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Bosnian Progress Heralds Peaceful Century

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

BRUSSELS, Belgium, July 20, 1998 – Progress in Bosnia may herald a peaceful, new century, according to NATO's supreme allied commander for Europe.

"I think of the 21st century as the century of internationalism, not nationalism," U.S. Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark said July 3 at a NATO seminar in Sarajevo. "It's going to be a century of diversity, not separation. If we all work together, it will be a century marked by peace and cooperation, not war, hatred and combat."

Clark highlighted Bosnia's democratic evolution as part of the larger transformation of Central and Eastern Europe. About 100 Croat, Moslem and Serb political, defense, academic and media leaders from Bosnia's two entities, the Bosnian Serb Republic and the Moslem-Croat Federation, attended the July 2-3 conference, designed to encourage Bosnian development of democratic principles.

Other international speakers such as NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana, U.N. High Representative Carlos Westendorp and International Police Task Force Commissioner Richard Monk took part. Discussion subjects ranged from the peace process to the role of the military, media and police in a democracy.

Clark told the group such dialogue and discussion are "a whole lot better" than fighting. "It's by talking about these issues that we are making progress and moving this process forward," he said. The NATO commander urged attendees to continue the dialogue that went so well in the seminar and strongly urged them to prevent external regional crises from affecting Bosnia.

"This is a separate country. This is not Kosovo," Clark stressed. "Keep this problem separate. Don't export trouble in a neighboring country for political purposes in this country. Don't use problems in a neighboring country as a sort of employment for young men searching for adventure. Don't use troubles in a neighboring country to try to settle old scores."

Bosnian leaders should keep Bosnia out of the developing turmoil in Kosovo and use their September elections to move the peace process forward, Clark said. They need "to rebuild the institutions in this country and make them renewed and better," he said.

Throughout Bosnia, Clark said, people from all ethnic groups say they want to put the past behind them and look to the future. "We've met people all over who are committed. They are patient and they are determined. They are courageous, hopeful and realistic."

Over the last three years, Clark noted, more than 200,000 NATO- led troops and international institutions have worked evenhandedly to implement the Dayton peace accord. As a result, he concluded, Bosnian children now have "the opportunity to be all they can be regardless of where they were born, what their name is, what religion they are -- it doesn't matter."

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