Then we had the Srpska elections with 78% of the people voting. The same thing.
So now you have President Dodic who is a credible social democrat. It's not
easy for him to form a government because a lot of these people are former SDS
people. It wasn't easy to find the international financing to bridge the period
of the back pay for October, November, December, January of the doctors, the
school teachers, the pensioners. But it's been a breath of fresh air, because
he has helped us now restructure SRT. He's engendered other reforms. We're
beginning to see the collection of customs and the customs money going in to
the coffers of the government of the Republic of Srpska not into the pockets of
politicians in Pale. And indeed, as an example, technically, according to the
customs record, no one in the Republic of Srpska has smoked a cigarette in the
last few years. Suddenly, in the past 3 weeks now with serious customs
implementation, several hundred thousand deutsch marks have been collected in
customs fees, and that's only a minor example.
Q: So where was that money going before?
Ambassador Klein: In the pockets of politicians.
Q: Which politicians did you have in mind?
Ambassador Klein: Well, I don't want to name them in public, I mean. But the
point is that whole regime was corrupt. In other words you had a regime which
was a front for Karadzic and the war criminal element. So you can see the
climate in the Republic of Srpska has changed. People are open, the traveling
is easier, there's not the sense of intimidation and fear, there's much more
traffic and trans-integration. And indeed, that area around Banja Luka
traditionally, culturally and economically gravitated toward Zagreb.
So, to put it simply, we now have a serious interlocutor in Banja Luka. There's
also another additional element. According to Dayton, two thirds of the aid
goes to the Federation, International. One third was supposed to go the Rep
Srpska. It never did, because of the Pale regime. So now we have a government
that you can actually say, yes we can make infrastructure money available,
bridges on the Sarba*, rail roads, hydro-electric grids etc. And I must say,
even President Plavsic has supported the process. In other words, the
difference between she and the Pale crowd, she's as much a nationalist as, as
they are. They can't fault her on her nationalism. But she realizes that at
this point in history, it is in the best interests of Republic of Srpska to
implement Dayton, to support democratic processes, to try to do something about
the, the generalized corruption that exists.
Q: Can you give me a kind of thumb-nail sketch of this construct that you
describe as the administration in Pale?
Ambassador Klein: Well what you had there was a group of politicians, the SDS
party stronghold, who basically farmed out with say, revenue collection, to two
or three companies, run by their cronies, who then skimmed off the monies
coming into the coffers. There's some quite wealthy individuals up there - four
million in the bank, a million-dollar home in Montenegro. The tragedy is, I
used to say, that the people of Republic Srpska have been led into one
historical cul-de-sac after another, by extremely poor leadership. So for us,
to have someone serious to deal with has been a blessing, and I think we've
raised now some twenty million dollars Europen Union, US five million to try to
support the Dodic government and demonstrate the international community's
resolve that if we find serious people to deal with, we will honor our
commitments and make the financing available that they need.
Now, the important thing is, he will now, in the next three or four months
really begin to control the levers of the power and bringing that revenue in
which will actually sustain him over the long-term, which is important. And
he's already done that, I mean the income has tripled in terms of revenue
collection within Republic Srpska.
Q: And you think that income was going into the pockets of Karadzic?
Ambassador Klein: Absolutely, the pockets of the people in Pale. Very much so.
And there's another dimension to this, which is, as he establishes control over
the security forces, the blanket that covers Pale that they've been able to
hide under becomes ever smaller. The advance tips, the warnings, the leaks etc,
which were there before, in the Republic Srpska, will no longer be there. So
the blanket under which the war criminals are hiding becomes smaller. And
indeed, in the rest of Republic Srpska, people have given themselves up. You
see the Croats who were in The Hague, their indictments were evaluated, the
evidence was found insufficient, they were let go. That showed us that (quote)
"There is an honest process here. And therefore I'm willing to go to The
Hague." And we had that in three or four cases.
Now when you ask them "Why didn't you do this earlier - intimidation? Fear? By
family and friends? No Serb ever surrenders? No Serb ever gives himself up?"
