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BOSNEWS digest 431 -- 14/10/95

Bosnia-Herzegovina News Directory

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


DEVELOPMENTS ON THE DIPLOMATIC FRONT AND ON THE GROUND IN THE BALKANS:

The U.S.-brokered cease-fire remains a fiction in northwestern Bosnia, where heavy fighting continues. Serbian forces are attempting to recapture Sanski Most and Bosnian Army forces appear to be attempting to liberate Prijedor. Prijedor was the site of some of the worst atrocities committed by Serbian forces early in the war. U.N. officials announced that observers will be sent to the region at the invitation of Serbian forces.

The cease-fire does appear to be holding, however, around Sarajevo and other parts of Bosnia. The agreement calls for an end to offensive military actions, including sniper fire. It provides for freedom of movement for non-military and UNPROFOR traffic between Sarajevo and Gorazde, and Belgrade and Gorazde. It also calls for Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia to hold peace talks in the U.S. beginning October 31. If successful, the talks will be followed by a formal peace conference in Paris. The cease-fire is to last 60 days or until peace negotiations are concluded, whichever is longer.

Serbian forces continue to expel thousands of Bosnian Muslims and Croats from the Banja Luka area. The expulsions have been "extremely brutal" and many men have been separated from their families. UNHCR officials have been unable to confirm reports that men have been taken to a concentration camp and many executed.

Graphic testimony continues in U.N. War Crimes Tribunal hearings against Dragan Nikolic, who commanded a Serbian concentration camp at Susica in northeastern Bosnia. Camp survivors have spoken of sadistic beatings, rapes, and random killings at the camp. Nikolic remains at large in Bosnia. Although the Tribunal cannot try persons in absentia, hearings can be held on whether to uphold an indictment and issue a standing international arrest warrant. Chief Prosecutor Richard Goldstone has warned that spending restrictions imposed by U.N. General Secretary Boutros Boutros-Ghali due to the U.N.'s financial crisis may seriously impair the Tribunal's ability to continue its work.


TUNISIA: "World Forgets It Has To Deal With War Criminals"

Faouzi Snoussi wrote in independent, French-language Le Temps (10/11), "On the eve of a projected ceasefire, the world community basks in self-satisfaction even though the Serbs have started a race against the clock to re-occupy lost territory.... The people of Bosnia-Herzegovina continue to suffer.... The world community forgets that it must deal with war criminals.... In associating them with the peace process, the great powers confer underserved credibility on them."


CANADA: "NATO Connects U.S. To Europe"

The liberal Toronto Star asked (10/6), "So why all this concern about NATO, which now has only minor tasks to fulfil, such as occasionally bombing the Bosnian Serbs? Because NATO is the one organization that intimately connects the United States...to Europe. If the Yanks went home, the Europeans would have to solve all their problems by themselves, a task, as they've just demonstrated in Bosnia, that's clearly still beyond them."

"The Refugee Question"

French-language La Presse commented (10/6), "The Bosnian cease-fire announced yesterday by Bill Clinton is not likely to be as short-lived as the previous attempts.... The focus now will be...on a political solution to the conflict and a modus vivendi between three peoples that are so close, yet so distinct. But we should not forget the principal victims.... There are some three million refugees in the former Yugoslavia....the majority are victims of ethnic cleansing.... Negotiations should not be exclusively on the delimitation of frontiers and the elaboration of a Bosnian constitution.... Without an equitable solution to the question of the refugees, there will always be stains of anger."


SERBIA MONTENEGRO: "What Next?"

Political analyst Tomislav Kresovic commented in pro-government, nationalistic Politika Ekspres (10/12), "In actual fact, Bosnia is now experiencing a new Yalta, but the peaceful occupation of the former Yugoslav republic and the initial installation of NATO both as the peacekeeper and the peace imposer, is an attempt to divide interests between the Western military force and Russia, not only in that region but also in the southeast of Europe. In other words, the recent dialogues between the U.S. and Russian defense ministers represent a gesture of mutual respect, in order to prevent any kind of a new Cold War between them....

