"As a senator, Dole was an advocate of U.S. involvement in Bosnia ..."
November 7, 1997
Dole heads group on missing persons in Yugoslavia
WASHINGTON - Former Senator Bob Dole took over Friday as head of the International Commission on Missing Persons, and pledged to do his utmost to help relatives of 40,000 people missing in the Balkans learn their loved ones' fate.
``We cannot bring those who were squandered (in the Bosnian war) back to life, but we can ease the burdens on those who survived by letting them know what happened to their loved ones, by bringing those responsible to justice and by never letting this happen again,'' he said at a news conference.
The commission aimed to ``heal the wounds'' of war by pressing for the exhumation of mass graves, assisting in building a data base, providing resources to family associations working on the problem and urging the governments of Bosnia, Croatia and the former Yugoslavia ``not to stand in the way of vital information,'' he said.
Dole said the commission would play an ``integral part'' in facilitating the work of the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague.
``The knowledge of what happened to their loved ones is essential to individual if they are going to move forward with their lives and their communites are going to rebuild,'' he said.
``This knowledge is also essential to the process of reconciliation ... (and) to the carriage of justice and the achievement of a just peace,'' he said.
Dole added that ``scores of mass graves have been located but few exhumations have taken place.''
As a senator, Dole was an advocate of U.S. involvement in Bosnia where war raged for nearly four years until a peace was signed in 1995 in Dayton, Ohio.
He praised Secretary of State Madeleine Albright -- who introduced him at the news conference -- ``for her leadership in American foreign policy, especially in former Yugoslavia where ... you have not shied away from the difficult problems of this region.''
Dole succeeded former Secretary of State Cyprus Vance, a Democrat whom Albright and Dole both praised for his contribution to the missing persons effort. Dole, a Republican, was defeated by President Clinton in the 1996 presidential race.