KEEPING THE PEACE
December 22, 1997
After announcing his decision to maintain a military presence in Bosnia until a lasting peace has been achieved, President Clinton paid a Christmas visit to the U.S. troops stationed there. Following a background report by Charles Krause, Margaret Warner and guests discuss the current state of peace in Bosnia and the extended U.S. mission.
CHARLES KRAUSE: Cheering crowds greeted President Clinton this morning as he strolled through Sarajevo's streets. His visit was one more sign that a semblance of peace as returned to Bosnia's once war-torn capital. Mr. Clinton's friendly welcome included a handmade sweater, the gift of a street vendor who expressed thanks to the President for America's continuing military presence. Peace came to Bosnia two years ago after the signing of the Dayton Accords in Ohio. That agreement brought an end to three and a half years of civil conflict.
A RealAudio version of this segment is available.
Decmber 22, 1997:
Margaret Warner and guests discuss the current state of peace in Bosnia.
Decmber 18, 1997:
e Samuel Berger discusses the decision to keep troops in Bosnia.
September 23, 1997:
National Security Advisor Samuel Berger discusses NATO's future in Bosnia.
September 15, 1997:
Bosnia holds municipal elections for the first time in seven years.
August 26, 1997:
NATO takes a tougher stance with war criminals.
August 11, 1997:
Elizabeth Farnsworth interviews Richard Holbrooke, chief U.S. negotiator of the Dayton Peace Agreement.
July 10, 1997:
NATO's arrest of Bosnian war criminals.
May 13, 1997:
Newsmaker Interview with Bosnian Co-Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic.
May 12, 1997:
Departing NATO Supreme Commander General George Joulwan discusses the mission in Bosnia.
December 20, 1996:
Two Bosnian experts discuss the military and civilian efforts of SFOR.
September 16, 1996:
Richard Holbrooke discusses the Bosnian elections.
Browse the NewsHour's coverage of Bosnia.
Half a million dead; two million refugees.
But the ethnic fighting between Serbs, Croats, and Bosnian Muslims had already left half a million dead and more than two million refugees. In Dayton, the three parties to the conflict agreed to accept a NATO-led peace force which now numbers more than 30,000 men and women, including 8500 Americans. As a result, outright fighting in Bosnia has largely come to an end. But tensions remained high, and there have been scattered outbreaks of retribution and violence. Meanwhile, a $3 billion effort to repair war damage and rebuild the country has also run into problems. The State Department says about 900,000 of the estimated 2.2 million refugees have found a home. But many of the refugees have been forced to flee to other countries or to areas where there own ethnic group is dominant and of 78 suspected war criminals indicted by the United Nations tribunal at the Hague. Only two have been convicted. Eighteen others are awaiting trial.
Bosnian Serb Leader Radovan Karadzic and his top General Ratko Mladic are among 50 others who have been indicted for war crimes but have not yet been arrested, even though their whereabouts are generally known. Karadzic, in fact, is still regarded as trying to control his territory from behind the scenes. Still in addition to an end of the outright fighting there have been several other positive signs of a return to normalcy since Dayton took effect.
Last year, for example, Bosnian Serbs, Croats, and Muslims voted in national elections for a three-person presidency in a parliamentary assembly. Municipal elections postponed three times were finally held last fall. The economy has also picked up, but there's only limited action among the different ethnic groups and regions and there still remains the potential for renewed fighting. Twice President Clinton set deadlines for the removal of U.S. troops, but last week he reversed course and announced his commitment to keep the still unspecified number of U.S. troops in Bosnia indefinitely, along with contingents from other nations.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: If we pull out before the job is done, Bosnia almost certainly will fall back into violence, chaos, and ultimately war every bit as bloody as the one that was stopped.
CHARLES KRAUSE: Today, President Clinton met with Bosnia's three leaders and reportedly had the same message for them that he gave the people of Sarajevo.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: You have accomplished much but there is much more to do. You have seen what war has wrought. Now you know what peace can bring, so seize the chance before you. You can do nothing to change the past, but if you can let it go, you can do everything to build the future.
CHARLES KRAUSE: The President was accompanied by Mrs. Clinton, their daughter, Chelsea, former Senator and Mrs. Bob Dole, and a bipartisan group of members of Congress. In Tuzla, the President visited with U.S. troops. Then Mrs. Clinton presented the GI's with a Christmas gift.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: AT&T, working with the Department of Defense, has donated $1 million so that each and every one of you stationed in Bosnia, Croatia, and Hungary will have an hour's worth of free phone time to share with your family.
CHARLES KRAUSE: President Clinton then told the troops that its their presence in Bosnia that's made peace possible.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: And when you go tonight and you wonder what you're doing here, I want you to think about this. These people for nearly four years in this country fought the bloodiest war in Europe since the end of World War II and because of what you and our other allies did, you know that the country has stayed on the path of peace, instead of going back into bloodshed. Without you, that would not have happened.
CHARLES KRAUSE: Former Senator Dole echoed that theme.
Former Senator Dole voices his support.
BOB DOLE: I'm also here to support the President in this effort. I believe it is worthwhile, and I hope you believe the effort in Bosnia is worthwhile. It takes--
CHARLES KRAUSE: The President left Bosnia this afternoon and is expected back in Washington late tonight.