But as one of them said, "Look I'm tired of not being able to sleep. I'm tired
of being paranoid. I think I'm innocent I want to get it behind me you know.
So, from their perception at least they want to get on with their lives. And
between the ones that have volunteered to give themselves up and the ones that
SFOR has actually arrested, we're making very good progress, I think.
Q: Comparing it to a year ago, how would you describe Karadzic's position
now, as leader as it were, of that Pale group?
Ambassador Klein: I think it's very much eroding, because you see, what
happened in the Republic Srpska, as in Herzegovina and in the Federation here,
the party identification is your ticket to a job, to your children going to
school, to an apartment etc. So naturally, most of the population of Republic
Srpska supported the SDS, out of intimidation, out of fear, out of personal
gain. Now that you have a different government, people are turning in their
party cards, they're looking to Banja Luka, in a sense, for leadership. And so,
a lot of the mayors, a lot of the police chiefs are saying you know, "I was
always uncomfortable with this, I'm an honest Serb, I don't want to be tainted
by this." Because we can't demonize and satanize a people for what a few did.
And there's no doubt that they did it, but that we can't demonize a whole
population. So it gives the Serbs in Republic Srpska, the honest people many of
whom I know, another option, an honest option to work with a government that's
credible. And that , I think, is the key thing.
Now, the Karadzic forces haven't given up. You know, we had a long paper that
was drafted in his office, how to undermine the Dodic government; how the SDS
should reconstitute itself to take on this government; how to undermine western
credibility in aid; how to paint Dodic as a tool of the west; all this
nonsense. And we assiduously avoided doing that because you and I both know,
and I think anyone who understands political science knows, you know the
western embrace can often suffocate you. And we've made it a point to let Dodic
be his own man, let that government be its own government. Assist as we can,
advise when asked, but very much let them be the representative of the Serb
people, so they're not tainted by that.
Q: But he has an obligation to turn Karadzic in, doesn't he?
Ambassador Klein: Technically the way it should work is that the entities are
responsible for the apprehension of the war criminals in their areas, and
that's on all sides. That's in the Croat side, the Muslim, the Bosnian side and
the Serb side. But I think Karadzic's days are numbered because it is closing
in. It is getting a smaller and smaller blanket and umbrella that he can hide
under. In fact his best option would be to go to The Hague. If you have a case
to make for your actions during that period, then make it. Have the best
international defense available, but have your day in court.
The warrant is not going to go away. We're not going to let this thing slide,
and no matter where he goes on the face of the earth, that warrant will
eventually be served. Now he has another problem, which is worth thinking
about: are there people on that side who don't want to see him go anywhere? Is
he probably sometimes more in danger from them than from anyone else? And
that's something he has to calculate in his equation as he thinks about what
his next step should be.
Q: Do you think he may be danger?
Ambassador Klein: I wouldn't doubt that there's certain people who don't want
to see him in a witness stand actually giving testimony. And he has to think
that very seriously, because he knows who they are.
Q: Do you think that there is a qualitative difference between bringing
someone like Karadic to trial compared with the people lower on the ladder that
have been arrested?
Ambassador Klein: It depends. Last year when I was still in Eastern Slavonia I
had three indictments. These were for the three military officers who had taken
260 wounded Croatian military personnel out of the hospital in Vukovar,
systematically brutalized them, and then machine-gunned them. Now we had
warrants for three obviously, but who were all the gunmen? Who did all the
machine-gunning? In early spring of last year, the International Tribunal for
the former Yugoslavia ICTY, came down to see me and said "Now we have a sealed
indictment. We have a sealed indictment for the former mayor of Vukovar, Slavko
Dokmanovic. I said, "Look if he comes across the Danube to Eastern Slavonia,
he's got to be the dumbest Serb in all of Yugoslavia." But, lo and behold, in,
in May, they said, "there may be an inkling that that he might come across the
border", probably for reasons of greed, business deals, the way these things
often happen. I then said, "Fine, I'll put together a plan". I called in my
force commander there are three or four people on my staff who knew about it,
we planned the operation, I had a superb group of Polish Ministry of Interior
personnel. And we rehearsed this thing, over and over again. Because, as you
understand, my problem was, we're in Eastern Slavonia where we have executive
power, but how do I get him from there to Croatia proper to the airfield, into
an aeroplane then into The Hague?
