NEW YORK, 18 DECEMBER 1997
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR ANTÓNIO MONTEIRO, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF PORTUGAL, TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL 3842nd MEETING (the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Portugal and Costa Rica are both part of the Ibero-American family, and our two countries have been taking advantage of our presence in the Security Council to step up our cooperation. For this reason, it is with great pleasure that I see Mr. Fernando Naranjo Villalobos presiding over this meeting of the Security Council.
Considerable progress has been made in implementing peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The holding of municipal elections in September and the maintenance of an environment of security culminated a year of combined efforts by the international community to help the Bosnian people establish a long-lasting peace.
But, while there has been progress, much still remains to be done.
The United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) and the International Police Task Force (IPTF) play a crucial role in the implementation of the Peace Agreement in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and it is clear that their tasks have been carried out effectively over the course of this last year.
It is a difficult mission and a complex one, which also requires essential input from other international actors, in particular the Stabilization Force (SFOR) led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which provides the security environment necessary for the implementation of the Peace Agreement.
In the final analysis, however, the international community's efforts in Bosnia will not amount to very much if the Bosnian parties themselves are not fully committed to peace and to cooperating fully with the United Nations, SFOR, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and other international organizations, as well as with each other.
This is the only way to establish a self-sustaining peace in Bosnia. We urge the parties to make increased efforts to address inadequate progress, including in the following areas: the functioning of common institutions, the protection of human rights, the return of refugees, economic management and cooperation with the International Tribunal. Furthermore, the implementation of the results of the municipal elections must be completed, and serious problems of local administration must be addressed.
We welcome the conclusions of the Bonn Peace Implementation Conference, which built on the work of previous Peace Implementation Council meetings held in London and Sintra, in setting out very clearly what still needs to be done by the Bosnian parties. Taken with the Peace Agreement, they represent the blueprint for peace in Bosnia. And, as the Peace Implementation Council confirmed in Bonn, there is no alternative to the Peace Agreement. Therefore, the mandate of UNMIBH, and thus of the IPTF, should be extended so that it can continue its important work in the areas of police reform, as well as the other tasks entrusted to it and to the civilian unit of UNMIBH.
Without an adequate security arrangement, however, the work of the United Nations and others in the implementation of the civilian aspects of the Peace Agreement will be compromised. This security arrangement is currently provided by SFOR. But an adequate security arrangement must be established after the end of SFOR's mandate in order to ensure the continuity of the international community's efforts in Bosnia.
Portugal has over 60 personnel serving with the IPTF and over 300 serving with SFOR. We believe very strongly in the need for adequate security.
The United Nations, in supporting the implementation of the civilian aspects of the Peace Agreement, also cooperates with the OSCE and with the High Representative. Their work, and that of others, is crucial to the process of consolidating peace in Bosnia. We pay tribute to the High Representative, Mr. Carlos Westendorp, as well as to United Nations and other international personnel who are working hard to help bring lasting peace to Bosnia, often in dangerous, if not fatal, circumstances. Portugal regrets the loss of life in the helicopter crash of 17 September 1997.
The efforts of the international community in Bosnia and Herzegovina have been significant, and we must not forget that, not too long ago, there was open fighting in Bosnia, and civilian populations were subjected to daily bombardments.
The time for the withdrawal of the international community has not yet come. For now, the international community must remain in Bosnia and Herzegovina to help consolidate peace. This will permit the intensification of the process of economic reconstruction and development. It is, above all, essential to ensure the true reconciliation of the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the rule of law will replace the rule of war.