"A realistic peace means not only signing the ceasefire agreement, but also demilitarization of Bosnia-Herzegovina on the largest scale. The Pentagon and Secretary of Defense Perry's attitude that the 'United States would like the Bosnian Serbs to reduce their miltary arsenal' indicated that the primary goal is neutralization of the [Serbian] army, so that the peace might be 'controlled' more easily and a balance of force established. Insisting on demobilization of only one party in the conflict and not on total reduction of the warring parties' military contingent indicated that the intention is to label the [Serbian] army as the only instability factor for the peace in Bosnia."


CROATIA: "America Has Awakened Europe"

The Zagreb-based, pro-government, mass-appeal Vecernji list (10/5) carried the following commentary on the negotiations in Erdut: "During this war the Croats have been almost on their own. That is why most diplomats think that it is very elegant and without much risk to pressure Zagreb. Moscow will not react, the Islamic world will remain silent. The worst that such a diplomatic effort/diplomat may face is some restrained disapproval from Bonn, and lately from Washington, but that would be all.

"This is the context in which any analyst of recent media attacks against Croatia must operate. What these diplomats are trying to do is to find ways to peacefully 'reintegrate' Baranja, eastern Slavonia and western Srijem into Croatia, but, above all, they want to do it in a way that will please Milosevic. That is one reason why the makers and proposers of the Z-4 Plan are back on the scene. "Let us just recall that this plan would have, had it been accepted by Knin, kept Croatia in a permanent 'not-yet-a-state' condition, i.e. it would have been sort of Serbian vassal. And because the majority of Knin Serbs did not care much about minority or human rights, and because all they wanted was to keep the territories they had occupied, when they realized that this was not going to happen, they 'ethnically cleansed' themselves by leaving the region--thus making fools of their political patrons and protectors. That is why there is another attempt to enforce this failed plan as a solution for the remaining part of occupied Croatia, although the Serbs were never a majority there and they will never be. This is all done along the lines of Europe's failed Balkan policy: Satisfy the minority, and don't worry about the majority."


BRITAIN: "A U.S. Refusal To Send Troops Would Undermine Its Leadership In NATO"

The independent weekly Economist (10/13) warned in its editorial, "Without American troops, the Bosnian peacekeeping force would lack backbone and credibility.... American leadership over the past two months has moved Bosnia toward peace. An America that turns away from the formidable task that remains would undermine both the Alliance and its right to lead it.... If, having brokered a peace, America shirks the military burden of implementing it, its efforts will have been in vain."


"Time To Salute Clinton"

The conservative London Evening Standard commented editorially (10/13), "Only an optimist would break out the champagne.... But even if this ceasefire does not hold, perhaps it is time to salute President Bill Clinton. He is routinely disparaged, even by former supporters. But Mr. Clinton has shown patience and understanding over Bosnia. His foreign policy learning curve has been steep but effective. He has learned--we have all learned--that the world's most powerful nation cannot simply force peace but, when used intelligently, its great power can be effective."


"A Total Transformation"

The ceasefire in Bosnia frequently ran at the top of electronic coverage (10/12), with BBC TV's Breakfast News' veteran Bosnia reporter Martin Bell telling viewers from Sarajevo: "Things here have changed beyond recognition.... As I left, the mountains around were resounding to that massive NATO bombardment which changed the entire equation. Now people do believe that there is hope of a settlement, things are beginning to return to normal.... The siege is not lifted...but it is lifting. It is a total transformation."


"NATO's Baptism Of Fire"

The conservative Times (10/12) ran this assessment by strategic expert Jonathan Eyal: "If the West gets the negotiations for a ceasefire in Bosnia right, the Balkans may look forward to a period of stability. But one mistake could result in more than a simple resumption of hostilities: It could lead to the unravelling of NATO.... "Three things remain certain. Neither the beginning of NATO's operation nor its duration can be predicted. Secondly, President Clinton will have an incentive to blame the Europeans for any failure. And thirdly, Bosnia is yesterday's problem: A durable peace now depends on the region's other states.... Western leaders will shortly discover just how quick the Balkan sands can be. The Alliance is now facing its baptism of fire, with no more than a 50 percent chance of success."


