|The Right Honourable
The Lord Ashdown
GCMG CH KBE PC
Lord Ashdown at the Financial Times Summer Party, June 2011.
|Chair of the Liberal Democrat General Election Committee|
26 September 2012 â€“ 7 May 2015
|Preceded by||Willie Rennie (2010; Campaigns and Communications Chair)|
|Succeeded by||Greg Mulholland (Campaigns and Communications Chair)|
|High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina|
27 May 2002 â€“ 30 May 2006
|Preceded by||Wolfgang Petritsch|
|Succeeded by||Christian Schwarz-Schilling|
|Leader of the Liberal Democrats|
16 July 1988 â€“ 11 August 1999
|Preceded by||David Steel (Liberal Party)
Robert Maclennan (SDP)
|Succeeded by||Charles Kennedy|
|Member of the House of Lords|
10 July 2001
|Member of Parliament
9 June 1983 â€“ 7 June 2001
|Preceded by||John Peyton|
|Succeeded by||David Laws|
|Born||Jeremy John Durham Ashdown
27 February 1941
New Delhi, British Raj
|Political party||Liberal Democrats|
|Spouse(s)||Jane Courtenay (1962â€“present)|
|Children||Son and daughter|
|Alma mater||Bedford School|
|Years of service||1959â€“1972|
|Unit||Special Boat Service|
I love this country, I love these people, though I can't say I love their politicians. People are always nicer than politicians, but here, you can mark that difference up a hundredfold.
I've had much nastier things said about me in the British press than in the Bosnian press.
Bosnia is under my skin. It's the place you cannot leave behind. I was obsessed by the nightmare of it all; there was this sense of guilt, and an anger that has become something much deeper over these last years.
I can establish the expectation of retributive justice. Have we done that? No.
The greatest failure is that although we have created institutions, we have not created a civil society.
My second job has been to try to use my power to create institutions of a modern state that could enter the European Union, and there was very little time. The door was closing, and I wanted to get Bosnia through before it shut.
I don't think Bosnia is ready for reconciliation, but I do think it is ready for truth.
Maybe it's legitimate criticism, though it can be hurtful. Maybe I haven't paid sufficient attention to the people with whom I would have a natural affinity as a liberal, and they feel let down by that.
We have to make their livelihoods viable, get them the proper prices for their produce, try and make them stay rather than sell their property and leave again.
I am formally accountable to the steering board of the PIC, and I meet with nine ambassadors from the PIC every week. I have to have the capitals' broad agreement with what I do.
I can create institutions, but I can't rewrite the chips in people's heads.
We have invented a new human right here – the right to return home after a war.
It's not my job to be popular. I'm goal-driven; my job is to get results.
The generous way of putting it is that we were not ready for this. The less generous way is to say: How was it possible to return to the politics of appeasement of the 1930s?
What my future will not be is active politics in the Liberal Democrat party.
It was a superb agreement to end a war, but a very bad agreement to make a state. From now on, we have to part company with Dayton and try to build a modern democratic state, for which I have tried to lay the foundations.
I am here because I think it was a terrible sin of the west to allow those years of war.
We who came here saw what was happening. This was far more than a war in a faraway place. This was a moral imperative, a terrible vision of the future.
It works both ways: there are victims of tragedy who come to me who have experienced grief of such magnitude that they cannot reconcile. Likewise, I cannot change the mentality of those who committed the crimes or the fools who followed them.