The United States welcomes the arrest of Goran Hadzic, who is charged with participation in the murder of hundreds of Croatian civilians, among other crimes, and is the final remaining fugitive indicted for atrocities by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). We congratulate President Tadic and the Government of Serbia for ensuring that the last fugitive indictee of the ICTY will now face justice.
We hope that Goran Hadzic’s arrest, coming less than two months after the arrest of fellow indictee Ratko Mladic, can bring some much needed closure to the victims of the crimes committed in Croatia, and their families, and elsewhere in the region. It also serves as yet another reminder to those around the world who carry out terrible crimes that their day, too, will come.
Over the course of its 18-year history, the United States has been and remains a steadfast supporter of the ICTY and its critically important work. The arrests of Mladic and now Hadzic, the final two fugitives out of 161 individuals indicted by the court, will allow the ICTY, and the many professionals who have worked in its chambers, to finally complete their mandate on behalf of the victims and in pursuit of justice.
QUESTION: I would start from Ratko Mladic. He’s the most wanted Hague fugitive, is finally in Hague. What does it mean in your opinion for the process of reconciliation in our region?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: First of all I would say from a U.S. point of view the arrest of Ratko Mladic was a very welcome development, something we have been waiting for for a long time, something that was overdue, and something that we supported actively with the government of Serbia, so we were delighted to see that outcome.
What it means in Bosnia and Herzegovina is really up to the people of this country to determine. Hopefully coming to terms with the past and bringing Mr. Mladic to justice will foster the process of reconciliation that is really necessary for this country to move forward toward the future.
QUESTION: Serbian analysts claim that your country and the European Union are together testing Boris Tadic in relation to three cases — Kosovo, Ratko Mladic and Milorad Dodik. The first two tests Tadic obviously passed. What is going to happen with the Dodik test?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: I’m not sure I would entirely share the thesis that the first two tests are entirely passed and Dodik is in a different category. On the question of Kosovo, we do believe that the government of Boris Tadic has made a fundamental decision to join the European Union. What remains to happen is for that same government to understand that coming to terms with Kosovo in some way is a necessary part of that decision. So we are encouraged that a dialogue is taking place. It is a positive thing. They’re sitting down at the table for the first time and talking about real issues. But I would say very clearly that more needs to be done. I don’t think that the countries of the European Union are prepared to take in a country into the EU or even move down that path until there is some clarity, until there’s some control over the border of what would be the European Union. So I just want to be very clear on that point.
We very much welcomed the arrest and the activities of the government of Serbia in finding Ratko Mladic but no one should think that that entirely satisfies the process of EU membership.
Obviously that’s not a call for the United States, but it is our strongly held view and we believe it’s the view of European countries as well.
On the question of Serbia, Tadic, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Dodik, I obviously can’t comment on or know the entirety of the relationship or what advice President Tadic might be giving Mr. Dodik. I think the official position of the government of Serbia, that it respects the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a positive one, it’s one that we share and we’ve heard Serbian leaders say that publicly many times. So we welcome that.
We would rather see a more clear line that Mr. Dodik needs to take actions that demonstrate his own support for the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as a functioning state.
QUESTION: Recently we heard different positions between your country and the European Union, exactly when it was about the actions of the arrests and the cancellation of referendum. I am actually interested to hear the following, whether the United States are changing their course of action or the European Union is not sufficiently consulting about the policy with your country, and I mean concretely about Ms. Ashton and her visit to Banja Luka.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: We actually consult very closely with the EU on the full range of issues in the Balkans including the question of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the issue most recently of the April 13 proposed referendum and conclusions.
I am in personally regular touch with Mr.Lajcak. Secretary Clinton and Catherine Ashton talk about Bosnia very frequently. I think we took the same position in response to the April 13 proposals. Both of us very quickly came out and made clear that we thought this was unacceptable, to be direct about it, but that it wasn’t within the RS competencies to put forward such a proposal and such conclusions and that it was a violation of the Dayton Peace Agreement. So I think we were on exactly the same page when it came to responding to that.
