed in their way by Serb forces; and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) air strikes against the Serb aggressors in all safe areas defined in Security Council resolution 824 (1993).
In conclusion, we reaffirm the need for the international community, and in particular the Security Council, to take firm measures to make the Serb leadership renounce their expansionist ambitions and their policy of "ethnic cleansing". Those measures should also secure the implementation of Security Council resolutions adopted under Chapter VII of the Charter, and the achievement of a just, lasting and peaceful settlement based on international legality as represented by the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the principles of international law, so that peace, security and stability can be restored to the region.
I thank the representative of the United Arab Emirates for the kind words he addressed to me and to my predecessor.
The next speaker is the representative of Sweden. I invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
I wish to congratulate you, Sir, on your assumption of the presidency of the Council for this month. We know that, under your wise guidance, the Council is in good hands.
I am speaking as the representative of a concerned European country contributing a sizeable contingent to the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR), a country participating actively in the humanitarian efforts to alleviate the suffering of the Bosnian people and a country giving refuge to almost 100,000 people from former Yugoslavia.
UNPROFOR is clearly in need of more troops on the ground in Bosnia. Sweden therefore welcomes the draft resolution on this subject under discussion in the Council. The necessary resources and troops must be put at the disposal of the Organization. The responsibility for this lies with the Member States. Without our political and financial support, all operations are crippled from the beginning. To encourage such support, consultations with troop-contributing countries should be held regularly. For its part, Sweden is to send an additional mechanized infantry company to Bosnia in a few weeks.
Insufficient support will not only unnecessarily jeopardize the safety and success of this operation, but will also put at risk the public perception of and future possibilities for United Nations action.
Sweden supports a more resolute and determined attitude on the part of UNPROFOR and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). UNPROFOR troops must be given the protection they need. When it comes to a widened use of air power, this must be considered in a strategic and political context, with clear goals set and with sufficient resources on the ground – as well as with full consideration for the safety of United Nations and other international staff. The use of air power cannot settle the conflict. It is the international community’s last resort against heinous attacks on defenceless civilians. It would not signify that the United Nations has taken sides. Judicious use of air power should be seen as the response of the international community to those who mercilessly flout humanitarian law.
The Council bears the ultimate responsibility in the international endeavours to bring peace to the area. United and determined political pressure on the parties, exerted by the international community, is a prerequisite for further action. The major Powers have a special responsibility in this respect.
The Bosnian Serbs must be brought back to the peace negotiations to settle their relations within the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The international community’s unanimous support for strong action in order to put an end to the senseless killing once and for all is crucial. Once this is achieved, the same determination and common action should be put to work in rebuilding and rehabilitating former Yugoslavia and in repatriating refugees.
Sweden welcomes the proposal for a high-level conference on Bosnia. The process would benefit from the continuous presence of representatives from the United Nations, the European Union, the United States, the Russian Federation and others, including large troop contributors, acting jointly and with determination for common goals.
As for the immediate situation on the ground, we see merit in drawing on experience from Sarajevo two months ago. This example could serve as a point of departure for all safe areas as defined in Security Council resolutions 824 (1993) and 836 (1993). If the Serbian side does not immediately abide by its commitments, stop the shelling and withdraw from the Gorazde area, the United Nations must consider unilateral action and deploy UNPROFOR troops in Gorazde too. Such deployment must be coupled with a determination to use air power.
Let there be no misunderstanding about the strong intent of the international community to maintain the sanctions imposed until the conditions for their removal have been met. Maintaining these sanctions subjects neighbouring countries to serious economic hardship. Efforts to alleviate this hardship should be further improved.
Furthermore, in our view, a lifting of the arms embargo for Bosnia and Herzegovina would not contribute to a solution of the conflict.
Let me conclude by expressing my Government’s hope for common and decisive action for further pressure on the parties to put an end to this shameful war.
I thank the representative of Sweden for the kind words he addressed to me and to my predecessor.
The next speaker is the representative of Malaysia. I invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
Let me at the outset congratulate you, Sir, on your assumption of the presidency of the Security Council for this month, particularly during the consideration of an important issue such as the current situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We have no doubt that, with you in the presidency, the duties to the Council as well as to the rest of the membership of the United Nations will be discharged. Your predecessor, the Permanent Representative of France, deserves our congratulations as well on the able manner in which he conducted the work of the Council.
Malaysia, like the preceding speakers, is deeply concerned over the dangerous situation in Gorazde, designated by the United Nations as a safe area in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We feel anguish over the helpless and grim situation confronting the 65,000 Bosnians, hundreds of whom have already fallen victim to the carnage and atrocities of the Serbian aggressors. We are outraged by the inability of the Security Council to mount effective measures to protect the safe areas and to prevent "ethnic cleansing" and genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We are dismayed about the efforts undertaken by the Secretariat to attend, in an urgent and priority basis, to the plight and problem of the people of Gorazde, taking into account Security Council resolution 824 (1993) and 836 (1993).
If today a safe area can be wilfully threatened and its innocent civilian people slaughtered, what does it imply for the rest of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the concept of collective security?
Malaysia views the bombardment of Gorazde as a continuation of the heinous policy of "ethnic cleansing" and part and parcel of the Serbian design to establish a Greater Serbia. Malaysia will remain resolute in opposing any move to accept the fait accompli brought about by the use of force.
This latest Serbian action in a safe area is an undisguised manifestation of Serbian provocative defiance and total disregard for the United Nations. It represents a serious challenge to the Security Council and the international community. This blatant challenge must be met unequivocally. Failure to address this challenge will result in continued attacks on a Member of the United Nations and its people. Failure to meet the challenge will undermine the credibility of the Security Council and call into question the authority of the United Nations itself. Failure to act will only goad the Serbians to commit further acts of bestiality and acquisition of territory by force.
Serbian actions and transgressions have been emboldened by the lack of political resolve and indecisiveness by the United Nations and the major Powers. There was no appropriate response by the international community when a NATO plane was engaged nor when peace-keepers were killed in Gorazde and Sarajevo recently. The United Nations, and in particular the Security Council, and the major Powers and the Secretariat cannot escape the responsibility for the grave situation in Gorazde.
The Malaysian Foreign Minister in a statement issued on 20 April welcomed
"the decision of the Secretary-General to send a letter to the NATO Secretary-General to authorize air strikes for the protection of all United Nations-designated safe areas".
We earnestly hope that NATO will not hesitate to respond positively, but promptly as well. In the light of Chapter VIII of the Charter, NATO should show its seriousness of resolve; otherwise, it will risk undermining its own credibility and effectiveness. The Security Council and the international community should not allow the Serbs to make a mockery of or flagrantly violate the decisions of the Security Council.
Any delay in marshalling adequate measures to safeguard the safe area of Gorazde will, as events are beginning to show, be fatal, leading to further human catastrophe. Reports coming out of Gorazde underline the expectation of the people that the international community will not let them down in their hour of need. These reports further indicate that Bosnians would rather die in the bombs dropped to protect them than be humiliated and subsequently killed by the Serbs. Gorazde should not be allowed to become another Serbian killing field. The Council must act and act immediately. The message to the Serbian aggressor must be clear and categorical. The Serbs must be made to realize the folly of their action, that aggression and "ethnic cleansing" does not pay and that the international community will react firmly to its blatant flouting of Security Council decisions.
On 14 February, when this Council had a debate following the bombing of the market-place in Sarajevo, my delegation advocated the urgent need for air strikes. Since then, air power has been called in on two occasions. Those responses have been too limited, and only half-measures. They have failed to make the desired impact. On the contrary, the Serbs have exploited those half-measures to continue the onslaught. We call on NATO to act immediately. NATO’s decision for air strikes to protect all the safe areas will serve to provide a clear ultimatum to the Serbs. The Serbs must be made to withdraw and surrender their heavy weapons and to return to the negotiating table. Diplomacy without its power of enforcement will not work on the Serbs. The stiffening of NATO authority can surely be used as a weapon to bring about genuine negotiations.
The proposal for the extension of the exclusion-zone concept as applied to Sarajevo to all the other United Nations designated safe areas deserves our consideration and support. Although the proposal is not the ultimate solution, it has had its relevance in the case of Sarajevo. Nevertheless, we need to be vigilant so as to ensure that the concept of extending these exclusion zones as well as the protection of all safe areas will not encourage the Serbs to shift their attacks from Gorazde and other areas to the non-safe areas which are not protected by UNPROFOR. The territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina must be maintained. Serb adventurism and expansionism must be stopped by effective retaliation, including air strikes on supply lines and command centres.
The Bosnians would be defenceless if such Serbian atrocities were to be repeated in other parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina which are outside the safe areas. Who will defend Bosnia and Herzegovina when its Government and people have been prevented from exercising their fundamental right to self-defence, as provided for in Article 5l of the Charter? We wish to reiterate yet again that it is legitimate for the Bosnians to be allowed to defend themselves, particularly when UNPROFOR has failed to provide the protection. As an immediate measure we strongly urge the Security Council to lift the arms embargo without delay and categorically in order to allow the Government of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina to exercise its rights of self-defence.
The universal cries and calls to lift the arms embargo to enable the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina to defend itself must be heeded.
The latest Serbian aggression has distracted attention from the recent positive developments between the Bosnians and the Croats towards the establishment of a federation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and a confederation between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. The international community must redouble its efforts to find a comprehensive solution to the Bosnia-Herzegovina issue. We believe that any initiative to bring about a political solution to the Bosnian problem should be supported. The proposal by President Yeltsin of Russia and welcomed by the President of the United States may prove to be another avenue in finding a solution.
Yet, the underlying message must be directed at the Serbs. They must be made to understand that aggression does not pay; that the resolve of the international community cannot be ignored with impunity. The proposed high-level conference should include others, including troop-contributing countries to the United Nations peace-keeping force in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Malaysia maintains that the Security Council has the mandate to act as provided for in its resolutions 824 (1993) and 836 (1993). It is the failure to fully implement the resolutions, both by the Council and the Secretariat, which has contributed towards the Serbian aggression in the safe area of Gorazde. In the meantime, the international community must continue with its assistance to the Government and people of Bosnia and Herzegovina. UNPROFOR should be strengthened and be made to effectively thwart Serbian aggression. The Malaysian Government and people, despite the recent unfortunate fatality involving one of their soldiers attached to UNPROFOR, are resolved to ensure that UNPROFOR will fulfill its mandate. Our troop presence in UNPROFOR remains a tangible demonstration of our continued support for the Government and people of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
I thank the representative of Malaysia for the kind words which he addressed to me and to my predecessor.
The next speaker is the representative of Norway. I invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
My Government would like to express its deep sorrow over the human suffering recently witnessed in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The situation in Gorazde is particularly tragic. The atrocities of war have led to immense suffering on the part of the civilian population, which is totally unacceptable. We also strongly condemn the way United Nations soldiers have been held hostage by Bosnian Serb forces and used as bargaining chips for negotiations.
The security and safety of UNPROFOR personnel and humanitarian relief workers must be fully respected throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. As a large troop contributor to UNPROFOR in the former Yugoslavia and as one of the largest contributors to the humanitarian relief operations, my Government feels the need to underline this point. We would at the same time like to praise the untiring and courageous way in which UNPROFOR personnel have performed their duties.
UNPROFOR is facing an extremely difficult task. In our opinion, continued NATO support is of vital importance to the operation.
Norway supports the draft resolution before the Council and would welcome its adoption. UNPROFOR needs to be reinforced with more troops on the ground in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We are for our part preparing the deployment of a logistics battalion to Bosnia and Herzegovina, which will come in addition to our present contribution of close to 700 military personnel and civilian police to UNPROFOR in the former Yugoslavia.
The situation in the former Yugoslavia is now at a critical stage. Norway still firmly believes that a lasting solution to the conflict can only be achieved by political means through negotiations and that any proposed settlement must be agreed upon by all parties to the conflict. In line with this, we have supported the negotiating process and the efforts of the two co-Chairmen, Lord Owen and Thorvald Stoltenberg. We continue to have confidence in the International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia as the main forum for international involvement in these negotiations. We also welcome the important involvement of the United States and the Russian Federation in their efforts to bring peace to the region. In this regard, we underline the importance of coordinating the international diplomatic initiatives which we hope can end this meaningless war.
