Bosnia Peace Agreement Signed in Paris, Go-Day Nears
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 18, 1995 Bosnia is turning from the horror of war to the promise of peace, President Clinton said at the Paris signing of the peace agreement Dec. 14 .
Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic, Croatian President Franjo Tudjman and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic signed the document ending the war that caused 200,000 deaths and displaced millions from their homes. The signing triggers the start of NATO's Operation Joint Endeavor and deployment of a 60,000strong multinational force to implement the peace agreement.
Clinton commended the Balkan leaders for answering their peoples' call for peace. "In this chorus for peace today," Clinton said, "we also hear the hallowed voices of the victims the children whose playgrounds were shelled in the killing fields, the young girls brutalized by rape, the men shot down in mass graves, those who starved in the camps, those who died in battle, the millions taken from their homes and torn from their families. Even from beyond the grave there are victims singing the song of peace today."
Clinton thanked the humanitarian relief workers and the United Nations forces "whose labor and wisdom helped keep hope alive during the long, dark years of war." He also thanked French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac for his vigor and determination, British Prime Minister John Major for developing the rapid reaction force and cooperating in NATO, and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl for accepting refugees and sending German troops to joint NATO's peace implementation force.
Addressing the Balkan leaders, Clinton said the United States and more than 25 other nations will now send armed forces to help the Bosnian people "emerge from a nightmare of fear into a new day of security."
Troops from Great Britain, France, Germany, Greece, Turkey, Poland, Lithuania, United States and Russia "former enemies, now friends, will answer the same call and share the same responsibilities to achieve the same goal, a lasting peace in Bosnia where enemies can become friends," he said.
The international community will work to "change the face of Bosnia: to meet human needs; to repair and rebuild; to reunite children with their families and refugees with their homes; to oversee democratic elections, advance human rights and call to account those accused of war crimes," he said.
These efforts will not, however, guarantee the future of Bosnia, according to Clinton. The Bosnian people the Muslims, Croats and Serbs must find a way "to lay down the hatreds, to give up revenge, to go forward together. That is the road ... to the future," Clinton said.
"You have seen what war has wrought," he said. "You know what peace can bring. Seize this chance and make it work. You can do nothing to erase the past, but you can do everything to build the future."
Now that the peace agreement is signed, the Bosnian Muslims, the Federation forces and the Bosnian Serbs have certain obligations, a DoD official said. They are to begin withdrawing their forces behind zones of separation, removing mines and marking boundaries. "On Day 3, air defense radars must be shut down," the official said. "On the 30th day, all foreign troops must be out of BosniaHerzegovina."
"There are a series of deadlines imposed in the agreement that we expect these parties to meet," he said, "and they will all contribute to reducing some of the risk in Bosnia as NATO forces move in."
Although the signing triggers the start of NATO's operation, DoD officials said there are still procedural requirements before U.S. and NATO troops will start moving. On Dec. 15, 1995, the United Nations Security Council is expected to pass a resolution setting up the multinational force; NATO's North Atlantic Council will then approve the deployment; and Clinton then issues the order for the U.S. to participate. Then it's "GoDay," a DoD spokesman said.
Within the first 96 hours, about 4,000 NATO troops are to move in. The official transfer of authority from the United Nations to NATO's implementation force occurs 96 hours after GoDay.
Severe weather has hampered the deployment of enabling troops, but the DoD spokesman said the enabling force is up to speed in Bosnia, while it's somewhat behind in Croatia. "We're beginning to move people in by buses, and we expect a very rapid rampup there," a Pentagon spokesman said. "The commanders do not believe we will slow down the deployment of the main force in any way."