So basically we had a very small planning cell, my immediate staff, the force
commander General Allsee* and the commander of the Polish Special Group Major
Keeta*. And, I said had no way of knowing whether this would happen, but we
rehearsed over and over again.
Now, the things you have to factor in: you're not doing a soldier's job which
is to basically destroy targets, force you to surrender or kill you. A
policeman's job is to arrest you, detain you and hold you for trial. It's a
very different construct. So you can have soldiers to do a mission that they're
not trained to do. In this case, the Polish group we had was superb and were
Now, then the issue is where do you come across the border in a vehicle, are
you by yourself? Are you with your family? Are you armed? Where do you the
apprehension, on the highway? Do you wait till you get to the hotel where
you're doing a business meeting? Do you do it on the way back? Where is the
safest place to do it, where minimum harm would come to the individual you're
trying to arrest and certainly to your own people? Well, the individual came
across the border, the vehicle was run into a compound which actually had been
headquarters. The warrant and the arrest documents were served by
International Tribunal personnel, lawyers and interpreters and legal staff who
were there. Then the individual was searched, he had a pistol with him. A black
hood was put over his head, he was taken then in one of our UN vehicles to
Osia* to the airport. And actually the question there was asked, "Who is this?"
And we said, "Don't worry, it's another one of our rehearsals, we've done this
before, you remember last week" etc and they said, "Oh, okay." But then he
started to have heart palpitations. Naturally when you're accused of killing
260 people you probably do begin to get nervous when someone arrests you. So he
was given a full medical exam, he was treated on the spot, he was put into an
aircraft and between three in the evening and seven in the evening he was in
The Hague. The first question and, and challenge to the authority was: Was he
arrested in Croatia or in Yugoslavia? Well we had a document, it was very clear
from the evidence, the video that he had entered Eastern Slavonia and that is
Croatia proper. So that was thrown out. And then the actual trial began in
Now the other important thing, that when you do something like that is, we
fairly quickly went public, and said to the public, "Today so-and-so was
arrested based on a sealed indictment. We don't know whether he's guilty or
innocent, that's not our judgment, that should be made in The Hague. But he'll
receive no fairer trial or adjudication than in The Hague. This warrant would
have never gone away and, eventually someone would have served it, possibly in
much more dangerous condition. Also, I don't hold him responsible as a
representative of the Serb people. We're not here to demonize or satanize the
people. Croat murderers, Serb murderers, Bosnian murderers have to be held
individually accountable for their actions. Not the people." And then three
days later in a very difficult meeting with my deputy we actually met with his
wife and daughter and son and met niece, and explained why this was done. Now
that was not easy, but I think it was fairly done and we as the United Nations
mission, could not under Article 21 avoid our responsibility. Doesn't mean you
go looking for people, but if you know someone's coming across you do have the
obligation to serve the warrant. So that was the first indicted war criminal in
the former Yugoslavia arrested and transported to The Hague. And then, a few
weeks later, the British did Prijedor.
Q: And what was the effect of Prijedor do you think?
Ambassador Klein: It was quantum. If you go to Prijedor now, it's a different
city. It's open, people aren't afraid. That police chief and those thugs
intimidated the local population, they frightened the local population. You
found people on the street. Now, remember now I didn't state this but really
the most important part of the equation, which we didn't discuss, is we have
700 UN employees living in Serb homes. That concerned us more, from a security
perspective than the arrest. The fact that the Poles were superbly trained
meant that the arrest would happen one way or the other, that wasn't really the
What would the Serb reaction be to the UN people living in their homes? And
after 46 hours or so people were coming up and saying "You know, he wasn't nice
to Croats but he wasn't nice to other people either, our own people". And once
you heard that then you knew, and I think whatever resistance there was or
concern very quickly dampened.
Q: Do you think that by reforming the conditions, the normal decency and the
normal way of evaluating these things comes back?
