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Key Players
Who's Who in the Balkans
Carla Del Ponte | Robin Cook | Wesley Clark | Christopher Hill | Richard Holbrooke | Igor Ivanov
Alija Izetbegovic | Lt. Gen. Sir Michael Jackson | Ante Jelavic | Radovan Karadzic
Milan Milutinovic | Slobodan Milosevic | Gen. Col. Dragoljub Ojdanic | Zivko Radisic
Ibrahim Rugova | Javier Solana | Hashim Thaqi | Franjo Tudjman | William Walker

Carla Del Ponte
The chief prosecutor in The Hague, seat of the U.N. tribunal prosecuting war crimes and genocide in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. Del Ponte, a former Swiss government prosecutor, succeeded former lead tribunal prosecutor Louise Arbour in September 1999. After 100 days in that position, Del Ponte pledged to make the arrest and prosecution of indicted war criminals her top priority. "I plan to be very active on this issue, because everything depends upon indicted persons being arrested and brought to trial," Del Ponte said.

The United Nation's International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda was established in 1993 and is the first of its kind since World War II. Tribunal judges tried their first case for Yugoslavia war crimes in 1996, when Bosnian Serb camp guard Dusko Tadic was convicted of beating and torturing prisoners and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. In July 1998, 120 U.N. members voted for a permanent International Criminal Court, to be based in The Hague, which can try suspected war criminals and perpetrators of genocide in other countries beyond Rwanda and Yugoslavia. The United States — one of six nations assigned to keeping peace in the Balkans — was among the seven nations rejecting the measure, citing concerns that U.S. troops should not have to stand trial outside the United States. The court has yet to be ratified by 60 nations, which could take years.

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Bosnia Collective Presidency
The 1995 Dayton peace accord halted the bloody war among Serbs, Muslims and Croats in Bosnia and carved up the country into two parts: Serb-held territory and a Muslim-Croat federation led by a three-member collective presidency representing each ethnic group.

Alija Izetbegovic: Muslim representative for Bosnia, head of the hard-line Party of Democratic Action and president of Bosnia since 1990. Izetbegovic, 73, is a Muslim intellectual and former political prisoner under Communist rule who was jailed in the 1940s, and again in the 1980s for spreading Islamic propoganda. His Islamic Declaration called for the moral renewal of Islam throughout the world. In a step seen as fulfilling a key obligation of the peace accord, Izetbegovic and Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic — once bitter enemies — agreed in 1996 to exchange ambassadors. The move signaled Milosevic's support of the existence of an independent, multiethnic Bosnia, and gave no encouragement to Bosnian Serb nationalists' hopes of seceding and merging their half of Bosnia into Serbian-led Yugoslavia.

Ante Jelavic: Croat representative and member of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union. Jelavic is a nationalist backed by Croatia. In 1998 elections he defeated the more moderate Kresimir Zubak, a Croat logistics officer who broke with the ruling nationalist party to embrace the Dayton accord. The party is led by ethnic separatists and has long had a stranglehold on political and economic life in Croat-held portions of Bosnia. The party is widely regarded as a pawn of Franjo Tudjman, the wartime Croatian president who still favors annexation of such Bosnian areas.

Zivko Radisic: Serb presidential representative and chair of the presidency, which rotates every two years. Radisic, a member of the Socialist Party, is a relative moderate and ally of Biljana Plavsic, the Western-backed candidate defeated by hardliner Nikola Poplasen in the 1998 race for president of the Bosnian Serb Republic. Diplomats say Radisic favors a stronger Bosnian state. His political party is the Bosnian branch of the one controlled by the Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, and it is not clear how much control Milosevic will exert. Radisic replaces Momcilo Krajisnik, the ultranationalist Serb businessman and a close friend of Radovan Karadzic, the notorious former Bosnian Serb leader indicted by the U.N. tribunal for war crimes. A controversial March 1999 ruling allowing Muslims and Croats to jointly govern the Serb-held Bosnian city of Brcko inflamed Radisic, who has threatened to boycott meetings of the collective presidency to protest the decision.