"NATO Should Be Ready To Use Force"

The conservative tabloid Daily Express commented editorially (10/10), "Force, alas, is the only language that the Bosnian Serbs seem able to understand. And if any ceasefire is to have a chance of holding, NATO most be ready to use that language whenever necessary."


"The War Crimes Of Croatia"

According to the Independent (10/5), "President Franjo Tudjman's government came to power in Croatia claiming to represent democracy, European culture and Christian values.... It is now clear that Croatian forces committed widespread murder against elderly Serb non-combatants while looting and burning Serb homes. Under any of the international legal conventions which Croatia purports to recognize, these are war crimes. The EU and the UN have both gathered compelling evidence of Croatian atrocities.... Croatia should be told that it can expect no political favors and extract no economic concessions from the EU unless this behavior ceases and the guilty are brought to justice.... "We cannot thunder moral indignation at the Serbs while granting the Croats a license to murder. In this case Europe can make a difference--and it should."


FRANCE "Territorial Ambitions Must Be Cast Aside"

Patrick de Saint-Exupery warned in conservative Le Figaro (10/10), "Unless the two sponsors of the ex-Yugoslav war, i.e. Croatia and Serbia, officially give up their territorial ambitions, the conflict will not stop and all ceasefires will be precarious.... Diplomatic sources report that Washington has convinced Slobodan Milosevic to endorse such a renunciation. The same remains to be done with Franjo Tudjman."


"American Peace Will Prevail In The Balkans"

Regarding the Paris peace conference, Christian Malar said on public TV France 3 (10/9), "It is in a way a gift from Bill Clinton to Jacques Chirac, to thank him for the involvement of French troops on the ground since the beginning of the conflict. The U.S. president wants to cash the political dividends and to show that American peace, though inspired by French and British ideas, will prevail in the Balkans."


GERMANY: "First Truce We Must Take Seriously"

Regional radio station Westdeutscher Rundfunk of Bonn aired this commentary (10/12), "A feeling of uncertainty remains even today when we hear the news of a ceasefire in the Balkans. Nevertheless, this ceasefire is likely to be the first truce we must take seriously. To put it differently: The chance for peace has never been as great as today.... But it will also become clear whether the Europeans, who were always convinced that conflicts could be resolved at the negotiating table, have learned their lesson.... Their total failure made them co-responsible. This is why the Europeans are now obliged to show a special commitment in this peace process. To say it clearly: the Europeans including us Germans, too."


"Will Sarajevo Be Divided, Just Like Berlin?"

Washington correspondent Kurt Kister dealt with a news conference of Deputy Secretary of State Talbott in centrist Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (10/12), "The government in Moscow has a different view than the West on the implementation and the monitoring of a possible agreement....

"Talbott did not give any further details, but it is clear that the State Department thinks that the Moscow government is unable to afford to send a division of 15,000 soldiers to Bosnia to be supported according to the pay-as-you-go-principle.... But in addition, there is still another concern: It will be impossible to integrate a whole Russian division...into a NATO supreme command structure. This is why the State Department also fears that an independent Russian division could result in a kind of Russian zone in Bosnia. If this Russian zone is then geographically in accordance with the Serbian part of Bosnia, we could soon be confronted with the development of conditions we thought had been overcome long ago: The development of a kind of demarcation line in a divided country in which Russian forces would confront NATO units: West Sarajevo, You Are Leaving The American Sector. A return of the Cold War?"


"Bosnia: Clinton's Foreign Policy Barometer"

In a piece commenting on the "skillful diplomatic and military moves (in Haiti, Mexico, and the Middle East that) have returned to America the image of a superpower," Washington correspondent Peter Rzeznitzeck said in right-of-center Rheinische Post (10/10) of Duesseldorf, "It was obviously high time that Clinton displayed some foreign policy backbone if he wanted to win the next elections....

"His successes in Haiti and the Middle East will not do him much good if he does not manage to get the American people's backing for his policy in Bosnia.... The Americans should realize that the concepts 'Balkans' and 'peace' go together like fire and water.... Clinton's foreign policy will be judged according to what comes of the agreements on Bosnia."


