Peace-keeping in Bosnia 'a success' says UN chief

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The Independent Online
UNITED Nations' areas swarming with armed men, UN troops the target of attacks in Sarajevo, an Italian relief plane apparently shot down by a ground-to-air missile - and there was the UN's Marrack Goulding in the glitzy conference room of the Intercontinental Hotel yesterday talking about 'positive steps', 'positive responses', 'assurances' and 'success'. Surely the UN lives in a wondrous world.

Mr Goulding, who holds the title of Under-Secretary General for Peace-keeping Operations, even announced that the UN Protection Force in what was Yugoslavia 'has achieved an enormous amount' in the last four months. Only in his later remarks did Mr Goulding refer to the 'bad security' - the paramilitary forces intimidating civilians in UN 'protected areas', the difficulties in returning refugees to their homes.

Thousands more UN troops are due to arrive to escort relief convoys through the winter months, perhaps under guerrilla attack. What one wanted to know was whether Mr Goulding was not just a little bit dispirited. 'I sometimes feel depressed,' he replied. 'I don't feel depressed as a result of this visit . . . but what are the alternatives? . . . this is proving to be very difficult.'

Indeed it is. Thus it was that Mr Goulding began to outline what appears to be the UN's real policy in the Balkans. 'We can only persevere,' he said. 'The only alternative is to intervene militarily . . . or leave the parties to fight it out. Therefore we have to slog on, to go on working bit

by bit.'

Listening to the assurances Mr Goulding had been given from Messrs Milosevic, Karadic, Tudjman and Izetbegovic, it was impossible not to be reminded of the Middle East back in 1978, when the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon took up position. With equally varied militias prowling around and equally forthcoming assurances of goodwill, this 'interim' force is still in Lebanon today. So would Mr Goulding like to promise us that UN force will not still be in the Balkans in 14 years? 'I believe not]' he boldly promised us. We shall see.