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It’s not my job to be popular. I’m goal-driven; my job is to get results.
– Paddy Ashdown
My second job has been to try to use my power to create institutions of a modern state that could enter the European Union, and there was very little time. The door was closing, and I wanted to get Bosnia through before it shut.
It was a superb agreement to end a war, but a very bad agreement to make a state. From now on, we have to part company with Dayton and try to build a modern democratic state, for which I have tried to lay the foundations.
The greatest failure is that although we have created institutions, we have not created a civil society.
What my future will not be is active politics in the Liberal Democrat party.
I love this country, I love these people, though I can’t say I love their politicians. People are always nicer than politicians, but here, you can mark that difference up a hundredfold.
I can create institutions, but I can’t rewrite the chips in people’s heads.
It works both ways: there are victims of tragedy who come to me who have experienced grief of such magnitude that they cannot reconcile. Likewise, I cannot change the mentality of those who committed the crimes or the fools who followed them.
I am here because I think it was a terrible sin of the west to allow those years of war.
Politics is compromise.
I can establish the expectation of retributive justice. Have we done that? No.
I don’t think Bosnia is ready for reconciliation, but I do think it is ready for truth.
I was told there would be riots in the streets, but there were no riots.
People do not want politicians they know to be corrupt.
The generous way of putting it is that we were not ready for this. The less generous way is to say: How was it possible to return to the politics of appeasement of the 1930s?
We have invented a new human right here – the right to return home after a war.
I am formally accountable to the steering board of the PIC, and I meet with nine ambassadors from the PIC every week. I have to have the capitals’ broad agreement with what I do.
Maybe it’s legitimate criticism, though it can be hurtful. Maybe I haven’t paid sufficient attention to the people with whom I would have a natural affinity as a liberal, and they feel let down by that.
I’ve had much nastier things said about me in the British press than in the Bosnian press.
We who came here saw what was happening. This was far more than a war in a faraway place. This was a moral imperative, a terrible vision of the future.
Politics is about putting yourself in a state of grace.
We have to make their livelihoods viable, get them the proper prices for their produce, try and make them stay rather than sell their property and leave again.
It would be a foolish high representative who worked that way.
Bosnia is under my skin. It’s the place you cannot leave behind. I was obsessed by the nightmare of it all; there was this sense of guilt, and an anger that has become something much deeper over these last years.