Diplomats have many ways of making their displeasure felt, ranging from subtle body language to more formal protests. But rarely do they go to the lengths that Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright did Saturday, publicly humiliating a Croatian government minister and accusing the Serbian president of “stonewalling.”
“You should be ashamed of yourself,” Albright told Jure Ganic, the Croatian reconstruction minister, after listening to a harrowing tale of returning Serb refugees who were beaten and driven from their homes this month by a vengeful Croatian mob. “How can you allow such things to happen?”
Later, Albright told Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic that his country was at a political “crossroads.”
If it wants to rebuild its economy and rejoin the international community, it has to introduce democratic reforms and cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague, she said.
“The people of Serbia are suffering because their leader is not fulfilling his obligations,” Albright told reporters after her meeting with Milosevic, who is widely regarded as one of the architects of the 3-1/2-year war in Bosnia.
Albright’s strong language, during her first visit to the Balkans as secretary of state, was part of a new U.S. strategy - an attempt to step up pressure on the signatories of the 1995 Dayton accord to abide by their commitments.
Over the past few months, Western governments have become frustrated by the seeming impunity enjoyed by indicted Bosnian war criminals and delays in repatriating hundreds of thousands of refugees.