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Wesley K. Clark
NATO's top military commander has full authority over all NATO forces and is the commander of U.S. forces in Europe. In 1997, President Clinton chose the intense and soft-spoken Clark to replace retired U.S. Army Gen. George Joulwan. Clark is familiar with the Bosnia situation and was the senior military member of the team, led by Richard C. Holbrook, that participated in the 1995 Dayton peace accords that ended the Bosnian war. Under the looming threat of NATO airstrikes against Yugoslavia, Clark hashed out an agreement with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to restrict army deployments to six major cities -- a shaky deal that the West claims Milosevic has broken. Clark will step down from his post in April 2000. Defense Secretary William Cohen's surprise decision July 1999 to end Clark's term a few months shy of three years has drawn criticism and highlights the tension between Clark and Cohen over the conduct of the war against Yugoslavia.

Clark was born on Dec. 23, 1944, and raised in Little Rock, Ark. He graduated first in his class from West Point and studied at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. Clark's distinguished Army career includes a combat command in Vietnam, where he won Bronze and Silver stars; a White House fellowship; early promotions as major and later lieutenant colonel; and service as assistant executive officer to Gen. Alexander M. Haig Jr. when Haig was chief of NATO.

Stance: Clark has said that Serbians and ethnic Albanians are equally responsible for the ongoing civil war in Kosovo, but he blames Serb authorities for sparking the conflict by intimidating and repressing ethnic Albanians. In March 1999, he repeated warnings that NATO would not allow Milosevic to terrorize the population. "I think Milosevic has to understand that NATO does have the capability and means to make a very devastating series of attacks against him should that be required. He is not going to be given a free rein to smash the civilian populace and their villages in Kosovo," he told Britain's BBC radio.

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Robin Finlayson Cook
British foreign secretary and member of the Labor Party. Cook was a co-sponsor of the February 199 peace talks in Rambouillet, France, and attempted to help negotiate a cease-fire between Serbs and ethnic Albanians for peace in Kosovo. Described as a skilled debaters, genial and occasionally impatient, Cook was first elected to the British House of Commons in 1974 and has risen through party ranks. The Conservative Party's reign in British politics ended in the historic May 1997 elections when Labor's Tony Blair became prime minister. Blair appointed Cook, a member of Labor's old leftist guard, to his current job, one of the three top government posts. Despite his position, Cook has not made secret his ambitions to be the chancellor of the exchequer – a space already filled by one-time Blair rival Gordon Brown – and eventually leader of the party.

Stance: Britain, the United States, Russia, France, Italy and Germany form the Contact Group in charge of negotiating peace in the Balkans. Among the Western allies, Britain has been the staunchest supporter of airstrikes against Yugoslavia. But Britain has expressed doubts about the effectiveness of bombing and what it would solve if the Kosovo Albanians do not drop their demands for a referendum on independence by the end of a three-year interim period provided for in the draft accord. Unless the ethnic Albanians endorse all aspects of the peace deal, Cook said, "airstrikes on Belgrade are not going to help."

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Christopher Hill
U.S. ambassador to Macedonia and chief Western architect of a draft plan to the year-long ethnic war in Kosovo. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright chose Hill to conduct the Kosovo negotiations in France because of his calmness, patience and devotion to detail – qualities he demonstrated as an aide to the volatile U.S. diplomat Richard C. Holbrooke during the 1995 Bosnian peace negotiations in Dayton. The 46-year-old Rhode Island native will replace Richard Miles as the United States' chief diplomat in Belgrade.

Stance: Hill and the Clinton administration favor an accord that would give Kosovo wide autonomy, but not independence from Serbia. "The beauty of the interim [Kosovo peace] accord is that no one has to give up their dreams," Hill said. The underlining idea of Hill's plan is that Kosovo's attainment of independence could spark a broader conflict in the region by raising new questions about the formation of a larger ethnic Albanian entity composed of Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia and parts of the Yugoslav republic of Montenegro.

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Richard Holbrooke
HolbrookeCurrently serving as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Holbrooke was sent to Yugoslavia to try to negotiate a last-minute settlement of the Kosovo crisis before NATO airstrikes began on March 24. Holbrooke, the administration's most experienced hand in the Balkans, helped broker the 1995 Dayton peace accords that ended Yugoslavia's war with Bosnia. He has a reputation as a bold strategist and risk-taker who relishes being in the spotlight.

Holbrook's career as a diplomat stretches back as far as the Carter administration, when he served as assistant secretary of state for Asian affairs. During President Clinton's first term, Holbrooke was assistant secretary of state for European affairs. He left that post to return to investment banking, but continued to take diplomatic assignments from Clinton.

Holbrooke served as Cyprus envoy and traveled to Yugoslavia in early 1998 to pressure Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to temper his crackdown against Kosovo's separatist Albanian guerrillas. In October, Holbrooke negotiated a cease-fire agreement with Milosevic.