In the meantime we consulted closely on how to respond. The European Union then got the assurances that you’re talking about,about pulling back the referendum and the conclusions. I think what we’re focused on now is that what the assurances that Mr. Dodik seems to have given to the EU are upheld. So it is true we continue to have questions and we’ll continue to insist on what was our original position which is that the referendum shouldn’t happen and that the conclusions need to be withdrawn.
We hope that the assurances that the EU received from Republika Srpska leadership are upheld, but we’ll be watching it very carefully to make sure that they are and we will continue to consult very closely with the EU.
We both realize, that is to say Washington and Brussels, the United States and the European Union, that we can only succeed in this together. If we allow the parties to divide us or if we take different positions then we are less likely to succeed. I think it has been one of the pacts of our administration to try to do this together with the EU. I’ll remind you that in the first months of the administration when Vice President Biden came here, he came here together with Javier Solana, Baroness Ashton’s predecessor as our representative, that was a demonstration, if you will, a signal, that we were trying to send, that we’ve tried to send ever since. Whereas we may have been divided at times in the past on Balkan issues, the United States and the European Union are determined to stay together in helping.
QUESTION: The same day when the decision on the referendum was canceled, Mr. Dodik declared that Bosnia and Herzegovina is going to dissolve. He didn’t say that it has to happen during his mandate, but it will happen. He also claimed that he has great support of a major part of European countries. He excluded United States and Great Britain. He also claimed that you will have to make some concessions, I am quoting Mr. Dodik, quoting what he said on Serbian TV. So will the United States allow that to happen?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: I think we’ve been pretty clear not just in recent weeks and months, but years, about our unwavering support for the Dayton Peace Agreement and the institutions of Dayton and the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We have not for a minute waivered on that issue and we won’t in the future either.
It doesn’t work for us to imagine scenarios of secession or partition. I also think, I’m surprised to hear any notion of European countries having a different view. As I mentioned a minute ago, we’re in very close touch with our European partners and I’ve never heard any of them suggest that they could live with any form of secession or partition of this country. I think that’s just analytically mistaken to imagine that any of us aren’t committed to maintaining Bosnia and Herzegovina as a country.
Within that of course we are committed to two vibrant entities that have a very significant degree of self-government, that are not threatened in any way by some notion of a dominant or unitary state, and I think that anyone realistically looking at the positions of those who support Dayton and Bosnia and Herzegovina would understand that no one is trying to impose such a vision on the entities. What we are trying to do is help those entities work together in a way that serves all of the people of the country and those who suggest a different path of the future I would argue are not acting in the interests of those of the country.
QUESTION: Your country was engaged on the April package, then attempt with Butmir package also failed. I listen to Mr. Biden recently. He was also talking about two vibrant entities. Have you given up the more functional Bosnia and Herzegovina? Actually does the United States intend to have another maybe engagement related to the changes of the Dayton constitution? And if it’s not a problem, could you tell me what are the messages you are bringing from your country?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: Sure. Just on the question of a more functional state, this is an issue for the people of the country. We can and will help and we haven’t given up because we think it’s in the interest of the people to have a more functioning government, a more functioning government would facilitate the country’s path to European Union membership, to NATO membership, which we believe would benefit all of the citizens of the country.
Ultimately we can’t want it more than the people of the country themselves. So it’s not really a question of whether the United States is going to give up on or move forward with such an agenda. We are available to help the people of this country produce a more functioning government. If they or their political leaders don’t want to do that there’s only so much we can do. What I can say, and this will be one of the messages of my speech tomorrow, is that the rest of the region is moving forward also with our help and support. In our view Europe won’t be complete until the Balkans is fully integrated into European institutions. Countries have made some progress. Obviously Slovenia a number of years ago joining the EU, Albania and Croatia joining NATO. Serbia has taken a step forward with the Mladic arrest and other steps, a dialogue with Kosovo. Macedonia will join NATO when the name dispute is resolved. Montenegro is taking some positive steps. So Bosnia and Herzegovina will be left behind if its leaders are more focused on preserving their own personal gains or perpetuating ethnic divisions as opposed to pursuing a more functional state. So we’re not going to walk away from that. Indeed part of my message in being here in our commitment to the country and our continued readiness after having invested so much over the past 15 years and more to do so. But obviously we need the help of the parties and ultimately the responsibility rests with the leaders of the country more than with us.