ITALY: "20,000 Russians?"

Leading strategic analyst Enrico Jacchia opined in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (10/13), "Perry and Grachev found themselves in agreement in Geneva over the need to deploy peacekeeping troops in Bosnia within 72 hours of the signing of the peace accord.... But there is still total disagreement regarding the size of the Russian contingent. The question is of vital importance not only for peace in Bosnia, but also for the future configuration of the Balkans.... America would have provided the largest share--25,000 troops. But the Russians were far more generous than the Americans requested. A 'strengthened division,' said Grachev, using an expression which, in the terminology and the structure of Soviet armed forces, could mean between 15,000 and 25,000 men. In that case, 20,000 Americans and 20,000 Russians? And what about command of the operation? NATO officials say that it cannot be left only to the military....

"The Americans, in fact, believe that the ultimate goal is not that of making Sarajevo a city-state, as it has seemed over the last few months. Bosnia as a unified state is a pillar of the peace proposal which Holbrooke has made the belligerents swallow. If the Croats and the Serbs intend to divide it up between them, NATO will have to prevent that militarily. Here is where political control of the operation is involved. If it is in the hands of NATO, the Americans can relax, and the Europeans will follow. But what about the Russians, especially if they participate with a strong military contingent not subject to the political control of the Atlantic Council?"

"War Is Not Over, Just Suspended"

A commentary by Pietro Veronese in left/liberal, influential La Repubblica judged (10/12), "Apart from the return of gas and electricity, what has emerged clearly over the last few hours is that, at this point, the armed groups under the command of General Mladic are more in a hurry to suspend the fighting than the Bosnian army and its Croatian allies. Sarajevo has never felt so strong during three-and-a-half years of war, nor has it ever had such a great amount of territory under its control. The feelings in the city were of exultation yesterday, but far more over the fall of Sanski Most than over the resumption of electricity. The ceasefire is a concession of the Bosnian government to Serbian nationalists, not vice-versa as had always been the case previously....

"The Bosnian war is not over. In the best case, it will only be suspended."


RUSSIA: "U.S. Can Sway All Sides"

Gennady Sysoyev filed from Belgrade in reformist weekly Moskovskiye Novosti (10/12), "The Americans have succeeed where both the Western Europeans and Russians have failed. Moscow, for one, had some influence with the Serbs, even though its opinion carried little weight with the Croats and Muslims. The United States has proved that it can effectively sway all sides."


"Russia Must Participate, Even If NATO Retains Control"

Vladimir Nadein wrote in reformist Izvestia (10/11), "Russia's national interests require that it should take part in the coming year's main international effort, trying to bring about settlement in the former Yugoslavia, even if NATO retains control over this process. The alternative would be isolation in Europe, missing the chance of bettering relations with the United States, and a slow drift away from the other CIS armies which show an increasing interest in NATO's Partnership for Peace program."


"Moscow Uses Gas Supplies To Boost Its Role In Balkans"

Andrei Smirnov opined in reformist, business-oriented Kommersant-Daily (10/11), "Russia at last has a chance to have a big say in the peace process in Bosnia.... No doubt, Moscow used the question of renewing gas supplies to boost its role in the process of the Balkan settlement. Yesterday's statement by Andrei Kozyrev concerning Boris Yeltsin's initiative on an immediate ceasefire in Bosnia being implemented through an agreement between Gazprom and the Bosnian government can hardly be assessed other than an attempt to belittle the role of the United States."


THE NETHERLANDS: "New Hope For Bosnia"

Influential, liberal-left De Volkskrant asserted (10/10), "President Clinton himself announced the good news about the agreement in Bosnia.... By doing so he emphasized the success of his foreign policy.... Europe shamefully realizes that it is now only playing a role in the margins. The super political power, America, continues to be necessary to end a war in Europe. Europe, too divided and too weak, is not yet capable of doing this. We still have to wait and see if Washington will really be successful in motivating the fighting parties to make peace.... But still there is new hope for Bosnia because the situation there is no longer the same as it was last year."


