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P R E S S   R E L E A S E

For immediate release : 1 May, 1996


Senator George Mitchell, Chair of the International Crisis Group (ICG) and former US Senate majority leader, is visiting Bosnia this week. He will give a press conference in Sarajevo on Saturday 4 May at 9.30am at the ICG office, 29 Obala Kulina Bana, Sarajevo. All are welcome to attend. A statement from Senator George Mitchell is attached.

ICG has been monitoring the implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords since February this year. It has a team of 12 resident in Bosnia covering all elements of Dayton. The team is headed by Sir Terence Clark, a senior former British diplomat, and consists of international experts on former Yugoslavia. This press conference marks the first major statement by ICG on the implementation of the Dayton Agreement.


Embargo: 9.30am (local time), 4 May 1996

"The fate of the Dayton Peace Accords hangs in the balance. This Agreement provides for a fundamental transformation, in social, military and political terms, of the former Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina into a new state. The Agreement represents the best hope for peace in this part of the world, but a wall of nationalist prevarication and procrastination is threatening to subvert Dayton's goals. Resolute international action is vital to avoid defeat.

"I believe that the fundamental objective of Dayton, that is the peaceful reintegration of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a multi-ethnic society, can be realised. But the Dayton clock is ticking and there is no time to lose. I will spell out what I believe needs to be achieved now. Should we fail to achieve Dayton's goals - and that goes far beyond simply bringing an end to the war - this part of the world, at the very heart of Europe, will remain an area of instability engaging a disproportionate share of the world's attention and resources. At worst, we could see a resumption of the bloody war.

"I am Chairman of the International Crisis Group - ICG - which, with others, is facilitating the implementation of the Dayton Agreement as a contribution to building peace in Bosnia and beyond. We have an experienced team on the ground led by a former senior British diplomat,

Sir Terence Clark. ICG's firm view is that the single most important step to be taken towards achieving Dayton's aspirations is the immediate apprehension of those indicted on charges of war crimes. Many of these individuals, accused of committing some of the worst atrocities of the war, remain today in or near positions of power and authority and unless removed forthwith they will foster the partition of the Federation and encourage others to follow their lead. Remove them and Dayton will, I believe, stand a reasonable chance of success.

"The foremost way of achieving this overriding goal is to persuade Croatia and Serbia, as contracting parties to the Dayton Agreement, to hand over or organise the surrender of those indicted on charges of war crimes. If this requires another summit of all the parties to Dayton, then it should occur promptly. If this approach fails, there may be no alternative to bringing pressure to bear on NATO and IFOR to apprehend those concerned. The success of free and fair elections, the freedom to return to their homes of up to 2 million refugees and displaced persons and the future stability of this part of the world all depend overwhelmingly on bringing these individuals to trial.

"Maintaining security in Bosnia, both now and beyond IFOR's mandate, is, of course, an important part of this package. I have witnessed this need myself during my visit here. The US and other member states of NATO are well aware of this and will work to find a solution. This may involve a smaller, but no less effective force.

To come back to my major point: the key to the success of the Dayton Agreement depends on the removal of what is a relatively small number of individuals who have been indicted on charges of serious war crimes. Their continued presence in this part of the world remains the single more important obstacle to progress.

For further information call Nicholas Hinton or Charles Radcliffe on 0171-630-5673 or send e-mail here

The International Crisis Group is a private, multinational organisation created to reinforce the capacity and resolve of the international community to prevent crises arising from human causes. Members of the ICG board include former heads of state and government, foreign ministers, MPs and leading figures in business and the media. ICG is chaired by the former US Senate majority leader, George Mitchell.

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