QUESTION: I have just another question, whether that responsibility in Bosnia and Herzegovina will be actually considered to be of the actors who are generating the crisis or it’s going to be equal distribution? Why am I asking you this? You know that for 15 years Bosnia and Herzegovina has been a very divided country and with traces of war still present and it seems it’s not just that Croatia and Serbia who have completely different systems and structures thanks to their engagement in Bosnia and Herzegovina are ahead of Bosnia and Herzegovina when it comes to their path to European Union accession.
What am I asking you? I’m asking you can Bosnia and Herzegovina remain within the jaws of political wills which are the obstructions to its progress? Will the IC, international community, identify the ones who are to be blamed and start acting differently?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: As a general principle, we’re not going to take sides, so to speak. I don’t think it would be helpful for the United States to decide which side we’re on, back one side over another. It wouldn’t work. The country can only move forward when there’s agreement of all of the parties to do so.
So that’s not something that we’re thinking about. That said, when there are specific violations of previous agreements and if those violations are put forward by one side as opposed to another, we’ll be clear and blunt about that as we have been. And in cases of the most recent challenges to the state, it’s been clear who it is we’re talking about and when we’ve talked about consequences or measures we might take in response to that and our strong support for OHR as necessary in using Bonn powers to prevent that, we don’t hesitate.
But I don’t think it would be helpful for us to pick and choose and decide which side we’re on. Ultimately all of the elements in this country are going to have to sink or swim together.
QUESTION: Thank you very much.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: Thank you.
QUESTION: Mr. Gordon, thank you for this interview. The first question I wanted to ask you is when Mr. Biden came to Belgrade, he said that his visit was intended at resetting ties between Serbia and the United States. That message was reiterated during Mrs. Clinton’s visit to Belgrade. Do you think that the ties were reset, and how would you describe them now?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: I think that the ties between our two countries are very good. The facts of these visits alone, I think, is an indicator of the intensity of the diplomatic relationship that we have. In the past, Serbia and the United States had some major differences; nobody denies that. I think the Vice President coming here was an opportunity to say, in this administration, we want to move forward together on a number of areas in which we have common interest, and we share a vision for Serbia and for the region, which is to say a Serbia that is on the path to European Union membership, strong, prosperous, stable, good relations with neighbors. We have very good dialogue with Serbia on all of these fronts. We cooperate in the security area, in counter-terrorism, anti-drug, narcotics, and these steps forward, the relationship could be better, and we are going to keep working on it. But I think it is fair to say that we have really taken a turn for a better in the bilateral relationship.
QUESTION: Some of these improvements actually are sort of low profile, some improvements have not been so broadly publicized here, like the number of our officers or cadets training in U.S. military schools, the participation of our army in joint exercises. Do you think that actually our ties are a bit better than we believe?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: I think much more goes on than people are aware of. Some of these things are not so high profile and in the newspapers every day. That is why I mentioned some of the areas, I mentioned intelligence cooperation, counter-terrorism cooperation, anti-narcotics cooperation is not the sort of thing that you trumpet every day and is visible to people, but it is important to us. We know what Serbia is doing as a partner of United States on these areas, in which we share interests and values. Obviously, the arrest of Ratko Mladic was another important development, one that we strongly supported, and we are very pleased to see, and we congratulate Serbian government on that important step. So, yes, a lot of this is behind the scenes, a lot of our diplomatic encounters are behind the scenes. When I am speaking regularly to my Serbian counterparts, it is not necessarily in the newspapers, but it is a way for us to have a dialogue about things that matter to both countries.
