Strasbourg, France, April 25 (RFE/RL) - The former European Union administrator
for Mostar, Hans Koschnick, said today it would be "premature" for the NATO-led
Peace Implementation Force (IFOR) to leave Bosnia-Herzegovina at the end of the
year as scheduled.
The United States says its troops will leave at the end of December. Koschnick
said the departure of the American soldiers could be accepted as long as enough
European troops stay to prevent armed fighting from breaking out again.
Koschnick made his comments to a committee of the European Parliament in
Strasbourg, France, this morning, he said the European military commanders
whom he had consulted believe that IFOR should stay beyond December. Koschnik
added, "but not 30 year as in Cyprus," he said IFOR and other international
bodies like the EU should help Bosnia establish civilian structures so that
normal life can resume.
Koschnick, who resigned as EU administrator after failing to overcome rifts
between Croats and Muslims in the divided city of Mostar, said he is not pessimistic
about the future of Bosnia. He said all ethnic groups - Muslims, Croats, Serbs, Jews
and others - had lived together peacefully in Mostar for hundreds of years. Even so,
he said that the wounds caused by more than three years of war and nationalist
propoganda could take as long as a generation to heal.