Ambassador Klein: I don't think any Serb that I know, and the Serbs have a long
and historic tradition as a people, wants to be associated with war criminals,
with murderers, with people who will take wounded military personnel with
prosthetic devices on their arms, with drainage bags, with their X-rays under
their arms, a man with a wooden leg and massacred them. I don't think any
decent Serb wants to associate with someone like that, or people who did those
Nor do the Croats want to be associated with some of their people who did some
of these things. Nor these people here. We exhumed a gravesite here in October,
November where we had 14 Serb military personnel who had their heads chopped
off by someone. The heads weren't there, we found the bodies. I don't think any
Bosnian here wants to be associated with whoever did that.
Q: How do you view do you view the idea of command responsibility here
because clearly people like Karadzic, people in the leadership, are not doing
those things that you're talking about. Where does their responsibility
Ambassador Klein: It lies with them ultimately, if you can document it, and
then you do that with telephone intercepts, with photographs, with eyewitness
testimony, to the people who gave the orders. Who gave the order to cleanse the
village? You know, when you interview one of these people, and you say "What is
ethnic cleansing?" and he says on camera, "Well, you know, you kill a few
people and then the others run away", you say "Well, do you kill 'em all?",
"Oh, no, no, no. You don't have to kill them all. You just kill a few and that
terrorizes the rest and they leave." I mean, we've had people who've said this
Now, I will also say though, one has to understand that when this war began,
the prisons opened. And by that I mean literally, they opened, everywhere. And
every psychopath, every pathological killer, every madman who you'd normally
lock up in the darkest dungeon in peacetime, was suddenly on the street. And
under the rubric of nationalism, were able to do these things. And then each
side tends to do what? You tend to terrorize the other side, mutilate some in
hopes of engendering the same reaction, so that you get the mass of your
population to support this conflict, which is what they tried to do
psychologically. You impress people into service, you take young men who have
no choice and force them to serve. You make them dig ditches, and then you say,
"Now you've dug a ditch here, if they come, you aided and abetted the war
process, you're just as guilty as we are, even though we have the rifle." And I
saw that happen throughout the region. So you gang press people into doing
things they would normally never do.
Q: And do you think it was possible that people at the highest levels of
the government of the Republic of Srpska could have failed to have known what
was going on?
Ambassador Klein: They knew. The intelligence was very, very good. Because at
numerous meetings, if you read the documentation of this war, where UN
Interlocutors or I4 interlocutors talk with the leadership. They knew very well
what was going on in the village.... or refused to react, or waited till it was
over before saying, "Well I, had a difficult time, I couldn't telephone, the
lines were down, the communications didn't work." No the, the leadership,
certainly is responsible. You have to document that, you can't just say
anecdotal. There's a lot of that around here, "I think so-and-so did X, Y or
Z." That's fine, but you have to be able to prove it. And that really means
That's why for The Hague to indict someone takes a great deal of evidence, for
The Hague to convict someone takes even more. And there are probably many
people who they have dossiers on, who they really don't, who you and I know are
guilty, but how do you indict them unless you have sufficient evidence? Now
that may be a failing of the Western legal tradition when there's Anglo-Saxon
or Napoleonic. But it's probably better for us that we follow those procedures,
rather than ad-hoc do some kind of frontier justice. As I said at Ocara, yes,
you have the four Yugoslav army officers, you had Dokmanovic. But who were all
the other gunmen? Who formed the gauntlet at the head quarters in Vukovar which
they made them run through and brutalize them and beat three of them to death?
Where are all those other people? You see, now many of those will never be
caught probably because we'll never have the evidence, we'll never have all the
facts. But at least we can identify the leadership people and the people who
played the leadership role, and hopefully bring them to justice. Because if we
don't, it's like a wound that will never heal. In some sense, you have to do
Q: You've always said that these atrocities, these war crimes were committed
on all sides of the war. Does that point that the leadership knew what was
going on also pertain to all sides?