QUESTION: You said that you see the right path for Serbia is the path towards the European Union. But even after the arrest of Ratko Mladic, some countries like the Netherlands sort of failed to ratify the next steps because they have new requirements, like the arrest of the last remaining indictee Goran Hadzic, and then already announced that they will have some more conditions. Do you think that EU is bit weary of enlargement, and that would be a problem for Serbia?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: I do not think that there is any question that the bar for EU membership is very high and arguably even higher as, as you say, there is bit of enlargement fatigue in the EU. As it is gotten bigger, countries are more and more skeptical of new members and they watch very carefully which new members that come in. But I do not think that the door is closed, I do not think that the door should be closed, and I do not think that conditions for Serbia have changed or should change. It is very straightforward, the EU has tough and demanding conditions, the Commission will look very carefully at Serbia’s internal reforms to see if those conditions are met. They’ll look very carefully at cooperation on the war crimes issue, where it’s true that arresting Ratko Mladic was an important step forward, but with Hadzic out still, I don’t think it’s possible to say that that issue has entirely been dealt with. It is also the view of a number of member states and of the United States that Serbia needs to come to terms with Kosovo in one way or another before the process can move forward, simply because you can’t take in a new EU member state where there is unclarity on the border or no positive relationship with an important neighboring country. So, yes, more needs to be done, but there’s no question that the objective is one that we share with Serbia, because we believe all of the Balkans needs to be part of the European Union, and Serbia is really a critical piece of that.
QUESTION: You say it will be difficult for Serbia to join the EU with unresolved issues with a neighboring country. Serbia does not view Kosovo as a neighboring country. How much of a problem do you think it can be in the accession? Will Serbia have to recognize the independence of Kosovo in order to become an EU member? Is that the view of the United States?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: Well, the European Union will determine whether full diplomatic recognition is a precondition for membership. I don’t think we’re at the point of finally answering that question yet. We know that in the meantime – the expression I used was ‘come to terms with,’ find the modus vivendi with, Kosovo. What can’t happen is for Serbia to move down this path with very serious differences over status, an absence of agreement on customs, on practical matters like electricity, telecoms, freedom of movement. It doesn’t seem to me realistic for a country to join the European Union with all of those ambiguities about Kosovo. So, first things first, start dealing with those issues, show that there’s recognition that this needs to be sorted out, and down the road it can be addressed whether full diplomatic recognition needs to happen before Serbia can join the European Union or whether there is some other way of coming to terms with the issue that satisfies the member states, but what is clear is that more work needs to be done before that process can move forward. That’s the view of the United States, and I believe it’s the view of most of the member states of the EU as well.
QUESTION: So are you saying that the U.S. diplomacy will not advocate the formal recognition of Kosovo as, you know, advise its allies in Europe to make it a precondition for further integration into Europe?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: Well, certainly we want to see full recognition. We recognize Kosovo, as do more than seventy other countries around the world, including most members of the European Union. So, that is, of course, what we would like to see. I don’t think that’s realistic in the near term, and that’s why our focus for the near term is, in the first instance, to start dealing with some of the practical issues that affect the daily lives of the people between the two countries, and then, as the process moves forward, Serbia will have to, and Kosovo, will have to deal with some of the more difficult issues. But of course, in the long run, we would like to see recognition. Recognition that takes into account the interests of the ethnic Serbs who live in Kosovo, that takes into account the need to protect Serbian religious sites in Kosovo, and that provides for sound relations between what we believe are two countries.
QUESTION: When we were talking about the prospects of Serbia, you mentioned EU integration, but not Euro-Atlantic integration. Was that deliberate? Have you sensed how volatile this issue is in Serbia, so you do not mention NATO membership?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: I’m fully aware of Serbian views about NATO. Our interlocutors here in Belgrade are not pressing us on the issue and we’re not pressing them. Our view of NATO is that the door is open to democracies in Europe that want to join the security alliance. We think there are many benefits in doing so in terms of integration and interoperable military forces, and we have common interests in, not only protecting our territories, but projecting security around the world. So, that’s why NATO’s door is open and countries like Serbia, other democracies in Europe that want to join, are welcome to go through the process. But, the bottom line is, it’s up to those countries, and if Serbia is not interested in joining NATO, as my understanding is right now, it’s not asking to, that’s a democratic decision and perfectly fine.
QUESTION: The advocates of Serbian membership in NATO are saying that it may be sort of a short cut toward membership in the EU. Would you connect these two things in any way?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: No, I think they are different things. We have seen some countries become part of one organization but not the other and vice versa, and that depends on their interests and the views of the organizations themselves. There’s a lot of overlap and it tends to be, and that’s why we use the phrase “Euro-Atlantic” institution, they tend to go together, and most of the countries that want to join European Union also want to join NATO, but there’s no automatic linkage between the two, and it’s up to each country which path they want to pursue.
