DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Dignitaries from around the world landed in the Gem City to mark the 20th anniversary of the Dayton Peace Accords, the peace talks which brought an end to the Bosnian War.
Among the officials in attendance was former President Bill Clinton (D) who honored the man whose negotiations helped end the bloodshed that claimed the lives of more than 100,000 people.
“I believe that Holbrooke was the most gifted diplomat that the United States produced during the entire Cold War era,” Clinton remarked in his keynote address for the 20th anniversary and the conference held at the University of Dayton.
20 years ago, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke would now be on Day 19 of negotiations to end the Bosnian War.
Kati Marton, Holbrooke’s widow, tells 2 NEWS’ Beairshelle Edmé a lot was on the line her late husband, responsible for closing the deal.
In Edmé’s one-on-one with Marton, she stressed just how much of role Dayton played in ending that war.
She described the sleepless nights Ambassador Holbrooke had in planning each day’s events for the peace talks.
2 decades later, the widow says none of the peace talks could have happened without the Gem City.
“I was with Richard during many of those 21 days here at Wright Patterson and I think for all of us who participated in those talks those were the most memorable days of our lives where we really felt that we were involved in something historic,” she recounted.
Together, their work ended one of the bloodiest European wars since World War II.
“What really helped also was we felt so welcomed by Dayton,” she described.
Marton believes Dayton’s work in peacemaking isn’t over; instead, it may be just beginning.
“The Dayton model of peacemaking could be used in other conflicts because there’s so many conflicts now that threaten all of us really, including this peaceful Midwestern town, because the world knows no borders any longer,” Marton explained, briefly touching on what she sees as the conflicts ongoing in Syria with refugees.
The journalist thinks the Gem City is already meeting a challenge President Clinton issued to be more inclusive.
The Hungarian refugee is applauding Dayton officials, such as Mayor Nan Whaley, for wanting to welcome refugees into the city. She believes it’s this same Daytonian welcoming spirit that helped her and her husband end a tragic war in 1995.