The next speaker is the representative of Austria. I invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
Mr. President, let me first thank you for the exemplary way in which, on this and other subjects, you conduct the work of the Council, taking care also of the interests of non-member States as far as channels of communications are concerned.
For the last two weeks new acts of aggression by the Bosnian Serb forces directed against the city of Gorazde have led to further tragedies of untold dimensions inflicted on innocent civilians and have again confronted the international community with the gruesome reality of the war waged in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the reality of which the representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina has reminded us this afternoon so vividly.
The Bosnian Serb offensive also includes civilian targets in the vicinity of Gorazde leading to the systematic destruction of a large number of villages. Thus, the desperate situation of civilians around Gorazde is further aggravated and the number of refugees frightened of being massacred has been increased by tens of thousands.
By resolution 824 (1993) of 6 May 1993, the Security Council declared Gorazde a safe area which should be free from armed attacks and any other hostile act. In resolution 836 (1993) of 10 June 1993, the Council adopted concrete measures to implement that decision and to make the concept of safe areas, a concept that has for long been advocated by my country, viable. As in many previous cases, hopes have thus been raised and responsibility has been shouldered.
In dealing with the constantly deteriorating situation in the former Yugoslavia, the Security Council has again and again emphasized basic principles such as the need to respect the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, the condemnation of the practice of "ethnic cleansing", the need for an immediate cessation of all hostilities and for the unhindered flow of humanitarian assistance.
Indeed, most of those principles, including the need to protect the rights of ethnic groups in all parts of the former Yugoslavia, have been the basis of all efforts directed at a peaceful solution of the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, efforts starting from the conference convened by the European Community in The Hague in September 1991 under the chairmanship of Lord Carrington. However, very little was achieved to turn these principles into reality.
Let there be no doubt: the latest developments in and around Gorazde have led to a dramatic loss of credibility for this Organization and the system of international security in the post-Cold War era.
In this as well as other areas of crisis, the United Nations has assumed high responsibilities that have to be met despite setbacks and failures. Halfhearted measures will not suffice. Signals of determination are needed to regain respect and credibility for this Organization in the eyes of both the victims and the aggressors.
In the first instance, the concept of "safe areas", as decided and defined by the Security Council, must finally be implemented through concrete actions, as indicated in the Secretary-General’s request to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Council and the declaration made by President Clinton on 20 April.
It has become blatantly clear that political solutions cannot be brought about in the face of unkept promises and manifold delaying tactics deployed again and again in the course of negotiations. This cannot be accepted. Otherwise, the tragic situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina would have dangerous consequences going far beyond the immediate area of this conflict. If aggression is allowed to succeed in this case, it will become even more difficult in other conflict areas to safeguard and guarantee basic norms of international law and to prevent the recourse to military means from becoming an accepted tool to achieve political and nationalistic goals.
It is therefore all the more necessary to intensify all efforts towards an overall political settlement. The desired results can be achieved only through close coordination and cooperation among all those who can bring their influence to bear to ensure that obligations are honored by all parties. We therefore support President Yeltsin’s call for such a coordination, which should include, in particular, the United Nations, the European Union, Russia and the United States.
We welcome the draft resolution that is before the Council today. This draft resolution addresses in the first instance the most urgent issues resulting from the situation in Gorazde. While calling for intensified peace efforts, it indicates relevant directions for the future that need to be followed. For this to happen, the political will of the international community must be the decisive factor.
I should like to conclude by adding my voice to those of previous speakers who have applauded the untiring efforts of United Nations Protection Force and Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees personnel under most difficult circumstances.
I thank the representative of Austria for the kind words he addressed to me and to my predecessor.
We have now almost reached the halfway point in the debate. We shall hear one more speaker at this point, but, as I advised earlier in the evening before we began our debate, it will be necessary to suspend the meeting for a short time.
I invite the representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
At the outset, I should like to congratulate you, Sir, on your assumption of the presidency of the Security Council for the month of April. I am confident that with your diplomatic skills, the Council will be guided effectively during the current month. I should also like to thank Ambassador Mérimée of France for the excellent manner in which he conducted the deliberations of the Council during the previous month.
Once again, the Security Council is meeting to consider the tragic situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina; once again a draft resolution is before the Council; once again we have gathered in this Chamber to talk about the genocide and "ethnic cleansing" perpetrated by the Serbs against the Bosnian people. Many speakers are more critical of the Serbs and also criticize the Security Council for not standing against aggression, while some call for the need to preserve the so-called peace process and defend the continuation of the piecemeal approach guided and managed by the Security Council.
However, the truth cannot be obscured. The fact that the Security Council has not shouldered its responsibilities in the face of continued Serbian aggression cannot be brushed aside. The fact that the Council has tied the hands of the victims so that they cannot exercise their inherent right of self-defence cannot be overlooked. And the fact that the Serbs have been given the green light to continue to slaughter the defenseless people of Bosnia and Herzegovina cannot be challenged. Had the Security Council reacted promptly and vigorously when its first resolution was violated by the Serbs, the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina would not have had to face the present situation.
During the past three weeks, the city of Gorazde – a declared "safe area" – has been under heavy shelling by the Serbs, resulting in the injury and murder of hundreds of civilians and the displacement of tens of thousands of others. The Serbs have purposely attacked civilian targets, United Nations buildings and even hospitals. There is no doubt that the Serbian assault on Gorazde is a premeditated action designed to occupy the city, in continuation of their old plan to create an ethnically "pure" Greater Serbia. One wonders why the Security Council is not prepared to protect the "safe areas" in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Are these areas being used as an excuse to prevent the lifting of the arms embargo? The international community is appalled at the failure of the United Nations Protection Force to undertake the necessary measures to defend the "safe area" of Gorazde. How is it justifiable not to report to the Security Council the actual situation on the ground? Why did the United Nations fail to respond to the Serbian offensive in a timely and resolute manner? Those questions must be answered, and the situation needs to be immediately addressed before the whole United Nations system loses all its credibility.
Since the beginning of the crisis, the Islamic countries have called for a peaceful solution to the conflict on the basis of justice and the United Nations Charter. We have advocated negotiations, provided that the aggressors do not engage in tactics aimed at buying time. The Serbs have proved that they use calls for negotiations as a ploy to commit more acts of aggression against Bosnia. The recent pledges by the Serbs to the United Nations and Russian officials not to attack Gorazde is a clear manifestation of Serbian tactics aimed at buying more time.
Now the question is: what should be done? How can the Security Council remedy its past mistakes? Even if the idea of extending the "exclusion zone" concept, as applied to Sarajevo, is applied to other "safe areas", how can one make sure that other parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina will be safe from Serbian aggression? We should not forget that after removing heavy weapons from around Sarajevo, the Serbs repositioned those weapons to areas such as Gorazde, where they are being used in the current military offensives to massacre civilians.
Under these circumstances, the Security Council has only one option – "lift and strike" – as all other mechanisms designed to defend civilians have failed. Those who oppose lifting the arms embargo against Bosnia and Herzegovina are certainly responsible, at least partially, for all those innocents who have perished in the Serbian atrocities. There is no justification whatsoever, on legal or moral grounds, for the continuation of the unjust arms embargo against Bosnia.
There is indignation prevailing throughout the Islamic world over the inaction and indecisiveness of the United Nations system in countering aggression and over the persistence of certain Council members in denying the Bosnians’ inherent right of self-defence. Thus, public opinion in the Muslim world, and in fact in the world at large, has seriously called the credibility of the United Nations system into question and is urging Governments to take practical steps to defend their brethren in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Security Council is obliged to proclaim that the arms embargo is inapplicable to the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In conclusion, I would like to say a few words about the draft resolution before the Council. First, it demands the immediate conclusion of a cease-fire agreement in Gorazde and throughout the territory of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as the withdrawal of Serbian forces and their heavy weapons from Gorazde. Bearing in mind that the Serbs have totally disregarded the previous calls of the Security Council on the issue and their recent failure to uphold their commitments in respect of cease-fire arrangements in and around Gorazde, the draft resolution lacks a clear threat to the Serbs in the event of their probable violation of the undertakings under the present draft.
Secondly, the draft resolution falls short of addressing the critical situations of other declared safe areas as well as other parts of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Thirdly, operative paragraph 4 is formulated in such a way as to equate the victim and the aggressor. This practice of the Security Council will only encourage the aggressors to continue their genocide throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Fourthly, the draft resolution calls for intensification of the efforts to achieve a peaceful settlement by the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and the Russian Federation. Although the international community welcomes the achievement of any peaceful settlement on the basis of the United Nations Charter and relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, nothing will diminish the responsibilities of the United Nations and particularly the Security Council in reversing the aggression committed by the Serbs.
Lastly, the draft resolution fails to undo an injustice by failing to proclaim the inapplicability of the arms embargo to the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is unfortunate that the sponsors of the draft resolution were not even prepared to accommodate the views of the Non-Aligned Caucus on the review of the applicability of resolution 713 (1991) to the defensive forces of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This attitude on the part of certain members of the Council not only will prolong the conflict, but also represents an insult to the human conscience.
I thank the representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran for his kind words addressed to me and my predecessor.
The next speaker is the representative of Finland. I invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
To begin, Sir, let me thank you for the opportunity accorded to my delegation once again to address the Council on the important and tragic matter which is before the Council.
After some very tense moments in February this year, the situation in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina seemed to be improving. The shelling of Sarajevo ceased and links to the outside world were gradually reopened. An agreement between the Governments of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia and the Bosnian Croats was signed, significantly reducing the fighting in Central Bosnia.
Unfortunately, after the savage attack by the Bosnian Serb forces against the city of Gorazde, declared a safe area by the Security Council, the situation turned critical again. Even though there might have been provocations by the Bosnian Government forces, the merciless onslaught by the Serb forces against the safe area – with the deliberate targeting of hospitals, the civilian population, UNPROFOR and humanitarian relief personnel – cannot be justified. On the contrary, it must be strongly condemned. The Serbs must realize that what they are doing is a blatant violation of basic humanitarian law, and that those responsible for these atrocities will be held personally accountable.
The Government of Finland strongly supports the efforts of the international community to stop the carnage. We support the actions of the Security Council and the Secretary-General, as well as the proposal to convene a high-level international conference on the situation in the former Yugoslavia.
However, for any efforts to succeed, it is essential that the parties themselves finally show a genuine interest in peace. As a first step, the Bosnian Serbs must immediately cease all attacks against Gorazde and pull back their troops.
The Government of Finland is following the situation very closely and with the greatest concern. We hope that the Bosnian Serbs will realize the extremely serious mistake they are making and the very real danger of a serious escalation of the crisis.
The next speaker is the representative of Slovenia. I invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
Let me at the outset, Sir, join all the preceding speakers who have congratulated you on presiding over the Security Council for the month of April. In many respects this has been a particularly difficult month. We continue to admire your leadership, commitment and skill, as expressed in your dealings with the different situations pending before the Council. We equally appreciate your efforts to make the work of the Security Council as transparent as possible and an exercise carried out on behalf all Members of the United Nations.
May I also take this opportunity to express our appreciation of the exemplary chairmanship of Ambassador Jean-Bernard Mérimée, the Permanent Representative of France, who presided over the work of the Council in March.
The present consideration of the situation in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina by the Security Council was prompted by the brutal attack on Gorazde, one of the United Nations-proclaimed "safe areas", and by the humanitarian catastrophe which has resulted from that attack. Once again the world has been shocked by the horrors of war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and once again we have become witnesses of the inability of the international community to stop the carnage.
It is impossible to separate the tragedy of Gorazde from the broader reality of war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and from efforts to stop that war and to open the road to peace. Many lessons have been learned so far. One of them, perhaps the most important, is that diplomacy cannot produce the necessary results unless it is guided by a realistic and well-informed analysis. In this context, it becomes clear that the nature of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina must be constantly kept in mind. It is neither a civil war nor a religious or ethnic conflict, as asserted by those who are interested in limiting international action by resorting to an obfuscation of the actual nature of that war. The war in Bosnia and Herzegovina was started as a war of aggression against a United Nations Member State and has remained, in essence, a war for territorial expansion. The atrocious practice of "ethnic cleansing", a form of genocide against the Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina, was devised as an instrument of that war. The tragedy of Gorazde is but the latest in the series of aggressive acts committed along the same lines.