His U.N. nomination, announced in June 1998, was delayed as the Justice and State departments investigated conflict-of-interest allegations. In February, he agreed to pay $5,000 to settle the matter. His nomination has since been confirmed by the Senate.

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Igor Ivanov
Russian foreign minister. As deputy prime minister, the even-tempered Ivanov was promoted by close friend Prime Minister Yvgeney Primakov in 1998. Ivanov is a career diplomat and a former ambassador to Spain.

Stance: Russia, a member of the Contact Group, in charge of negotiating peace in the Balkans, has centuries-old religious and cultural ties with the Serbs and firmly opposes airstrikes and any NATO intervention in Kosovo. Echoing the sentiments of President Boris Yeltsin, Ivanov said the conflict should be solved through negotiations. "Airstrikes cannot ensure human rights," he said. "A peace brought about through the use of force will not be durable." Although Russia is not a NATO member, it is considering contributing troops to a peacekeeping force if talks succeed.

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Lt. Gen. Sir Michael Jackson
The British commander of NATO's 50,000-member peacekeeping force for Kosovo (KFOR) negotiated with the Serbian delegation to achieve the June 9, 1999, plan that halted NATO's 78-day bombing campaign on Yugoslavia. Jackson, 55, is leading NATO peacekeepers in Kosovo to monitor and enforce the accord, which calls for the Yugoslav army to withdraw from Kosovo and Albanian separatist fighters to demilitarize. He is also commander of NATO's Rapid Reaction Force, a 15,000-member unit that began deploying to Macedonia in March 1999.

Jackson, whom Queen Elizabeth II made a knight in 1998, is no stranger to tough assignments. He led an infantry brigade in Northern Ireland at the height of the Troubles in the British province and led the British division of the 1995-96 U.N. Implementation Force in Bosnia -- an assignment that earned him his third star. Born into a military family, Jackson was 19 when he joined the army. In 1967, he graduated from Birmingham University with a degree in Russian and Russian studies. After completing his assignment with the Intelligence Corps, he joined a parachute battalion, then served in Scotland and several European posts.

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Radovan Karadzic
Bosnian Serb leader during the 1992-1995 war and the U.N. war crime tribunal's most wanted man. The U.N. International War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague has indicted him twice and has charged him and military commander Ratko Mladic of ordering the slaughter of up to 8,000 Muslim men following the capture the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica. The 1995 massacre was considered one of the worst mass murders committed since World War II. His arrest, along with the capture of other war criminals, is seen as essential to maintaining the peace mandated by the Dayton accord. He is still at-large.

Karadzic was born on June 19, 1945, in Petnjica, an impoverished hamlet in the mountains of Montenegro where his father joined other Serb nationalists to fight Marshal Tito's communist forces. Karadzic, who studied medicine in Sarajevo and worked as a psychiatrist, founded the Serb Democratic Party in 1990 and became president of the self-declared Bosnian Serb Republic two years later. In 1992, with the help of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, Karadzic and his party started the Bosnian war and oversaw the massacre of thousands of Bosnian Muslims by Bosnian Serbs.

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Slobodan Milosevic
As president of Yugoslavia, Milosevic presides over the two republics of Montenegro and the larger Serbia, where the Kosovo province is located. The death of Yugoslavia's Communist leader Marshal Tito in 1980 offered an opportunity to Milosevic, a rising politician who became leader of Serbia's Communist Party in 1986. Milosevic capitalized on Serbian resentment toward ethnic Albanians. When Milosevic became Serbian president in 1989, he stripped Kosovo's autonomy and later forced Albanians from their state jobs, shut down their media and suppressed the Albanian language. He also dismantled the legislative assembly after ethnic Albanian legislators declared independence. Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia and Bosnia quit the Yugoslavia federation between 1991 and 1992, leaving Serbia and Montenegro to form the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The breakup allowed Milosevic to appoint his cronies to the federal presidency and defense ministry, and he effectively became ruler of the new Yugoslavia.

Milosevic, 58, launched a military offensive against the rebels of the Kosovo Liberation Army in February 1998. Since then, the embattled leader, known for his fiery rhetoric and defiance, has engaged in characteristic brinkmanship under the threat of NATO airstrikes. In October 1998, for example, NATO threatened punitive airstrikes against Yugoslavia after the discovery of the slaughter of 19 ethnic Albanians by Serbian police units. Milosevic finally agreed on an accord that allowed 2,000 international inspectors into Kosovo and regular overflights by NATO surveillance aircraft as a deterrent to further violence.

