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Bosnia: German Minister Criticizes Lack Of Progress In Reconciliation

Bonn, 10 December 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Germany's Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel has sharply criticized the slow progress towards reconciliation in Bosnia and said political will to achieve it appeared to be lacking.

Kinkel's comments were made at a two-day international meeting in Bonn this week which was convened to review how the 1995 Dayton accords are being implemented and provide a fresh impetus for the coming year. Among those who listened to him were the members of the all-Bosnian presidium Izetbegovic, Zubak and Krajisnik. .

In a rather brusque speech to the more than 60 delegations Kinkel said that what he missed in Bosnia was a broad willingness to achieve reconciliation and co-operation. He complained that the common institutions were not taking the decisions necessary for the development of their common country.

The German foreign minister made clear his comments were made against the background of his visit to Sarajevo last week in the company of the French foreign minister Hubert Vedrine.

In Sarajevo Kinkel pressed for rapid progress on a common citizenship and passport law and other symbols of a joint identity such as a common currency and common car plates.

In his address to this week's meeting in Bonn, Kinkel expressed regret that little had been done to implement such suggestions, which he described as "just the minimum" which could be expected as a demonstration of political will for reconciliation and co-operation.

Those who attended the meeting said the German foreign minister showed himself clearly impatient and frustrated at the situation in Bosnia. He suggested one way to make progress might be to give more powers to the High Civilian Representative, Carlos Westendorp. Kinkel said that a "more robust" mandate for Westendorp would give him the power to make interim decisions until the Bosnian leadership achieved agreement. In this way, decisions could be pushed through despite the objections of individual groups.

In his own speech Westendorp made it clear that he was not seeking a different mandate at this time but would continue trying to make the present mandate effective.

Like Kinkel, Westendorp also emphasized the importance of arresting suspected war criminals and transferring them to the U.N. tribunal in The Hague. He said there could be no peace and no rule of law in Bosnia until this was done.

Both Kinkel and Westendorp referred particularly to Radovan Karadzic. Westendorp said Karadzic poisoned the "entire social, political and economic atmosphere in Bosnia".

Izetbegovic told the other delegates the meeting should identify be name those who were really responsible for the slow progress of the peace process. He reminded the meeting several times that the basic premise of the Dayton accords was a common state of Bosnia-Hercegovina.