Another lesson of major importance is that diplomacy without strength is fruitless when confronted with forces of aggression. All the international negotiators who participated in the efforts to achieve peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina have experienced this. On the other hand, the experience of the past two months, prior to the offensive against Gorazde, has clearly shown that vigorous action supported by appropriate might can be successful. In view of this experience, we join those who have already expressed support for the Secretary-General and his recent appeal to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization with a view to providing the necessary protection of the United Nations-declared "safe areas". This is a necessary measure in a broader set of steps needed for ending the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Government of Slovenia has never hesitated to make specific proposals with the aim of contributing to the international efforts to provide effective humanitarian assistance and to the efforts to devise a political solution for the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Let me recall the Slovene proposals for the establishment of safe areas in that country, first made in July 1992 and repeated on a number of occasions. Moreover, in April 1993, about a year ago, the Foreign Minister of Slovenia, Mr. Lojze Peterle, proposed a comprehensive set of measures for the establishment and protection of safe areas and addressed it to the Foreign Ministers of all members of the Security Council. We are convinced that a number of those proposals are still relevant in the present endeavours to make safe areas safer in the humanitarian sense and significant in their political aspect.
More recently, on 7 February 1994, after the attack against civilians in Sarajevo, the Government of Slovenia formulated an appeal containing four basic points, which, in our opinion, represent the framework for any meaningful search for solutions. Given the interest of a number of States in the content of that appeal and its possible implications, we have conducted several informal consultations and will continue to explore further possible ways to make a contribution to the efforts to develop meaningful progress towards peace.
There is a need to have a clear vision in devising immediate steps which are necessary for the peace process to succeed. In this context, we wish to pay tribute to the diplomatic efforts made by the United States in recent months. They represent the right steps in the right direction, and – as always – persistence is needed to achieve the right results. We support the approach proposed by President Clinton in his address of 20 April 1994. We agree that this is the time for vigorous action and for tightened sanctions. Any sign of indulgence towards the party against which sanctions were legitimately imposed would result in negative effects and would make the search for peace more difficult.
Moreover, equal resolve has to be shown in matters concerning State succession and other related issues resulting from the dissolution and extinction of the former Yugoslavia. We continue to be convinced that the United Nations should definitively terminate the membership of the former Yugoslavia soon in order to improve conditions for a real and durable peace. Let us not underestimate the plans of those who still believe that they will end this war with consolidated territorial gains in the name of continuity of the former Yugoslavia.
In this connection, I wish to express our dissatisfaction with the fact that these realities were not fully appreciated by the leaders of the International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia, and that this contributed to the Conference’s lack of success. International efforts for peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and for a solution to related problems must be coordinated, and the Conference on the Former Yugoslavia should not become an obstacle in this process.
This meeting of the Security Council is convened at a time when there is an intensive search for appropriate responses to various problems related, in one way or another, to the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Let me in conclusion briefly refer to the issue of the arms embargo, which has become more and more intensely debated in recent weeks. It is important to recognize that the embargo was imposed on the former Yugoslavia – when it still existed – and was extended to its successor States in a specific situation in 1992. A decision taking into account the new realities and different situations of each of the successor States is long overdue.
There are reasons for keeping the arms embargo as a part of sanctions against the successor State of the former Yugoslavia, against which sanctions were imposed.
There is a need to reconsider the merits of the embargo for those engaged in legitimate self-defence, that is, in the exercise of an inherent right of all United Nations Members. And finally, in the case of Slovenia, there is no justification for the embargo, nor could it be applicable to a Member State that is not involved in armed conflicts which prompted the adoption of that measure years ago against a former United Nations Member.
Although I also referred in my statement to some issues which are indirectly relevant to the situation in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the focus of our approach remains clear. We hope that the Security Council will rise to the occasion and that it will be able to act in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Charter and thus meet the expectations of the United Nations Members.
I thank the representative of Slovenia for his kind words addressed to me.
The next speaker is the representative of Poland. I invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
At the outset, let me congratulate you, Sir, on the able way in which you have led the Security Council’s activities this month. May I also express our gratitude to the Permanent Representative of France, Ambassador Mérimée, who presided over the Council’s meetings in March in a most skilful manner.
We are deeply distressed and horrified by the news continuing to flow from Bosnia and Herzegovina. What we are facing today is a situation created by the Bosnian Serbs pursuing their military and political objectives at any price. This is indeed intolerable. With hundreds already killed and the lives of 65,000 at stake in Gorazde, we cannot limit our reaction to a declaration of outrage alone. The international community’s condemnation of the Bosnian Serbs for their continuing attacks against the innocent inhabitants of Gorazde and the representatives of the United Nations has to be translated into the appropriate and necessary steps to stop the war atrocities in Bosnia and Herzegovina and to contain the threat of a further escalation of the conflict. We must not allow ourselves to bow to actions which constitute indisputable violations of the principles of international law as well as the relevant resolutions of the Security Council.
In our view, the measures which are already at the disposal of the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Bosnia and Herzegovina must be applied consistently and effectively. In this context, we support the recent request of the Secretary-General addressed to the Secretary-General of NATO based on the authorization of the Security Council. We believe that it is important that the Bosnian Serbs understand clearly that our demand to implement an immediate and unconditional cease-fire and to remove their forces from Gorazde and its vicinity is going to be pursued with full determination. At the same time, we believe that it is important to stress that the efforts aiming at an overall political settlement in the region should be intensified.
We can have no doubts as to the future of the activities of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR). The harassment and restrictions of movement imposed on UNPROFOR personnel deserve to be condemned in the strongest possible way, and it is the firm view of my Government that the UNPROFOR mission should be continued and reinforced.
We welcome the statement made yesterday by President Clinton. We recognize the significance of cooperation and concerted action by all those who have a role to play in bringing the parties to the conflict to the negotiating table. Regrettably, the diplomatic framework of efforts to end the hostilities in Bosnia and Herzegovina has to be complemented by decisive measures. They are indispensable at this stage of the conflict in the area.
I thank the representative of Poland for his kind words addressed to me.
The next speaker is the representative of Qatar. I invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
Allow me at the outset to extend to you, Sir, our sincere thanks for the tireless efforts you have been making during your tenure of the Council presidency. We are quite certain that your well-known abilities in addressing grave crises such as those before the Council will lead to positive results.
I cannot fail to thank your predecessor, the Permanent Representative of France, for his sincere efforts last month.
The tragedy of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in which the Gorazde crisis is only the latest bloody chapter, is the central tragedy of the last decade of the twentieth century, which has witnessed many unprecedented disasters. The tragedy of Bosnia and Herzegovina in general and the crisis of Gorazde in particular are testimony to the inability of the international community, represented by the United Nations, to resist wanton and excessive aggression committed by the Serb aggressors against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a State Member of the United Nations. The Serbs have acquired Bosnian territories by force and have driven out the Bosnian population through "ethnic cleansing," murder, torture, rape, starvation and displacement.
In the past three weeks, the Serbs have defied the entire world by perpetrating a savage and wanton act of aggression against a safe area – the unhappy town of Gorazde – declared by the Security Council in resolution 824 (1993). It has been bombarded with artillery and missiles up to this very moment. There have even been direct shell strikes against the town’s hospital and refugee shelters. Since the aggression began two years ago, the Security Council has adopted several resolutions deploring and condemning, resolutions admonishing and threatening, resolutions declaring safe havens.
It is little wonder that we say that the implementation of Security Council resolutions has become selective. Of all the relevant Security Council resolutions, only one has been implemented: the resolution that punishes the victim and, perhaps, indirectly rewards the aggressor, a resolution that imposes an arms embargo on Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Serbs in Bosnia have not been affected by this resolution because they are flooded with weapons, ammunition and equipment from Serbia, which inherited the army and the weapons of the former Yugoslavia, while the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, having no weapons and no standing army that could be described as such, has been denied the right to arms. Thus, through the implementation of that resolution the Serbs have become stronger while the Bosnians have become weaker. We therefore call, first and foremost, as the rest of the international community has done, for the arms embargo against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina to be lifted.
The Organization of the Islamic Conference was among the first to make this request, which it did at a special meeting. It is a fair request, and one to which we adhere in order to enable the victim to exercise the natural right, exercised by all human beings, to self-defence, a right that is internationally recognized in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.
Can we now wonder who bears the responsibility for halting the aggression and for ending the savage attack against this suffering town? The United Nations cannot shirk this responsibility to deter aggression so that it will not be repeated elsewhere in the world, a responsibility which is shared by the major Powers, whether they have a direct or indirect stake in the matter, because their first interest is the maintenance of peace in the world. This is not an individual interest but, rather, a collective one shared by the whole world. After the Serbs’ defiance, the restoration of the Organization’s lost credibility is at stake. It goes without saying that the moral responsibility is quite clear.
However, the matter is not only a moral one. Even more important, it is a question of world security, stability and peace. It is a question of teaching the aggressor a lesson, stopping the aggression and restoring rights to those lawfully entitled to them, so that no other party anywhere else in the world can even envisage the use of force to achieve its ambitions by targeting its neighbours or even specific groups of its own population. Such parties can never think they are immune from punishment if they commit acts of aggression like the Serbian aggression. The Serbs have even violated the sanctity of the Organization, for the first time in history, by taking hostages from among the international troops and by taking back their weapons by force. This is a complete flouting of the presence of the international troops, and this behaviour should be met with suitable and stern punishment.
The Government and people of Qatar at all levels have expressed our feelings over the suffering of the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina resulting from the excessive acts of aggression and the continued killing and harm perpetrated against the Muslim population of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We condemned, and we continue to condemn, all the barbaric practices that have become a habit for the extremist Serb aggressor, because we believe in the principle of solving all disputes between parties through dialogue and negotiation, and because we believe in and are committed to the letter and the spirit of the United Nations Charter and international law. We call here for the mobilization of all the efforts of the international community, especially the efforts of this Council, to take deterrent measures and to take a firm stand to force the extremist Serb aggressors and their hateful leaders to give up their aggressive objectives and expansionist ambitions based on the shameful practice of "ethnic cleansing". We should seek the implementation of the resolutions of the Security Council based on Chapter VII of the Charter. The resolutions of the Security Council should be fully implemented in a way that would provide justice for the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina and ensure their legitimate right to independence and to enjoy the blessings of peace, security and stability.
We call upon the Council to take all necessary measures to put an end to the tragedy of our brothers. Leaving this tragedy without an urgent and firm solution will add a dark, new chapter to the book of human history, because power will be the arbiter and the tool in the hand of the ambitious, and the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter will go for naught.
I do not think I am wrong to say that the draft resolution now before the Council is very limited, that it can never bring about what we hope for. It cannot bring about a decisive solution because it stops short of taking a decisive step to separate right from wrong, because it deals with the cease-fire without distinguishing between the aggressor and the victim. This draft resolution does not contain the desired measures to compel the Serb extremists to withdraw and their aggressive leaders to desist. We believe that the draft resolution should have been stronger, more eloquent, firmer and more effective, that it should have distinguished clearly between right and wrong and that it should have contained a firm deterrent solution that would lead to the end of the arrogant display of power by the Serb aggressors.
It is time for the Council to be inspired by the appeals of mankind, the calls for the elimination of this shameful tragedy, this shameful chapter in human history.
I thank the representative of Qatar for the kind words he addressed to me and to my predecessor.
The next speaker is the representative of Bulgaria. I invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
Allow me to begin, Sir, by expressing my pleasure at seeing you in the highly responsible post of President of the Security Council, and to convey to you my country’s appreciation for your efforts to guide the work of the Council on the most pressing issues in the world today in a commendable, efficient manner.
In recent days we have again been witness to another appalling human tragedy in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The hopes of the international community of an end to this barbaric conflict – hopes which had risen just two months ago following the arrangements for the people of Sarajevo to enjoy a long-needed respite from the killing and the siege – are now again being buried under gunfire and the loss of innocent lives.
The ongoing hostilities in and around Gorazde represent first and foremost an unacceptable human disaster. They also have strong negative consequences for the search for an overall political settlement of the crisis. The situation on the ground in the Gorazde area and elsewhere in Bosnia and Herzegovina is characterized by flagrant violations of Security Council resolutions and of agreements reached between the parties. This cannot but cause serious concern, as the chances for a lasting and peaceful solution are receding.