Ambassador Klein: Well I don't have the evidence. I assume that in times of
war these things percolate to the top and because you're engaged in a major
battle for your lives, for the state, whatever it may be that you say, "Look. I
appreciate knowing this but, I think we can deal with that later." And indeed,
I think here that happened, you know, where right after the war, they had to
clean up a little detritus of the war, some of their own people got radically
out of hand, who were challenging the central government. And so I think that
happened on all sides.
The Croats had the same problem, where you then have military commanders who
start having delusions about the role they played or the authority they have,
and you have to clean them up after the war. Replace them, retire them so,
that's not unusual.
But it's hard you know, war there's always this, as John Keegan said, "The fog
of war is there." You're being overwhelmed by information. Some accurate, some
inaccurate, rumors, hearsay, you don't know, this has happened, that's
happened, atrocities committed. And in a scenario like that when you're going
for three or four months, lack of sleep, daily pressure, you know trying to
resolve and plan and campaign. You know the war crimes issue doesn't become
that germane. If the media reports it obviously you have to do something and do
something about it quickly. But normally these are the kinds of things that
come out after the wars, when the victims appear. Now I must tell you, there's
a group that came to see me not too long ago, Institute for Peace, I believe,
who are trying to document what you would call the Schindler kinds of things.
Now the sad part is you can't even identify these good people yet because their
own people would still beat them up or work them over, or accuse them. But we
know there are cases where someone said, you know, "Look, you have these people
in the camp and, and you're killing them, maybe I can get one or two of them."
And in the context of doing that actually save twenty or twenty two peoples'
lives. Or someone on the street, you have the woman running toward him with a
couple of children and they say, "Don't kill us, don't kill us" and he says,
"No, I'm not going to kill you" and takes them somewhere, save haven, change
their clothes etc. Those are the kinds of things I think we also need to
document. And that's harder to do because as I said, if you identify these
people, their own people would still take umbrage at the fact that they acted
decently in the middle of this carnage, when everyone else was acting
Q: But that argument about the 'fog of war' I mean, isn't that an argument
that Karadzic and the Serbs could use. Because their point is that why is it
that it's only their leader that's been indicted?
Ambassador Klein: Well, I would say this. To indict him took a lot of evidence.
There's no doubt that an indictment from The Hague, as I said, is not easy to
get. So, there must be good evidence. There is a dilemma you have, that whoever
supplies evidence to The Hague, that's what's acted on, and some governments in
the region were more forthcoming, responded more quickly, set up offices to
gather data, documentation, witness interviews and provided that to the Hague
where others didn't. I raised this once when the Serbs raised this issue with
me in Pale. I said, "Because, one - the Bosnia government has a representative
in The Hague, so does the Croatian government. That means he works with the
International Tribunal, or they work with the International Tribunal. Why don't
you send one of your people? If you have witnesses, why don't you notify the
tribunal". By the way, we did that in Eastern Slavonia, you know. As I said, to
be very fair when we captured this individual, the complaint was raised, "What
about the evil things that so-and-so did on the Croatian side?" And we said,
"You find the witnesses, we will invite the International Tribunal to come
down." The International Tribunal came down, they interviewed witnesses, and
hopefully there will be some indictments for some of those people as well.
My goal was even-handedness. I mean if you take sides here then you lose all
your credibility. You have to be absolutely impartial. Because you see, I don't
think the Croats or the Serbs or the Bosniacks are bad people. See, that's the
premise I think where the International Community is different than they as
individuals are at looking at each other. My presumption is, that on all sides,
in all societies, there are some nasty, nasty people. And that's what you have
to deal with, the individual. I don't believe in a collective guilt. And I
think that every country looking at its history has had some of that. And it's
a question of how you deal with it that's important.
Q: But there has to be some kind of cultural complicity surely? In the sense
that Karadzic found some way of mobilizing his people, Otherwise they wouldn't
have followed him?
Ambassador Klein: Well I think if you listen to them, now this is their
argument, it's not mine.:They felt that their country "had been stolen from
them," that they really wanted to continue to be part of Yugoslavia. And this
by voting, by declaring Bosnia an independent state, that they were
disenfranchised as a people, that they were fighting for their history, their
lives, their nation, which had been fragmented by forces which many of them
probably didn't understand. Now you go back to square one and say, "Who started
this?" You know, what was the role of the media from 1987-88 on in creating
this kind of ethnic hate and bringing up the animosities of the, of the past?
