Main page
 On Bildt
 New Economy
 Foreign &
 security policy
 Moderate Party


Is the Peace a Success?
On May 23, the Peace Implementation Conference meet in Brussels to evaluate the peace process in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I took part as representative of the United Nations, supporting my successor as High Representative in Sarajevo. Here my speech at the PIC meeting.

Remarks by Mr Carl Bildt, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to the Balkans, Peace Implementation Conference, Brussels, May 23, 2000

Let me start by expressing the support of the United Nations and the Secretary-General for the difficult but critically important work of the High Representative Mr Wolfgang Petritsch and all of his staff.

His is the task to guide, monitor and coordinate all the aspects of international efforts to move Bosnia and Herzegovina not only towards a lasting peace, but also towards that European future that virtually all its citizens want.

It is our support to him that is the key to the possibilities for progress not in the corridors of Brussels but in the mountains and plains and villages and homes of Bosnia.

It is by staying together as an international community that we have the best opportunity to help the cause of peace in Bosnia and the Balkans.

Let me in this context regret the absence of Russia from this meeting today. It risks sending a message of an international community divided.

And an international community divided is an international community less able to bring about those critical changes in other parts of the region without which, over time, the future of Bosnia will also be at risk.

It is in this spirit that all the members of the family of the United Nations are continuing their work for Bosnia.

Today, Bosnia is at peace. But we must not forget all those young men and women who risked their lives – and in too many cases gave their lives – to keep the airports open, to help those in misery, to relieve the misery and pave the way for peace under the extremely difficult circumstances of war.

All of them would have wanted to do much more. Their will to help went far beyond the resources and the mandates they were given by the international community of the day.

But many of them continue, to this day, to work for peace in Bosnia and in the other parts of this region. In the UN Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the UNHCR, the Office of the High Representative, the OSCE or elsewhere. Their devotion deserves our admiration.

After nearly five years and five billion dollars in reconstruction aid since the end of the bitter and brutal war, there has been progress in Bosnia. Today, its peoples are living free from the fear of war and destruction. This is an important achievement in itself.

But our task today is not to celebrate what has been done but to highlight what remains to be done.

The Dayton/Paris peace agreement was the most ambitious peace agreement in modern history. It was not just about ending a war, but also about building a state and trying to forge a nation.

This will take time. Starting a war is easy – building a peace is far more difficult.

There is an increasing concern over the pace of progress towards real peace in Bosnia being too slow. We share this concern. More needs to be done.

And this means that more needs to be done by the different leaders of Bosnia itself. It is their country – not ours.

Apart from representing the UN here today, I have a past history with Bosnia. I experienced the last tragedies of the war, the dramas of bringing it to an end, and the first very difficult steps on the long path of peace.

From this particular vantage point, it gives me particular satisfaction to note that the discussion has moved away from the exit strategies of the international community from Bosnia towards, instead, the entry strategies of Bosnia into the international community in general and Europe in particular.

This is a most significant change. But it is also a change that will be demanding for Bosnia itself.

Europe is open to those who wish to be part of it. But there are no free lunches in European integration. Each nation has to take the necessary steps by itself.

So far, there has been a tendency in Bosnia to blame the lack of progress on the international community. This will have to change.

And there will also have to be a change in the tendency in the Bosnian political culture to try to resolve internal political issues by going abroad and asking for international help.

It is not in Brussels or Washington or New York or Moscow that the solutions to the political issues of Bosnia should be sought. These solutions only exist in dialogue within and between Sarajevo, Banja Luka and Mostar, and in the necessary compromises that are the signs of a maturing democracy.

The High Representative has given his priorities for the coming period.

Economic reform. Working common institutions. Return of refugees.

These are critical. And they are closely interrelated.

Without economic reforms, there will be no jobs to go back to. Without working common institutions, there will be no progress towards Europe. And without jobs and integration within Bosnia and within Europe there will be no refugee return.

At the end of the day, it is not the diktats of diplomats that will move these issues forward. Ours is not the task to dictate the details. This is up to a maturing democratic climate in the country to achieve. But ours is the task to point at the necessary priorities if the problems of the past are to be overcome and the possibilities opened up.

This is – I understand – the core of the concept of ownership of the High Representative.

I return fairly often to Sarajevo and Banja Luka. To meet friends. To watch a country I have learnt to love.

And I am increasingly concerned with what I hear not the least from the young people of Bosnia.

They want to remain Bosnian Serbs, Bosnian Moslems or Bosnian Croats. Those are their identities, and that is important.

But increasingly they also want to be Europeans. That’s their future, and that’s even more important. But they increasingly doubt whether their leaders will be able to take them there.

Increasingly, they are the ones starting to discuss exit strategies from Bosnia. They no longer fear the horror of war. They fear the failure of peace.

This is the real danger ahead for Bosnia. That our soldiers will stay – but that its talent will go.

To help the leaders of Bosnia give new faith in the future to the young generations of Bosnia – that’s our critical task here today.

Bildt Blog Comments

In addition to this webpage, and the email letters ongoing since 1994, I have now started a blog as well.

You find it at

At you will continue to find articles, speeches and different documents.

At the blog there will be the shorter and perhaps somewhat faster comments.

And the e-letter continues to give at the least an attempt at analys.

[email protected]