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Monday, 7 January, 2002, 17:28 GMT
Profile: Mohammed Sacirbey
Former Bosnian Foreign Minister Mohammed Sacirbey
Mohammed Sacirbey accused the UN of failing Bosnia
Mohammed Sacirbey, whose arrest is being sought by the Bosnian Government, was his country's public face during much of the 1990s - as foreign minister and twice as ambassador to the United Nations.

The US-educated former diplomat is accused of embezzling over $600,000 during his second stint at UN headquarters in New York.

The Bosnian Government has asked Interpol to issue an arrest warrant for the 45-year old who denies any wrongdoing.

A fierce advocate of Bosnia's interests during the 1992-95 war that tore apart the former Yugoslavia, Mr Sacirbey eloquently described the suffering of Bosnia's Muslims and called persistently for international action against Serb paramilitary forces.

Bosnian refugees in Tuzla
Mohammed Sacirbey pleaded with the international community to intervene in Bosnia

Mr Sacirbey, who has dual Bosnian and US citizenship, was born in Sarajevo in 1956.

His family left the city as political refugees and settled in the United States in 1967.

Describing himself as an "all-American boy", he passed up the prestigious universities of Yale and Harvard to take up an athletic scholarship at Tulane University in Louisiana, where he played American football.

A lawyer by training and former investment banker in New York, he became Bosnia-Hercegovina's first ambassador to the UN in 1992.

Call for air strikes

As the war in the Balkans unfolded, he started pleading with the international community to arm the Bosnian Muslims and called for Western air strikes against Serb positions - but his demands were repeatedly rejected.

In blunt comments he accused the three Western permanent members of the UN Security Council, the US, Britain, and France, of failing to address the catastrophe unfolding in the Balkans:

"This is a crime against humanity... It is a cancer that will not be stopped by deliveries of food and medicine". Mr Sacirbey said in an interview in 1992.

But the international community remained reluctant to get involved in the quagmire of Balkan politics.

Three years later, as foreign minister, Mohammed Sacirbey played a key role in the negotiations that led to the Dayton peace accord in 1995.

Women in Srebrenica commemorating the massacre of 1995
The war in Bosnia has left deep scars

Arguing that a "bad peace was better than a war" he and the Bosnian Government reluctantly accepted a peace deal that led to the de facto partition of a once multi-ethnic country into the Republika Serbska and the Muslim-Croat Federation.

During the final stages of the negotiations in Dayton, Ohio, Mr Sacirbey relinquished his post as foreign minister to make way for a Bosnian Croat, as part of a power-sharing arrangement between the different ethnic communities in Bosnia.

In private conversations, however, he made little secret of this rivalry with the then Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic and his unhappiness with aspects of the peace settlement that was taking shape.

But he resumed his duties as ambassador to the UN in 1996 and was his country's special envoy for the implementation of the Dayton agreement until December 2000, when the nationalist Muslim leadership in Sarajevo he had supported was replaced.

See also:

25 Sep 01 | Europe
Bosnian general surrenders to UN
21 Nov 00 | Europe
Dayton five years on
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