And the leadership in Belgrade and elsewhere that played to that theme and
exacerbated and worked the population into a frenzy.
So, yes, you're right, and people when they're fighting for what they think
are their lives, their culture, their traditions, yes they will support that
kind of leadership. You know, sometimes thoughtlessly. But ultimately, you
know, reason has to prevail and not all of them did (fight). Obviously the
Dodics didn't. Dodic, through the whole war kept his lines of communication
with the other side open and so did many other Serbs. In Croatia, there were
Serb villages that didn't fight, there were Serb villages who negotiated with
the Croatian government and said, "We don't want to be any part of this
rebellion, of this Republic Srpska..." As I said, what you try to do, you
engender enormous hostility among the ethnic groups. You, you commit atrocities
to force the other side to retaliate.
The propaganda war was key in exaggerating, and many of these things were
exaggerated. In fact, I would tell you candidly, one of the biggest problems
here in the whole Balkans is the lack of understanding of objective history.
Now I was trained as a historian, you know, that means you objectively look at
history and all sources, and you don't come to closure until you have all your
data, and then you analyze it. And always realize that no matter how much data
you have, there still may be equations here that are missing.
But here what you had was Marxist history ...for fifty years, nationalistic,
crypo-fascist history from World War II, or anecdotal history. 'My grandfather
told me, my uncle was there, he told me in World War II'. Now we know that
those are called war stories; generally exaggerated, often untrue, often based
on myth and rumor. Very seldom is it 'I was actually the one who (bangs on
table) did this, I heard from a buddy. In that next village they did X, Y or
Z.' And so, when you say then, to someone here, "Have you really read the
Oxford, Cambridge, University of Paris and Bonn, University of Indiana ...study
of the Balkans?" or something. So they get it all mixed up and they tell you
very candidly whatever year these people deserted us in a battle field, and
have betrayed us. And Christianity, and then you look at it and you say, "They
weren't even on the battle field, that was those guys."
Q: But it's also true that the leaders themselves didn't have an objective
history at hand.
Ambassador Klein: No they don't, and they're not well-educated.
Q: Are they whipping up this frenzy in a cynical kind of way?
Ambassador Klein: Oh they are, for personal aggrandizement, for power. What
drives many of the people (politicians/leaders) here, that's why I said earlier
to you-- can leadership that led you in the war lead you in the peace? And I
don't know if that's possible, you know, because they have so much at stake in
their personal role they played in this process. What you need here is
probably, I hate to say this, a business orientated leadership, a business
community that looks at things economically, rather than in this constant
ethnic ideological sense. We've had two fairs here, we did a major fair in
Banja Luka, which Ambassador Kosrich* and the American Embassy took the lead
in, where we took Muslim businessmen , Bosnian businessmen up there.
Then we, reciprocated and had a very large fair here in, in Sarajevo attended
by Serbs from both Republic Srpska and Yugoslavia. What did the businessmen
say? "Look I had Serb and Croat and Bosniack partners. I had affiliates
throughout Bosnia. You politicians talk, I have to meet a payroll. I need raw
materials to make my products. And then I've got to distribute my products to
make a sale. I need freedom of movement, I need a passport, and I want to get
on with it, and I want to rebuild the infrastructure I had, or find my partners
and rebuild what we had, because I'm interested in a good life, I'm not
interested in running around and dying over flags and symbols. I want a
comfortable existence for myself and my family, and a future for my children,
hopefully in Europe."
Q: And new history.
Ambassador Klein: Yeah. And, that's why with the flag... you know, we had a
flag committee basically working on this flag. And it's interesting what they
said to us. They said they wanted to design a flag that no one had died over.