QUESTION: Do you believe that ties between the former Yugoslav republics, or at least those who were at war during the last decade of the last century, that they are improving, and that they have improved a lot? How would you describe the relations between mainly Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: I don’t think that there is any question but that they have improved a lot, and it depends what time frame you want to take. Obviously, since the war time they have improved dramatically, qualitatively; but even over the past couple of years, I think they continue to inch forward in almost every bilateral case I can think of. Relations are better this year than they were last year, and they were better last year than they were five years previously. We’ve seen a lot of interrelationships between Croatia and Serbia, Serbia and Bosnia, Croatia and Bosnia, Kosovo and others, so I am quite positive about the region longer term, and it’s been a major rebuilding process after a terrible and tragic war, but I think there’s no question that it’s moving in the right direction.
QUESTION: I read your speech in Sarajevo that you gave yesterday, and in that speech you warned that at the moment Bosnia is not moving in the right direction. Why is that and how to mend that situation?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: Well, I was very direct with our friends in Bosnia, because I wanted them to understand that whereas the rest of the region actually is moving forward, sometimes in fits and starts and with steps forward and backwards, it is moving forward towards reform, economic reform, stability, relations among neighbors, and membership in Euro-Atlantic institutions. Bosnia, frankly, is not. It made decent progress for the first decade after the Dayton agreement, but in the past five or six years it has either stagnated or moved backwards. My last visit to the region was with Secretary Clinton last October, just after the Bosnian election. Here I am, eight months later, and they still haven’t even formed a state-level government. Without that they are not going to be able to tackle the issues that they need to deal with to succeed as a country and they are not going to be able to move forward on the path to European integration. Meanwhile, Croatia is moving ahead, Serbia we’d like to believe is moving ahead, others in the region are moving forward, and I think Bosnia’s political leaders need to put the country’s national interests over their narrow, or partisan, or ethnic interests if they want that country to succeed, and I think the people of Bosnia should send a message to their political leaders that that is what they want to see.
QUESTION: Do you believe that there should be a constitutional change in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in what way should it go?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: Well, first of all that’s for the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina to decide – you won’t see the United States coming forward and saying, “Here’s the constitution that you should adopt, and make these changes.” Obviously, they have to agree, or it’s not going to succeed. We do believe it’s pretty clear in the long run there needs to be some changes at a minimum to comply with European law in the European accession process, but to create a more functional state, I think, all observers will recognize that some changes need to be made, but obviously they need to be made by and with the cooperation with the people in the entities.
QUESTION: Complaining about the first attempts of constitutional change, the leadership of Republika Srpska says that the attempt is made towards too much centralized power in Bosnia. How centralized do you believe the Bosnian government should be?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: Not very. It is already significantly decentralized, and I do not know anyone who’s seeking to centralize government. That’s a myth that I sometimes think is created. We want to see, we believe Bosnians need a more functional state. But, no one is trying to impose centralization. We’ve always said that the country of Bosnia and Herzegovina should have two vibrant entities where there is a very significant degree of self-government. And no central government or the Office of the High Representative is trying to impose any rules or governance or regulations on the entities. They just need a minimum of functionality and cooperation to exist as a successful country.
QUESTION: And finally, when you think of Serbia, what is the first association in your head?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: Europe. Clearly Serbia is a part of Europe. That’s why we want to see it join Europe and the institutions. So that’s first, but second is Novak Djokovic, and maybe even first sometimes. I think he is a great ambassador and representative of the country.
QUESTION: I hope you’ll agree that it’s a good association, much better than you probably used to have years ago.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: It’s a very positive, and not just him, but some of the other great athletes in this country really put a positive face on Serbia’s reputation in the United States and around the world.
QUESTION: Thank you very much.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: Thank you.
The arrest on May 26 of Ratko Mladic, the fugitive former Bosnian-Serb Army Commander, brings at last the prospect of justice for the victims of the genocide at Srebrenica 16 years ago. It offers the chance of closure to the families of the victims. And it offers a vital opportunity to draw a line under the past, and to move the entire Western Balkan region decisively towards a better future.
