THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
One year ago today, American diplomacy under the leadership of Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke achieved a peace agreement that ended the worst conflict in Europe since World War II. Over the past year, American soldiers, diplomats, aid workers, volunteers, and public servants have worked tirelessly on the challenges of implementing the Dayton Accords. They have made a world of difference in the lives of the Bosnian people.
The market massacres, sniper alleys, and grim campaigns of ethnic cleansing are over. Since Dayton, we and our international partners have maintained a secure peace, separated and demobilized the former warring parties, held successful national elections, and started the work of rebuilding Bosnia's economy and civil structures. These achievements have made an immeasurable difference in the lives of people in Bosnia: parents can return to their businesses and careers, children can return to schools and playgrounds, farmers can return to fields and markets -- all without fear of an incoming round or a sniper's bullet.
When the Balkan leaders chose peace one year ago at Dayton, I asked the American people to do the same by supporting the participation of our troops in a NATO-led Implementation Force to help secure the peace. Thanks to NATO's strong capabilities, together with the forces of Russia and other members of the Partnership for Peace, IFOR successfully completed its mission of implementing the military aspects of Dayton without any combat casualties. In short, IFOR exceeded our expectations in bringing an end to a war that threatened stability in Europe.
American leadership remains vital in pursuing our interests and is critical to restoring peace and stability in places like Bosnia. That is why I have decided in principle that, until political and economic efforts can gain greater momentum, a smaller follow-on NATO mission in Bosnia is necessary to complete the work that IFOR began. But in the end, it still is up to the Bosnian people, with the help of international community, to take responsibility for rebuilding their country, reconciling with their neighbors, creating a democratic national government, and laying the foundation for a self-sustaining peace.
Today, I want to personally thank the many Americans who have worked so hard to bring peace to the people of Bosnia.
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