13 March 1993 – France 2 – General Morillon in Srebrenica – FRENCH



TV presenter: But first we’re going to Srebrenica in east Bosnia, where French General Philippe Morillon still is. We thought he was being held by the town’s Muslim population, as that’s what was reported in the first news we received. But this afternoon General Morillon has supposedly said he’s staying of his own free will to protect the inhabitants.

Commentary: The voice picked up this afternoon by an amateur radio enthusiast in Zagreb has been analysed by military wiretapping specialists at UNPROFOR headquarters in the Croatian capital. It’s being processed now and its authenticity checked. The message – apparently sent from the Muslim enclave in Srebrenica in east Bosnia that has been besieged for the past 11 months by the Serbs – has already been authenticated by General Morillon’s aides in Sarajevo and is indeed from the commander of the United Nations Protection Force in Bosnia. Its message is clear. Philippe Morillon denies being held against his will in Srebrenica, he is remaining voluntarily. But several UNPROFOR and UNHCR sources stated this morning that civilian Muslims had been forcibly detaining him since last Friday. General Morillon, who we see here filmed on Thursday evening in Zvornik, had said he was going to Srebrenica to negotiate with the Serb forces the evacuation of casualties from the blockaded town. His mission was also to get humanitarian convoys blocked for several days by the Serbs into Srebrenica. It would appear that General Morillon failed in the negotiations and Srebrenica’s 75,000 inhabitants have not been provided with supplies from the convoy. The Serb offensive on the Muslim enclave has intensified. Morillon indicated in his message that he was staying to help allay people’s fears. Confirmed by a UNPROFOR officer in Sarajevo.

UNPROFOR officer: He’s in good health and doesn’t feel threatened. He has chosen to stay put in Srebrenica.

TV presenter: So, Gérard Sebag, this leaves us somewhat intrigued. Major Robert C. has just told us live from Zagreb that he’s being detained.

Gérard Sebag: You’re right. The situation is rather muddled and indeed odd as the first information out of Srebrenica suggested that General Morillon had been detained (not to say taken hostage) by some of the population who were pressuring him to give guarantees on three points. First, a ceasefire, second, the deployment of United Nations observers, and third, that airdrops of food and drugs would continue. Prevented from leaving the town, General Morillon is apparently trying to make the best of things. Those are the words of a Western diplomat we were able to contact by telephone. So it looks as if he’s decided to stay in Srebrenica and attempt the impossible – meaning, continuing negotiations on lifting the siege of the town with the Serb militias and the town’s authorities, but they haven’t come to anything yet. What is certain is that this latest development in Bosnia is a severe blow to the credibility and effectiveness of the United Nations – credibility because it is very hard to cross a starved town and then leave behind wounded people, women and children with nothing achieved. And effectiveness, because the United Nations forces in former Yugoslavia find themselves once again in an impasse that General Morillon may well find difficult to get out of.