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Towards a Self-Sustaing Peace
On June 23, the UN Security Council held its unique open debate on the situation in the Balkans. It was briefed by myself as well as the EU High Representative Javier Solana. Here my remarks as prepared for delivery.

Remarks to the UN Security Council by Mr Carl Bildt, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Balkans, June 23, 2000.

Mr. President,

Let me start by expressing my appreciation of this possibility of coming back to you on the important issue of the search for a self-sustaining stability in the Balkans.

And let me express also my appreciation that I will have the opportunity of doing this when the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign and Security Affairs, Mr Javier Solana, will also be able to address the Council on these same issues.

In very many ways, the efforts of the United Nations and the European Union in this region are complementary, and this discussion here today also demonstrates this.

The search for self-sustaining stability in this part of Europe is certainly not new. When I had the opportunity of addressing you in late February, I noted the priority that has been given to this by the international community ever since the start of the dissolution of the old Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the early 1990’s.

And I also noted, that we are far from our goal.

Looking only at the United Nations, we now have no less than three peacekeeping operations in the area. There have previously been four other large UN missions. The wider international community has app a quarter of a million young men and women in uniform either serving in peace operations, just having come out of such, or actively preparing to go into them.

And we know that if these troops were to be withdrawn today, there will in all probability be war tomorrow.

This is the reality of the situation in the region today.

A self-sustaining stability can only be achieved when there has been established a firm political framework for the region as a whole. This will only be the case when the different national and other communities in the area have accepted such a political framework and when it has also been fully recognized by the international community, at the end of the day under the auspices of this Council.

Historical experience shows, that when such a firm framework is in place, the peoples and nations of the region can live peaceful together in the same way as in other parts of Europe or the world.

But historical experience equally shows, that whenever the political framework of the region or part of it is seen as unclear, fragile or open, there tends to develop a cycle of fears on the one side and expectations on the other, often driven by extremists, and nearly always resulting in conflict, war and massive violations of human rights.

This was the case during the slow collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Again, it was the case during the inter-ethnic and national carnage in the area during the Second World War.

And once again, this has been the case over and over again since the early part of the 1990’s.

Today, most of our attention is focused on Bosnia, were we are making slow but steady progress with the implementation of the Dayton peace agreement from 1995, and Kosovo, where the United Nations in the absence of a proper peace agreement is engaged in one of its most demanding and difficult missions ever.

But the region is larger than this.

And it can be argued, that Bosnia and Kosovo are just the most acute fracture zones, where the different national agendas of the region most clearly meet.

Bosnia has always been a bone of contention between Serb and Croat interests, with the Bosnian Muslims caught in between, while Kosovo is at the core of the wider fracture zone between wider Slav and Albanian agendas in the region.

I am stressing this in order to underline that we will never succeed in either Kosovo or Bosnia if we fail in the wider region south of Slovenia and north of Greece.

Stability in Kosovo and Bosnia is obviously vital for the region. But such stability is hardly achievable in the long run if there is not a stable structure for the region as a whole. And – I would add – without a firm place for the region in the wider process and the wider structures of European integration.

Only thus will a self-sustaining stability be possible.

In Kosovo, you are aware of the efforts underway to move towards the setting up of structures of self-government and substantial autonomy. I consider this to be of critical importance also for wider stability in the region.

But these efforts are undertaken – let’s be clear on this - in a climate that is far from satisfactory in a number of important respects. There is a climate of terror against minorities in Kosovo, primarily the Serb one, which is repulsive.

There is still far more of the rule of the thugs than the rule of the law. And although the local Kosovo Albanian leadership has condemned acts of violence, there is still a climate of tolerance of the terror that we must never accept.

But this can never be an argument for giving up or postponing our efforts to develop the structures of self-government and autonomy. On the contrary. In the long run – and it might indeed be long – there is no other way.

Those that will be the elected representatives of Kosovo will soon learn, that neither Europe nor the rest of the international community will accept a political system that does not clearly address issues of human rights and the protection of minorities.

In Bosnia, where we make slow but steady progress, the international efforts are now focused on the three priorities of the High Representative of accelerated minority returns, of functioning common institutions and of the necessary economic reforms.

And let me just stress the importance of the latter.

Far too long far too little has been done in Bosnia in these respects, and we are now faced with an aid-dependent economy in a situation when aid is starting to decline, with the result that a severe economic and social crisis seems almost unavoidable.

This will threaten the future of Bosnia.

We will press on with minority returns, but in the absence of a functioning economy, Bosnia might be a country where the old return to end their days where they were born, but the young leave because they don’t see prospects for their future.

This is not in our hands. This is the responsibility of the elected leaders of the country.

But if we broaden our horizon from Kosovo and Bosnia, I believe that the most pressing issue in the region is the question of the future of the present Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

We cannot have self-sustaining stability in the region if we do not have self-sustaining stability in its different parts. And in this respect, the situation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia gives cause for concern.

In my opinion, the present structures of this present Yugoslavia are unsustainable.

