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UN extends EU peacekeeping force in Bosnia

world Updated: Nov 19, 2009 08:45 IST

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The UN Security Council voted unanimously on Wednesday to extend authorization for the European Union's peacekeeping force in Bosnia for another year and warned the deeply divided Balkan nation that continued international support depends on its progress toward European integration.

Fourteen years after a peace agreement ended a bitter 3 1/2-year war, Bosnia remains ethnically divided and dysfunctional as a state. The peace accord carved the once-multiethnic nation into ethnic mini-states, a Serb republic and a Muslim-Croat federation, with a multiethnic government whose leaders clash regularly over what the country should look like. Bosnian Serbs are currently seeking more autonomy for their mini-state while Bosnian Muslims and Croats want to abolish the country's division so it can progress toward EU membership.

The resolution adopted by the council emphasizes the importance of Bosnia's "progress towards Euro-Atlantic integration" on the basis of the 1995 peace agreement signed in Dayton, Ohio and the country's "transition to a functional, reform-oriented, modern and democratic European country."

The Security Council reiterated that "the primary responsibility for the further successful implementation of the peace agreement lies with the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina themselves." It stressed that "the continued willingness of the international community and major donors to assume the political, military and economic burden of implementation and reconstruction efforts will be determined by the compliance and active participation by all the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina in implementing the peace agreement and rebuilding a civil society."

The council also stressed the importance of Bosnia's cooperation with the UN war crimes tribunal for former Yugoslavia which is still seeking Bosnian Serb military chief, Gen. Ratko Mladic, accused of genocide and crimes against humanity for atrocities including the 1995 Srebrenica massacre and the siege of Sarajevo. It also stressed the importance of Bosnia "strengthening joint institutions which foster the building of a fully functioning self-sustaining state, able to integrate itself into the European structures, and in facilitating returns of refugees and displaced persons."

The resolution welcomed the EU's intention to maintain its 2,100-strong military operation and authorized the force, known as EUFOR, for a further 12 months starting Wednesday. It also welcomes NATO's decision to continue to maintain a headquarters in Bosnia to assist in implementing the Dayton accord and authorizes both EUFOR and NATO "to take all necessary measures to defend themselves from attack or threat of attack."