SWEDEN: "Peace Process In Progress"

Conservative Svenska Dagbladet editorialized (10/13), "Now the ethnic cleansing and the coupled refugee situation is anew in focus in Bosnia...and the warnings of the Sarajevo government, that the truce may be jeopardized unless the ethnic cleansing is stopped, must be taken in all seriousness. The truce is fragile, the peace is still far away, and nothing of a genuine reconciliation among the parties can be noticed. The multinational 50,000 troop peace force, which was yesterday officially approved by NATO, will be needed to prevent that the war in Bosnia will flare up, or that the peace process, which in spite of all is progress, will be jeopardized."


"U.S., NATO Prestige Strengthened"

Independent Dagens Nyheter opined (10/7), "When peace in Europe depends on something more than just peacekeeping forces, it is quite obvious where the military power is to be found.... Bosnia is a perfect example of the importance of NATO and America's commitment to Europe. The progress made in recent months in trying to stop the Balkans war, is not solely the result of NATO bombs and the diplomacy of Bill Clinton. However, the prestige of both Clinton and NATO has been strengthened, a fact that should not escape anyone interested in the stability of Europe.

"We have now witnessed how violent forces can be released when there is nothing there to check them. However, we have also witnessed the strength of a Western cooperation that could have achieved even more had it been launched at an earlier stage. All of Europe has a lesson to learn even if Russia disapproves of NATO."


OMAN: "This Ceasefire Looking Better Than 50 Previous"

The semi-independent, English-language Times of Oman opined (10/10), "This ceasefire looks better than the 50 others.... Behind the current initiative lies the 42-month fatigue of the parties, a new a fairer local military balance and the fresh commitment of the American government.... The early onset of negotiations among the parties hastens the day when the United States will have to deliver on its promise of bolstering a settlement with American forces. A looming problem is how to keep the military 'playing field' reasonably level after American forces leave.... The trick will be to engage Washington and Moscow, at a moment when they are at odds on the volatile NATO expansion issue, without having them face off in a manner recalling the Cold War.... Especially, if things go reasonably well, President Clinton will be under heavy election-year temptation to stress his personal leadership. But in a context that could easily turn sour, he would do better to conduct full consultation with the Republican Congress--on the diplomacy as well as on the means to enforce it."


SAUDI ARABIA: "A Dispute In Its Final Stage"

In the opinion of the London-based, internationally circulated, moderate Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat (10/12), "Given the seriousness of the United States, particularly in dealing with the Bosnian settlement issue, and the fact that the United States is the sponsor and is the party that has an interest in cultivating the issue domestically in the upcoming American presidential elections race--a sort of consensus prevails among observers of the situation in Bosnia that the last-hour delays will not have an effect on the agreement."


BANGLADESH: "A Breakthrough That OIC Should Join"

The independent, English-language Daily Star opined (10/10), "The U.S.-mediated ceasefire in Bosnia-Herzegovina has some ifs and buts about it; but all the same it represents a breakthrough in mores senses than one.... President Bill Clinton's timely intercession and his mediator Holbrooke's shuttle diplomacy has brought the contending parties closer to each other.... We suggest that a complement of OIC participation be considered for the upcoming international conference in Paris, without making it into an exclusive affair of the five-nation Contact Group."


IRAN: "Balance Of Power Required For Peace"

The official, English-language Iran News said (10/8), "The balance of power will be the best guarantee for keeping the guns silent in the highly volatile Balkan region, which has the potential to ignite a third world war."


JAPAN: "Welcome Strong U.S. Leadership"

An editorial in conservative Sankei stressed (10/13), "The international community welcomes the U.S. administration's strong leadership in brokering the ceasefire. The United Nations will scale down its UNPROFOR troops in Bosnia. "This is a good opportunity for the financially-strapped UN to reconsider its 'over-stretched' peacekeeping operations.... Japan should take part in Balkan reconstruction projects in a positive manner in order to avoid the repeat of 'checkbook diplomacy' problems that happened during the Gulf War."


