LYON, France -- President Clinton threatened Serbia yesterday with renewed United Nations economic sanctions if it did not press Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb leader indicted on charges of war crimes, to step down from political office before the Sept. 14 elections in Bosnia.
"We want Mr. Karadzic, in the words of the secretary of state, out of power and out of influence," Clinton said at a news conference at the end of the summit of industrial democracies. "And we think that is very important."
Karadzic, meanwhile, was elected yesterday to another four-year term as leader of his party. Party officials said the vote in Pale, Bosnia-Herzegovina, was 354-1. But the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Karadzic indicated that he might not run for president in the September elections.
The leaders attending the summit meeting in Lyon said they were ready to consider reimposing U.N. economic sanctions on any party to ensure compliance with the Dayton accords, thus vaguely threatening Serbia with economic punishment if it did not make good on repeated promises to get Karadzic out.
But the summit meeting leaders, who included Russian Prime Minister Viktor S. Chernomyrdin (in place of President Boris N. Yeltsin, who did not come because of his re-election campaign) did not endorse a call by Carl Bildt, the international coordinator in Bosnia, to give Karadzic only until tomorrow to step aside, or else.
"It was not a matter for decision by the summit," French President Jacques Chirac said, though he added that he hoped Karadzic would step down.
Clinton's spokesman, Mike McCurry, said that Bildt had authority under the Dayton accords to recommend a reimposition of sanctions by the U.N. Security Council and that the leaders at the meeting would support any recommendation he made.
They pledged to contribute "substantially" to preparations for the elections in Bosnia by helping to bolster independent news media there and by sending 2,000 observers to ensure that the vote is free and fair.
And they urged the NATO peacekeepers to increase their
activities to provide the atmosphere of security the electoral process needs.
Before Clinton met with U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, whose re-election after the end of the year he opposes, and with the heads of three other international organizations here, the president joined in a pledge of financial and political support for the United Nations.
All eight leaders promised "scrupulous respect by member states for their financial obligations" to the United Nations, including U.S. payment of hundreds of millions of dollars in arrears.
But they also called for "a more equitable scale of contributions," something long called for by the United States, which now has to pay a quarter of the organization's budget, more than any other country.
McCurry described the atmosphere in the leaders' meeting with Boutros-Ghali as "correct and dignified." Chirac and German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel both said that all the European leaders present strongly supported Boutros-Ghali's re-election.
If Clinton expected to use the summit to get his European allies to agree to break off trade and diplomatic relations with Iran, which the United States regards as a leading source of terrorism, he succeeded only in getting them to join in calling on Iran to stop supporting "extremist groups that are seeking to destroy the peace process in the Middle East and to destabilize the region."
Pub Date: 6/30/96