Former U.S. secretary of state Lawrence Eagleberger has laid the
blame for the civil war in former Yugoslavia squarely on the shoulders of
Speaking on American PBS-TV in December 1994,
Eagleberger declared that Germany bears "full responsibility" for the
bloody conflict because of its "insistence on recognising Slovenia and
Croatia at all costs" in
November 1991. As predicted by the UN, the
U.S. State Department and the European Community, the German action led to
a wildfire escalation of the conflict to Bosnia, he said. Eagleberger
spoke as the Atlantic Alliance sank deeper into a state of crisis.
A glimpse into the increasingly tense international atmosphere
generated by reunified Germany's Great Power politics first came over a
year ago, however, in the shape of a very sharp, but scarcely reported,
high-level diplomatic exchange between the Clinton administration in the
USA and the Kohl government.
In mid-June, the story went out over the international press agencies
that current US secretary of state Warren Christopher had blamed Germany
for starting the bloody conflict in former Yugoslavia.
Said Christopher to the USA's biggest-selling international daily USA
Today: "There were serious mistakes made in
the whole process of recognition of the independence of the former
Yugoslav states of Croatia and Slovenia and the Germans bear a particular
responsibility in persuading their colleagues and the European Community."
He added, "many serious students of the matter think the problems
we face today stem from the recognition of Croatia and thereafter of
As soon as Christopher's comments hit the streets, German Chancellor
Kohl and his foreign minister, Klaus Kinkel, sent their ambassador in
Washington to the State department "to put the record straight".
Kohl also issued a statement through a spokesman
that Christopher's "reproaches were unjustified" and Kinkel was wheeled
out to claim, turning the truth both upside down and inside out, that
Germany did not act unilaterally in recognising Croatia and Slovenia but
"followed the European Community" when, in fact, on 11
December 1991, the then German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher
announced Germany's recognition of the two breakaway republics without any
consultation with Germany's EU partners.
As reported in an article by Marc Fisher in the 18 June 1993 edition of
the International Herald Tribune, "the German reaction to Mr.
Christopher's comments both officially and in the press was quick and
In its lead story, the Right-wing conservative German daily Die
Welt described the Christopher declaration as "the sharpest
public criticism of Bonn policy by an American secretary of state in
At the same time, the official German news agency, the Deutsche Presse
Agentur, complained: "The Washington interpretation of developments
in Yugoslavia is not new... but there was until now
a silent agreement in the US government not to rock the boat. Why
Christopher decided to pour oil on troubled waters and rub salt in the
wound can only be guessed".
From inside Germany, however, not all reaction to the obvious truth of
the US Secretary of State's comments was negative. Herman Scheer, a
Bundestag member for the opposition Social-Democrats said the US version
was "largely correct" and that the link between recognition of Germany's
Croatian and Slovenian client states and the outbreak of war was accepted
everywhere except in Germany.
Diplomatic language is carefully graded. The US termed the German
reaction as "an unusual step for a friendly
country". If this is what is now coming through
to the surface, one can only speculate at the real extent of subterranean
conflict between the two states.