The reaction of the international community, as represented in the United Nations, is an expression of its determination to take all necessary measures to ensure respect for the status of the safe areas and to ensure the protection of United Nations personnel. Such actions are a clear signal that a resumption of active negotiations on the cessation of the conflict is imperative. We strongly hope that extreme measures will not be necessary, and that those responsible for the exacerbation of the situation will realize that the only option is to resume negotiations immediately and in good faith.
My country highly appreciates the concerted efforts of the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and the Russian Federation aimed at an overall political settlement. Bulgaria is ready to participate actively in deliberations on any international plan that would lead to the achievement of that aim, and to make a diplomatic and political contribution to stopping the bloodshed. We welcome the initiative to convene a high-level meeting on Bosnia, and we hope that on that basis a solution to the conflict can be found. We are confident that common sense will finally prevail and that a long-sought compromise on the present and the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina will be reached.
As a country in close proximity to the conflict, Bulgaria has always insisted on firm judgement and energetic steps on the part of the United Nations to contain and end the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and to prevent other smouldering conflicts in the former Yugoslavia from flaring up. Bulgaria is against the gaining of territory by force, and has been consistent in its position in favour of a peaceful solution of the Yugoslav crisis. Bulgaria was one of the first countries in the Balkans to formulate a clear and principled position regarding the former Yugoslavia. It was the first to recognize all four newly independent former Yugoslav republics, including the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was the first to declare and pursue a policy of not taking advantage of the difficulties of our neighbours in this time of crisis. It was the first to state that it would not take part in any military action in the former Yugoslavia, and it has lived up to that commitment to this very day.
We appeal to the rest of the Balkan and neighbouring States to adopt a position of not getting militarily involved in the conflict. We do so because it is our belief that, even if such involvement were motivated by the most noble considerations, it could turn out to be the shortest path to being drawn into a new Balkan war, thus involving the whole peninsula.
By virtue of its geopolitical situation, Bulgaria has a key role to play in implementing the economic sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro. Fully aware of our responsibilities, we are adhering strictly to the relevant Security Council resolutions, at the cost of great economic sacrifice. It is our expectation that the present difficulties of my country – which have been understood by the members of the Security Council and by the international community – will be further kept in mind and taken into account.
We consider the draft resolution before the Council to be directed towards regaining the lost momentum in the peace effort for Bosnia and Herzegovina, and hence for the whole of the former Yugoslavia. We therefore support its adoption by the Council.
I thank the representative of Bulgaria for the kind words he addressed to me.
The next speaker is the representative of Sudan. I invite him to take a place at the Council table and to make his statement.
Permit me, Sir, to congratulate you on your assumption of the presidency of the Security Council for the month of April. I wish also to congratulate the Permanent Representative of France on the exemplary manner in which he guided the work of the Council during the month of March.
It is the fate of certain peoples to be sorely tried because of their geographical situation or because of other special circumstances. It was thus the destiny of the people of Bosnia to be in the heart of Europe as international balance was disappearing and as all values were upended. For two years the people of Bosnia have been the victims of aggression, which the resolutions of this Organization have been unable to stop. Nor was the conscience of mankind able to prevail. The logic of circumstances prevailed over the voices of international legality, justice and human rights.
Despite Security Council resolution 824 (1993), which proclaimed six safe areas, including the capital, Sarajevo, the aggressor flouted the will of the international community and committed all manner of depredations against a peace-loving people who trustingly believed that the international Organization could provide protection within those safe areas. The aggressor has gone so far as to challenge the United Nations itself, detaining United Nations personnel and members of the United Nations force. The aggressor could never have shown such arrogance in the face of adequate deterrent force in the very early stages of this tragic crisis.
And the aggressor even went so far as to challenge the United Nations by detaining some of its officials and members of its forces. The aggressor would never have been able to show such arrogance if it had been confronted by an appropriate deterrent force very early in the development of this crisis, this tragedy.
We greeted with some hope the decision by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to intervene and reinforce the United Nations troops. But, alas, that intervention had no effect on the tragedy of Gorazde. Indeed, news reached us that the Serb forces had penetrated the very heart of the city, having subjected it to intense bombardment, causing hundreds of deaths, particularly among the wounded in the hospitals. We learned also that the inhabitants of the city had suffered hardships of all kinds; some had been massacred and others had fled the city.
What has happened in Gorazde could be repeated in Banja Luka and in other regions that have been designated as safe areas by the Security Council if the United Nations is unable to protect the inhabitants and so long as the people of Bosnia are deprived of their right to self-defence.
As for the Serb aggressor, it has profited from the embargo imposed against Sarajevo to withdraw its heavy weapons and use them to besiege Gorazde and penetrate the city.
The United Nations and particularly the Security Council have had to face the challenge that the lack of international will to implement some Security Council resolutions has made it possible to carry out a deadly plan. This challenge has sorely tested the credibility of the Security Council and the United Nations as a whole, which have acted more forcefully than necessary on other occasions. We hope that this situation will be dealt with in a way that will deter the aggressor and defend human rights and the principles of justice and international legality.
The principle of justice and legality is enshrined in codes of conduct and in all religions. It requires that we stand on the side of the victim and that we not put the victim on the same level as the aggressor.
My delegation believes that resolution 713 (1991), on the arms embargo against Bosnia, has deprived that independent country, a Member of the United Nations, of its right to self-defence, at a time when it is the victim of all sorts of aggression.
We wonder, therefore, what kind of legality this resolution is based on, for in our opinion it flagrantly contravenes the United Nations Charter. It should be re-examined in order to enable the people of Bosnia, which have shown rare courage, to exercise their right to self-defence and to free their territory from the aggressor; this is a legitimate request, completely in accord with the provisions of Article 51 of the Charter.
Events have shown that the safe areas and the sectors that are the object of the embargo are in fact only assembly points for the inhabitants of Bosnia, and that it is easy for the Serbs, armed to the teeth by their allies, to go there and strangle them one after the other.
That is why it is absolutely necessary to enable the people of Bosnia to defend themselves, in conformity with their sovereign right, and to do so on the whole of their territory. That will not be possible until this iniquitous embargo imposed on them is lifted.
We have warned in the past that negotiations that reward the aggressor would not be supported by the international community, for acceptance of the annexation of territories by force is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and the Organization’s resolutions and constitutes a dangerous precedent in international relations.
At the same time, we welcome negotiations that are designed in principle to resolve disputes by peaceful means, on condition that they are preceded by the establishment of confidence. The experience of the Geneva negotiations proves that the aggressor has used them to gain time and that its true intention was not at all to seek a peaceful solution to its dispute with Bosnia. That is why we ask those who are urging Bosnia to negotiate to be sure of the true intentions of the Serb aggressor, to be sure that there is a real will to negotiate on the basis of principles of international law and of United Nations resolutions and that this is not a manoeuvre on the aggressor’s part to disguise its pursuit of its political designs. That is what should be done, rather than putting pressure on Bosnia, which is very well aware of the aggressor’s intentions, to negotiate with it.
We join those who demand that Serbia and Montenegro renounce its aggressive designs and that it not be rewarded by having the sanctions lifted – so that the credibility of the United Nations, undermined by its policy of double standards in the consideration of problems before it, will be re-established.
It is my understanding at this point that the Council is ready to proceed to vote on the draft resolution before it.
Unless I hear any objection, I shall take it that it is so decided.
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.
My delegation will vote in favour of this draft resolution, but not really happily. On the contrary, we are deeply concerned about the deteriorating situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina in general and in Gorazde in particular.
Despite the commendable efforts made by the Secretary-General and indeed by the United Nations personnel involved, in seeking a solution to it, the crisis deepens at a faster rate than the turnover of our efforts to settle it. An awful situation is getting worse by the day, and now by the hour. Recent events underscore more than ever the necessity for urgent and forthright action by the Security Council, in which the international community has vested the responsibility for maintaining international peace and security.
The fact that past efforts to achieve a settlement of the crisis seem to have failed suggests the need for a new sense of direction and possibly a change of tactics on the part of the Security Council. Otherwise, the characterization of the United Nations in its role in the Bosnian crisis as comparable to "the colossus with feet of clay" will be sad but true.
My delegation is particularly disturbed by the aggressive military actions taken by the Serbs against Gorazde while they pursue cease-fire negotiations.
It is with great concern that we note the failure of the Bosnian Serb party to uphold commitments they made to the United Nations and to the Russian Federation regarding cease-fire arrangements in Gorazde. This proves beyond doubt the lack of sincerity on the part of the Serbs and should serve as a guide to the international community in future negotiations with them.
This blatant lack of respect for Security Council resolutions is totally unacceptable to my delegation, for it sends a wrong signal and could create dangerous precedents that could undermine the peace process, not only in Bosnia, but also in other areas where the United Nations is making similar efforts.
My delegation strongly condemns the escalating military activities by the Bosnian Serb forces and their continued violation of Security Council resolutions.
In the light of the insecurity in and around the so-called United Nations-declared "safe areas", some serious thought ought to be given now to the possibility of reviewing the entire United Nations concept of safe areas. In order to maintain the credibility of the United Nations on this score, my delegation would recommend strongly that the Council adopt the practical measures necessary to ensure that victims of aggression who cannot be protected are allowed the means to protect and defend themselves the best way they can. Such measures, in our opinion, would be in keeping with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.
In addition, we would like to reiterate our stand on giving serious consideration to the establishment of exclusion zones beyond the safe-area lines. The idea of the exclusion zones, which must of necessity be determined by UNPROFOR, is to ensure the safety of the so-called safe areas by actually excluding forces of aggression and their weapons to such a distance that they can no longer constitute a threat to the safe areas.
While we must continue to support all the diplomatic initiatives aimed at resolving the Bosnian crisis, the international community must not preclude other options. In this connection, we warmly welcome the decision of the Secretary-General to write to NATO seeking the use of air strikes as a way of protecting the different safe zones.
This should at least be able to strengthen the hand of UNPROFOR and also send clear signals that action can indeed be taken by the international community in the face of open and persistent disregard of Security Council resolutions by the Serbs. Furthermore, humanitarian services must continue unhindered and the safety of UNPROFOR personnel must be guaranteed.
It is a fact that the limits of what UNPROFOR can accomplish have not been reached. My delegation would, in the circumstances, hope that UNPROFOR could be strengthened in terms of its mandate and its capability. It would be desirable if those nations that have pledged additional forces to the United Nations could ensure that they arrive in Bosnia as soon as such troops are accepted by the United Nations through the regular processes.
My delegation is encouraged by all the genuine diplomatic efforts that have been undertaken and those about to be commenced aimed at achieving a more comprehensive solution and an overall political settlement of the Bosnian crisis. But we would counsel proper streamlining of these diplomatic efforts such that the United Nations and individual countries can achieve the desired results by acting in close consultation and close collaboration rather than at cross-purposes.
In conclusion, my delegation wishes to emphasize the need for the international community to act, and to act decisively, and now.
What we are witnessing in Gorazde is the incredible spectacle of a city being brutalized and overrun with impunity, while bearing the assurances of the entire international community that it will be protected as a "safe area". As with other declared "safe areas", Gorazde’s normal population has swelled with civilian refugees seeking protection from Serbian "ethnic cleansing" until, like the others, it has become an overcrowded ghetto nightmare barely able to sustain itself.
With the Sarajevo cease-fire and the Muslim-Croat agreements, it appeared the way was open to negotiate an end to this tragedy. Unscrupulously playing upon this sentiment with deliberate deceit and deception, the Serbs have misled the United Nations since the end of last month with wrong signals, deliberate lies and false promises. What were reported as skirmishes turned out to be significant engagements, cease-fires have become battles, and troop withdrawals have been found to be advances. Strategic defensive positions have been permitted to slip away at the very moment Serb assurances were being received. Certainly the United Nations must have realized this, but nothing was done until it was too little, too late. Resolutions 824 (1993) and 836 (1993) regarding "safe areas" are clear; what is not has been our reaction, exemplified by weak excuses and rationalizations fronting for inaction, while helpless civilians were being shelled by heavy artillery and sophisticated weapons.
The Red Cross notes with desperation that Gorazde hospital is being relentlessly shelled by the Serbs, patients killed, medicines exhausted, the critically wounded untreated and unevacuated, and re-supplies of medicines disallowed.
