SARAJEVO, Bosnia — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered a blunt warning to squabbling Balkan leaders today that they risk being left behind as their neighbors join economically and diplomatically with Europe.
Standing next to Bosnia’s three presidents — one apiece representing ethnic Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs — Clinton was most critical of positions taken by the Serbs. “It is totally unacceptable that 17 years after the war ended, some still question Bosnia-Herzegovina’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Clinton said.
That was a reference to Bosnian Serb nationalist threats to dissolve the country formed as the result of a U.S.-brokered peace plan.
Bosnian leader Bakir Izetbegovic agreed, telling Clinton after a lengthy meeting that the time is past to discard “wasted” ethnic agendas. “The future is on us,” he said.
The siege of Sarajevo and the massacre of Muslims in Srebrenica led Clinton’s husband, then-President Bill Clinton, to expand the U.S. involvement in what became the largest overseas engagement of his presidency.