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Bosnian Leaders Pledge Reform

Ten years after the end of the Bosnian war, leaders of the main groups in Bosnia have pledged to overhaul their constitution. Political leaders representing Serbian, Croatian, and Muslim factions said they are committed to carrying out initial reforms by March 2006 - including the abolition of an unwieldy system of three presidents.

Bosnian Serb leaders are also calling on former Bosnian Serb officials, Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic, "to surrender voluntarily and immediately" for eventual prosecution by the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. Mr. Karadzic and Mr. Mladic are wanted by the tribunal for their roles in the massacre of thousands of Muslim men at Srebrenica in July 1995.

The latest developments show how much the situation in Bosnia has improved since the signing of a peace agreement in the U.S. city of Dayton, Ohio, in 1995. The Dayton Accords ended the war in Bosnia among Muslims, Croats, and Serbs that claimed several hundred thousand lives. Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke played a key role in negotiating the Dayton Accords. He recently told members of the U.S. Congress that the signing of the agreement and action by the U.S. and its allies to protect Muslims in Kosovo prevented al-Qaida terrorists from gaining a foothold in the Balkans:

"Had we not acted in Dayton ten years ago, had we not written into the agreements, that we gave ourselves the unilateral right to use military force to root out foreign elements...we hadn't heard that name in Dayton, the name of al-Qaida, we now know that the Dayton agreement and the actions in Kosovo stopped Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida from building in the Balkans what they built in Afghanistan, that much closer to us, that much closer to the heart of Western Europe...We came that close to having a war we are having in Afghanistan in the deep ravines and hills and caves in the Balkans."

Today, ten years after the Dayton Accords were signed, Bosnia is overcoming the legacy of war and on the road to national unity and integration with Europe.

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.