Most unacceptable has been the argument that air power is limited to the protection of United Nations personnel, and inasmuch as there were really none in Gorazde, its use was negated, even, it seems, for a declared "safe area". Such indecisiveness has only emboldened the Serbs, who, confident of a very limited international reaction at most, have resorted to deliberate provocations such as taking United Nations personnel hostage, seizing stored weapons, and military engagement. It is a level of defiance which, if unanswered, can only lead to its brazen continuation. It does not take a very wise person to understand that the stunning display of our inaction in the fall of Gorazde is but the outward expression of a desire on the part of the international community to wash its hands of Bosnia and to accept Serb aggression as a fait accompli.
It is difficult to believe further resolutions, statements, and protestations will significantly influence this latent attitude; they exist by the drawerful already.
While a city dies, the world is witness to a lethargic reaction designed to consume not days but weeks of crucial time with letters, rhetoric, consultations, projected summits, clearances and clarifications. There is no real discussion regarding a Serb pull-back to original positions, so once again the likelihood is the acceptance of Serb aggression. The outcome is all too predictable. Peace talks will eventually resume, as will aggression, and there will be attempts at further acquisition, which will break down the talks, leading to more letters, rhetoric, consultations and so on. Gorazde is but the boldest, most shameful example of "ethnic cleansing", and by our weak reaction, we all seem to be participants.
Faced with the likelihood of continued Serb aggression and ethnic cleansing, undoubtedly in areas outside Bosnia, now as well in the near future, it is criminal for the international community to wittingly participate in this monstrous activity by its denial to the Bosnians of the means for their own protection and safety as a sovereign nation and people. To be both unarmed and unprotected through international action and inaction, is abhorrent and morally reprehensible. As a bare minimum, resolution 713 (1991), as it applies to the defensive forces of Bosnia, must certainly be reviewed, particularly as it now seems no one is able to restrain the Serbs or make them adhere to their word.
Armed with sophisticated weapons that include helicopters, tanks and heavy artillery against a people up to now virtually defenceless, the Serbs have been able to fashion a reputation of near invincibility, toughness, and daring. Nothing could be further from the truth. Given a "level playing field", there is no doubt this aggression would cease forthwith, as it has in the past, to the benefit of everyone. We see Serb aggression simply because there is no opposition, and no price to pay. Add those two elements, and the war would come quickly to a halt, perhaps the most telling argument for excluding the Bosnian Government from the application of resolution 713 (1991).
We welcome the initiative of President Clinton and the Secretary-General with regard to NATO’s air participation in the conflict as it pertains to all the "safe areas" and other areas. If carried out with conviction, it may influence the course of events. With NATO’s expected concurrence, we hope UNPROFOR will now be as decisive in its use of this force as the Serbs have been in their defiance. It is, after all, dangerous to fly with mixed flight plans while transmitting conflicting signals.
If we are to return to the peace table with any real expectation of Serb compliance, then they must stop the indiscriminate shelling of Gorazde and the armed attack; accept the immediate deployment of United Nations peace-keepers inside the city for its protection; cease forthwith the prevention of humanitarian aid deliveries; cease fire immediately; and withdraw to pre-conflict positions.
Although we find the draft resolution unequal to the task and devoid of the requisite decisiveness and toughness, my delegation nevertheless supports it. Admittedly, our strong preference would have been for one that spoke more directly of Gorazde and what it represents – more specifically to the situation there and what must be done to rectify the harm and destruction that has been inflicted. Such forthrightness, backed by a clear and unwavering resolve, would have sent an unmistakable message to the aggressors that the international community was prepared to guarantee the "safe areas", and it would have served to give definite pause to these marauding belligerents.
Finally, if for any reason there is a failure to observe these conditions, either voluntarily or by force, then the future augurs badly for the United Nations elsewhere in Bosnia.
If the aggressors are allowed to continue, one finds it hard to imagine that such inhuman killing and brutalization of a civilian population can long remain unanswered. That, in fact, may be the real danger to us all.
Permit me, Sir, to congratulate you on your assumption of the presidency of the Security Council for the month of April. I should like to express our deep admiration for your diplomatic skill and for the efficient and exemplary manner in which you are conducting the affairs of the Council. I would assure you of my delegation’s complete cooperation in the fulfilment of your important tasks.
I should also like to convey my congratulations to your predecessor, Ambassador Jean-Bernard Mérimée, for his splendid leadership during the highly successful presidency of France in the month of March.
Today the Council is meeting again to discuss the dangerous situation in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, an issue which has defied an honourable and just solution since 1992. The continuing aggression by the Serbs has not only caused untold misery and the death and destruction of virtually a whole people, but also threatens the peace and security of the region and the world. The Security Council thus bears a great and direct responsibility for the early resolution of this crisis and for fully ensuring the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a fellow State Member of the United Nations.
The Serbian aggression against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which commenced in 1992, has continued unabated since then, but in its new wave of attacks against the designated "safe area" of Gorazde, Serbian aggression, with its integral component of "ethnic cleansing", has assumed outrageous proportions, in terms both of the tragedy that it has imposed upon Gorazde and of the ominous challenge that it now poses to the authority of the Security Council.
The latest reports indicate that despite repeated cease-fire agreements, Serbian nationalist forces have shelled and rocketed refugee centers, the city hospital and apartment buildings used to shelter the wounded in Gorazde. These insane and inhuman attacks have killed 44 persons, left more than 130 wounded and have destroyed hospital facilities, so that emergency medical aid or surgery is not possible.
Even as we speak, the Bosnians in Gorazde are defending their ruined and beleaguered city against the heavily armed Serb aggressors – as the Bosnian representative has just informed us – by hand-to-hand fighting. In so doing, they are defending not only their own city of Gorazde, but also a "safe area" so designated by our Council. The irony of the situation, as we debate with our voices and the Bosnians sacrifice with their lives, could hardly be more compelling or more cruel. Nevertheless, I am convinced that on some future glorious day, a free Gorazde will be rebuilt. My predictions for the future credibility of the Council are somewhat more cautious.
The history of the Bosnian crisis is a history of Serb unreliability and bad faith. Their intransigence and belligerent attitude have been the main cause of the lack of progress in arriving at a peaceful settlement and has frustrated all attempts at finding peaceful solutions, including those fostered by the United Nations, the International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia, the European Union or the joint United States-Russian initiative.
It is in the light of these discouraging developments and of the blatant disregard for the decisions and resolutions of the Security Council by the Serbs that Pakistan has consistently maintained that a political solution to the crisis has to be accompanied by other measures so as to oblige the Serbs to come to the negotiating table. In this context, we have long maintained that if the international community is unable to defend the Bosnian Government in its struggle for survival, then this Government should be afforded the means to defend itself under Article 51 of the Charter. The Security Council can no longer delay lifting the arms embargo on Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Government of Pakistan has recently issued a statement on the situation in Gorazde, which, inter alia, calls upon the North Atlantic Council to authorize immediately the use of air strikes against the Serbian weaponry, which continues to rain death and destruction on Gorazde. It also states that if the United Nations cannot stop Serbian aggression, it must at least enable the Bosnian Muslims to acquire the means to defend themselves.
My delegation welcomes and applauds the Secretary-General’s letter of 18 April 1994 addressed to the Secretary-General of NATO asking for the authorization of the NATO Council to allow air strikes against artillery or mortar positions in or around the "safe areas" of Tuzla, Zepa, Gorazde, Bihac and Srebrenica.
My delegation also welcomes the statement of President Clinton of April 20, supporting NATO action to deter Serbian aggression against the civilian population of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Above all, my delegation continues to pay a warm tribute to the men and women of UNPROFOR, of UNHCR, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the many other non-governmental and humanitarian organizations who have persevered in their noble but difficult and dangerous task under conditions which are well-nigh impossible. They are motivated only by a desire to work for peace and to alleviate the sufferings of their fellow humans. In this connection, my delegation regards as particularly offensive the charge of partisanship leveled even at the United Nations itself which was implicit in a statement heard earlier today. We reject it as a transparent and baseless calumny.
Pakistan remains committed to fully supporting the mandate of UNPROFOR, and in this context would very soon be deploying a 3,000- strong contingent as part of UNPROFOR. There is also a standing offer of troops for UNPROFOR by a number of other countries belonging to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and it is our hope that the Secretary-General will avail himself of this offer in accordance with the requirements of the situation.
The Organization of the Islamic Conference is particularly incensed at the continuing tragedy of Bosnia and Herzegovina and remains ever ready to offer any assistance to solve the crisis. In this context the Foreign Ministers of eight Islamic countries belonging to the OIC Contact Group on Bosnia and Herzegovina will hold an emergency meeting in New York on Friday, 27 April 1994. The purpose of that meeting is to highlight once again the urgent need to solve the crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Pakistan, along with the members of the Non-Aligned Caucus, had expected the inclusion in the draft resolution before us of a reference to the review of the applicability of resolution 713 (1991). Regrettably, its inclusion was not acceptable to some members of the Council. Our support for the draft resolution has therefore been diluted by that important omission. We are also concerned that the draft resolution does not address the issue of an increase in troop levels. Therefore, while we reserve the right to introduce another draft resolution calling for the lifting of the arms embargo against Bosnia and Herzegovina, my delegation will nevertheless join other delegations in support of the present draft resolution.
In conclusion, I wish to quote from a message addressed by Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto to the Secretary-General of the United Nations:
"If the United Nations Protection Force cannot save the victims of Serbian genocide, if there is fear that United Nations forces may take casualties, let us at least not prevent the Bosnian people from obtaining the means for self-defence. Pakistan feels strongly that maintaining the unjust arms embargo against Bosnia and Herzegovina amounts to assuming a share in the responsibility for the plight of its defenceless people.
"The world community must wake up to the warning bell sounded by this vicious war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. What is at stake in Gorazde is not merely the fate of a small city and its people but international peace and security itself. To allow the Serbs to succeed in Gorazde will severely and perhaps irretrievably erode the credibility of the United Nations and compromise its vision of collective security. It will represent a leap backwards to the law of force and away from our aspirations for a world ruled by the force of law."
It was with sorrow and some amazement that we watched as the Bosnian Serb siege and bombardment of the civilian population of Sarajevo was followed by that of Maglaj and Gorazde.
On behalf of my people and Government, my delegation unequivocally joins in the condemnation by the international community of the attacks on Gorazde and its civilian population. These are occurring in open defiance and complete contravention of the resolutions adopted by this Council and the most fundamental norms of international humanitarian law.
The Serbian forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina must halt all their criminal attacks against innocent civilians. Those attacks have quite rightly been described as insane, and so they are. The basic and recognized norms relating to the treatment of civilians in times of armed conflict are systematically being demolished by the forces of the Bosnian Serb militia, which tirelessly carry out the unfortunate and shameful practice of "ethnic cleansing" in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
We once again call upon the Bosnian Serb side to respect the norms of international humanitarian law, which they have chosen systematically to ignore. Those laws have a purpose – to protect human beings. Their violation, we reiterate, will entail responsibility on the part of its perpetrators which they will sooner or later be forced to face.
We vigorously demand once again that the freedom of movement and full security of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) be respected; all parties must understand that its sole objective is to promote peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In this regard, we emphasize that it is the binding commitment of our Organization and its Members to guarantee by all means possible the security of the troops which are generously participating in UNPROFOR. It is indescribably base to harass these peace-keepers, as has occurred. In that context, we consider that any measure capable of leading to a full cease-fire is essential in the zone of Gorazde and the rest of Bosnia and Herzegovina. That is why we support the draft resolution before the Council.
We offer gratitude and our formal support to the continuing efforts of the Secretary-General and his Special Representative, Mr. Yasushi Akashi, to promote a cessation of hostilities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We also thank, through them, all those in UNPROFOR who are confronting the risks inherent in their work with determination and nobility and are striving for peace. In particular, we thank all those who are contributing civilian and military personnel, and the United States of America, the Russian Federation and the European Union for their determination diplomatically to broker this peace, which unfortunately has not yet taken root.
In our opinion, it is clear that UNPROFOR should be given all the means necessary to discharge its mission. In this context, my country wishes to reiterate its commitment to that effort. We endorse the suggestion of the Secretary-General that the manpower of the Force be increased as requested, in order to ensure that it will be able to undertake the additional tasks assigned to it.
