* Frontlines, Bosnia and Herzegovina * UN Deadline * What To Do With Banja Luka?? * Nationalist Serbs Appeal For Russian Aid * Ghali: "NATO Should Take Up The Job" * France, Egypt, Bosnia * Destruction at Studio 99 * Russian Paratroopers To Enforce Settlement?? * Meeting Rifkind-Tudjman
The Bosnian army has taken back some 50 sq. km. of territory around Mt. Ozren, Bosnian army sources said. It is believed Bosnian forces will enter Bosansko Petrovo Selo some time today. The same source stated that the Doboj-Tuzla road is also in Bosnian army hands and Bosnian forces are advancing on Doboj. Apparently, large quantities of arms and equipment were seized in the fighting. Rebel Serb forces in the region are being urged to surrender. It seems that on the other front the battle lines are drawn along the Sana River that passes through two key towns: Sanski Most and Prijedor. Nationalist Serb military destroyed bridges across the Sana River and is trying to slow the offensive with tank and artillery fire. Near Sanski Most, the Bosnian Army Fifth Corps is repositioning its forces to respond to what could be a rebel Serb counterattack. The Fifth Corps captured significant numbers of weapons intact, including tanks. UN officials say Bosnian army artillery may already be within shelling range of Banja Luka.
UN officials said Tuesday, that the nationalist Serbs are removing their siege guns from around Sarajevo at a satisfactory pace. UN Spokesman Chris Vernon said that the Serbs have massed their artillery and tanks at several locations and have begun to pull t hem out through 3 routes overseen by the UN. The UN calculates that a withdrawal at this pace, could be finished by the 10 PM deadline on Wednesday. UN commander, gen. Rupert Smith, has started negotiations with Bosnian officials in order to secure a ceas e fire around Sarajevo, however no major points have been agreed, so far. Also, negotiations on providing Sarajevo residents with normal access to power, water, and natural gas have begun at the UN HQ. NATO has warned the Serbs that it will resume air strikes if all artillery pieces are not withdrawn. The deadline expires at 10pm Wednesday by which time the Serbs should have completely fulfilled their commitments. US assistant secretary of state Richard Holbrooke also stressed that NATO will renew air raids if heavy weapons are not removed from around Sarajevo.
Bosnian foreign minister Muhamed Sacirbey, at a joint press conference in Sarajevo with British foreign secretary Malcolm Rifkind, announced that his government was prepared to negotiate with the local Serb authorities in Banja Luka. "It is not our desire to cause any sort of military action (or) to create any sort of panic in the town. We want to make sure the people of Banja Luka, in fact, have the opportunity to stay in their homes. The only people who should be threatened are the war criminals," Sacirbey said. He added the Bosnian government wants Banja Luka to be reintegrated into Bosnia but with all residents remaining in their homes and unnecessary destruction avoided. He explained that the chaos and lawlessness currently reigning in Banja Luka are the resul t of actions by paramilitary groups, adding that as a result the Bosnian government has decided to invite the local authorities to talks aimed at stopping this violence. Sacirbey said that the British delegation, visiting Sarajevo on Monday, agreed with this approach and that London is prepared to back this line. Several Banja Luka politicians have already been to London for talks with British officials. Despite the assurances given to Mr. Holbrooke, the rebel Bosnian Serbs say they have no intention of allowing the Federation forces to consolidate their hold on newly-captured territory. Bosnian and Croatian Presidents issued a statment Tuesday saying they supported the US backed peace initiative and they called for a political dialogue on what to do with liberated areas.
The "foreign minister" of the self-proclaimed Bosnian Serb Republic, Aleksa Buha, arrived in Moscow on 18 September to request assistance, including weapons, Russian and Western agencies reported. He would meet with Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and President Yeltsin's special envoy to the former Yugoslavia, Aleksandr Zotov. He intends to ask the Russian leadership to facilitate a rapid lifting of international sanctions on Serbia, to supply air defense missiles to Bosnian Serbs, to replace their heavy arms destroyed by NATO air raids, to prevent NATO deployment of peacekeep ing or disengagement forces in Bosnia, and to secure instead the deployment of UN troops and a political settlement under joint Russian-US guarantees. Buha has most recently appealed to Russia and other predominantly Orthodox nations for the formation of a Slavic-Orthodox international for mutual support. His hopes for Russian military aid appear unrealistic. Although Russia's defense minister Pavel Grachev has warned that Russia might aid the Bosnian Serbs, political support for such a step appears confined at the moment to a hard-line fringe. The Duma's CIS affairs committee chairman Konstantin Zatulin has called for providing SAM missiles to Bosnian Serbs; and Lt.- Colonel Stanislav Terekhov, head of the "red-brown" Union of Officers and leader of an electoral bloc, has proposed forming volunteer units, modeled on the international brigades in the Spanish civil war of the 1930s, to fight on the side of Bosnian Serbs. Meanwhile, at the UN, Russia demanded that the Bosnian Federation forces halt their offensive in Western Bosnia.
