INDEPENDENT NEWS

Balkans: Fact Sheet on Building Peace In Bosnia

Published: Sun 1 Aug 1999 02:25 PM
Balkans: Fact Sheet on Building a Durable Peace in Bosnia
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina)
For Immediate Release July 30, 1999
FACT SHEET
Building a Durable Peace in Bosnia: Implementation of the Dayton Accords
President Clinton's trip to Sarajevo today for the Southeast Europe Stability Pact Summit comes 3 years after the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords that ended the war in Bosnia. Implementation of the Dayton Accords has largely proven successful, as the peace has held, ethnic reconciliation has begun, moderate political leaders have risen to power after free and fair elections, and civil society is taking root.
Particularly this year, as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) descended into ethnic warfare in Kosovo, Bosnia has remained a point of contrast in offering an alternative of multiethnic life and economic recovery. Nevertheless, more works needs to be accomplished to fully implement the Accords and achieve a durable, democratic peace in Bosnia.
Multi-ethnic Democracy in Bosnia
Functioning institutions of interethnic government and cooperation have been erected, including the Joint Presidency, the Council of Ministers, the Parliamentary Assembly, the Standing Committee on Military Matters, and the Central Bank. The Sarajevo Summit, hosted by the Presidency and Council of Ministers, testifies to the growing effectiveness of these new institutions. Other signs of progress include the following:
- The three Presidents have committed to creating a multi-ethnic State Border Service.
- The SCMM now has a permanent Secretariat linking the entity armed forces at the national level.
- Drafting is now underway on a Permanent Election Law, which could be in place by the end of 1999.
- The continued presence of Prime Minister Dodik and his government in the Republika Srpska provides an alternative political vision for Serbs.
- Multi-ethnic police academies are operating in both the Republika Srpska and the Bosnian Federation.
- Bosnia is moving toward accession to the Council of Europe.
Economic Growth and Development in Bosnia
After three and a half years of assistance, Bosnia has made progress towards economic reconstruction and economic recovery. Annual economic growth has averaged about 40 percent in real terms since 1995, and GDP reached $4.1 billion in 1998, equivalent to roughly 40 percent of its pre-war level. Other indicators of economic growth in Bosnia include the following:
- Bosnia's convertible mark emerged in 1999 as the strongest currency in former Yugoslavia.
- The Customs Law that came into effect on January 1 has made Bosnia a single economic space.
- Foreign investment in Bosnia has grown, including a $26 million commitment recently unveiled by a large American multinational corporation.
Although considerable progress has been achieved, serious economic reforms are still required to promote and sustain growth in Bosnia.
Refugees Returning to Bosnia
Refugees displaced by the Bosnia conflict five years ago are returning their homes in increasing numbers. Showing how times have changed, Bosnia received and cared for over 70,000 refugees from the FRY during the Kosovo crisis.
- Despite the recent conflict in Kosovo, the rate of refugee returns in Bosnia is exceeding that of the past two years. Large numbers of spontaneous returns are occurring in all parts of Bosnia.
- There were nearly 8,000 minority returns in the first half of 1999 - almost double the number in the same period last year - and the rate is increasing. Of these, 2,000 were Croats and Serbs returning to Sarajevo.
- After violence last spring, Drvar is now a minority return success story. 5,000 Serbs have returned due to concerted efforts by international and local authorities.
Restoring Stability and Security to Bosnia
The Dayton Accords are not yet self-implementing, and the NATO-led Stabilization Force (SFOR) is still needed to keep the peace. But the return of normalcy to Bosnia has permitted significant reductions. Originally deployed at a strength of 60,000, including 20,000 Americans, the force is now down to 31,000, including 6,200 Americans. Implementation of the Dayton Accords has thus allowed U.S. participation to decrease by more than 60 percent. With continued progress, it is anticipated that NATO will be able this fall to direct further substantial reductions in troop strength.
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