UN council blasts Bosnia's three-man presidency

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 13, 2000 -- (Reuters) The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and chief negotiator of the 1995 Bosnia peace accords, Richard Holbrooke, blasted Bosnia's three-man presidency on Wednesday for failing to live up to a pledge to strengthen national unity issued amid fanfare two months ago.

"We are not happy with the failure to implement fully the New York Declaration of Nov. 15 by the joint presidency," he said in comments on behalf of Security Council members following closed-door consultations.

"I am here today to express our considerable annoyance at the delays," said Holbrooke, who is council president for January.

He said the three presidents "came to the Security Council in an unprecedented and internationally-heralded event to declare their cooperation, their adherence to the Dayton peace agreements, and to announce the declaration of New York, which they had agreed to."

The Bosnia peace accords have kept the country at peace, strengthened its economy and allowed minorities to take part in the military and police academies in each part of Bosnia, he said.

"But the joint presidency, its central institutions and many attributes of a single, sovereign centrally-governed state ... have not yet been fulfilled," Holbrooke said.

Council appearance a first

The members of the often fractious presidency - Ante Jelavic, a Croat; Zivko Radisic, a Serb; and Alija Izetbegovic, a Muslim - appeared together before the council in November for the first time.

Their declaration included an agreement to establish a hitherto controversial state border service to monitor cross-border traffic and help curb crime and corruption.

The joint presidents also announced the creation of a permanent secretariat; agreed that full funding of the state ministries was a top priority; and said that the return of displaced persons and refugees had not been sufficient - particularly in major urban areas - and must be given the highest priority.

The presidency members condemned "anti-Dayton forces advocating ethnic hatred and division, affirmed that such views have no place in the politics of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and restated their opposition to all threats to the democratic process."

Holbrooke said one member of the presidency, whom he did not identify, subsequently claimed that, since the declaration had not been signed, it did not have any validity.

Klein to consult

The U.S. envoy said he wanted to "remind him and everybody else" that a number of 1995 Bosnia accords, including cease-fire agreements, were also not signed but issued by the international community.

"The Security Council was unanimous this morning in calling on the joint presidency to implement the (New York) agreement," Holbrooke said.

The U.N. special representative for Bosnia, Jacques Klein of the United States, would be asked to "consult directly and urgently with the presidency to move forward."

Holbrooke said the international community "will be relentless in its efforts to implement not only the joint declaration of New York ... but all aspects of the Dayton peace agreements."

Answering reporters' questions, he said those who were thwarting the will of the international community "represent the forces of darkness, ethnic division, racism, hatred and very often they just plain old represent mafia groups."

"They are just criminals, crooks, disguising their crookedness under the guise of ethnic divisions or demagogy or nationalism," he added.

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