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Message to the Congress Reporting on Efforts To Achieve a Sustainable Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina

July 28, 1998

To the Congress of the United States:

Pursuant to section 7 of Public Law 105- 174, I am providing this report to inform the Congress of ongoing efforts to meet the goals set forth therein.

With my certification to the Congress of March 3, 1998, I outlined ten conditions—or benchmarks—under which Dayton implementation can continue without the support of a major NATO-led military force. Section 7 of Public Law 105-174 urges that we seek concurrence among NATO allies on: (1) the benchmarks set forth with the March 3 certification; (2) estimated target dates for achieving those benchmarks; and (3) a process for NATO to review progress toward achieving those benchmarks. NATO has agreed to move ahead in all these areas.

First, NATO agreed to benchmarks parallel to ours on May 28 as part of its approval of the Stabilization Force (SFOR) military plan (OPLAN 10407). Furthermore, the OPLAN requires SFOR to develop detailed criteria for each of these benchmarks, to be approved by the North Atlantic Council, which will provide a more specific basis to evaluate progress. SFOR will develop the benchmark criteria in coordination with appropriate international civilian agencies.

Second, with regard to timelines, the United States proposed that NATO military authorities provide an estimate of the time likely to be required for implementation of the military and civilian aspects of the Dayton Agreement based on the benchmark criteria. Allies agreed to this approach on June 10. As SACEUR General Wes Clark testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee June 4, the development and approval of the criteria and estimated target dates should take 2 to 3 months.

Third, with regard to a review process, NATO will continue the 6-month review process that began with the deployment of the Implementation Force (IFOR) in December 1995, incorporating the benchmarks and detailed criteria. The reviews will include an assessment of the security situation, an assessment of compliance by the parties with the Dayton Agreement, an assessment of progress against the benchmark criteria being developed by SFOR, recommendations on any changes in the level of support to civilian agencies, and recommendations on any other changes to the mission and tasks of the force.

While not required under Public Law 105- 174, we have sought to further utilize this framework of benchmarks and criteria for Dayton implementation among civilian implementation agencies. The Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) adopted the same framework in its Luxembourg declaration of June 9, 1998. The declaration, which serves as the civilian implementation agenda for the next 6 months, now includes language that corresponds to the benchmarks in the March 3 certification to the Congress and in the SFOR OPLAN. In addition, the PIC Steering Board called on the High Representative to submit a report on the progress made in meeting these goals by mid-September, which will be considered in the NATO 6-month review process.

The benchmark framework, now approved by military and civilian implementers, is clearly a better approach than setting a fixed, arbitrary end date to the mission. This process will produce a clear picture of where intensive efforts will be required to achieve our goal: a self-sustaining peace process in Bosnia and Herzegovina for which a major international military force will no longer be necessary. Experience demonstrates that arbitrary deadlines can prove impossible to meet and tend to encourage those who would wait us out or undermine our credibility. Realistic target dates, combined with concerted use of incentives, leverage and pressure with all the parties, should maintain the sense of urgency necessary to move steadily toward an enduring peace. While the benchmark process will be useful as a tool both to promote and review the pace of Dayton implementation, the estimated target dates established will be notional, and their attainment dependent upon a complex set of interdependent factors.

We will provide a supplemental report once NATO has agreed upon detailed criteria and estimated target dates. The continuing 6-month reviews of the status of implementation will provide a useful opportunity to continue to consult with Congress. These reviews, and any updates to the estimated timelines for implementation, will be provided in subsequent reports submitted pursuant to Public Law 105-174. I look forward to continuing to work with the Congress in pursuing U.S. foreign policy goals in Bosnia and Herzegovina.


The White House, July 28, 1998.

NOTE: This message was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on July 29.

William J. Clinton, Message to the Congress Reporting on Efforts To Achieve a Sustainable Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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