Washington, 11 April 1997 (RFE/RL) - U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has sent presidential envoy Robert Gelbard to Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia and directed him to urge leaders there to intensify efforts to implement the Dayton accords.
Albright said at a press conference in Washington Thursday that Gelbard, who was scheduled to leave that day, was to travel in the region with Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs John Kornblum and others.
U.S. President Bill Clinton appointed Gelbard as special representative of the President and Secretary of State for implementation of the Dayton peace accords.
Albright noted at the press conference that the appointment had been made at her request. She said Gelbard has already started work as the U.S. administration's "negotiator, coordinator and program director" for the Dayton accords.
And she added that "this trip will introduce ambassador Gelbard to the parties in his new role and emphasize ... that we expect them to intensify their efforts to implement the Dayton agreement."
Albright took note of accomplishments in the 17 months since the Dayton accords were signed. She said territorial integrity and sovereignty of Bosnia Herzegovina have been accepted by all, unified governmental institutions have begun to function, democratic elections have taken place, and "the economy has started slowly to recover from the twin burdens of war and the legacy of a planned socialist economy."
But the secretary said much remains to be done.
"It is time for the parties, with our help and within the structure of Dayton, to make the peace self-sustaining," she said. "With our European partners, we will continue to press for Dayton's implementation, especially in the next several months while the mission of the NATO-led stabilization force continues."
She noted that "It is critical that the people of Bosnia see the differences that peace can make in everyday life: for example, that reconstruction quickens, that persons displaced by the conflict are able to return home, that police function effectively, that those who violate Bosnian or international law get what they deserve, and that fields are plowed. In short, that each citizen of Bosnia have the opportunity for the quiet miracle of a normal life."
Gelbard said at the press conference that he will discuss a number of issues during the trip, especially about the need for greater cooperation to implement the Dayton agreements.
At the same time, he stressed that his delegation will not neglect matters such as democratization inside the former republic of Yugoslavia, including relations with the opposition, and matters related to Kosovo. He said the delegation will visit Kosovo.
And he said the delegation will talk about the issue of bringing war criminals to justice because he said it is fundamental to the success of Bosnia as a unified state.
"The responsibility rests with the parties, Gelbard said. "We will be pressing the parties to take the kinds of actions they are obliged to take under the Dayton agreement. And I think it's really important to say: All the parties signed these agreements. We intend to hold them to the agreements that they signed, whether it's on war criminals or the idea of Bosnia as a unitary state, or any other aspect."
Gelbard added that "we are deeply, deeply concerned that the Bosnian Serbs in particular have not fulfilled their obligations, that the Croats have also been negligent. And we are concerned about Croatia not having been sufficiently helpful in fulfilling their own obligations about turning over Croatian indicted war criminals who are within the territory of Croatia."
He said the U.S. and its allies intend to "put pressure on the parties to comply with their obligations on war criminals. And if they do not, we'll obviously have to examine all possible options."