And hopefully, would not die over. Something fairly neutral. Blue, which was
the European blue, a golden triangle which really symbolizes Bosnia, and the
stars which you can say are a symbol of hope. But the goal was to avoid ethnic
colors and to avoid ethnic symbols. And indeed with license plates, we did the
Three numbers, a letter and three numbers. Now immediately, the Republic Srpska
President Krajsnik came back and said, "Dayton says very specifically that
license plates should have and can have cyrillic, as well as latin characters."
And we said, "That's right. It does have cyrillic. There are exactly seven
letters that are the same in latin and in cyrillic. And those are the seven
letters we're using."
Q: So, going back to arrest and the difficulties of arrest, do you think it
was a mistake to have waited so long before apprehending some of the top
Ambassador Klein: To be candid, you cannot blame the military. First of all, as
I said earlier, I really don't think ... that you can ask a soldier to do that,
because he's not trained to do it, unless you're a specially trained unit of
some sort. A policeman's job is to arrest, detain, hold for trial. It's a very
different construct. And so you have to have the right people to do it, that's
the first part of the equation. The second part of the equation is you need
national will. It isn't that the soldiers wouldn't do it or that the military
chain of command wouldn't execute it, but there has to be a consensus in
political will. And that seems to be what's been lacking so far.
Q: Why was it lacking?
Ambassador Klein: Well, you could argue would something like that at the wrong
time have caused an enormous reaction? An anti-SFOR reaction? Internal
turbulence? Violence directed against our troops, the International Force? Now,
well, climates change. Are there as many supporters of Karadzic today as there
were two years ago? Do still that many Serbs believe that he is right and is
the hero of the Serb people rather than an indicted war criminal? You know, as
people become educated, as they become aware of the things that were done, or
the nature of the indictment and the evidence, they tend to change. So I don't
think it's a question of waiting. I don't know what the situation was in
Bosnia, because I wasn't there. I had never imagined that we would arrest
anyone in Eastern Slavonia, I never in my ... wildest dreams imagined that any
of these people would ever show up. It was just by fluke basically that we had
a sealed indictment for someone. There were one or two Croats who committed
some egregious acts in Eastern Slavonia. I would have also liked to have got
one of them.
Q: But what about that argument that it would have been counter-productive
in terms of establishing peace (if SFOR had pro-actively apprehended war
criminals from the beginning)?
Ambassador Klein: That's what I think was the argument here, that they felt
that the climate in the Republic Srpska was still too tense. I mean one has to
factor in the economic situation here; it was desperate. In other words, Dayton
says the Federation is to receive 2/3rds of foreign assistance, the Republic
Srpska 1/3rd. Republic Srpska has never received anything. It was 97% to 3 why?
because of Karadzic, Pale etc. That means salaries for a judge in the
Federation, 1200 deutsche mark a month. A judge in the Republic Srpska 250.
In other words you had a Republic Srpska that was already paranoid, imploding
economically, isolated by the international community and, that is the climate
and the analysis that I think people had to do to say "Now, do we jump in the
middle of this and try to extract an individual out of that kind of scenario?
What would the reaction of the population be?" Now, you have a Republic Srpska
with a government that was elected, foreign aid is coming in, not only the
immediate aid to bridge the salary gap, but long-term infrastructure
assistance. Dodic and Plavsic are becoming more and more credible and there's
a sense of 'I don't want to be identified with war criminals'. People are
turning in their SDS party cards and saying, "I did that admittedly for selfish
reasons, I needed a job, my children needed to go to school, or I was
intimidated." so the climate has changed.
And as I said, as the Dodic government secures its control over the Ministry of
Interior, as it establishes itself more firmly, I think that blanket that
covers Pale and Karadzic and the rest of them is shrinking. Now, Dodic's
government is also not that strong yet, he depends on Bosnia Federation
Deputies for roads and a number of deputies that are basically Milosevic
people. So he has to be also careful in terms of what he does and how he builds
confidence and how he gathers strength.
Q: So he's not strong enough yet, you think, to arrest Karadzic?