With regard to air power, my country believes that Security Council resolutions 824 (1993) and 836 (1993) contain a framework for its possible use. Moreover, we consider that it is indispensable that there be rapid and coherent focussing of all diplomatic initiatives and efforts undertaken by the international community to deal with this crisis. We feel that only resolute and unitary action will make it possible to achieve lasting peace.
In the light of the Secretary-General’s assessment of safe areas – contained in his reports of 11 and 16 March – and in view of the current situation in those areas, we consider that they must be defended and that it may be time to reconsider the criteria that underlie the establishment of those zones in view of current reality.
To conclude, on behalf of the Argentine Republic, we appeal once again to all parties to undertake negotiations in good faith through peaceful and diplomatic means. Without further deception, it may be possible to put an end to the military actions and, in particular, the provocation and contemptible, offensive and aggressive attitude of the Bosnian Serbs.
This is the third time – or is it the fourth? – in as many months that we are discussing the situation prevailing in one or another city of Bosnia and Herzegovina: the massacre of Sarajevo, the strangulation of Maglaj, and now the pounding of Gorazde. Is it going to be Zepa next time? Or perhaps Srebrenica? Or perhaps another part of Bosnian geography which has not yet become a part of our political vocabulary?
My delegation is chagrined that we always seem to have to get to the brink, if not beyond the brink, of a specific tragedy before we can get our act together in this room. Haven’t Bosnian authorities been heralding the danger to Gorazde for weeks already? Have we forgotten how, before the Serbian forces put a choke-hold on the city, the information that officially reached the Security Council pooh-poohed the danger? My delegation, for one, is not at all sure that the information the Council has been receiving has always been the best, the most accurate, the timeliest or even the most objective possible.
But, of course, the limits to what the Security Council does and can do are determined principally by other factors. We are glad to see that more and more countries that are members of the Security Council are waking up to the true character of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and to the true character of the Bosnian Serb leaders. The bizarre picture of a President hiding behind a doctor and a doctor hiding behind a general has served, for a time, to sow confusion and to disorient the United Nations and its representatives on the spot – only for a time, though. Any New York policeman would have seen through this ploy, for surely the "good cop-bad cop" trick was not invented in the former Yugoslavia.
But the time for tricks is rapidly coming to an end, and some members have expressed this very eloquently in recent days. Our draft resolution, too, pillories the Bosnian Serb leaders for their failure to negotiate in good faith and to uphold their commitments. As the Secretary-General observed recently to the Council, the Bosnian Serb authorities are using negotiations as a military ploy. It is time now for the international community to be serious about using military force as a negotiating ploy.
In this regard, we are delighted with the Secretary-General’s letter to Secretary-General Wörner of NATO, even though we wish it could have been written earlier, and we are heartened by the initial positive signals from Brussels. We have also noted as very encouraging the latest turn in the United States position concerning the situation. The Russian Federation has an important role to play as well. The extent of its influence on the Bosnian Serb party remains to be gauged accurately, but we rather hope that this influence is considerable and do not doubt that it will be used to further an overall peaceful settlement.
We do not see air strikes as being a possibility which, if made available to the United Nations, would be used automatically. We do not see air strikes as automatically expanding into an all-out ground war of the rest of the world against the Serbian party. The key to what happens is, and always has been, in the hands of Bosnian Serbs and their allies. Their future depends on their behaviour.
Latest developments give us hope that measures taken by the Security Council will finally, perhaps, acquire some punch, that resolutions will finally be worth more than the paper they are written on and that assaults by Bosnian Serb forces, if they continue, will be answered by more than words, by more, even than pinpricks.
And yet the bottom line remains a peaceful settlement through negotiations: negotiations of parties that do not use negotiations as a military ploy; negotiations in good faith; negotiations directed at ending the war, not at creating a smokescreen for furthering it.
Some time from now, perhaps for its fiftieth birthday, the United Nations might be presented by the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina with a piece of art called, for example, "The Fall of Gorazde". It could, for example, be exhibited in the vicinity of Picasso’s "Guernica", which, of course, commemorates the fall of another city, in another country, in another war, some 60 years or so ago. It was, of course, only coincidental that by the time Guernica fell the League of Nations had become quite moribund.
Allow me at the outset to congratulate you, Sir, on New Zealand’s assumption of the presidency of the Council and also on the very skilful and effective way in which you have been guiding us in our work. I should also like to express my delegation’s gratitude to Ambassador Mérimée of France, who last month gave ample proof of his experience and his outstanding professional qualities.
Yesterday it was Sarajevo; today tragedy is descending on Gorazde. Its population, mired in pain, is defenceless before the ruthless bombardments of the Bosnian Serb forces. The international community cannot stand by impassively in the face of the suffering of innocent victims; nor can it allow the continuation of these attacks against a civilian population at the mercy of the aggressors.
In a communiqué issued today in Geneva, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR) reported that a centre for the care of the wounded had taken a direct hit resulting in the death of 10 to 20 people. This brings the number of victims in Gorazde since the beginning of the Bosnian Serb offensive to 436 dead and 1,467 wounded, according to the UNHCR.
The situation in Gorazde thus takes on extreme gravity, and its repercussions on other parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina and on the entire negotiating process for the settlement of the conflicts in former Yugoslavia are lost on no one.
For these reasons my delegation has taken an active part in the elaboration of the draft resolution contained in document S/1994/465, of which it is also a sponsor. We hope this draft resolution will enjoy the unanimous support of the members of the Council.
My delegation is in full agreement with the statement made by the representative of Greece on behalf of the European Union, as well as with the communiqué issued last 18 April by the presidency of the Union.
The attack carried out by the Bosnian Serb forces against Gorazde, in clear violation of the Security Council resolutions on "safe areas", is a blunt challenge to the United Nations and the international community, a challenge that must not go unanswered.
The resolution we have co-sponsored sends a clear message. We hope it will be sufficiently well understood by those for whom it is intended.
In the first place, the international community expresses, in unison and of one mind, its strongest rejection of the unacceptable behaviour of the Bosnian Serb party.
The attacks against Gorazde must cease at once. The first goal that must be set is to achieve in the city and its environs a cease-fire that can be extended to the rest of the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The forces of the Bosnian Serbs must withdraw from the "safe area" of Gorazde and not impede, as they have been doing, the deployment of United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) personnel in the area.
In order to do that, they need only comply with the commitments they made in the presence of representatives of the United Nations and of the Russian Federation. We trust that in their compliance they will not make a mockery, yet again, of the principle of good faith. This time they will find themselves face to face with an alert international community that is willing to use force if necessary.
In the second place, when the Security Council adopts this resolution, as we hope it will, it will show once again the firmness of its determination to continue to support the efforts of the community of nations, and in particular those of UNPROFOR in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
United Nations humanitarian and peace-making action, with its unquestionable benefits for all the communities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, including the Serbian civilian population, must be continued.
We resolutely support the efforts of UNPROFOR, of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and of the other international bodies that, despite the enormous difficulties they encounter on the ground, continue to provide indispensable assistance so that the population can survive.
We demand that the Bosnian Serb forces immediately free all United Nations personnel now held or confined; we demand an end once and for all to all restrictions on the freedom of movement of UNPROFOR and to actions that imperil the safety of its personnel.
UNPROFOR must have the means and resources needed to carry out its mandate. Although inadequate human resources may make it harder for UNPROFOR to act, they do not prevent it from acting. But it is necessary to provide it with the necessary additional resources. My delegation would therefore have preferred a draft resolution that authorized the increase in manpower that UNPROFOR needs. We trust that it will be possible in the very near future to raise the force level to that requested by the Secretary-General; we shall propose this for expeditious action by the Council.
We welcomed the Secretary-General’s initiative in seeking the support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) with air power to defend UNPROFOR personnel carrying out their mandate and to protect the Sarajevo district. Today we approve of the Secretary-General’s having once more turned to NATO, on 18 April, with respect to the possibility of a broader use of air power to protect Gorazde and the other safe areas, on the basis of resolution 836 (1993) and other resolutions.
As a member of NATO, Spain shared in the favourable response given by the North Atlantic Council on 20 April to the United Nations request aimed at putting an end to the suffering of the civilian population of Bosnia. The North Atlantic Council affirmed that it was prepared to take operational decisions as soon as it had the necessary military advice on the means and opportunities for the effective use of air power to protect the safe areas.
The draft resolution and the decision that NATO will take have a clear objective: to put an end to the bombardments and other attacks against Gorazde and to prevent their being repeated in the other safe areas, with a view to protecting the civilian population and also to provide a genuine opportunity for the negotiating process.
Spain has said repeatedly that there is no military solution to the crisis in the former Yugoslavia. Only a comprehensive negotiated settlement, acceptable to all the parties, can be viable.
Despite the current situation, we must continue our endeavours without losing heart; we must not yield to blackmail by the Bosnian Serbs.
We will succeed if we remain united. However praiseworthy national initiatives may be in the negotiating process, it is now time effectively to coordinate our activities multilaterally. There must be an intensification, but also a harmonization, of the efforts of the European Union, the United States and the Russian Federation, along with those of the United Nations. We hope this will happen without delay, in order to assist the parties in putting an end to the conflict that is afflicting Bosnia and Herzegovina and to advance the peace process throughout the former Yugoslavia.
As the Security Council considers the situation in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the delegation of Rwanda wants to stress how vital it considers the achievement of an immediate cessation of all hostilities throughout the territory of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Although it welcomes the progress achieved thus far, my delegation is deeply concerned at recent developments in the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially in the besieged safe area of Gorazde. In that context, we strongly condemn the ruthless Bosnian Serb military aggression of which Gorazde continues to be the victim.
This new, flagrant violation of resolutions 824 (1993) and 836 (1993) is a destabilizing factor that could jeopardize the ongoing peace process, and the efforts to achieve a settlement of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. It also poses a new challenge to the international community because of its harmful effect on the progress achieved since the lifting of the siege of Sarajevo.
In the face of this situation, the necessary measures – especially those set out in resolutions 824 (1993) and 836 (1993) – must be taken to put an end to the occupation of Gorazde and to make the Serb forces withdraw to a distance from which they would no longer pose a threat to the safe-area status of Gorazde. In that connection, we are pleased that in the draft resolution the Council restates its determination to implement all relevant resolutions, in particular resolutions 824 (1993) and 836 (1993).
My delegation believes that in order to lift the siege of Gorazde it is necessary immediately to bring about an unconditional cease-fire in and around Gorazde and the withdrawal of the Bosnian Serb forces. Moreover, all detained UNPROFOR personnel must be released immediately, and the Serb side must permit UNPROFOR to enjoy freedom of movement in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the Security Council.
The situation in Gorazde is so serious that there must be immediate action to bring it to an end. In that connection, my delegation fully supports the Secretary-General’s approach to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) with respect to air strikes against Serb positions that threaten innocent people and civilian targets in the safe areas.
The measures the Council should adopt, to be implemented with NATO support, are all the more necessary because the Bosnian population continues to be deprived of its inherent right of self-defence owing to the embargo imposed by resolution 713 (1991). Hence, we remain convinced that, because of the constant violation of the relevant Security Council resolutions, measures to preserve the inviolability of Bosnian territory should include a review of the question of the arms embargo imposed on the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Moreover, since the Bosnian Serbs continue to test the determination of the international community, the Security Council should provide UNPROFOR with all the means it needs fully to carry out its mandate. In that connection, my delegation regrets that the draft resolution does not provide for action on the recent recommendations of the Secretary-General calling for an increase in the number of UNPROFOR personnel. We continue to hope that the necessary action to that end will be taken very soon.
In the light of the momentum generated since NATO’s ultimatum to the Serb forces which brought about the lifting of the siege of Sarajevo, we hope that implementation of the draft resolution will contribute to lifting the blockade of Gorazde and other besieged safe areas.
The political and diplomatic initiatives that are being considered will open up prospects of a political settlement of the conflict; these should be supported.
My delegation will support the draft resolution, because we consider that we must seize every opportunity to prevent the Bosnian Serbs from replacing the siege of Sarajevo with new attacks and the siege of other safe areas.