Stance: Milosevic refuses to allow NATO peacekeeping troops in Yugoslavia. He has said he will consider Kosovo autonomy, but rejects any move for a referendum on independence for Kosovar Albanians.

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Milan Milutinovic
President of Serbia, the dominant republic of Yugoslavia, and close ally of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. Milutinovic, member of Serbia's ruling Socialist party, was the former foreign minister and ambassador to Greece for Yugoslavia. Because of a constitutional restriction that barred him from running for Serbian president for a third time, Milosevic picked Milutinovic, 56, to run in the December 1997 presidential elections that foreign monitors deemed rife with election fraud.

Stance: Milutinovic reviewed work of the government delegation at the Kosovo peace talks in Rambouillet, France, on behalf of Milosevic. He has reiterated Milosevic's position that Belgrade will reject any deal that requires NATO troop presence on its soil, saying in a recent interview that any NATO deployment would "badly damage our sovereignty."

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Gen. Col. Dragoljub Ojdanic
Col. Gen. Dragoljub Ojdanic is the country's top general, a post he has held since November 1998, when Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic removed independent-minded Gen. Momcilo Perisic from the job. Ojdanic, a career officer and a close Milosevic ally, had served previously in Kosovo and was Perisic's deputy.

Born in 1941 in the village of Ravni, near Serbia's border with Bosnia, Ojdanic was a commander of a battalion and infantry brigade and commanded the Uzice Corps when the 1992 Bosnian war erupted. After the war, he was promoted to chief of staff and then commander of the Yugoslav First Army, based in Belgrade.

On May 28, 1999, the U.N. tribunal prosecuting war crimes in the Balkans indicted Milosevic, Ojdanic and three others with crimes against humanity for their alleged roles in the deportation of more than 700,000 ethnic Albanians from Kosovo and the murders of 340 people, mostly young men. The others indicted were Milan Milutinovic, the president of Serbia; Vlajko Stojiljkovic, the Serbian interior minister; and Nikola Sainovic, the deputy prime minister of Yugoslavia and a close Milosevic aide.

When it came time to negotiate the Kosovo peace plan with NATO in Kumanovo, Macedonia, Ojdanic and Stojuljkovic were not part of Yugoslavia.s delegation. Belgrade chose Col. Gen. Svetozar Marjanovic to lead the team instead.

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Ibrahim Rugova
Moderate political leader of Kosovo who is not a member of the Kosovo Liberation Army. Rugova and representatives of the rebel army set aside their political differences and attended the February peace negotiations. Rugova has a large following in Kosovo and strong support from the West, including the United States. Bookish and soft-spoken, the 53-year-old political intellectual is leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo. Rugova was voted "president" during 1992 shadow government elections – deemed illegal by Belgrade – for the self-declared Republic of Kosovo, which foreign governments do not recognize. Critics attacked Rugova's passive resistance to Serbian rule, particularly during the creation of parallel education and health systems in the Serbian province after Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic stripped Kosovo of its autonomy in 1989. Ethnic Albanians frustrated by what they viewed was Rugova's cowering to Serb rule, formed the Kosovo Liberation Army; others formed opposition political parties.

Stance: While all ethnic Albanians favor independence, the means by which to obtain it has caused a rift in Kosovo politics. Rugova at first refused to recognize the KLA and has scorned the rebel group and its violent methods. He is committed to full independence and believes Serbs and ethnic Albanians can resolve their differences peacefully.

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Javier Solana
NATO secretary general. In a move to pressure the Serbs and ethnic Albanians to agree on the Western-drafted peace plan, NATO gave Solana authority on Jan. 30 to order airstrikes against Yugoslavia if Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic rejected the accord. Although he is not required to consult alliance members again, Solana has promised to consult with member governments before taking action.

After an acrimonious debate among the 16 NATO members over the next secretary general, the Spanish prime minister was named to NATO's highest civilian post in December 1995. Solana's familiarity with Bosnia helped him cinch the nomination, which came on the eve of NATO's deployment of 60,000 peacekeeping troops to the war-torn region. He initially opposed Spain's entry into NATO in 1982, but later became an ardent supporter of the alliance. Solana, described as a consummate diplomat with a sunny disposition, studied in the United States and has written more than 30 books. Since 1977, he has been member of Spanish parliament and is credited with helping Spain emerge from the isolationism imposed during Francisco Franco's dictatorship.

