The United States is marking the tenth anniversary of the Dayton Accords that ended the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina by commemorating the progress of the last decade and looking to an even brighter future.
The war in Bosnia-Herzegovina left two-hundred fifty-thousand people dead, including the massacre of eight-thousand victims in Srebrenica -- the worst atrocity in Europe since the Second World War. The Dayton Accords brought an end to ethnic fighting and the return of some refugees to their homes. Today, Croats, Serbs and Bosniaks in Bosnia Herzegovina are rebuilding their homes and their lives.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says now it is time to take the Dayton Accords a step further and make Bosnia into a more unified country:
"To advance the promise of peace and progress, we must now move beyond the framework constructed a decade ago. A weak, divided state was appropriate in 1995, but today in 2005, the country needs a stronger, energetic state capable of advancing the public good and securing the national interest."
The government of Bosnia Herzegovina has already begun to establish national institutions such as a state border service and an intelligence service. Moreover, the Bosnian leadership has started the process of building a fully integrated, NATO-compatible armed force at the national level.
But challenges to Bosnia Herzegovina's future remain. First, said Secretary of State Rice, "Bosnia and Herzegovina must fully confront the demons of its past; in particular, the urgent and long overdue need to bring justice to war criminals like Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic." The Bosnian Serb leaders from Banja Luka and the Serb government in Belgrade bear a special responsibility to find and hand over Karadzic and Mladic to the war crimes tribunal in The Hague.
In the years ahead, Bosnia Herzegovina will need to find a path toward a more politically unified state. The United States looks forward to the day when the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina view themselves first and foremost as Bosnians rather than Muslims, Croats, or Serbs.
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.