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Ashdown in warning over Bosnia

It is "vital" that the international community does not allow itself to "sleepwalk back to the point where we again become passive bystanders", Lord Ashdown has warned ahead of the 20th anniversary of the start of the Bosnian war.

The former High Representative for Bosnia Herzegovina, who was Lib Dem leader at the time of the conflict, said there were few events which had changed people's view of the modern world more than the "terrible war of genocide and horror in Bosnia and Herzegovina which started 20 years ago this week".

In a guest Facebook post via Foreign Secretary William Hague, the Prime Minister paid tribute to those killed, including those in the siege of Sarajevo.

David Cameron said: "Today is a day for the world to remember Sarajevo, to remember Bosnia and all those who lost their lives in that terrible conflict.

"A day to renew our commitment to stand by Bosnia until the recovery is complete, to support it in its path towards Nato and the EU, and to repeat that any unpicking of the Dayton agreement will not be tolerated."

Mr Cameron said those who committed crimes against humanity must face justice.

He said: "Above all it is a day for the world to remember that to stop slaughter requires firm, united and decisive action. We remembered that lesson in Libya. We must not forget it as we search for an end to the killing by the regime in Syria."

Lord Ashdown said the Bosnian war had helped shape Europe's response to more recent regional tensions.

He said: "That Europeans have, at least in part, learnt the lessons of Bosnia is evident from the activist stances key European nations such as Britain and France took in Libya - and are still taking in Syria. This would have been simply inconceivable without the searing lesson that Bosnia taught us of what happens if you stand aside in the face of genocide."

Lord Ashdown warned the dynamic in Bosnia, had "been allowed to revert back to one of disunity and dysfunctionality". He said: "We know now, the dangers of 1992. It is vital that we in the international community do not allow ourselves to sleepwalk back to the point where we again become passive by-standers to the quiet re-enactment of the plans of Karadzic and Mladic."

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