Stance: During a February press conference, Solana reiterated his support for a political solution to the conflict in Kosovo, which many have called Europe's most grave security crisis since the 1992-1995 Bosnian conflict. He added: "But if the political solution is not reached, then we say very clearly that NATO knows very well what it has to do." Questions over what bombing will accomplish has weakened Western allies' initial zeal for bombing. If carried out, airstrikes would mark the first direct assault in NATO's 50-year history against a sovereign nation.

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Hashim Thaqi

Hashim Thaqi, right, and Adem Demaci.
Political director of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), the ethnic-Albanian rebel force leading the province's secessionist revolt. Thaqi, 29, also known by his nom de guerre "Snake," is a radical university student who helped organize the KLA. At the group's core are 1,000 to 2,000 fighters, whose numbers have swelled recently to as many as 5,000, according to reports. The fighters are mostly in their mid-twenties and thirties, and include some who have returned from neighboring countries such as Albania and from Western Europe, according to Western officials and ethnic Albanian sources.

Thaqi commands great respect within the ranks of the KLA and is regarded by some as first among equals within the five-man KLA team that was part of the Albanian contingent at the February peace talks in Rambouillet. In the summer of 1998, Thaqi was a regional commander in the rebel army and was convicted in absentia by Yugoslav courts and sentenced to 22 years in prison.

Stance: Thaqi vows the KLA will fight to the end for Kosovo's independence. He was reluctant about signing the accord presented at the France talks. It included a three-year period for autonomy but did not provide for a referendum on independence. Thaqi led the ethnic Albanian delegation and tried to convince his delegates to reject the agreement. U.S. officials blamed Thaqi's stance on Adem Demaci, the 63-year-old KLA hard-liner and a political spokesman who boycotted the talks and had been encouraging Thaqi to reject the draft accord. Demaci announced his resignation from the KLA on March 2, expressing his disgust for the current peace process.

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Franjo Tudjman
The late President of Croatia. In 1991, Tudjman and his conservative ruling Croatian Democratic Union party (HDZ) guided the country to independence from Yugoslavia. The former historian was a communist general, but renounced his communist past. He became president in 1990 as nationalist fervor swept Croatia. He was a skilled and showy politician whose views of the Balkans conflict and his hardened stance against the Serbs, Croatia's archenemy, were shaped by the mysterious death of his parents (Croatian patriots) in 1946. During the 1997 elections, he downplayed his stomach cancer and was reelected to another term. Tudjman died in December 1999 at the age of 77. Following his death HDZ lost elections for the lower house of parliament.

The West viewed Croatia as an ally and credits Croatian forces in helping to end the Bosnian war with a decisive 1995 military offensive in Serb-held territory of Krajina against the Bosnian Serbs in Krajina. But for years, human rights groups have been critical of Croatia's treatment of its Serb minority in Krajina, where lootings and burnings of Serb homes continued a year afterward. Tudjman's government was also accused of suppressing the media — a factor, along with its abysmal human rights record, that has been a major obstacle in Croatia's effort to join the European Union and NATO's Partnership for Peace program.

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William G. Walker
American head of the Kosovo Verification Mission. Formed under the October 1998 U.S.-brokered cease-fire agreement, the unarmed 700-member mission (run by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) is responsible for overseeing the withdrawal of Serb security forces from Kosovo. In January 1999, Walker blamed Serb forces for the massacre of 45 ethnic Albanians found slaughtered in the village of Racak. The discovery became the catalyst for the February peace talks in Rambouillet, France.

Of the gruesome killings, Walker said at a press conference: "Although I am not a lawyer, from what I personally saw, I do not hesitate to describe the crime as a massacre, a crime against humanity. Nor do I hesitate to accuse the government security forces of responsibility." Enraged, Milosevic ordered Walker's expulsion from Yugoslavia. The order was later postponed.

Walker is a career diplomat, having served much of his career in Latin America and forged a reputation as a champion of human rights. While serving as the U.S. ambassador to El Salvador during the 1980s, however, Walker was criticized for his reluctance to mete out responsibility for the brutal 1989 murder of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter, an act committed by military troops of the U.S.-backed government.

Source: The Washington Post, United Nations, and staff and news reports.

© 1999 The Washington Post Company

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