Once again this Council is meeting in response to barbaric acts of aggression against a Member State of this Organization. Once again, people of good will are looking to us to uphold the principles of international law and civilized behaviour between States. The civilians of Gorazde have been subjected to murderous attacks day after day by the Bosnian Serbs. These wanton attacks on civilians have no military justification. Their purpose is to terrorize the people of Gorazde into leaving their homes and their city. Their purpose is "ethnic cleansing". They are an outrage to the conscience of this Council and an affront to international law.
In pursuing these brutal military goals, the Bosnian Serbs have repeatedly lied to those, most notably United Nations Special Representative Akashi and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Churkin, who were valiantly trying to end the onslaught. Further, they have taken United Nations personnel hostage, and deliberately targeted Gorazde’s hospital and the building occupied by UNPROFOR forces.
President Clinton has outlined my Government’s response to these acts. We are now consulting with other members of this Council on measures to provide more adequate protection to the safe areas, in keeping with resolutions this Council has adopted. We have proposed the extension of the approach used around Sarajevo to other safe areas. While we cannot silence every gun, we can deny the Serbs the opportunity to shell safe areas with impunity. The United States will also work with other members of the Security Council to tighten enforcement of sanctions. In the light of recent events, there must be no sanctions relief for Serbia/Montenegro.
We will also continue to support UNPROFOR, which is doing an extraordinary job in the most difficult of circumstances and which genuinely needs increased manpower. Finally, the Bosnian Serbs should be aware that persons who violate international humanitarian law will be held individually responsible. We will continue to support fully the international war crimes Tribunal established by this Council.
Council members should remember that my Government still believes that the Bosnian Government should be exempted from the arms embargo imposed by resolution 713 (1991). And as we sat in this Chamber today, on the floor of the United States Senate a resolution was debated that calls for the United States to lift the arms embargo unilaterally. So far, we have resisted this unilateral approach, because we believe in the sanctity of sanctions imposed by the United Nations. But Council members should understand that my Government still supports changing resolution 713 (1991) so that the victims of aggression are finally permitted to defend themselves.
Our objective in Bosnia is a negotiated settlement. We will therefore continue our diplomatic efforts, as part of an intensive international effort, to help the parties reach such a settlement. There is no question that the most recent Bosnian Serb actions have set back this diplomatic process. But the underlying reality remains: this conflict must be settled at the bargaining table, not on the battlefield. Renewed diplomatic efforts, backed by the necessary military resolve, are essential to discourage further aggression and regain the momentum for peace.
In closing, let me say that my Government is aware that this resolution is limited in scope and substance. That is why I hope other Council members will join me in delivering to the Bosnian Serbs, and their supporters, a clear and simple message: if you do not change course, it is you who will be responsible for the heavy price that the international community will impose on you.
Finally, let me add that Ambassador Djokic’s references to the "former Bosnia and Herzegovina" were as offensive to my delegation as they were to others. Our objective is to convince the Bosnian Serbs to choose the path of peace over the scourge of war. The international community cannot impose peace in Bosnia. By taking a firm action, however, it can and must attempt to influence that choice. We hope you will all join us in that effort.
I shall now put the draft resolution in document S/1994/465 to the vote.
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
There were 15 votes in favour. The draft resolution has therefore been adopted unanimously as resolution 913 (1994).
I shall now call on those members of the Council who wish to make statements following the voting.
In attacking Gorazde, designated a safe area in resolution 824 (1993), the Bosnian Serbs bear the very heavy responsibility of provoking a major crisis at a time when the situation both in central Bosnia and in Sarajevo was clearly improving.
In the light of such a situation, it is first of all clearly necessary to bring about the immediate cessation of hostilities and the end of attacks against the civilian population of Gorazde, and to ensure that such events are not repeated against other safe areas.
To that end, the exercise of very firm pressure on the Bosnian Serbs is indispensable. The resolution that we have just adopted provides, in terms of principles, an appropriate response in that respect by calling for the immediate conclusion of a cease-fire agreement and the withdrawal of Serb forces to a distance that would make it possible to guarantee Gorazde’s security.
These demands will be all the more rapidly implemented and the protection of the safe areas will be all the better ensured when there is a credible prospect for military action against those responsible for the attacks against the safe areas.
My Government, in this respect, supports the initiative of the Secretary-General in requesting the North Atlantic Council to authorize, on the request of the United Nations, air strikes against artillery and mortar batteries and tanks located in the safe areas or in surrounding places, which could be used to attack civilian targets. The modalities of applying such a measure must, obviously, be agreed upon by the North Atlantic Council. In this context, my Government welcomes the proposals made by the United States Government to expand the possibilities of air action to protect the safe areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Over and above measures aimed at guaranteeing in the short term the protection of Gorazde and its population and the other safe areas, diplomatic efforts should be resumed as quickly as possible with a view to achieving a political settlement by ensuring the coordination and convergence of such efforts. Indeed, a political solution cannot be achieved in Bosnia and Herzegovina without the definition of a common position between the various protagonists participating in the quest for a settlement – namely, the United States, the Russian Federation, the European Union and the United Nations.
This common position should be established on the basis of the major principles of the European Union plan, whose general context for negotiation remains valid: maintenance of the existence of Bosnia and Herzegovina as such; precise distribution within Bosnia and Herzegovina of territories among the communities; establishment of a flexible institutional system compatible with the Croat-Muslim agreement reached in Washington on 18 March last; and, at the appropriate time, when the conditions are ripe, programming of the progressive suspension and lifting of the sanctions. This objective of a common position between the various protagonists in the diplomatic process, in accordance with the principles I have just set forth, was endorsed by the European Union on 18 April last.
It is in the same spirit that the President of the French Republic called upon the Secretary-General of the United Nations to take the initiative of resuming the negotiating process by bringing together the efforts of the United States, the Russian Federation and the European Union.
It is essential, indeed, if we wish to avoid letting the negotiations get bogged down, that the Americans, the Russians, the Europeans and the senior officials of the United Nations speak at the same time and with a single voice to the parties concerned.
For more than two years now, the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a fellow State Member of the United Nations, has been the target of Serbian aggression. Once again, the Security Council is convened to condemn a new Serbian offensive against Gorazde, which is one of the six safe areas declared by the Security Council in its resolution 824 (1993).
While calling upon the Security Council to perform its full responsibility of securing the immediate withdrawal of the Serb forces from Gorazde and its outskirts in such a manner that would not constitute any immediate or future threat to the people of this safe area as outlined in the Security Council’s relevant resolutions, my delegation reaffirms its previous position that implores the Council to review the matter pertaining to the lifting of the arms embargo against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, under the terms specified in the Council’s resolution 713 (1991), as a positive step that would enable that Republic to exercise its legitimate right to self-defence according to the provisions of Article 51 of Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.
In the midst of the challenges that face the United Nations today in protecting the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina against this Serb aggression, we find it contradictory, on the other hand, that some parties have called for an easing of the economic sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro. This, in effect would constitute a double standard in the implementation of the Security Council’s resolutions, particularly given the present state of affairs, while we continue to witness the Serbian party still carrying on with its aggression and with its violation of all Security Council resolutions and the very basic humanitarian standards of international law.
Welcoming the acceptance by the Bosnian Government of the recent peace initiatives that resulted in the signing of an acceptable agreement between the Bosnian and the Croatian Governments, as documented in Washington on 18 March 1994, we also see that the Serbs, in a more elusive manner, are still reluctant to accept any peaceful solutions. We reaffirm that such an attitude is completely unacceptable to the international community, which does not want the aggressors to benefit from their occupation of another’s land by force.
Proceeding from this stand, my delegation does not subscribe to the view that the Bosnian Government has deliberately carried on provocative actions to implicate the Serbs’ involvement in attacking the safe areas. Such views do not reflect the realities, particularly in the light of the continuing military attacks perpetrated by the Serbs on the safe areas, resulting in the detention of United Nations personnel and constraints on their freedom of movement, inevitably putting the lives of the people there in great danger without the right to defend themselves.
In this vein, we would like to express our acceptance of and support for the call by the Secretary-General of the United Nations in his letter of 18 April 1994 addressed to the Secretary-General of NATO, in order to obtain air support for UNPROFOR in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This concurs with the Secretary-General’s prerogatives as outlined in the Council’s resolution 836 (1993).
We believe that the credibility of the United Nations today is being tested more than ever before, and we believe that it is high time for the Security Council to reconsider seriously the lifting of the arms embargo on defensive weapons imposed on Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as to take appropriate punitive measures in order to force the Serb aggressors to adhere fully to the Council’s resolutions and peace appeals.
In conclusion, my delegation is prompted by the hope that all concerted efforts exerted in this regard will eventually lead to a peaceful solution to this conflict.
We were hoping that the resolution which has just been adopted would also include, among other things, in particular the lifting of the arms embargo, as demanded by many who have already spoken before our Council. However, based on the need to maintain the consensus reached in this matter, my delegation voted in favour of the draft resolution which has just been adopted.
The delegation of the Russian Federation sees the resolution we have just adopted, and of which we were a sponsor, as an important unanimous step taken by the Security Council in response to an extremely alarming situation around Gorazde and in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a whole. Like other members of the Council, we strongly condemn the actions against Gorazde, which was declared by the United Nations to be a safe area. These acts led to the deaths of an enormous number of civilians and to tremendous human suffering. The shelling by the Bosnian Serbs of civilian targets in Gorazde has no justification and runs counter to the interests of the Serbs themselves. Also totally unacceptable is the harassment of United Nations personnel, the shelling of the buildings in which they are housed and the detention of military observers.
President Yeltsin of Russia, in his statement of 19 April 1994, expressed his serious concern at the resulting situation and emphasized that the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina stood at the brink of a dangerous escalation.
Under the present circumstances, it is essential first of all that the parties, as is indicated in the resolution we have adopted, conclude forthwith, under the auspices of UNPROFOR, a cease-fire agreement in Gorazde and throughout the territory of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which should be scrupulously complied with.
The leadership of the Bosnian Serbs should comply with the obligations they have assumed, cease their attacks, withdraw their forces from Gorazde and ensure conditions for the entry into that city of United Nations forces. They must adopt measures to prevent in the future the intolerable practice of detaining United Nations personnel in Bosnia and Herzegovina and they must guarantee complete freedom of movement for the United Nations in carrying out its mandate.
At the same time, all acts of provocation in and around Gorazde, and safe areas, must be halted. This demand by the resolution is addressed to all sides, which must realize that the Security Council cannot and will not put up with attempts to undermine the political process as a result of rash acts and acts of provocation, whoever initiates them. In this context, we believe it important that the resolution shares the concern of the Secretary-General, expressed in his reports dated 10 and 16 March 1994, regarding the misuse of the status of safe areas and takes note of his recommendations concerning the definition and implementation of the concept of safe areas.
Russia has done a great deal, and is prepared to continue its efforts, to establish firm, reliable interaction between the Serbian party and the United Nations to resolve the situation in Gorazde and strengthen other safe areas. It is important to move ahead without delay to a cessation of all hostilities throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, as called for in the resolution we have just adopted.
To steer the situation towards a peaceful settlement, in our view, the most resolute, determined steps are needed. We consistently advocate resolving the conflict, and all the related problems which have emerged, by political means, to which we are convinced there is no alternative. At the same time, we call for restraint and caution, because we believe that the logic of increasing air strikes contains an inherent danger of escalation.
I should also like to emphasize that in our view the idea of lifting the arms embargo in an area of conflict runs counter to the idea of the speedy attainment of peace and can only fan the flames of the raging conflict, which in itself is fraught with the danger of its being extended to neighbouring countries.
Over and above urgent measures to halt the military escalation, forward-looking, bold political steps are essential to make it possible to achieve a breakthrough in a settlement of this bloody conflict. That is precisely the thrust of the initiative taken by the President of Russia, Mr. Boris Yeltsin, to hold a high-level meeting between Russia, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations. Today, as never before, the time is ripe for these participants to work together to hammer out a political approach for a solution to the Bosnian problem and to put it before the belligerent parties, so that they are absolutely clear that it is essential to negotiate, and not just go from one crisis to another.
At the same time, the Serbian side must understand that each step towards a comprehensive cessation of hostilities will be accompanied by a corresponding lifting of the sanctions. Russia is prepared to continue its active coordination efforts with all parties concerned in order to halt the escalation of the conflict and to establish finally a firm peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and throughout the former Yugoslavia.
