THE WORLD'S MOST WANTED
August 26, 1997
After the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement, former Bosnian Serb President Rodovan Karadzic and other indicted war criminals were supposed to be tried in The Hague, but NATO commanders have been reluctant to risk their troops arresting them. Western commanders, though, are beginning to close the net around the world's most wanted war criminals. After a report by NBC correspondent Jim Maceda, Elizabeth Farnsworth leads a discussion of NATO's apparent tougher stance.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: And joining us now to talk about this is Bill Stuebner, whom we just saw in the NBC report. He was a member of the Office of the Prosecutor of the International War Crimes Criminal Tribunal. He also served in Bosnia with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. And he's now a consultant for the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington; and Robert Gallucci, a former career diplomat who served as the State Department point man for implementing the non-military parts of the Dayton Accords in Bosnia. He's now the dean of Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. Thank you both for being with us.
A RealAudio version of this NewsHour segment is available.
August 26, 1997:
NBC's Jim Maceda reports on the supposedly tougher NATO stance against Bosnian war criminals.
August 11, 1997:
Elizabeth Farnsworth interviews Richard Holbrooke, chief U.S. negotiator of the Dayton Peace Agreement.
July 10, 1997:
Charles Krause discusses NATO's shooting and arrest of Bosnian war criminals.
May 13, 1997:
Margaret Warner conducts a Newsmaker Interview with Bosnian Co-Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic.
May 12, 1997:
Departing NATO Supreme Commander General George Joulwan discusses the mission in Bosnia.
February 3, 1997:
Gaby Rado reports on the continued unrest in Serbia.
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.
Amb. Gallucci, it seems just from the reports we just heard that NATO forces have arrived at a sort of watershed in Bosnia. Is that how you see it?
ROBERT GALLUCCI, Georgetown University: I think they may have arrived at the watershed, but it's a little premature. If the watershed means that they're prepared actually to go after and seize Karadzic, I'm not sure that they're actually prepared to do that yet.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: But how would you explain what they're doing? Do you think they're trying to isolate him, and how would you describe the strategy at the moment?
ROBERT GALLUCCI: It is possible they're trying to create a situation in which Karadzic would conclude, as I think Mr. Stuebner would like him to conclude, that he would be wise to turn himself in, rather than wait for a strategy that would result in the ultimate forceful capture.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: So the idea would be in that case to just sort of tighten a circle around him?
ROBERT GALLUCCI: It would make sense to me.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Is that the way--do you think that's what's happening?
ROBERT GALLUCCI: I can't say that I think that's what's happening. I think that it appears from where we're all sitting on the outside looking in that that could be the result, but really the question is whether this is a strategy and this is a plan where the end product of all this will be, if Karadzic does not turn himself in, an active move by SFOR to take him, and I don't know that that's what's going to happen.
Is NATO ready to move on Karadzic?
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Okay. Mr. Stuebner, you've been there very recently, as we just saw. What do think is going on? Do you think that there is--there may be a move on Karadzic?
BILL STUEBNER, Former Adviser, War Crimes Tribunal: Well, those of us who have been in Bosnia during the war, we always hesitate to predict anything that the international community might do because every time you get your hopes up, or you think something is going to happen, then nothing does happen. It seems to me, though, that certain parameters are there. Certain things have come together that now would--would predict that I think they are ready to take the action.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Tell us about the letter that you wrote. Did you--how did you come to write the letter to Mr. Karadzic and how did you--did you have reason to believe he might be responsive?
BILL STUEBNER: I've been in the past in touch with Dr. Karadzic. Part of my job at the tribunal was to try to start cooperation from the Bosnian Serb side. After I left the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and before I returned to the War Crimes Tribunal, I did have a meeting with him. And we talked for about two hours. This was back just about a year and a half ago. It was very obvious at that time that he had thought very seriously about turning himself in. He was very frightened. I think many people, when NATO first came in, many people were very frightened that they were going to take action. And frankly, they're quite aware that if NATO is given the order to take action, as I said in the NBC tape, there is no power on earth that can stop that action, and that Dr. Karadzic will either go to the Hague in chains, or in an action like that, it's quite possible he could be killed.
Might Karadzic turn himself in?
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: So the theory would be that he might turn himself in, and he wouldn't necessarily go in chains and go to prison, but he might be held somewhere else while he's being tried? Is there something that might be worked out like that?
BILL STUEBNER: Well, some of Dr. Karadzic's advisers would very much like to see him turn himself in, rather than have this violent confrontation. They asked me a couple of weeks ago, after I came back from the trip there, they asked me to lay out some of my arguments in a letter to Dr. Karadzic. And they said make it an open letter. So it will be published in Republika Srbska so that the Serb people can also see what the arguments are.
I think, my feeling at least is that there is no option for him, except to go to the Hague, and there should not be any other option. He should have to have his day in court. But it is possible that he might be able to orchestrate his moment of turning himself in. He would have a chance to tape a message to the Bosnian Serb people about why he's turning himself in. And there might be some room to negotiate on where he would be incarcerated, whether it would be in a small jail cell or in some other kind of facility. So I think he has some minor options if he goes peacefully. If he waits until it's too late, then he has no options at all.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Mr. Ambassador, I want--please comment on that, if you have anything that you want to add, but I want to move on to something else. Do you want to add anything to that?
