|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and
Justice Louise Arbour, International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
The Hague, The Netherlands, May 28, 1997
As released by the Office of the Spokesman, May 29, 1997
U.S. Department of State
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much. I am very pleased to have this opportunity to return to the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal and to visit with Chief Prosecutor Arbour, who also heads up the prosecution for the Rwanda War Crimes Tribunal.
Justice for those accused of war crimes and for the victims of war crimes is at the heart of American policy toward Bosnia. Justice is essential to strengthen the rule of law, soften the bitterness of victims' families, and remove an obstacle to cooperation among the parties. It will help ensure that our forces can depart Bosnia without the fear that renewed violence threatening U.S. interests might one day return. It will establish a model for resolving ethnic differences by the force of law rather than the law of force.
Obtaining a full measure of justice for all will not be easy. But make no mistake, there is no statute of limitations on the crimes committed in Bosnia and Rwanda and no statute of limitations on America's support for justice.
We will continue to help provide the funds, prosecutors, and investigators the tribunals need to succeed.
On Friday, in Portugal, I will meet with our allies and partners in the Bosnia Peace Implementation Council and urge them to do their share. And this weekend, I will travel to Croatia, to Serbia, and to Bosnia to insist on the full implementation of the Dayton Agreement, including complete cooperation with the War Crimes Tribunal.
I will remind President Tudjman, President Milosovic, and the Bosnian presidency that their countries cannot expect to join the international community until they meet this obligation. That is because the United States has made full cooperation with the War Crimes Tribunal, especially the transfer of indictees to The Hague, a prerequisite for U.S. assistance, our support for assistance by others, and our backing for membership in international institutions.
For this reason, I am confident that a price will be paid for the atrocities that ravaged Bosnia for four years. Until it is paid by those who perpetrated the crimes, it will be paid by those protect them.
Justice Arbour, I want to thank you and your staff for the courage and commitment you have demonstrated in this effort, and I want to assure you that America's commitment will not waver. We are very grateful to you.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, you and others have said before that the people who protect the war criminals will pay a price and that the United States will put pressure. What is different now? What makes you so confident that you can bring these war criminals to trial, especially when four years have gone by and so few have had to answer for their crimes?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: The point here is that pressure is building, I think, on the leaders within those countries to turn the war criminals over. One of the major aspects of the Dayton Accords is for cooperation by the parties themselves with the War Crimes Tribunal in order for them to be able to rejoin the international community. As I said in my opening remarks, I am going to be delivering a newer, tougher message to both Tudjman and Milosovic, saying that basically their lack of cooperation in this area is a road block to our increased cooperation with them and their ability, both countries, to really be full members of the international community. And the United States is pledging itself to doing everything we can to assist the War Crimes Tribunals in their efforts.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, as a result of the meeting today, or in Portugal, is there going to be any increased effort by the West to actually go out and capture the war criminals?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me just say that we are all -- and I will be discussing this in Sintra and other places again -- making an additional recommitment, I think, of the international community to supporting the War Crimes Tribunal as fully as possible. There will be an examination of a number of options about how to support the War Crimes Tribunal in its very important work.
QUESTION: Will there being anything different by troops on the ground in terms of helping implement getting these war criminals?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, as you know the mandate of SFOR is not one to chase down the war criminals, it is the duty of the parties themselves to turn them over. SFOR does its part in all this, and I think that what has to be remembered here is the brilliant job that SFOR has done in the last four years making sure that the fighting has ended in Bosnia. We have a tendency to forget about what it all looked like there a few years ago. The fact that the fighting has ended and that there are huge parts of Dayton that have been implemented is due to the excellent work of SFOR.
Thank you all.
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