"Akashi's Resignation And The Limits Of The UN"

Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri held (10/12), "Yasushi Akashi is resigning as the top UN representative in the former Yugoslavia.... With Akashi stepping down, the UN is set to phase out its peacekeeping operation and its role as a mediator in Bosnia-Herzegovina, leaving the United States to take the lead in negotiating for a lasting peace there.

"A U.S.-brokered ceasefire has been accepted by the Bosnian government and Bosnian Serbs. But there is no telling whether it will lead to peaceful coexistence among the conflicting groups. Should the negotiations fail, there remains the possibility of an all-out war, which could spill over into other areas. We welcome the U.S. peace initiative and the military and political power it represents in urging all the parties to end the conflict. European nations and Russia should improve coordination with the United States in establishing a lasting peace in the former Yugoslavia."


"Brighter Chance For Peace"

Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri editorialized (10/8), "Optimism is...hardly warranted this time, although it is true that conditions are more favorable and the chances of reaching a peace accord brighter. Using its strong political and military clout, the United States has played a pivotal role in mediating the conflict since summer, making it impossible for the belligerents to ignore the U.S.-led peace efforts. Russia should, therefore, cooperate in the mediation efforts. We hope Moscow will use its influence on the Serbs to help bring peace to Bosnia."


CHINA: "U.S. Faces Three Difficulties In Bosnia"

Washington correspondent Huang Qing wrote in the official Communist Party People's Daily (10/11), "The United States now confronts three urgent tasks: One, to achieve an effective and lasting ceasefire in Bosnia as soon as possible; two, to include the Muslim-Croatian Federation (as part of) the basis of the new state of Bosnia-Herzegovina; and finally, to reach an international common understanding on the formation and function of the future multinational peacekeeping force that will include Russian participation under U.S. domination. At present, it is still difficult for the United States to realize these goals."


PHILIPPINES: "A Fragile Beginning"

The leading Manila Bulletin said (10/10), "The Bosnian agreement is only a fragile beginning to a possible peace for that beleaguered land.... How this can all be achieved will depend on the political will of the leaders.... At this moment, the accord appears acceptable to all concerned. But seeing is believing, especially in light of the trail of broken promises that characterize this three-year war and all the peace efforts that have been made before."


SUDAN: "U.S. In Bosnia"

Abdel Wahab Bob, a lawyer and political writer well-known for his pro-democracy activism, wrote in the privately-owned Akhir Khabar (10/10), "The EU failed to put an end to the war in the former Yugoslavia and as a result, the Serbs were satisfied and continued to bomb Bosnian towns and commit war crimes.... Then the United States intervened to put a limit to this.... This effort puts a lie to what has been said about 'an international conspiracy against the Muslims people of Bosnia.' The strange thing is that this accusation comes from governments who offered not one iota of assistance in any form to the Bosnian people.

"Under the pressure of American diplomacy and military force, the Serbs agreed to withdraw their weapons from Sarajevo. Now it seems that the structure of a new peace is taking shape. Humanity and the protectors of human rights are obliged to offer gratitude to the people of the United States and its government for a policy which is a direct result of the values of American democracy."


ARGENTINA: "U.S., NATO Bring Bosnia Closer To Peace"

Daily-of-record La Nacion opined (10/7), "The result of U.S.-NATO coercion has been to bring peace nearer to Bosnia as never before during these tragic years; nevertheless, it is not peace yet, but a mere interruption of the fight, a truce aimed at a possible dialogue. Its happy ending will call for effort and painful self-denial from all sides in the conflict."


BRAZIL: "Encouraging"

Independent Jornal do Brazil commented (10/6), "So many ceasefires have been announced that the tendency is to receive them with skepticism. But without doubt the fact that President Clinton is throwing the weight of American diplomacy into an area it had sidestepped before is encouraging. News of the new ceasefire was received in Bosnia with joy and skepticism."


CHILE: "Impulse Toward Peace Is Greater Now"

Financial El Diario commented (10/10), "While in the past there had been dozens of broken promises and ceasefires, the impulse toward peace is greater now than at any other time of the conflict."

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