25 March 2008

Bosnia's former president recalls Hillary visit

By Eric Jansson

Ejup Ganic, the former acting Bosnian president who greeted Hillary Clinton on her trip to Bosnia in March 1996 and also met one-on-one with her for "about 20 minutes" during that trip, has now offered his own recollection of the Clinton visit.


Sent today in an e-mail to me, his recollection confirms that there was neither sniper fire to dodge when the former First Lady landed at Tuzla airport, nor was there any expectation of sniper fire.

"We didn't expect snipers, although we Bosnians were rather comfortable with the situation since for four years we had bullets fired over our heads on a daily basis,” Ganic writes.

By now it is well established that Clinton, speaking on the campaign stump, exaggerated the dangers she faced when landing in Bosnia. Ganic's e-mail adds yet more evidence of this.

However, his e-mail also fills in some additional blanks. He provides circumstantial detail which, if known to Clinton at the time of her trip, might understandably have heightened her perception of danger and sense of adventure.


"Although the NATO troops were in Tuzla, we still believed that some positions on the hills were occupied by radical Serbs, so I was worried about the overall safety. I was the main host and the originally planned welcoming ceremony was shrunk down," Ganic writes.

Sniper fire or no sniper fire, it is not every day that a First Lady jets into a recent war zone where, to the best knowledge of local officials, armed rebels continue to occupy the surrounding hills.


Ganic continues with a personal assessment of Clinton. She was "up to date on many issues" and "handled herself much better than many senators who visited us during that time", he writes.


During his "official conversation" with Clinton, Ganic also recalls receiving "an impression that she had an agenda for her own advancement".

An M.I.T.-educated scientist, Ganic has lately steered clear of high political office and instead dedicates himself to running the Sarajevo School of Science & Technology, Bosnia-Herzegovina's first private university, an institution attended by some of the brightest students in Sarajevo, from all ethnic backgrounds. He launched the institution in 2004.

Here is the relevant portion of Ganic's e-mail in full:

"I was very surprised to learn from you that the former First Lady's visit to Tuzla has created so many disputes. Actually I remember that visit quite well. Although the NATO troops were in Tuzla, we still believed that some positions on the hills were occupied by radical Serbs, so I was worried about the overall safety. I was the main host and the originally planned welcoming ceremony was shrunk down. However, as one NGO brought a little girl to sing a song to the First Lady on her arrival, that prolonged the welcoming ceremony.

"We didn't expect snipers, although we Bosnians were rather comfortable with the situation since for four years we had bullets fired over our heads on a daily basis.

"After the welcoming ceremony, I had an official conversation with the First Lady on behalf of our government. I was pleasantly surprised that she was up-to-date on many issues. Although her visit was in the unsettled environment, I remember that she handled herself much better than many senators who visited us at that time.

"By talking to the First Lady, I was under the impression that she had an agenda for her own advancement and I am not surprised of her desire to win the current elections.

"Additional problem during that visit was her daughter, because our security had to worry about her as well, regardless the fact that the military people pretended to be in charge of everything.

"In my file, I have found an original photo from the official Tuzla meeting with the First Lady at that time and I am enclosing it. I believe the meeting lasted close to 20 minutes, if not more, and she, pretty much, portrayed herself as someone who represents the USA and the White House."

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

My guess is that former President Bill Clinton contacted the former President of Bosnia, and asked him to cover for Hillary - so to speak.

Anonymous said...

Lies don't pay. One day .... they'll surely find you out no matter how highly placed in society.