After meeting with the presidents of Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia and with other officials in charge of carrying out the peace accord for Bosnia, Secretary of State Warren Christopher said Sunday night that elections would go ahead there this year.
He said he expected a date to be set by the end of this month.
Christopher also said the elections, for a national parliament and three-member presidency, could take place even if the Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, who has been charged with war crimes, was not handed over to the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague.
There has been a growing debate about whether conditions exist in Bosnia to make free and fair elections possible by Sept. 14, as called for in the peace accord reached last fall, and whether the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe will certify that such conditions exist.
Internal reports from the security organization’s monitors in Bosnia paint a dismal picture of efforts by all parties, especially the Bosnian Serbs, to thwart the freedom of movement, freedom of the press and return of refugees required under the accord.
“Bosnia remains a troubled country, but the prospect of renewed violence is fading,” Christopher said Sunday night.
“Elections are a necessary precondition for a democratic life, another way to eliminate indicted war criminals from office and give all the people of Bosnia a chance to shape their future.”
Some European officials have complained of “intense pressure” on them from Washington and European capitals to certify that free and fair elections can be held.