BELGIUM: NATO REACTION TO ARREST OF INDICTED BOSNIAN WAR CRIMINAL



(11 Jul 1997) English/Nat

NATO’s civilian and military leaders repeated on Friday that Thursday’s arrest of an indicted Bosnian war criminal did not signal the start of a hunt for the 60 or so war crimes suspects remaining at large in ex-Yugoslavia.

NATO Secretary General, Javier Solana, said there would be no change to what was agreed to under the Dayton 1995 peace accords.

Solana’s comments came at a ceremony where US General Wesley Clark took over as top NATO military official in Europe from General George Joulwan.

US General Wesley Clark’s first day as NATO’s top military official in Europe started with a pomp-filled ceremony in Belgium on Friday.

Clark had taken command of the Allied Command Europe.

Clark, 52, a four-star Army general, previously led the US Southern Command in Panama, which oversees military operations in Central and South America.

He helped broker the 1995 peace accord in Bosnia.

The ceremony also marked the end of service in that command post by General George Joulwan.

Joulwan’s send-off included a marching band, an honour guard representing each of the 16 NATO-member countries and a 17-gun salute.

NATO Secretary General, Javier Solana, attended the ceremony held at the Supreme Headquarters of Allied Power in Europe (SHAPE).

Solana acknowledged Joulwan’s outstanding contribution to NATO for an audience of military family members, friends and well-wishers.

The former Secretary General, Willy Claes, also attended.

Inside the headquarters, Solana and Clark spoke at a press conference.

Solana said again that Thursday’s arrest of an indicted Bosnian war criminal signalled no start to a hunt for the 60 or so war crimes suspects remaining at large in ex- Yugoslavia.

SOUNDBITE: (English)
“The parties know very well what we said yesterday publicly and after this morning today, that we are not going to tolerate any mission that may go against what we have agreed a date, and the party should know that. In as far as the operation yesterday I think the most important thing that took place, and the thing we have to do is to say little as possible to do as much as possible.”
SUPER CAPTION: Javier Solana, NATO Secretary General

Nothing would go against anything previously agreed to in the 1995 Dayton peace accords.

SOUNDBITE: (English)
“The mission is the same and no change has been produced in Madrid.”
SUPER CAPTION: Javier Solana, NATO Secretary General

General Clark backed Solana’s statement up by saying there was not change of role for peace-keeping troops in Bosnia.

SOUNDBITE: (English)
“Well I just like to say, it is my understanding that, in fact there is no change in the mission of S-FOR. The parties, signatories of Dayton, are committed to co-operating with the International Criminal Tribunal in Yugoslavia and the indictments of these two war criminals are public and well known.”
SUPER CAPTION: Wesley Clark, Supreme Commander of the Allied Command Europe

NATO officials otherwise were silent on what future plans for apprehending suspected war criminals might be.

NATO-led peacekeepers are not prevented by the agreement from arresting war crimes suspects.

But the accord doesn’t force them to go out of their way to bring them to justice either.

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