Swiss Foreign Minister Flavio Cotti is chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which was chosen to monitor elections in Bosnia. He spoke with Monitor contributor Cathryn J. Prince aboard a Swiss Air Force plane en route to Bern after meeting with Bosnia's municipal elections steering board in Sarajevo.
First I would like to ask you about the Sept. 14 elections in Bosnia. When you look back, do you think it was right to hold the elections then?
Sept. 14 was the best possible date in view of the conditions that existed in the country.... And the elections were better than I thought.
The OSCE has been called by some the "Organization to Secure Clinton's Election." Do you think that's true? Did he push the elections?
Listen, I remember the Ministerial Conference [on Bosnia] in Florence [Italy] in June. All the countries were in favor of the elections.... There wasn't any pushing [by Clinton or the US].
In Bosnia, there were people who reported infractions. Do you believe the role of the OSCE is to err on the side of a fragile democracy in hopes it will become stronger?
There are situations that are absolutely intolerable, situations that must be severely criticized. And there are situations that are to be seen as part of a longer process. I've always said the Bosnian elections are just a first, small step on the long way of building peace and democracy in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Do you think it's better to wait to hold [the local elections in Bosnia]?