LETTER : Nato troops co-operate in Bosnia

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The Independent Online
Sir: Christopher Bellamy's article on Nato in Bosnia (16 April) confuses the military and the civilian components of the peace process. There is bound to be a debate about the prospects for security in Bosnia when the Nato troops' mandate runs out at the end of the year. The outlook will inevitably depend to a great extent on whether a stable political environment has been created following the elections due to be held in late summer or early autumn.

The civilian side of implementing the Dayton peace agreement, for which Carl Bildt is responsible, is indeed more disparate than the military side, as Dr Bellamy observes. It involves subjects which range from co- ordinating economic reconstruction and human rights activities to reinforcing the independent media and promoting political co-operation between different groups. The goals and the deadlines are necessarily less precise and quantifiable than those for military implementation. Re-creating civil society out of the bitter aftermath of war is bound to be a more complex and long- term task than disengaging the armies - difficult as that is. It is therefore misleading to suggest that the civilian and the military arms of the operation are somehow in conflict or in competition. We have an outstandingly good partnership with I-For on the ground. Our tasks are different and complementary and will continue to be so - whatever happens at the turn of the year.

Michael Maclay

Office of the High Representative

Sarajevo

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