The Rt. Hon. Sir John Major KG CH

Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1990-1997

1994Prime Minister (1990-1997)

Mr Major’s Comments on Bosnia at CSCE Summit – 5 December 1994

Below are extracts from Mr Major’s Speech at the CSCE Summit in Budapest on Monday 5th December 1994.


Let me say some words on Bosnia.

None of us can rest while the fighting in Bosnia continues,

None of us believe either side in the war in Bosnia can win a military victory.

None of the Contact Group Governments believe that bombing from the air can stop the fighting on the ground.

The only way forward is by negotiation.

There is not much time left. The British Government want UNPROFOR to be able to continue its valuable mission. But that is threatened by the continued fighting on the ground, and by the tactics of the Bosnian Serbs, preventing peacekeepers and aid workers from doing their job. We will not be able to keep our troops in Bosnia if they face unacceptable risks, or if they are prevented from fulfilling their humanitarian and peacekeeping mandate.

What is needed first is a general ceasefire throughout Bosnia and the free passage of UN troops and aid convoys. It is a illusory to think that negotiations on a settlement can restart unless those two conditions are met. Third, the Bosnian Serbs must accept, as all others have done, that the Contact Group map is the basis for a settlement.

There can be exchanges between the parties on the territorial settlement, The parties will have to agree on a constitution. But both parties have an interest in a negotiated peace which far outweighs anything that can be achieved by continuing the war.

The British Foreign Secretary and French Foreign Minister visited Belgrade yesterday for talks with President Milosevic. They made clear to President Milosevic the responsibility he bears for helping to bring the conflict in Bosnia to an end.

In August, he accepted the Contact Group plan which includes recognition of the territorial integrity of Bosnia Herzegovina. He stepped up the pressure on the Bosnian Serbs to accept the plan too. Yesterday, President Milosevic reaffirmed his support for the Contact Group plan. He strongly supports the presence of UNPROFOR in Bosnia. We urged President Milosevic to put his weight behind obtaining, as a matter of urgency, a ceasefire on the ground. The Foreign Secretary has met President Izetbegovic and President Tudjman here to discuss the way forward with them too.

Meanwhile UNPROFOR continues to mount an outstanding humanitarian mission. Britain is one of the largest troop contributors. The dedication of our troops and aid workers has saved countless lives. British convoys account for 25 per cent of all UNHCR’s aid fleet. Twenty per cent of the humanitarian assistance delivered by air to Sarajevo is brought by British aircraft. This effort should not lightly be cast aside.

There will be a tragedy if the situation on the ground makes it impossible for UNPROFOR to carry out its mandate and forces it to withdraw. There will be more fighting, probably on a scale that spills over to neighbouring countries. Are the leaders of the region going to lead their people into intensified war and further destruction? Do any of them still believe in this illusion of a military victory? It is their decision. The international community wants to help them. But it cannot shoulder responsibilities that belong to the leaders of the region. Nor can those leaders use UNPROFOR as a shield for the pursuit of warlike objectives. That is what is going on in Bosnia. That must stop.

As a member of the Contact Group, as a troop contributor, as a member of the Security Council and of the CSCE, Britain will continue to exert itself day by day for a durable peace in Bosnia. I urge all here to do the same.