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BOSNEWS digest 470 - 18/11/95

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

Bosnia-Herzegovina News Directory


CONTENTS

  • [01] THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS ON THE DIPLOMATIC FRONT AND ON THE GROUND IN THE BALKANS

  • [02] SERB NATIONALIST LEADERS INDICTED FOR SREBRENICA GENOCIDE.

  • [03] MORE EVIDENCE OF WAR CRIMES.

  • [04] EMPTY PLEDGE ON BANJA LUKA.

  • [05] SERB NEWS AGENCY SAYS MLADIC, KARADZIC, TO KEEP POSTS.

  • [06] TOP BOSNIAN CROATS ALSO INDICTED FOR WAR CRIMES.

  • [07] TUDJMAN PROMOTES SUSPECT.

  • [08] FEDERATION ACCORD.

  • [09] MOSTAR INCLUDED.

  • [10] SANCTIONS EASED ON SERBIA AS SARAJEVANS SUFFER IN COLD, DARKNESS.

  • [11] DAYTON TALKS CONTINUE.

  • [12] SERB-CROAT AGREEMENT.

  • [13] BOSNIAN-CROAT ACCORD A `ONE-WAY STREET.'

  • [14] DAUNTING TASK.

  • [15] ROAD OPENS FOR SERB-OCCUPIED SARAJEVO SUBURBS.


  • [01] THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS ON THE DIPLOMATIC FRONT AND ON THE GROUND IN THE BALKANS

    Speculation increased today that the peace talks between the presidents of Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, are drawing nearer to a comprehensive settlement. The State Department confirmed today that Secretary of State Warren Christopher will cut short an Asian trip Friday to join the talks. Christopher is expected to remain in Dayton for several days to encourage the parties to accept a final accord.

    However, German mediator Christian Schwarz-Schilling said today that there was a 50% chance that the talks would collapse. Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic was reported by Bosnian government radio to have said that the talks were entering their final phase, but that the most contentious issues remain to be resolved. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman returned to Zagreb today to open Croatia's recently elected parliament. Arriving in Zagreb, Tudjman said that, from the Croatian point of view, the Dayton talks were "very successful." However, Bosnian Croat leaders have recently expressed their opposition to developments in the Dayton negotiations.

    The U.N. War Crimes Tribunal today issued new charges against Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. The two were charged with orchestrating the suspected massacre of as many as 6,000 Bosnian Muslims after the fall of Srebrenica. The Red Cross estimates that as many as 8,000 are missing from Srebrenica and believed killed. Chief Prosecutor Richard Goldstone, speaking today after meeting in Washington with U.S. officials, stated that it would be "objectionable" if Karadzic and Mladic were allowed in a settlement reached at Dayton to step down from power but not be prosecuted by the Tribunal. Goldstone also announced that a Bosnian Muslim who once served in the Croatian Army had been arrested in the Netherlands. Goldstone said that there was strong evidence that the unidentified man had been involved in crimes committed against Bosnian Serbs. The Croatian government stated today that it would not arrest six Bosnian Croats indicted Monday by the Tribunal. Zagreb said that the indictments against the six, which include top Bosnian Croat military and political leaders, must first be "substantiated."

    [02] SERB NATIONALIST LEADERS INDICTED FOR SREBRENICA GENOCIDE.

    The UN war-crimes tribunal has again accused top Bosnian Serb political and military leaders of genocide -- this time for massacres in Srebrenica this summer.

    Indictments against political leader Radovan Karadzic and commanding Gen. Ratko Mladic charge them with "crimes of an unprecedented cruelty against the Bosnian Muslim population," a tribunal spokesman said.

    "Evidence detailed how more than 100 Muslim men, women and children were slowly slaughtered by Serb soldiers using knives; how a grandfather was forced to eat the liver of his own grandson; how thousands of Muslim men were executed and buried in mass graves," Reuters reports. Witnesses say Mladic personally commanded troops at the scene of several mass executions. An estimated 8,000 people were murdered after Serb nationalist forces overran the supposed "UN- protected safe area."

    Karadzic and Mladic were previously indicted for genocide and crimes against humanity for other atrocities across Bosnia, including the sniping campaign against unarmed civilians in Sarajevo.

    [03] MORE EVIDENCE OF WAR CRIMES.

    An American reporter recently imprisoned for 10 days by Serb nationalists says he saw more evidence of mass graves near Srebrenica.

    David Rohde says the layout of the grave sites he saw before his arrest was "exactly" as survivors who escaped the carnage described.

    "On top, scattered across, were shoes, shirts and eyeglasses,'' Rohde told Reuters. "The pile of civilian clothes I found and three crutches ... is the most damning proof that Serb claims that these are Muslim soldiers who were killed in combat and buried there are not true."

