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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > Former Secretaries of State > Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell > Speeches and Remarks > 2004 > December

NATO-led Mission Ends in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Washington, DC
December 2, 2004

Today, the mission of the NATO-led Stabilization Force (SFOR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina came to a successful conclusion. For nine years the men and women of SFOR, and their predecessors in the Implementation Force (IFOR), provided a safe and secure environment for implementation of the Dayton Accords. These soldiers came from every continent to demonstrate to the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina that the world stood with them as they made the brave choice for peace over war.

In those nine years, over 500,000 servicemen and women from 43 nations, including 90,000 Americans, served in Bosnia and Herzegovina without losing a single soldier to hostile action. I extend my gratitude to all those who served the cause of peace.

On July 31st of this year, I was in Bosnia and reviewed with officials from the Government of Bosnia-Herzegovina, as well as with the commanders in the field, the process of transition as it was envisaged at the time, and Iím very pleased to see that the arrangements are working out as smoothly as was planned. NATO's mission in Bosnia to stop a war and enforce a peace is complete. The people of Bosnia have welcomed a continued international security presence as they take the remaining steps on the path of reform which will bring them closer to Europe and to the transatlantic community. We are pleased that the European Union will establish a military mission, Operation Althea, to help with stability during this crucial period. This mission is a demonstration of the productive cooperation between NATO and the European Union under the Berlin Plus framework.

The United States and NATO are not leaving Bosnia. A new NATO Headquarters -Sarajevo, in close cooperation with the EU, is taking up the challenge of defense reform, continuing its efforts to locate and apprehend indicted war criminals, and working with local authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to combat terrorism. The United States remains committed to the security and stability of Bosnia and Herzegovina through a significant contribution to the NATO headquarters and a continued presence at Camp Eagle in Tuzla.

These new arrangements, by harnessing the energies of both NATO and the EU in support of local efforts, will help the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina achieve their goal of Euro-Atlantic integration.

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