Cook tells Bosnia the time for sleaze is over
Known for his commentary on international relations and US politics, Rupert Cornwell also contributes obituaries and occasionally even a column for the sports pages. With The Independent since its launch in 1986, he was the paper's first Moscow correspondent - covering the collapse of the Soviet Union – during which time he won two British Press Awards. Previously a foreign correspondent for the Financial Times and Reuters, he has also been a diplomatic correspondent, leader writer and columnist, and has served as Washington bureau editor. In 1983 he published God's Banker, about Roberto Calvi, the Italian banker found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge.
Wednesday 30 July 1997
Speaking in Sarajevo, on the first day of his visit to Bosnia and Croatia, the Foreign Secretary was scathing about the failure of Serbs, Croats and Muslims to deliver on the Dayton peace accords to which they all subscribed in November 1995.
Britain alone had spent $2bn (pounds 1.23bn) on Bosnia in the past five years and it was "an insult to all of us" that in the 20 months since Dayton, little or nothing had been done to create common rail, air and phone systems, while wanted war criminals continued to poison local politics with impunity, he said.
It was up to Bosnia's leaders to address these problems, Mr Cook said. But if they would not or could not do so, "thereby betraying their own people," the international community would be forced to seek "direct means" of achieving those objectives.
On the matter of indicted war criminals, including the former Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, the Foreign Secretary was blunter still: the allies would act if those who ruled the former Yugoslavia would not: "This issue will not go away," he warned.
Mr Cook's charges of corruption similarly spared no one, as he called for transparent accounting standards and uniform tax and customs duties.
But, he left no doubt, that the worst offenders were in Republika Srpska, where the still powerful Mr Karadzic is said to be involved in fraud, smuggling and blackmarketeering rackets, along with his henchmen.
For all their vehemence, there is no guarantee these latest Western strictures will have much effect. "We cannot deliver peace from outside," the Foreign Secretary acknowledged.
But his words contained a message to the United States as well - that barring an utterly uncharacteristic outbreak of reason and civility in the next few months in Bosnia, Washington's plan to withdraw its peace-keepers by next summer would merely be an invitation for renewed civil war.
Meanwhile, Milan Kovacevic, the major suspect arrested by British S-For troops on 10 July, will appear in court in The Hague today to enter a plea on charges that he helped to organise brutal "ethnic cleansing" of non-Serbs in the Prijedor region of northern Bosnia in 1992.
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