NEWSMAKER INTERVIEW WITH MADELEINE ALBRIGHT
DECEMBER 11, 1995
Part of the Bosnia mission is to rebuild war torn nations. U.N. Ambassador Madeline Albright shares plans for reconstruction with Elizabeth Farnsworth.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: The job of rebuilding Bosnia after four years of war will be the biggest international effort since the reconstruction of Europe after World War II. The Dayton Accords called for elections within six to nine months and for resettling hundreds of thousands of refugees among other non-military tasks. Last weekend in London, government leaders and officials from international relief agencies began the planning. Among those participating was Madeleine Albright, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. She joins us now from the UN. Thank you for being with us, Madame Ambassador.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Very glad to be here, Elizabeth.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Give us a sense of the magnitude of the task. The figures were just remarkable; two thirds of the house--nearly two thirds of the housing gone, half the schools, virtually no economic activity.
AMB. ALBRIGHT: Well, it's really restarting a country. First of all, we know that huge numbers of people died, but also, there are two to three million refugees, as you mentioned, lots of houses that were burned, schools that were destroyed, churches that were destroyed, jobs that were completely dismantled. So it's basically starting over, and what we were able to do in London that was so encouraging was to really do the civilian part of the mission. There's been an incredible amount of concentration on the military part, IFOR. That is going to last about a year. But the part that's going to last longer and in the long run have even greater significance is the civilian part. And what we did in London this weekend, Elizabeth, was to set up the command center, so to speak, and the chain of command for, in fact, rebuilding this war-torn country.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: What is the chain of command, and where is the command center? Give us a sense of how this whole effort will be organized.
AMB. ALBRIGHT: Well, what we did was the group of 52 there constituted themselves as the Peace Implementation Committee, the PIC, and it then created and chose this man Karl Bildt as the high representative who will, in fact, be running all this coordinating activity for Bosnia. He will be given political advice by a steering committee on which we obviously are, as members of the contact group. There will also be Canada, Japan, and the European Commission, as well as a representative of the Organization of Islamic Conference, so a group that is representative of the kinds of countries that will, in fact, help the reconstruction. The center, itself, the command center, will be in Sarajevo with an office also in Brussels, and this high representative will have deputies who will be charged with carrying out the reconstruction. The other part that's very interesting this time, in addition to UN cooperation through UNHCR, the refugee organization that Mrs. Ogata heads, and civilian police that will be run by the UN, as well as a lot of humanitarian activities, a major proportion of the work will be done by the OSCE, the European organization of which we are a part that will be running the election process. And we'll be looking at how to deal with the arms control issues. So there's a whole panoply of work that needs to be done, but it will be run basically or coordinated by this high representative.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: How much will it cost? Have any financial arrangements been made to pay for all this?
AMB. ALBRIGHT: Well, we, basically what happened in London was a discussion about the need for international support for this major effort, support by individual countries, as well as by the international financial institutions. There are some numbers floating around there, basically numbers of about six to seven billion dollars over a number of years, in which most of the other countries will be bearing the lion's share of sharing that burden. So it will be expensive, but as you pointed out, it's the most important and the largest reconstruction since the end of the Second World War. So it's going to take energy, but what was so exciting about London was the fact that there were so many countries there willing to participate.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: What are the immediate tasks? What do you expect to start happening right away?
AMB. ALBRIGHT: Well, what Mrs. Ogata, for instance, in the field of refugees, she said that what first needed to be done was to do kind of a registration of people to figure out where they are and where they need to go, because part of the Dayton accords was that people get to go back to the areas where they came from to the extent that is still within the entity that they belong to.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Excuse me one minute. We're talking about how many people here, close to 2 million some--
AMB. ALBRIGHT: That's right, yes.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: --sources say.
AMB. ALBRIGHT: An awful lot of people.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Yes.
AMB. ALBRIGHT: And some people, there will be people coming from abroad, and so she has a massive job of trying to find out where the people are and where they ought to be going, and where they want to go. Then also there has to be very rapid work in reconstructing housing. As we heard, obviously, a lot of houses were destroyed in the fighting,itself, and a lot recently in torching, so it will be important to rebuild those houses as rapidly as possible. It's going to be very important to get schools up and going so that the children really begin to have a sense that there is really peace. And then preparations for the elections, as you pointed out, elections will be held six to nine months. There have to be preparations so that those elections are free, fair, and legitimate. So that is kind of the scheme of things, plus obviously trying to get food and medicines in because it is winter there, so it's a big undertaking. But there also seems to be a big willingness to do it, Elizabeth.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Amb. Albright, how do you understand the relationship between the civilian effort and the military effort? For example, the peace agreement says that one of the tasks of the troops will be to assist the High Commission on Refugees and other international organizations in their missions. How much assistance? There's always the example given that if a family wants to return to a home and the family of the other group that's living in that home won't let them, who enforces the peace agreement there?
AMB. ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, the role of the military is going to be to make sure that the cease-fire holds and that the zone of separation is maintained. That means that the armies stand down, and then that the heavy weapons are withdrawn, and then there's the cycle of violence is broken, in fact, that there would be kind of a climate of security. And furthermore, there are a lot of--there's a need to create a way for, as you point out, for people to feel comfortable going home. I think that the UNHCR, there will be--they will be dealing with--
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: The High Commission on Refugees.
AMB. ALBRIGHT: I'm sorry. The High Commission of [on] Refugees will be dealing with a lot of these very specific problems. And the military is there to assist. It's not going to be their primary role to help refugees resettle themselves. And as I mentioned, there would be an international civilian police force. And I think that might be the kind of duties that they would undertaken.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: And it's basically under the UN, right? It's formed as part of a UN program. I couldn't understand that from the peace agreement.
AMB. ALBRIGHT: Well, the plan as of now would be that the international civilian police force would be one of the UN activities. But, again, what we're doing now, Elizabeth is kind of dividing things up and figuring out which organization is best suited to do which job, and then it would be the role of this high representative, Mr. Karl Bildt, to coordinate all that. But it's going to have a lot of moving parts because there's an awful lot to be done.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Are you concerned that with all of the worry in Congress and the expression of constant worry about the military doing too much, the military getting involved in nation building, are you concerned that the military won't be helping enough with this civilian effort, that it'll be just all on the civilians?
AMB. ALBRIGHT: No, I don't think so. I think there's a really good division of labor. You know, we've learned so very much in these various operations that we've undertaken throughout the world, "we" meaning the International Community. And I think that the military mission is well defined. It's very important because it is, in fact, as I said, it has to create the climate, the environment for all this to take place. But there are an awful lot of civilian organizations, some that are governmental and some that are non-governmental organizations, that can carry a great deal of this burden. So I think the most complicated part of this will be its coordination. And I think that is what we set up this weekend. So I think we're in pretty good shape. It's a huge job, no doubt about it, but it's a lot better dealing with peace than dealing with war.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Well, Madame Ambassador, thank you very much for being with us.
AMB. ALBRIGHT: Thank you.