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Peacekeeping Mission in Croatia: The Bundestag Resolves to Send Bundeswehr Units (December 6, 1995)

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Our soldiers should know that the vast majority of our citizens stand behind them. Our soldiers should know that they are taking on this responsible and not undangerous task for an important and just cause, for peace. [ . . . ] The peacekeeping force certainly cannot achieve peace on its own. The decisive contribution must come from all the parties involved in the conflict. But the peacekeeping force can do its part to give the Dayton Accords a chance of being implemented. We Germans cannot step aside in this peace mission, in which the United States, the countries of Europe, Russia, and the countries of the Islamic world are participating under NATO leadership. In past decades, Germany has always been able to count on the solidarity of its allies. Today, in a changed political environment, we are being called upon [ . . . ] to prove our solidarity in the preservation of peace. Stepping aside now would mean refusing to allow the people of the former Yugoslavia a chance for peace. Including Russia in the peace process provides an opportunity for relations between Russia and NATO to take on a new quality, and we are pleased about that. This cooperation between Western countries and Russia also represents a momentous historical change. [ . . . ]

In addition to its military contribution within the framework of the multinational peacekeeping mission, the Federal Republic of Germany will participate in reconstruction and in the return of refugees to the best of its abilities. [ . . . ] But let me add – everything we want to accomplish is possible only if others participate as well, if we arrive at an equitable sharing of burdens among the Europeans and the other participants. [ . . . ] Ms. President, ladies and gentlemen, with the deployment of an international peacekeeping force we are essentially pursuing – together with our partners – four main goals:

First: We must separate the warring parties. Attempts must be made to effectively prevent military conflicts from flaring up again. It is important to find a quick solution to the military enforcement of the agreement made in Dayton between Serbia and Croatia for the future of Eastern Slavonia. [ . . . ]

Second: The resulting peace will be the foundation upon which human and minority rights will be respected again and will become part of the prevailing legal order there. Our particular concern is the return of the refugees. [ . . . ] We should not forget that respect for human and minority rights, especially in Kosovo, continues to be a central demand directed at Belgrade. A comprehensive, just peace in the former Yugoslavia is not possible unless there is a just and lasting solution in Kosovo.

Third: The presence of the international peacekeeping force also satisfies the prerequisites for additional humanitarian aid, which is urgently needed, and the start of reconstruction. Peace cannot be secured if the people have no food, housing, or economic future.

Fourth: The international peacekeeping force is to guarantee peace and stability not only in Bosnia, but also in the entire region. The danger that the Bosnian conflict, with its ethnic and religious roots, could spread to neighboring countries, can only be averted if this goal is achieved. Stability in the former Yugoslavia is inconceivable as long as a huge arsenal of weapons continues to exist there. Therefore, we – the Federal Republic of Germany – have advocated particularly actively for a comprehensive system of trust-building measures and armaments control in this region. [ . . . ] The implementation of the Dayton Accords must be a mutual obligation, since a continuation of the war would bring new destruction, new suffering, and new hardship. This, too, will be among the tasks of our Bundeswehr soldiers: to work together with our allies to give the people of the former Yugoslavia and all the hopeful [people] in Europe reason to have faith in a better future, faith in a tangible chance for the peace that we all want.”

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