Ambassador Klein: No, I don't think so. I think that he just doesn't have that
control yet in the Republic Srpska. You know, they had a long time to establish
themselves the SDS, in village municipalities, communities, the police, the
party infrastructure. They had the money, and they skimmed off the money that
should have gone into into the coffers of the government to do public works and
pensions and salaries. And they profited enormously from this, and it's like
one of the things we said, we've taken Pale's hands out of the peoples'
pockets. It's really what happened here in the past six months.
Q: You've taken Pale's hands out?
Ambassador Klein: I think so. I think the decision that Carlos* made... was the
seminal decision. We were actually in Brussels that day. And, the Republic
Srpska television, SRT, was broadcasting egregious attacks on Judge Arbour,
comparing SFOR with the SS in World War II. And they were sent a warning letter
that egregious behavior like this will now engender a response. And Krajsnik
and his people were the Board of the SRT, it was an SDS government station,
even though it was public property, allegedly. Well, I think that action showed
the Pale group that SFOR, the International Community, the high representative,
could no longer be intimidated. And from then on, we started, I think,
gradually and continuing to erode their power.
That culminated in the Dodic government.
Q: So this is a policy of asphyxiation as it were?
Ambassador Klein: It's a number of things. First of all, honest television. In
other words, reporting of the news not propaganda. So now, in Banja Luka you
have some international personnel, lots of aid from the BBC came, the Americans
came in, hundreds of hours of tape which we've managed to get dubbed. NBA
basketball. In other words, a, a whole different view of programming television
for a listening audience, not just propaganda all day long. And as you said
earlier, there is a psychological claustrophobia, a sense of isolation that
existed here. The inability to travel; the lack of global news, all those
things were there. That's changed, and over time people then really do
understand that they've not necessarily always been told the truth in terms of
what the political situation was.
Q: What other positive democratic signs do you see?
Now, in relation to what we spoke about earlier with the election, think of
people who are intimidated, people who are living as three separate ethnic
groups with very defined party structures, SDA, SDS and HDZ. Yet, in spite of
all that, in spite of the intimidation, in spite of the callousness of the
past, in spite of 50 years of a very cynical communist attitude toward
elections, one party, same candidates, no choice, these people I think, around
Bosnia made a very dramatic statement..... everywhere we went, in somewhat
inclement weather, little ladies, people sitting in buses overnight, who
demonstrated to me. You know, it was, to me a gesture to the International
Community, "You're trying to help us, we know that. You, you've, you've
invested billions". "Maybe we can show you something. Maybe we can show you we
believe in the democratic process. And maybe we can show you that we believe
that there's another way other than violence to resolve this."
So when you have an 80% turnout in a situation like that, with multiple
individuals, coalitions and parties on the ballot, that gave me reassurance.
Because the question I asked when I came down here, when Secretary Albright
asked me to take this position, was are there enough Bosniacks, Croats and
Serbs living in Bosnia who, in spite of all the terrible things that have
happened are still willing to live together. And I think the election was a
symbol. "Yes. Yes, there'll be differences, we will argue over history, we will
argue over school curriculum, we'll argue over flag, we'll argue over many
things. Hopefully some of you, the International Community will help us
resolve. The others will be argued in the Courts of the media for years. But at
least we're telling you something." 80% and in the Republic Srpska 78%. In
spite of SDS intimidation and all the attempts they made to undermine the
So those people in Brcko, in Banja Luka, in Srebrenica, everywhere where they
voted, they were telling us something, I think. And they were telling us that
they appreciate I think what the International Community's doing here. But that
they're sending us a signal that these are the kinds of processes, these are
the kinds of institutions. And, as you know, this year the September election
will be a definitive one because it will define Bosnia for the next four years.
The Presidencies, down to the mayoral level.
So this is a major undertaking and OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) is already gearing up, you know, the
dates have been identified in September. It means full international
monitoring. You see, that also sent a signal to people that we're serious. When
you bring in two thousand international staff so that you have international
monitors in every election booth. When you control the electoral process, so
they know there's fairness, and the ballots aren't going to be shredded
somewhere. You know, there was that old joke always in Eastern Europe, Joseph
Stalin once said, "It doesn't matter who votes, what counts is who counts the
votes." Here we're trying to show something very, very different, that the vote
matters and it will be counted fairly.