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BosNEWS -- Oct. 03 95

Bosnia-Herzegovina News Directory

From: Nermin Zukic <n6zukic@sms.business.uwo.ca>


ON THE GROUND IN THE BALKANS:

Fighting broke out on October 3 around Trnovo, twenty-two miles south of Sarajevo. Details remain unclear, but U.N. sources report that Serbian forces initiated the fighting by firing on Bosnian Army positions. The United Nations condemned the Bosnian Army for using four mortars in Sarajevo to support its troops to the south. Serbian forces demanded to be allowed to move their heaviest weapons back into the exclusion zone around Sarajevo, but were warned by the U.N. that NATO would enforce the zone.

The U.N. reported on October 2 that Serbian forces had regained lost ground near the strategic towns of Bosanska Krupa and Bosanski Novi in northwestern Bosnia. Serbian warplanes reportedly attacked government positions during the offensive. NATO, which is charged with enforcing the no-fly zone over Bosnia, has not responded to these attacks.


ON THE DIPLOMATIC FRONT:

The Croatian government and Serbian forces occupying eastern Slavonia agreed to basic guidelines for further negotiations on the region's future. The details of the agreement remain unclear, but reportedly do not address the key issue of whether the territory will be returned to Croatian control. Zagreb has pledged to liberate the territory by force if Croatian sovereignty is not restored peaceably by the end of November.

Chief U.S. Negotiator And Assistant Secretary Of State Richard Holbrooke continues without success to press the leaders of Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia to agree to a country-wide cease-fire in Bosnia. Holbrooke is seeking to build on the agreement reached on September 26 in New York between the Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian foreign ministers on a set of general constitutional principles for a post-settlement Bosnia. Elements of the agreement include the "goal" of democratic elections, a new presidency, a new parliament, and a new constitutional court. One third of the seats in each would be reserved for representatives of a Serbian "entity." Delegates from the Serbian entity could veto majority decisions in both the parliament and the presidency. As preconditions for a cease-fire agreement, the Bosnian government continues to demand the complete lifting of the Serbian siege of Sarajevo, a secure land corridor to the eastern enclave of Gorazde, and the demilitarization of Banja Luka.


ON THE GROUND IN THE BALKANS:

Fighting continues in northwestern Bosnia, where the Bosnian Army has renewed its efforts to liberate territory near Banja Luka. The Army is moving to capture the high ground around the city. Serbian warplanes attacked government forces on September 27 and 28 in open defiance of NATO's no-fly-zone. Paramilitary troops from Serbia proper under the infamous warlord Arkan are supporting the Bosnian Serb forces. The Bosnian Army reports that regular Serbian army troops are also in the area. Serbian forces continue to shell government-held towns in southern and central Bosnia.

Serbian forces said that, beginning September 30, they would allow limited, U.N.-escorted land convoys of civilian passengers in and out of Sarajevo. However, the Bosnian government rejected the proposed routes on September 29. It protested that they were too circuitous and dangerous, and included Serbian checkpoints in violation of previous U.N. agreements.

ON THE DIPLOMATIC FRONT:

On September 29, chief U.S. negotiator Richard Holbrooke began two days of talks in Sarajevo with Bosnian government leaders to discuss prospects for a general cease-fire in Bosnia. Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic has said that his government will accept the cease-fire only if the siege of Sarajevo is lifted, a corridor to Gorazde is opened and secured, and Banja Luka is demilitarized.

On September 26, in New York, the Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian foreign ministers agreed to a set of constitutional principles to govern Bosnia after the war. The principles provide for a central government consisting of a presidency, a parliament, and a constitutional court, but it is by no means certain whether these entities will be strong enough to carry out the functions of a state. Indeed, the principles do not enumerate any of the new presidency's or parliament's powers.


GUEST COLUMN

The following are excerpts from an article included in the August 7, 1995, issue of Balkan Monitor, a Balkan Institute monthly publication.

The Battle for Bihac by General Karl Gorinsek

ON JULY 21 IN SPLIT, Bosnian and Croatian military and political leaders committed themselves and their countries to a joint defense effort. Their pact was prompted by the fall of Srebrenica and Zepa and a general worsening of the military situation in Bosnia.

The latter was produced by Serbia's decision to stage an all-out offensive in order to finally achieve its goal of an ethnically pure Greater Serbia, which the divided international community - presented with a fait accompli - would have no other option but to ratify as the final solution of this five-year war. Belgrade believes that its Greater Serbia project could undergo a serious crisis unless it is completed before the start of the winter and before the expected military strengthening of the Bosnian-Croatian coalition.

Clearly, only a sincere and all-round cooperation between Croatia and Bosnia can guarantee a successful defense against the common enemy, the survival of the Federation, and the safeguarding of the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Croatia. Without a military defeat of the common Serbian aggressor, or at least the achievement of a military balance, it will be impossible to force the Serbian side to give up conquered territory, abandon its Greater Serbia plan, and agree to a just political settlement. The eighteen months that have passed since the signing of the Federation agreement in Washington amount to a total loss of precious time, which is an important factor of warfare. As a result, the build-up of the Federation's defense and military potential, with which to successfully contest new Serbian military moves, has failed by a large margin to reach planned targets.

Croatia's positive response to Bosnia's request for urgent military and other help derives from its own geostrategic interests. This time, however, it will be impossible to criticize Croatia for military interference in Bosnia. By accepting Sarajevo's request to intervene militarily, especially in the defense of Bihac, the presence of the Croatian Army on Bosnian territory has been legitimized and given a wide brief. This truly fateful decision will demand of the Croatian leadership exceptional skill in planning a course of action that would lead to military victories without provoking a direct engagement of Serbia's enormous military potential - at least until the Bosnian Army itself becomes a more respectable military force. The friends of the Federation will have to exercise a maximum of diligence, attention, and initiative to ensure that Croatia stays on this course....

There is no doubt that the risks undertaken in the implementation of the Split Declaration are exceptionally high, but it is equally true that they simply must be accepted. Serbia's current aggression leaves no other choice but to continue with a decisive and stubborn armed struggle on the ground while conducting a diplomatic struggle in international organizations for the recognition of these countries' vital interests. The support of friendly countries will remain essential throughout.

[A Slovene by nationality, married to a Croat, General Karl Gorinsek commanded a Croatian Army corps that defended Baranja and Slavonia in 1991-2. He retired in 1993. This article was translated by and appears by courtesy of the Alliance to Defend Bosnia-Herzegovina (London)]

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