Already there has been considerable progress. The situation in Serbia and Croatia is dramatically different to that of two decades ago. Those countries are now moving steadily forward to membership of the European Union. Croatia is already a member of NATO and seeking conclusion of its accession negotiations with the EU. Serbia is working in pursuit of EU Candidate status. But while its neighbors are looking to the future, the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina itself gives rise to mounting concern.
For half a decade now, Bosnia and Herzegovina has been sliding backwards. That slide has accelerated in recent months, and now demands a firm response from the international community, above all from the European Union. The country’s institutions are gridlocked. In the Republika Srpska entity, harsh nationalist rhetoric and actions challenging the Dayton framework risk dragging BiH back towards the past – just at the moment its neighbors start moving towards a European future.
The real victims of this paralysis are not Bosnia and Herzegovina’s politicians, but its citizens – the very people these political leaders were elected to serve. Instead of living in a free, fair and prosperous society, many still live under the shadow of division and fear, suffering from poverty, unemployment and lack of opportunity.
It need not be like this. Bosnia and Herzegovina has every prospect of a bright and hopeful future. It is a beautiful European country, with talented and resourceful people. It has a rich heritage and an abundance of natural resources. It has always been, and remains, a bridge between East and West. The Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina have a long tradition of moderation, and are a continuing rebuke to the notion that Islam has no place in Europe. We want to see BiH thriving as a peaceful member of the European Union and NATO, with the conflict and suffering of the 1990s left behind never to return. We know that the citizens of this unique country want this too, from Prijedor to Travnik, from Foca to Livno and from Mostar to Brcko.
So how can we make this a reality?
First, the international community needs to stay focused on Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Western Balkans as a whole. Yes, there are plenty of other challenges – from Afghanistan to Libya, from the Arab Spring to the Middle East Peace Process. But we know all too well that what happens in one Balkan country has inevitable knock-on effects across the region. Nowhere is that more true than Bosnia and Herzegovina. What happens there will affect what happens to its neighbors, and vice versa.
Second, there must be no doubt about the resolve of the international community to stand by the settlement agreed at Dayton which ended the conflict. Our message is crystal clear: we are committed to Bosnia and Herzegovina as a single state, with two vibrant entities and three constituent people. We will not tolerate any challenges to the country’s unity and sovereignty. Our support for the Office of the High Representative in upholding the Dayton Agreement will be firm and unwavering. We will hold personally accountable politicians and those around them who seek to undermine this framework.
Third, we look to the political leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina, to work with each other and with their counterparts in the region to move beyond the stale arguments of the last two decades which have served the peoples of BiH so poorly. It is time to build on the successes of the last 16 years – the restoration of freedom of movement, the repair of BiH’s physical infrastructure, the reform of its defence sector – and to equip Bosnia to move forward alongside its neighbors to membership of the European Union.
That means looking at the Dayton Agreement as a foundation to be built on, not a chain to be broken. BiH needs more effective and efficient government at all levels – a state government that can meet the requirements of Euro-Atlantic integration; entities and lower levels of government that are economically sustainable and can deliver basic services. And above all it needs political leaders who are ready to take courageous decisions towards these ends rather than in their own narrow personal or ethnic interests.
To those who say this is impossible, we say that the rest of the region is proving every day what progress is possible. It is time for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s leaders to deliver for their people too.
In March, European Union nations agreed a reinvigorated strategy for Bosnia and Herzegovina, including the creation of an enhanced presence in Sarajevo with a strong mandate and resources. This strategy should allow the EU to play a leading role in supporting positive change and protecting against threats to stability. EU High Representative Ashton has named Peter Sorensen, a senior diplomat with 15 years of experience in the Balkans, to lead this EU effort. The U.S. and UK will be strongly supportive of Ambassador Sorensen, using all of the levers available to achieve progress, while working in close partnership with the Peace Implementation Council and the Office of the High Representative.
