Friday, October 07, 2005

United States To Focus on Balkan War Crime Fugitives, Kosovo

Iran, Afghanistan also figure in briefing on State's Burns travel to Europe

A poster lists Bosnia's most wanted war crimes suspects which is distributed to all EU peacekeepers based in Bosnia (©AP/WWP)

By Jeffrey Thomas
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- The future of Kosovo, war crimes fugitives, Iran’s suspected nuclear ambitions and NATO’s role in Afghanistan will be the focus of an upcoming trip to Europe by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns, a trip that includes stops in Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Serbia.

The United States intends to make a major diplomatic push on these issues over the next few months, said Burns at a briefing October 7 at the State Department.


On Kosovo, he said the United States agrees with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan that final status talks should begin. Burns said he expects Annan to appoint a special envoy soon to oversee the talks, which he hopes will start before the end of 2005.

Kosovo has been under United Nations administration since 1999, when a NATO-led force drove out Serbian forces persecuting the ethnic Albanian majority. A NATO-led peacekeeping mission (KFOR) with 18,000 soldiers currently provides security.

The status quo no longer is sustainable, Burns said. “The people of the region have a right to know that they have a future and that they can control that future,” he said.

The United States will appoint its own special envoy to work in partnership with the U.N. envoy, he said, adding that the United States will be “centrally involved” in these talks, using its influence and exercising leadership, although the United States has no position on the talks’ eventual outcome.

“My trip is meant to prepare the ground for these talks and to try to make progress with the parties on the issues,” he said.


Burns said that during his meetings in Pristina and Belgrade he intends to demand the arrest of the three most prominent indicted war criminals still at large. Until General Ante Gotovina is in The Hague standing before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the United States will block any NATO move to normalize relations with Croatia or to bring Croatia into NATO membership, he said. Until General Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic are captured and turned over to the tribunal, the United States similarly will block any move toward NATO membership for Serbia, he said.

The under secretary added that during his last trip to the region in June the Serb leadership had led him to believe the arrest of Mladic was imminent. The United States was “severely disappointed” that the arrest did not take place prior to July 11, the 10th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacres, when 8,000 men and boys were murdered in or near the Bosnian town, allegedly at Mladic’s orders.

“We will have a very tough-minded view of this,” Burns said, adding: “Someone has to stand up for the people, for the families of the victims of 10 years ago, and we cannot forget what happened at Srebrenica. We won't forget it and they will not be coming into NATO until these actions are taken.”

He noted that while the United States resumed foreign assistance to Serbia in June after the Serbian authorities arrested a number of indicted war criminals during the first six months of the year, that aid again could be suspended.

“It's a lack of political will on the part of the Belgrade authorities,” he said. “It does not stand to reason that these people cannot be found.”

For additional information on U.S. policy in the region, see Balkans.


In Brussels, Belgium, the first stop of his four-country trip, Burns plans to participate in a special meeting of the North Atlantic Council at NATO headquarters, where Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iran will be the major items on the agenda.

He will discuss with his NATO colleagues the future role of the alliance in Afghanistan, with the aim the increasing integration of NATO forces and the U.S.-led coalition force “so that we can have a more seamless and effective military presence in Afghanistan.”

Burns said he also expects Iran’s nuclear program, an issue “at the forefront of our diplomatic agenda,” to figure prominently in the meetings at NATO.

The United States continues to support the “EU-3 process,” Burns said, referring to talks with France, Germany and the United Kingdom from which Iran withdrew in August. Iran should suspend its uranium conversion activities, return to the negotiations with the EU-3 and seek a negotiated settlement, said Burns.

Noting the September 24 vote at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) finding Iran in violation of its nonproliferation obligations and decision by the IAEA board of governors to refer the matter to the U.N. Security Council, Burns said, “The solution should be that Iran shall not have access to the nuclear fuel cycle on Iranian territory. No one trusts Iran to have that.” (See related article.)

Given the actions of the new Iranian government the last two months, “we will continue to have a very tough-minded approach to Iran,” he said.


In Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burns said a central objective is to encourage police reform.

The 1995 Dayton Accords that brought the civil war in Bosnia to an end left the country with three entities divided along ethno-religious lines, one Serb, one Muslim and one Croatian.

The United States welcomed the passage October 5 of a defense reform law by the parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina as the “most significant step towards Euro-Atlantic integration taken by Bosnia and Herzegovina since the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords” because it creates a unified defense establishment. A similarly unified police institution would help Bosnia continue on its way towards a multiethnic future within Europe, he said. (See related article.)

The United States will be inviting some of the Bosnian and other Balkan leaders to Washington in November to commemorate the 1995 Dayton Accords, he said.

A transcript of the briefing is available on the State Department Web site.


Anonymous said...


Ex-Marine Says He Committed Atrocities By JOELLE DIDERICH, Associated Press Writer
Fri Oct 7, 7:52 PM ET

A former U.S. Marine in Iraq alleges that his battalion committed atrocities against Iraqi civilians during the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, including shooting unarmed protesters.

Jimmy Massey, a staff sergeant who was in the Marines for 12 years and served three months in Iraq before being honorably discharged with post-traumatic stress syndrome, details the allegations in his book "Kill! Kill! Kill!", written with the French journalist Natasha Saulnier and published in France.

Massey said he was in charge of a platoon in the 3rd Batallion of Regimental Combat Team 7, responsible for setting up checkpoints and providing armed cover against terrorists and insurgents.

He alleges that over a period of a month and a half in 2003, his platoon killed more than 30 civilians in Iraq.

"We in fact, I feel, escalated the violence," he told The Associated Press in an interview.

Massey, however, said in one case shortly after April 2003, Marines who heard a gunshot fired upon 10 Iraqi demonstrators shouting anti-U.S. slogans and wielding banners saying "Go Home" near the sprawling Al-Rashid military complex southeast of the city center. All but one of the demonstrators were killed, said Massey, who estimated he himself fired about 12 shots.

Massey said he later found several rocket-propelled grenades propped on a wall some 500 feet away. He interpreted the demonstrators' failure to use the weapons as a sign of their peaceful intentions.

"That day we shot the protesters in the Rashid complex was when I had a moment of clarity and I understood that by our actions of doing that, we set the tone overall for what the Iraqis were seeing and the brutality of what we were doing was being displayed," he told AP.

Maj. Gabrielle Chapin, a spokeswoman at Marine Corps headquarters in the Pentagon, said the Marines are committed to investigating all allegations of violations of "law of war or rules of engagement."

"Mr. Massey made allegations of genocide by members of his command, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, resulting in an investigation," she said.

The investigation was completed in June 2004, "and these allegations were found to be unsubstantiated in regards to law or rules of engagement violations," Chapin said.

The French-language version of Massey's book went on sale in France this week.

Massey said he was not surprised by the reluctance of U.S. publishers. "The picture that I paint within the book is very difficult for a lot of Americans to grasp, and I understand that," he said.

Anonymous said...

... and the moral of the story is???

Anonymous said...

The moral of the story? : U$A- sponsors of tz. UCK are killers, the worst war criminals, but no TPI for them.

Anonymous said...

"Massey said he was in charge of a platoon in the 3rd Batallion of Regimental Combat Team 7,"

Lieutenants and Gunnery Sergeants command platoons. Staff Sergeants lead squads.

"Massey said he later found several rocket-propelled grenades propped on a wall some 500 feet away. He interpreted the failure to use the weapons as A SIGN OF THEIR PEACEFUL INTENTIONS."


"discharged with post-traumatic stress syndrome"

I.e., he is mentally unstable.