The Brazilian delegation finds itself in full agreement with the main objectives of the resolution that the Security Council has just adopted. Those objectives are the attainment of a cease-fire in and around Gorazde, to be followed by a general cease-fire throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina with a view to arriving at an overall political settlement; the immediate release of all United Nations personnel; and the guarantee of unhindered freedom of movement for the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) and intensification of negotiating efforts, coupled with the coordination and convergence of the different international initiatives currently under way.
There can be no doubt that the criminal acts committed by the Bosnian Serbs against the civilian population in Gorazde and the harassment of UNPROFOR personnel throughout the country, as well as the dubious good faith they have shown in negotiations with respect to Gorazde, must be condemned in the strongest terms. The shelling of civilian targets and the detention of United Nations personnel are appalling and intolerable violations of the most basic rules of law, deservedly denounced by the Security Council in today’s resolution.
All along, it has been the consistent position of the Brazilian Government that the use of force must be kept as a last resort, to be employed only under very well-defined circumstances and in strict compliance with relevant Security Council resolutions. As a corollary to that principle, we believe that the Security Council should direct its actions as a matter of the utmost priority to facilitating the achievement of an overall negotiated settlement of the conflict.
My delegation therefore welcomes endeavours to bring together the various diplomatic initiatives currently under way. Avoiding duplication, let alone dispersion, will certainly contribute to enhancing the chances of success at the negotiating table.
The Brazilian Government believes that any United Nations operation, be it in the former Yugoslavia or in other parts of the world, must be provided with the necessary means and humanpower to carry out in an effective way the mandate assigned by the Security Council. A continued delay in allowing the strengthening of UNPROFOR to the levels recommended by the Secretary-General will thus seem incompatible with previous decisions of the Security Council. We are ready to take the action envisaged in resolution 908 (1994) regarding further troop requirements. Nevertheless, should circumstances beyond the control of the United Nations lead to a generalization of the hostilities and entail a dramatic shift on current options regarding the use of force, or a change in the present regime regarding the entry of weapons into the territories of the former Yugoslavia, the Security Council must be prepared to review all the aspects of the United Nations presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
For now, let us work towards the expeditious attainment of the goals of resolution 913 (1994), which we have just adopted, and which will help stop the killing of innocent civilians and bring hostilities to a halt in the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina, thus paving the way for an overall political settlement and lasting peace in the region.
May I congratulate you, Sir, even at this late – or, rather, early – hour of the morning, on your assumption of the presidency some time ago.
The events of the past three weeks, which have seen the sustained assault by the Bosnian Serbs on the men, women and children of Gorazde, have been a further instalment in the tragedy of Bosnia, which has so pained and so diminished us all. The actions of the Bosnian Serbs have not only been in open defiance of the United Nations and of the entire international community; they have inflicted damage on their own interests too.
The resolution we have just adopted, and which my delegation cosponsored, is clear-cut in its condemnation of these acts and of the way in which the Bosnian Serbs have repeatedly renewed their shelling of Gorazde, while at the same time giving duplicitous undertakings to the United Nations and others about cease-fires. A community such as the Bosnian Serbs, which believes that it can develop and prosper in the Europe of today while behaving in this way, is sadly misunderstanding the effect it is having on its fellow Europeans.
Mr. Akashi, the United Nations military commanders in Bosnia and the men and women of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) and of the United Nations and other humanitarian agencies are to be applauded and not criticized for the efforts they have made to bring relief to Gorazde and to achieve a cease-fire. It is essential that such efforts continue and that all parties refrain from actions which could lead to further hostilities and more loss of life. The immediate objective must be an effective cease-fire in Gorazde, but that is only the first step towards a broader cessation of hostilities between Bosnian Serb and Bosnian Government forces throughout Bosnia. Only in that way can the conditions be created for a negotiated end to this war, which has now lasted for more than two years.
Clearly, events around Gorazde have constituted a significant setback for the United Nations efforts in Bosnia and for the objective of a negotiated settlement. But we need to keep them in perspective. UNPROFOR is now monitoring cease-fires elsewhere, in central Bosnia and around Sarajevo. If one looks back to the dark days of January and early February, one can appreciate that there have been more achievements than setbacks in recent months. These achievements have not occurred by magic; they have been the result of determined efforts by the United Nations and troop-contributing nations, with the support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). It is vital that they not be put at risk.
UNPROFOR now has a multiplicity of roles to play in Bosnia. Monitoring cease-fire arrangements, including around Sarajevo and in central and southern Bosnia, have imposed a burden in addition to its original humanitarian role. UNPROFOR must therefore be given the troops to do the job without further delay. My own country responded to this need promptly, but others have not done so. Now is the time to remedy this failure and to give UNPROFOR the resources it needs to carry out the mandate we have given it.
Cease-fires on their own are not enough. We must avoid freezing unacceptable and unstable confrontation lines. Recent events only underline the need to reinvigorate the peace process urgently. This point, too, is rightly addressed in the resolution we have just adopted. A negotiated settlement remains the only path to a lasting peace. No side can hope to win an outright victory in this conflict. The Serbs in particular, and not only the Bosnian Serbs, risk by their actions remaining an impoverished and isolated outcast from the rest of Europe. Their latest actions have only served to underline the case for tightening the sanctions this Council has already imposed upon the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. As the Security Council made clear a year ago, there is a road which will lead to the lifting of sanctions. But that road passes through the negotiation and implementation of a just overall settlement of hostilities in the former Yugoslavia. The road that has been followed by the Serbs in the last few weeks leads in exactly the opposite direction.
Our immediate aim must be to strengthen the United Nations operation in Bosnia and to enable it to carry out its mandate effectively. This means reacting strongly against the barbarity of the onslaught on Gorazde. It means taking firm action to re-establish conditions for successful diplomacy intended to lead to a global cease-fire and a peace settlement. The Secretary-General has now set in train a process of consultations with NATO about the further measures which may be needed. My Government is participating actively and positively in these consultations. I only hope that the parties will not misread our determination to see this matter through. Far better that the Serbs now draw back, respect this resolution and come to the conference table in good faith to seek a peace settlement which can secure their interests along with those of the other communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, than that they miscalculate and join those other unhappy nations whose fate it has been in the twentieth century to discover that there is no salvation in the prosecution of a war against their neighbours.
At the outset, I would like to join my colleagues in congratulating you, Sir, on your assumption of the presidency of the Council for this month. I am confident that, with your rich experience and great ability, you will guide the work of the Council this month to success. I also wish to thank your predecessor, Ambassador Mérimée, for his outstanding efforts, which helped the Council conclude its difficult work last month.
Recently there has been an escalation of various military actions in and around Gorazde in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina which have led to the deterioration of the situation and caused casualties among the local populace and the personnel of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR). The Chinese delegation expresses its deep concern over this. We condemn the military attacks against Gorazde, a safe area, and any actions aimed at hindering the humanitarian relief activities of UNPROFOR. We urge the parties concerned to exercise restraint and to reach agreement on an immediate cease-fire in Gorazde and throughout the territory of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, so as to establish the conditions for the resumption of peaceful negotiations.
We reaffirm that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina should be respected, and believe that the settlement of the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina can only be a comprehensive political one achieved through peaceful negotiation. There are no other alternatives. We therefore support the efforts to strengthen and coordinate various political and diplomatic initiatives with a view to advancing the peace process. Since the resolution just adopted reflects that spirit, the Chinese delegation has voted in favour of it.
We have all along asserted that conflicts should be set-tled by peaceful means through negotiation, and we hope that the endeavours of the international community will genuinely contribute to the final comprehensive political settlement of the Bosnia and Herzegovina question. We deplore any action that might further intensify the situation in the region. We also oppose the use or the threat of force and any attempt to stop war by expanding its scope. Any escalation of military actions could only lead to further military confrontation and intensified conflict, thus making more remote any chance of political settlement. This is by no means something people would like to see. Therefore, the Chinese delegation wishes to reiterate its reservations on the invocation of Chapter VII for mandatory actions and the implied possible military actions in the resolution.
I thank the representative of China for his kind words addressed to me.
I will now make a statement in my capacity as the representative of New Zealand.
Since the beginning of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, New Zealand has believed that peace can only be restored to that part of the world through political negotiation. But we have also taken the clear position that negotiation must be backed by some credible authority on the part of the United Nations and of the international community.
In recent weeks, the efforts of the United Nations to end hostilities and secure a cease-fire have been flagrantly and repeatedly defied by the Bosnian Serbs.
The Bosnian Serbs have shown yet again that they are still not ready for peace. Their actions, whatever their leaders might say, entail the indiscriminate use of military force quite regardless of circumstance. The victims of this logic are already numbered in the hundreds in the civilian population of Gorazde and in the hundreds of thousands elsewhere in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. My Government is appalled by the sheer brutality and bad faith that this involves.
The United Nations itself has become a target. We respect and admire the men and women of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) and of other United Nations agencies, the Red Cross and the non-governmental organizations working in Bosnia who are toiling in the name of peace in dangerous and difficult circumstances. Their mission has never been easy, but neither has it been more necessary than it is now.
The resolution we have just adopted makes clear the outrage of the United Nations at the actions the Bosnian Serbs have taken in and around the safe area of Gorazde. But outrage is not a sufficient deterrent. The repeated condemnations of the international community have fallen on deaf ears. It is nearly a year since the United Nations proclaimed Gorazde and five other towns in Bosnia and Herzegovina safe areas, "free from armed attacks and from any other hostile acts" (resolution 824 (1993), eighth preambular para.). And it is nearly two years since the Council imposed sanctions on the authorities in Belgrade because of their complicity in the conflict in Bosnia.
It is right that the United Nations should be reluctant to use force. But in Bosnia we face a situation in which all the actions which can be taken by the international community and the United Nations, short of force, have been used and found wanting. The options for the United Nations are narrowing, not because the United Nations wants it that way, but as a result of the actions of the Bosnian Serbs themselves.
My Government therefore strongly supports the decision taken earlier this week by the Secretary-General to request the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to authorize the launching of air strikes in support of UNPROFOR’s mandate in all of the safe areas, including Gorazde. This capability has been at the disposal of the United Nations since June 1993. My delegation has called for its employment many times, both publicly in this room and in the Council’s informal consultations. Its effectiveness as a deterrent was evident in the dramatic change in the situation in Sarajevo in February. There are, of course, risks in the resort to air strikes, and if the objective of dissuading the Bosnian Serbs from war can be achieved without them, so much the better. But there are also risks in not having that weapon in the armoury of the United Nations: more hostilities, more lives lost and more setbacks to the process of achieving a fair and durable settlement. New Zealand expects a positive and prompt response from NATO to the Secretary-General’s request and calls on all NATO members to act promptly and positively on this matter.
It is essential that any military action taken in Bosnia under the authority of the Security Council be part of a strategy to achieve peace, and not a random reaction to Bosnian Serb provocation. As the New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement on 18 April,
"… it is not the United Nations job to wage war on the Bosnian Serbs. The United Nations use of force to protect the safe areas and its own personnel should not be mistaken for partiality towards one of the parties to this dispute."
A second key element in the overall strategy must be a renewed impetus for high-level diplomatic negotiations. My Government supports developments in recent days in this direction. These efforts are appropriately welcomed in the resolution we have just adopted. It is the view of my Government that it is essential that the parties concerned have a clear sense of what the international community expects them to be negotiating about. The confusion and ambiguity which are generated if that is not understood cost lives.
The second part of the strategy must, in our view, also include adequate ground forces for UNPROFOR. My Government would have wished that this resolution contained approval for an increase in the ceiling of UNPROFOR, as recommended by the Secretary-General in his reports to the Security Council in March. UNPROFOR has been performing enormously difficult tasks in Bosnia with many fewer resources than it requires. This situation must end. There must be a commitment to supply UNPROFOR with the necessary resources of personnel and equipment.
I now resume my function as President of the Security Council.
I call on the representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who has asked to speak.
Though my delegation does not find any legal basis on which the Council should accommodate the representative of a State that is not a United Nations Member, we believe that each of us, after all, has benefited from this small inconsistency.
After hearing the statement made by Mr. Djokic, I believe the Council was only assured that tonight’s very often-quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mr. Churkin was absolutely right.
There are no further speakers. The Security Council has thus concluded the present stage of its consideration of the item on its agenda.
The Council will remain seized of the matter.