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Richard Holbrook

December 14, 2010 by staff 

Richard Holbrook, (AP) – They remembered him as “The Bulldozer” – a U.S. diplomat with such a character that he could forcefully dragging politicians, senior officers and even warlords to the negotiating table in a quest for peace.

World leaders on Tuesday welcomed the U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke in engineering the end of the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia – the bloodiest conflict in Europe since the Second World War – and seek to bring stability to the war-torn Afghanistan.

Even the chief opponent of Mr. Holbrooke in the war in Bosnia, Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, expressed “sadness and regret” Holbrooke surgery on Monday, following the unexpected death of a torn aorta. Karadzic had hoped to call Holbrooke as a witness in his trial for genocide.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has paid tribute to the legendary talents as a diplomat Holbrooke, saying he played a key role in the 1995 Dayton Agreement that ended the Bosnian war and praising his work in Afghanistan.

As special envoy of President Barack Obama in Afghanistan, Mr. Holbrooke has made “that we sometimes have to defend our security in dealing with conflicts in faraway places,” Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement Tuesday.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani leader Asif Ali Zardari also praised Holbrooke, who died at 69, if the style Holbrooke did not play as well with Karzai as he did with the Balkan leaders.

Karzai said aid was considered ignorant American envoy to the Afghan culture. Perhaps, therefore, Holbrooke has played a less visible role in Afghanistan, with Senator John Kerry taking the lead to persuade Karzai to accept a second round in 2009.

“We will always remember … its efforts to promote peace and stability in our region, with a deep sense of satisfaction and gratitude,” Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said in Islamabad.

German Foreign Guido Westerwelle said the world should be grateful to Mr. Holbrooke for his contribution to the international strategy in Afghanistan.

“We regret all our heart that will not be able to witness the success of the new strategy,” Westerwelle said in Brussels.

Holbrooke gained the nickname “the bulldozer” after war intimidated the Serbs, Croats and Muslims agree to end the war in Bosnia and sometimes risky diplomatic overtures.

Swedish Foreign Affairs, Carl Bildt, who served as an envoy in Bosnia in the 1990s, said the strategy has given many close friends Holbrooke but also many enemies.

“Maybe it was the evidence of modern diplomacy, if you want to make an omelette; you have to beat the eggs. When he knew what he wanted … and he was a remarkable fighter, has he written in a blog?

Bildt described Holbrooke as “a true giant among the diplomats of our time” and “one of the best and brightest.”

British officials have also offered tribute.

“There will always be known for his leading role in ending the vicious war in Bosnia, where his force of personality and talent combined bargaining to drive through the Dayton peace agreement and put an end to the fighting” British Prime Minister David Cameron said in London.

Karadzic, who is on trial for war crimes at the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague issued a statement through his lawyer saying he hoped to call Holbrooke as a witness.

After his surprise arrest on a Belgrade bus in 2008, Karadzic had fought for the war crimes case against him thrown in claiming that Holbrooke gave him immunity from prosecution in exchange for the leader of the Bosnian Serbs abandoned of public life.

Holbrooke has denied ever having cut such a deal and the judges rejected the request, saying that even if it existed, the agreement is not binding on the UN tribunal.

Not all Bosnians Holbrooke admired the efforts for peace, arguing that the multi-ethnic state has created under the Dayton peace process proved too cumbersome for effective governance.

“He helped bring peace to Bosnia. An unjust peace, but still a peace, “said Haris Silajdzic, Minister of Bosnia during the war aliens who have participated in the Dayton negotiations.

But the citizens of Sarajevo, which suffered a 3 1/2-year siege of the war in Bosnia that killed thousands, were more positive about the legacy of Mr. Holbrooke.

“The Dayton Agreement was reached to end the war, but he is good for us and it is time to change,” said Dalila Cikusic, a resident of Sarajevo. “But this does have nothing to do with Holbrooke, we must do it ourselves … as far as Richard is concerned, I have nothing but praise for him.”

AP writers of Europe and Asia have contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2010 the Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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