The UN Secretary General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, has said UN peacekeepers in Bosnia should be replaced by a multinational coalition whether or not a peace agreement is reached. The recommendation to replace UN peace keepers in Bosnia came in a letter from him to the Security Council. Mr. Ghali said the UN had a limited capacity to manage large-scale operations and complained of the failure of many nations to pay for peacekeeping operations in a timely way. He added that if a peace plan was agreed in Bosnia, a coalition of member states should implement it, and if peace negotiations failed and more "enforcement action" was required, troops from a multinational coalition should take up the job - - a clear reference to NATO.
France wants Muslim countries to be closely involved in peace talks on the Bosnian conflict, Foreign Minister Herve de Charette said in Cairo on Monday. "France, as it showed at the time of the Paris meeting, attaches great importance to the fact that the contact group of Islamic countries is associated, not just informed but associated closely, with the discussions and soon I hope, with the eventual peace conference," he told a news conference. De Charette, who arrived in Cairo on Monday on an official visit, was speaking after talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa. He earlier had talks with President Hosni Mubarak on the peace process, the Bosnian conflict and regional issues. "In our view this (current) initiative, as long as it has been accepted as a framework by the Bosnian government, should be given its full chance. But we will not leave the people of Bosnia alone if this initiative does not lead to a solution to this pr oblem," Moussa said.
An independent radio and television station Studio 99 known for its criticism of the Bosnian government has been crippled by a mysterious fire. The fire Friday destroyed a $70,000 repeater that amplifies the station's signal. Police cordoned off the repeater in Ciglane, north of the city center, and refused to comment on the fire pending an in vestigation. By Sunday morning, only the radio station was back on the air but reaching only a small fraction of its usual audience. Asim Abdurahmanovic, a founder of Studio 99, said he thinks the fire was set. He said bars surrounding the repeater and some of its cables were cut. He added that previous attempts have been made to shut down the station, which is often critical of the Bosnian government and particularly of President Alija Izetbegovic. The station's latest attacks on Izetbegovic came after a meeting last month in Geneva where he supported a US-backed peace proposal to end the war in Bosnia. Studio 99 blasted the Geneva deal, saying it rewards Serb aggression. The attacks triggered a media war between Studio 99 and television station Hayat, which many consider pro-government.
A Russian Airborne Forces spokesman said on 18 September that Major-General Nikolai Staskov, deputy head of peacekeeping operations, had recently begun an inspection tour of the 1,500 Russian peacekeepers currently stationed in Eastern Slavonia and aroun d Sarajevo. US Defense Secretary William Perry's earlier statements that Russia should participate in implementing any Bosnian peace settlement have triggered speculation that Russian troops will be dispatched to the region to reassure the Bosnian Serbs.
Croatian President Mr. Franjo Tudjman met with British Foreign Minister Malcom Rifkind this morning. Mr. Tudjman stressed the importance of Serbian President Milosevic accepting a solution for the issue of Baranja, eastern Slavonija and western Srijem, as part of an overall solution to the crisis. Granic pointed out that Tudman stated at the meeting, that Croatian forces have halted their advance in north-west Bosnia and that Croatia is ready to resolve the issue of Banja Luka by peaceful means. Prime Minister Nikica Valentic and Foreign Minister Mate Granic also met with Minister Rifkind today. Minister Granic briefed his British counterpart on Croatias policy, especially stressing that lasting peace and stability can only be achieved through a n all-encompassing solution, which includes the reintegration of the occupied eastern Croatia, and principles for the internal breakdown of Bosnian-territory.