At 10h30 on 28 June 1992, a Dauphin helicopter landed at Sarajevo airport carrying a precious cargo: the French President, François Mitterrand. Since the beginning of the Bosnian War, Bosnian Serb forces had controlled the airport and restricted the delivery of humanitarian aid to the city’s destitute population, which formed an important cornerstone of their siege strategy. In reaching the airport, the President secured its reopening and, with it, the commencement of the longest humanitarian airlift in history. However, Mitterrand’s visit also had implications and significance beyond the Bosnian capital. The visit secured humanitarian intervention through the United Nations as the international community’s modus operandi for conflict resolution in Bosnia-Hercegovina. Through its permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council and enthusiastic engagement with humanitarian intervention, France would shape the intervention in Bosnia-Hercegovina and thus continue to justify its position amongst the world’s great powers.
- François Mitterrand