Geneva, March 19 (RFE/RL) - U.S. Secretary of State Warren
Christopher says progress has been made in the Bosnia peace process
but problems remain and the diplomatic effort must continue to
maintain compliance with the Dayton Peace Accords.
In a day of talks in Geneva Monday, Balkan leaders of Serbia,
Croatia and Bosnia reaffirmed their commitment to the peace process
and agreed on new measures to improve compliance with provisions
concerning war criminals, freedom of movement and human rights.
The measures were announced in a joint statement after eight hours
of meetings among the Balkan leaders, individually and collectively
with Christopher at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.
Christopher said at a press conference Monday night that
"significant advances were made...but not all the problems were
But he said life will be better today for Sarajevo residents in
Grbavica, the last Sarajevo suburb to be transferred to Muslim
authority, and that the Monday agreements "will make a
tangible difference in people's lives."
He says the agreements include a provision to strengthen NATO and
civilian police patrols to prevent looting and arson in areas of
unrest and allow refugees to return home.
Serbia's President Slobodan Milosevic, Croatia's Franjo Tudjman and
Bosnia's acting President Ejup Ganic agreed to stronger enforcement
of human rights to create conditions for the country's first free
elections scheduled to be held on Sept. 1.
The three leaders also promised to do more to bring war criminals to
justice. Milosevic has agreed to hand over to the Hague War Crime
soldiers suspected of involvement in atrocities in the fall of the
Muslim enclave of Srebrenica. And Croatia promised to hand over a top
Bosnian Croat army commander suspected of crimes against Muslims in
More than 200 prisoners held by all factions are to be released by
the end of the week.
However, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State John Shattuck told our
correspondent that at least 60 of the prisoners have been charged by
the International War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague and will first be
investigated by the Tribunal.
Other measures announced Monday night include steps to restore air,
rail and shipping links between Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia to improve
freedom of movement. Christopher said that for the first time in four
years, flights will resume between the Serb capital Belgrade and
Some of the declarations issued after the Monday meetings are not
new and have been promised before. Analysts say there is no
particular reason to believe Monday's pledges will be any more
credible than previous promises to implement the Dayton Accords.
But U.S. officials say there is value in getting the Balkan leaders
to meet and negotiate among themselves and that each diplomatic
encounter strengthens the frame for implementing the accords.
Christopher said the Monday negotiations have set the stage for an
international confererence of Balkan foreign ministers and the
five-nation contact group -- France, Britain, Germany, the U.S. and
Russia -- in Moscow on Saturday. It will be the first time Russia
will host a contact group meeting.
Christopher says yesterday's proceedings have improved prospects for
a successful gathering in Moscow but that much remains to be done.