The reason for this view of mine is primarily the acute constitutional crisis between the Republic of Montenegro and the federal authorities in Belgrade. And the main reason for this is without doubt the fact that the federal institutions of Yugoslavia have been grossly misused in order also to exclude the representatives of the elected authorities of Montenegro.

They are today on a slow but steady course towards a collision. This might not be imminent, and it might not be unavoidable, but it is very clearly there on the trends we see today. I believe it is of key importance that we give support to the authorities in Montenegro in their efforts to avoid a collision and instead pave the way for a compromise and a new deal.

And to this acute constitutional crisis there is of course also the unresolved issue of the future status of Kosovo. Although on paper still an integral part of the Republic of Serbia, the reality is of course different, and I fail to see any circumstances under which a peace agreement will not have to include a clear constitutional separation between the two.

Thus, we have a situation where the present structures of the present Yugoslavia are unsustainable. And if we do not recognize this, and try to pave the way for sustainable solutions, there is of course an obvious risk that we will face further conflict and disintegration with potentially grave consequences for the region as a whole.

When I go around the region, I note that most of its leaders see the continued territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia as important both for the wider regional stability and for the internal stability of the different countries.

They are alarmed by the present situation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. But they do not favour a further disintegration of the region.

We are undoubtedly handicapped in our search for peace by the fact that key persons in key public positions in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia are refusing to respect the indictments that have been issued by the International Tribunal.

This being the case, we cannot deal with them, and thus not with the leadership of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

This is a situation that is dangerous primarily for the Federal Republic itself, but also for the wider region.

What we demand of them is nothing unusual. Let me remind of the fact, that in the Dayton peace agreement, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia subscribed to the provision that persons indicted by the Tribunal, and not cooperating with it, cannot hold public office.

What we are demanding of them today is thus no more than what they themselves have previously agreed to demand of others as part of the search for peace in the region.

The sooner the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia – its entire political system - sees the logic of this, the sooner can we all work together to create self-sustaining structures also within its borders as part of our search for self-sustaining stability in the region as a whole.

The sooner this can happen the better. We need to move forward towards political settlements of the outstanding issues.

And I believe this cannot wait for too long. We know from bitter experience, that as long as there is a feeling that arrangements are not final and that core issues are open, tensions are likely to persist, and there will be the ever-present risk that the forces of nationalism, of revanchism and revolt would surface again with devastating consequences.

This is the situation we are in today.

There are certainly positive as well as negative trends in the region. We are trying to strengthen the former – political changes in Croatia certainly belongs in this category - and dampen the latter – the rise of organised crime in large parts of the region deserves a special mention.

But as long as core issues of the core conflicts are open, the dangers of the forces of disintegration driving the region into new conflicts will always be there.

There are numerous open political issues apart from those connected with the un-sustainability of the present Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The issue of the Prevlaka peninsula is well known to you. The succession negotiations have been ongoing for nearly ten years without any result. There are issues connected with the establishment of full normal relations between all states in the region that have not yet been solved.

At some point in time I see them all coming together in a comprehensive regional settlement of the outstanding political issues. Such a settlement will not only pave the way for the full and speedy reintegration of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia into the region, but also, and even more important, for the integration of the region into the process of integration with the rest of Europe and the international community.

Such a comprehensive political settlement will not be possible if we do not have a consensus in the international community – reflected in this Council – on what we are trying to assist the region in achieving. And it will not be possible if there is not the recognition that a true deal for a true peace must meet the minimum demands of everyone, but will thus meet the maximum demands of anyone.

The dialogue with and within this Council is thus an essential part in creating that consensus that will make us ready to move towards a comprehensive political settlement when the conditions for it are in place.

This is a year a year of important elections in the region.

The Croatian parliamentary and presidential elections are behind us. So are the Bosnian local elections and the local elections in part of Montenegro.

Ahead of us are further important elections.

We are moving towards local elections in Kosovo. But there will also be local – and fiercely contested - elections in adjoining Albania as well as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

There will, later on, be parliamentary elections in Bosnia.

And there will have to be local elections in Serbia as well as federal elections in Yugoslavia. Although it is difficult to see that these will be free and fair, they could represent an opportunity for the people of Serbia and Yugoslavia to make its voice heard. The choice is between isolation and integration.

There are possibilities for positive change – but also for disruptive conflicts – in several of these elections.

I believe the message that the international community sends will be important for all of them.

Here, the position of the European Union is of particular importance. I firmly believe that it is by paving the way for integration into Europe that we must seek the long-term solution to the issues of the region.

The forces of disintegration in the region will finally be overcome only the day there are the full conditions for it be subject to the forces of integration in Europe as a whole.

Then, we can achieve not only self-sustaining stability, but also the conditions for self-sustaining economic growth in the region, without which we will not overcome the horrible legacy of the many years of war, destruction, sanctions and isolation.

With the exception of the Middle East, there has been no other region of the world throughout the history of the United Nations where so many peace operations have been deemed necessary as in the region south of Slovenia and north of Greece.

We have thus not only the interest in creating the conditions for the success of the present missions in Kosovo and Bosnia.

We have a strong interest in assisting in moving from a region where the peace is kept by others to a region in which the peace is kept by itself.

But we must all recognize that we have a long way to go.

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