As Mladic faces justice at last, the world has a duty to commit itself once more to standing by the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The vision of a stable, prosperous and sovereign BiH as a member of the EU and NATO is not an impossible dream, it is our firm objective. That is what the people of Bosnia want, and what we want too. As President Obama said in London on 25 May, “We have always believed that the future of our children and grandchildren will be better if other people’s children and grandchildren are more prosperous and free – from the beaches of Normandy to the Balkans to Benghazi. That is our interests and our ideals.” In Bosnia and Herzegovina, let us hold true to that principle.
Ambassador DiCarlo’s Remarks At an Open Security Council Debate On the International Criminal Tribunals For the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda
Presidents Robinson and Byron, Prosecutors Brammertz and Jallow, thank you very much for your briefings today. Judge Khan, congratulations on your appointment. And Judge Byron, thank you for your valuable service.
Mr. President, we open this debate on a day when Ratko Mladic is in The Hague. His capture, arrest, and transfer to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia is a milestone on the path to justice and reconciliation. We commend the Government of Serbia for apprehending Mladic, and we welcome President Tadic’s statement about his country’s commitment to apprehending the final ICTY fugitive, Goran Hadzic. Mladic’s capture means that he will now have to answer to victims for his alleged crimes, including the genocide at Srebenica, Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1995. It puts perpetrators of mass atrocities on notice: they will be held accountable for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. We expect all UN member states to take the steps necessary to bring to justice those indicted by the Tribunals.
Mr. President, we welcome the steady progress the Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda have made to increase their efficiency. We urge both Tribunals to strive to complete their work at the earliest possible date. We are mindful of the importance of doing so without sacrificing the high standards of a fair trial. We urge the Presidents and the judges who act as managers of the courtrooms to take every measure to ensure that trials and appeals are both expeditious and fair.
These Tribunals and their predecessors have had genuine historical impact. The establishment last December of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals demonstrated that war-crimes fugitives cannot escape justice. The Residual Mechanism will allow for the completion of those functions that will necessarily outlast the Tribunals themselves. Transfers of cases to national jurisdiction have been made possible because States have further developed their judicial and investigative capacities. Programs such as the Joint European and ICTY Training Project for National Prosecutors and Young Professionals are welcome efforts to help build such long-term capacity.
Again, we applaud the Tribunals’ work thus far, and we urge them to make the most efficient use of available resources. We also encourage the Tribunals to continue to work with the UN Secretariat and other relevant UN bodies to develop practical and effective methods, including retention measures, to address the staffing shortages and the problems of attrition highlighted in the Prosecutors’ reports.
Mr. President, the United States calls on states in the former Yugoslavia to cooperate fully with the ICTY, which is both a legal obligation and a key to Euro-Atlantic integration. We welcome the Government of Croatia’s continued strong record of cooperation with the ICTY and its commitment to continue to search for any additional information the Prosecutor requested. Croatia provided crucial witnesses and documents in the important case against Ante Gotovina and others, which proved critical to the Tribunal’s deliberations.
We appreciate Croatia’s reaffirmation of its commitment to support the ICTY through the conclusion of its processes.
Let me turn now to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The United States welcomes the May 2011 judgment in the case of former chief of staff of the Rwandan army, the former head of the military police, and the two former commanders of the reconnaissance battalion. This case was the second one concluded by the ICTR that involved the responsibility of former senior military officers. It represents an important step for the Rwandan people toward justice and accountability.
The United States also welcomes the recent apprehension of the fugitive Bernard Munyagishari in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We urge all states to cooperate fully with the ICTR in their efforts to locate and apprehend fugitives. We commend those countries that are cooperating with the ICTR to bring the remaining nine fugitives to justice. We encourage continued progress so that these fugitives can be swiftly arrested.
On behalf of the United States, let me thank the U.N. Office of Legal Affairs for its dedication and service to the Tribunals. Let me also again thank the Presidents, Prosecutors, Registrars, and their staffs for all that they do to promote justice under international law for the victims of war crimes and mass atrocities.
Mr. President, we will never be able to bring back those who were murdered in Rwanda or the former Yugoslavia. But Ratko Mladic will now have to answer to his victims—and the world—in a court of law.
From Nuremberg until today, my government has long viewed justice for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide as both a moral imperative and an essential element of stability and peace. We reaffirm those convictions again today.
