Written Answers. - Crisis in Former Yugoslavia.

Ray Burke


27 Mr. R. Burke asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the plans, if any, he has to utilise the forthcoming Irish Presidency of the EU in order to produce a lasting and sustainable peace in the former Yugoslavia under the Dayton Agreement. [8275/96]

The crisis in former Yugoslavia will be a major priority for the European Union during Ireland's Presidency in the latter half of this year. The objective of the Union, and of Ireland as Presidency, will be to assist the parties in implementing fully the provisions of the peace agreement.

Implementation of the agreement is first and foremost a matter for the parties themselves. The role of the international community, including the European Union and its Presidency, is to assist and facilitate the parties, where necessary, through the structures which have been established as part of the peace process and the various international organisations which have a contribution to make.

Ireland, as EU Presidency, will be participating in the work of a number of bodies which have an important role in the peace process, including the International Contact Group and the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council which was established at a conference in London in December 1995 to oversee implementation of the agreement. These bodies will monitor compliance with the Dayton Agreement and will be involved in promoting peace and reconciliation at all levels in Bosnia and Hercegovina. For example, a key task of the steering board will be to oversee the distribution of reconstruction assistance in Bosnia and Herzegovina — and effort to which the European Union has been making a particularly significant contribution. Ireland will be contributing actively and constructively to this work on behalf of the European Union as well as continuing to support the activities of the High Representative, Mr. Carl Bildt, the United Nations and its various agencies, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the other international organisations involved in the peace process. The areas encompassed in this work include upholding human rights, promoting arms control, facilitating the return of refugees and displaced persons, rebuilding civil society, tracing missing persons and bringing those responsible for war crimes to justice.
During Ireland's Presidency, free and fair elections are due to be held in Bosnia and Herzegovina. These elections will mark a new phase in the peace process and a successful outcome to them will be central to the future of that wartorn country in its efforts to heal itself. Ireland, as EU Presidency, will be making a significant contribution to the efforts of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe to prepare for and supervise the polls, most notably through the European Union Monitor Mission, of which Ireland will assume leadership in July. As the Deputy will be aware, Ireland will be making available some 80 personnel to the staffing of the monitor mission during the second half of the year.
Following the implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement, the EU will doubtless wish to consider how it can contribute to the future development of economic and political stability in the region. The principal mechanism through which this could be achieved would be through the development of appropriate contractual relations with the countries of the region. Depending therefore on the unfolding of events, this may also be a matter which the Irish Presidency will be addressing before the end of the year.
I believe that the European Union, because of its leading position in Europe, has a key contribution to make to the peace process in former Yugoslavia. Ireland, in its capacity as Presidency of the Union, will continue to work closely with our EU partners to use every means available to achieve this objective.