Security, Repatriation, Elections and Reconstruction: DPA Implementation Update


As conditions now stand, our view is that IFOR or some version thereof must remain in place in Bosnia for a longer period than that specified in the Dayton Accord. Consideration of the following factors lead to that conclusion:

• There is insufficient evidence to show that implementation of the Accord to date has been accompanied by a measurable rise in confidence among the parties that a condition of peace, personal security and well-being will exist at the end of the mandate period. In fact all senior officials, military and civilian (less the Serbs) firmly state that IFOR in some shape or form must remain for a longer period.

• Visible successes and progress have been made in those areas in which IFOR is involved either directly or indirectly. In areas outside the purview of IFOR, progress is not as evident, including those complementary security-related items, such as confidence and security building measures, which are the responsibility of the OSCE

• The Bosnian Army will not be ready to defend itself. What is required first is the conclusion of the Vienna talks to determine the relative size of forces within the region and sub-region (to be completed by 10 June), the implementation of the results of these deliberations, time for which has yet to be determined, and last but not least, the equipping and training of the Bosnian army which must follow and for which insufficient funds have so far been pledged. In default of Western support the Bosnians might feel obliged to turn elsewhere, e g to Iran, which could not be relied on to play a constructive role.

There is little doubt that investor confidence is not as strong now as it was in December 1995; continued failure to address the security issue post IFOR can only degrade international willingness to risk investing in Bosnia, further limiting the prospects for economic development. To offset this somewhat, contingency planning to maintain a stable security environment must begin immediately with a firm decision forthcoming in June or July 1996. Otherwise, the present negative expectations will develop into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Of daily concern to both the local people and to vulnerable members of the international community is the interference to road traffic through Herzeg-Bosna by Croatian "customs" officials demanding duty on goods which have already been imported into or will be exported from federal territory. This appears to be a local Croatian initiative which represents nonetheless an impediment to freedom of movement and makes a mockery of the integrity of the Federation. The Federal authorities should crack down on it but may be unwilling to challenge the Herzeg-Bosnans. IFOR have no mandate to remove barriers within the Federation. The issue could be reduced in its effect if Sarajevo airport could be reopened and if the border with Serbia proper were reopened. IFOR has a technical committee working hard on preparing the airport and it is said that it may be open to commercial flights by the end of April, though many administrative questions remain. The reopening of the border with Serbia is likely to form part of a much wider settlement.


The repatriation/reintegration aspects of the Dayton Agreement have made little progress. There are spontaneous and sporadic returns throughout the Federation and a few to Republika Srpska (mainly households of mixed marriages to the Banja Luka area). The return of displaced persons would be possible throughout Central Bosnia if there was the political will but this is at present lacking. The nationalist parties are not making an effort to make the Federation work. The Bosniac Muslim side would probably respond favourably to any forward movement on the Croat side but the Herzeg-Bosna Croats seem bent on obstructing the Federation at every turn. We believe that pressure must be brought to bear on the Croats through the agency of President Tudjman, who should be open to persuasion from the European Union in view of his desire for Croatia to be part of Europe. UNHCR has produced a sound plan for the return of refugees from abroad but it cannot be implemented until the problem of the displaced persons in country has been tackled. The return is further complicated by the fact that the majority cannot go back to their original homes in what is now Republika Srpska and the Federation does not have the resources to accommodate and care for them. Moreover the likelihood is that European countries will start sending refugees back in June which is the limit set by the Army for demobilising the last conscripts. Thus this will be a period of maximum strain on Federation resources and of potential social unrest. It can be alleviated by a crash housing programme, providing essential accommodation and jobs, and a longer phased return of refugees.


The first elections, for Mostar city and municipal administrations, are supposed to be held by 31 May before the departure of the European Union Administration, which was due to be wound up on 23 July. However we are reliably informed that there is no chance of establishing the conditions for holding elections by then.( The fact that voting must be on the basis of the 1991 census and in general in the municipality where voters were then resident would clearly give absurd results in the present circumstances of a displaced population.) Moreover the term of the EU Administration has been extended by a further 6 months. It is probable therefore that these elections will be timed to coincide with the wider elections in Bosnia and Hercegovina, allowing more scope for overcoming the procedural difficulties. OSCE which is responsible for the supervision and conduct of the elections are making progress on the hideously complicated technical aspects, involving for example the registration of voters among scattered groups of refugees and displaced persons as well as of political parties and independent candidates. The forecast is that these administrative and procedural preparations are manageable within the designated time for holding the elections of 14 June to 14 September. Less certain is whether the conditions of democratisation, for example a politically neutral environment, freedom of expression and- critically- the media as well as freedom of movement, will have been created. The Head of the OSCE Mission has said repeatedly that he will not go ahead with the elections if all these conditions are not met. Even if they do go ahead there is a widespread belief that they will merely confirm existing divisions in the country on ethnic lines, unless more liberal opposition parties can organise themselves effectively, particularly in the Republika Srpska.


The forthcoming conference on reconstruction to be held in Brussels on 12 April is crucial to the future well-being of the Federation. Donors will be expected to confirm their pledges for funding the urgent work to repair the shattered economy. In particular the conference will be looking to the US representative to confirm a pledge of $200 million, on which Congress has not yet given a firm commitment. Approval of funds has been held up in the House of Representatives over concerns that Iranian Mujahidin remain in Bosnia, but according to intelligence sources here there is no firm evidence to show whether any Mujahidin are here or have gone. In the meantime the World Bank has issued the first tender for repairing roads and railways. Work on these projects will provide employment for some of the soldiers being demobilised at the rate of 1000 a day for whom there are at present few jobs and who constitute therefore a factor for political instability. There is however a sharp division between the major donors about where reconstruction aid should go. Broadly speaking Europe and Japan are in favour of it going to both the Federation and the Serbian Republic as part of the unification process; whereas the US and the World Bank are against funds going to the Serbs. No matter how abhorrent the present unofficial Serbian leadership in Pale may be, in our view it is more important to bolster the reintegration process by investing in, say, infrastructural cross-border projects than to worry about giving the Serbs satisfaction.

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