ROBERT GALLUCCI: I would hope that Mr. Stuebner is correct about the calculation.
NATO throws his weight behind Plavsic.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: On the question of NATO working so closely with Mrs. Plavsic now and essentially throwing its weight behind her in this inter-Serb battle, what is your analysis of that? What are the pros and cons of that?
ROBERT GALLUCCI: Well, I think some have noted that the support of NATO could undermine Mrs. Plavsic's appeal in Republika Srbska. But I think that's a small risk compared to the alternatives. I think it's extremely important that since she has taken some very important steps to try to implement Dayton, particularly on refugee return, that NATO and that the rest of those involved attempt to support her as much as possible.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: And let me just get this clear. She would lose--the NATO support would undercut her because--
ROBERT GALLUCCI: Well, the thought is that she will be characterized by the Pale Serbs, as well as the Banja Luka Serbs, as being a puppet of SFOR.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: And, Mr. Stuebner, how much support does she have? We just heard in the report that Karadzic remains quite popular?
BILL STUEBNER: He's quite popular among some people. And of course, his control of the media helps to maintain popularity. President Plavsic does have a certain following, and has had for quite some time. She's an interesting woman. She's a very strong character. And I think the fact that she has attacked Dr. Karadzic on the corruption issue is absolutely the best way she could have attacked him. The people of Republika Srbska are really suffering economically, and for them to hear that certain people are taking advantage of them certainly should help to increase her support if she can't get her message out.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: And, Mr. Ambassador, doesn't her long-term goal coincide with Mr. Karadzic's long-term goal of a Serb Republic that blends in and is absorbed by Serbia, itself?
ROBERT GALLUCCI: Certainly. She has a history that would cause us all to be concerned about the role she played during the conflict, but that was then in a sense and this is now. And what we have seen of late is Mrs. Plavsic taking on the Pale Serbs, taking on Karadzic, taking on those Serbs in the way it's been suggested; that she's focusing on the corruption issue, but at the same time she's challenging Karadzic over the question of whether there should be a return of refugees. So I think to do other than to support her would be a gross mistake.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Mr. Ambassador, what do you think is the key obstacle right now to full implementation of the accords, the Dayton Accords?
ROBERT GALLUCCI: I think that we would probably start with return of refugees; that one of the great tragedies of the conflict was the ethnic cleansing. One of the great promises of Dayton was a return to a multi-ethnic society, of the bringing together first of Croats and Muslims in the federation and then the federation, together with the Serbs and Republika Srbska. So I think first we look for a return of people to their homes.
I think we also need to see some measure of justice. We need to see the tribunal in the Hague supported, and we need to see as soon as it is politically supportable the bringing to justice of the people who are responsible for the grossest of the war crimes.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: That is the tie-in between the two, isn't it, Mr. Stuebner, that refugees won't return unless the people that were killing their families are put in jail?
BILL STUEBNER: Well, Amb. Gallucci is absolutely correct. A key issue, I think, is a return of refugees. If they don't return, if they cannot return, then that's a recipe for the next war. And the next time around, frankly, and it's one of the things I put in my letter, I think the primary victims of the next war will be the Bosnian Serb people because they will be overrun.
An update on the refugee situation.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Tell us what's happened with refugees recently. What is the latest?
BILL STUEBNER: Well, the ambassador made reference to both the federation and to Republika Srbska. Those are the two entities in Bosnia-Herzegovina. We had the Washington agreement in 1994 that set up the federation, which was a territory controlled by both Croats and Bosnians, or what some people referred to as Bosnian Muslims. Refugee return in either of those areas is really working as far as people returning to an area where they will be a minority. Some people are able to come back to the area controlled by the Bosnian--by the Bosnian part of the federation. Going back to Croat part--Croat-controlled parts of--Serb-controlled parts is almost impossible. People--their houses are burned down; they're blown up. Trying to get control of the police force, though, is a key issue, and Mr. Drljaka, who was killed near Prijedor in July, certainly--
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: One of the indicted people.
BILL STUEBNER: One of the indicted--he was one of the people who was actually standing in the way of people returning. He was personally involved in the blowing up and burning of many houses that people were going to return to. So, yes, we have to have some of these people taken out of the society . You don't necessarily have to have everyone--you know, there probably are 10,000 people in the three groups that could be indicted--well, that's never going to happen--but you have to at least establish some sense of justice and you have to let people know you have to send a very clear message that NATO and the international community are going to carry out the provisions of Dayton.
A time for optimism?
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Mr. Ambassador, very briefly, near who at the end, are you optimistic with the latest NATO moves that something would--the tide is turning at least some in Bosnia?
ROBERT GALLUCCI: I think we're headed in the right direction in Bosnia. I think that the tension right now between the two factions in Serbia is a tension that is in a sense constructive in terms of our ultimate objectives. And it may lead us to a situation in which we can get that measure of justice which would support the return of refugees. It's hard to be optimistic overall about the situation in Bosnia, but under the circumstances, I think we're doing reasonably well.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Well, thank you both very much for being with us.