Thank you, Mr. President.
The United States also welcomes the arrest of Ratko Mladic by Serbian security services a week ago today. We commend President Tadic, the Government of Serbia, its security services, and all those who have labored for years to bring Mladic to justice. This is a huge step for Serbia on its continued path towards Euro-Atlantic integration and towards its coming of age as a nation. We also welcome the transfer of Mladic to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, where he will finally face justice.
We reiterate the words of Secretary Clinton: “Mladic’s arrest serves as a statement to those around the world who would break the law and target innocent civilians: international justice works. If you commit a crime, you will not escape judgment, you will not go free.
“Today, as we thank Serbia for bringing a criminal to justice, we also send our deepest sympathies and extend our thoughts and prayers to all those who have suffered from the notorious acts charged to Mladic, particularly the genocide at Srebrenica in 1995. You have waited far too long for this day. This arrest cannot restore what you have forever lost, but we hope it will provide some comfort that this criminal is now behind bars. We hope that Serbia’s action in arresting Mladic will help Serbia move on, provide the opportunity to gain admission into the European Union and enable Serbia to build a brighter future as part of a whole, free, and peaceful Europe.”
Thank you, Chair.
Fifteen years ago, Ratko Mladic ordered the systematic execution of some 8,000 unarmed men and boys in Srebrenica. Today, he is behind bars. I applaud President Tadic and the Government of Serbia on their determined efforts to ensure that Mladic was found and that he faces justice. We look forward to his expeditious transfer to The Hague.
Today is an important day for the families of Mladic’s many victims, for Serbia, for Bosnia, for the United States, and for international justice. While we will never be able to bring back those who were murdered, Mladic will now have to answer to his victims, and the world, in a court of law. From Nuremberg to the present, the United States has long viewed justice for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide as both a moral imperative and an essential element of stability and peace. In Bosnia, the United States – our troops and our diplomats – led the international effort to end ethnic cleansing and bring a lasting peace. On this important day, we recommit ourselves to supporting ongoing reconciliation efforts in the Balkans and to working to prevent future atrocities. Those who have committed crimes against humanity and genocide will not escape judgment.
May the families of Mladic’s victims find some solace in today’s arrest, and may this deepen the ties among the people of the region.
The United States welcomes the arrest of Ratko Mladic by Serbian security services earlier today. We commend President Tadic, the Government of Serbia, its security services and all those who have labored for years to bring Mladic to justice. We look forward to his earliest possible extradition to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague so that justice may be served.
This is a great day for justice in the international system. Mladic’s arrest serves as a statement to those around the world who would break the law and target innocent civilians: international justice works. If you commit a crime, you will not escape judgment, you will not go free.
Today, as we thank Serbia for bringing a criminal to justice, we also send our deepest sympathies and extend our thoughts and prayers to all those who have suffered from the notorious acts charged to Mladic, particularly the genocide at Srebrenica in 1995. You have waited far too long for this day. This arrest cannot restore what you have forever lost, but we hope it will provide some comfort that this criminal is now behind bars. We hope that Serbia’s action in arresting Mladic will help Serbia move on, provide the opportunity to gain admission into the European Union and enable Serbia to build a brighter future as part of a whole, free, and peaceful Europe.
The arrest today of Ratko Mladic is a victory for all people of conscience. The evidence of Mladic’s deliberate cruelty and appalling disrespect for the rules of war and basic standards of decency is overpowering, and we hope he will swiftly receive justice. We commend the Government of Serbia for its action today, and we hope that this arrest can support reconciliation efforts all across the region. Even as we urge a full reckoning for Mladic, we mourn anew for those murdered at Srebrenica and for all the victims of the genocide unleashed by the regime that he served. We remember them, and we rededicate ourselves to the pursuit of a world that can muster the will to halt mass atrocities before they occur. We also recommit ourselves to the work of international justice and ensuring that those who perpetrate these grave crimes meet their fate in a courtroom. We look forward to the day when Goran Hadzic joins Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic in The Hague. Today, with this opportunity to bring a measure of justice for some of the worst cruelties of recent memory, we have both a responsibility to remember and a responsibility to protect.