    Anyone with access to the Internet's World Wide Web can read more details from Rohde's reports at http://freerange.com/csmonitor/

    A Dutch peacekeeper serving in Srebrenica, meanwhile, told the Croatian publication Globus that the UN failed even to stop the killing of its own employees there.

    "I personally saw the dead body of a person who worked for us, lying in the canteen, and other (U.N. soldiers) told me that the rest of our employees are dead bodies lying throughout the building,'' Anton van Voorn told Globus, according to an AP translation.

    [04] EMPTY PLEDGE ON BANJA LUKA.

    After visiting Serb-occupied Banja Luka, a top U.S. human-rights official says Serbs have admitted imprisoning Muslim men for orced labor and pledged to find and release 1,400 men listed as missing. Assistant Secretary of State John Shattuck claimed Serb nationalist leaders also offered free access to the Red Cross and aid workers.

    However, no outsiders have been permitted to see any Bosnian prisoners, or examine mass-grave sites around Srebrenica, and there have been no prisoner releases since.

    "This was a structured public relations scheme on the part of the Americans meant to calm down the Bosnian government for a while," a Western diplomat in Sarajevo told the New York Times. "It was clear from the beginning all he was going to get was a lot of `yea, yea, yea,' and little else."

    It is feared that Banja Luka's missing Muslims will meet the same gruesome fate as those of Srebrenica.

    [05] SERB NEWS AGENCY SAYS MLADIC, KARADZIC, TO KEEP POSTS.

    Several newspapers in Serbia reported that a deal has been struck to remove Mladic and Karadzic from their jobs. NIN, a weekly journal in Belgrade, claimed last Sunday the two would "quietly depart" after a peace accord is reached.

    However, the Bosnian Serbs' SNRA news agency sharply denied the report. Western media say Serbian President Milosevic is pressuring the two to "voluntarily" leave their positions under U.S. pressure.

    Nikola Koljevic, a Karadzic deputy, is supposedly Milosevic's choice to lead Serb-occupied Bosnia.

    [06] TOP BOSNIAN CROATS ALSO INDICTED FOR WAR CRIMES.

    Six Bosnian Croat officials were accused of crimes against humanity for directing a campaign against Muslims in 1993.

    "The crimes they are charged with were carried out on such a large scale .. that they have effectively destroyed or removed almost the entire Muslim civilian population in the Lasva valley," the tribunal said.

    Those crimes include: killing hundreds of civilians in a surprise attack against Vitez; deliberately shelling a Zenica market, killing at least 18 civilians; a massacre of 120 people in Ahmici; and using hundreds of women and children as "human shields" around military targets under fire.

    Dario Kordic, vice president of the Croatian community in Bosnia; Tihomir Blaskic, chief of staff of the Bosnian Croat army (HVO); Ivan Santic, former mayor of Vitez; and Pero Skopljak, former police chief in Vitez; were among those named in the indictment.

    [07] TUDJMAN PROMOTES SUSPECT.

    A day after the indictments were handed down, Croatian President Franjo Tudjman promoted HVO Gen. Blaskic to the job of inspector in the army of Croatia.

    U.S. officials sharply criticized the move, and said failure to hand over suspects to the war-crimes tribunal would affect U.S.-Croatian relations.

    [08] FEDERATION ACCORD.

    The indictments came shortly after an agreement was announced in Dayton to strengthen the federation between the Bosnian government and Croatian nationalists.

    Under the accord, the Bosnian government agreed to turn over police, court, tax, health, and education affairs to the federation; while maintaining authority in foreign relations, trade, and the economy.

    [09] MOSTAR INCLUDED.

    That Bosnian-Croat agreement included a "unifying mechanism" for the divided city of Mostar, where Muslims have been driven into a war-battered ghetto and barred from crossing into the relatively undamaged Croat sector. The city was ethnically mixed before the war.

    "Every day I go to work I see a woman hanging laundry in my apartment," Dinka Jelin, 40, who works at Mostar's MM Radio, told AP. "You can't imagine how it is like, being so close, but yet so apart from home." Croat militiamen drove her out of her home at gunpoint in 1993.

    The European Union has failed in current efforts to reunify the city.

    Elections for a joint Mostar government will supposedly be held in the first half of 1996.

    [10] SANCTIONS EASED ON SERBIA AS SARAJEVANS SUFFER IN COLD, DARKNESS.

    In apparent hopes that Serbia will stop siphoning off Bosnia's natural-gas supplies -- the pipeline to Sarajevo runs from Russia through Serbia and Serb- occupied Bosnia -- the UN voted to ease sanctions on Yugoslavia and allow Serbia to buy unlimited amounts of natural gas for two months.

    "Restoring utilities was a precondition for the current peace talks in Dayton, Ohio," Reuters reported a week ago. "All utilities are on but Sarajevo is still effectively being starved of warmth, light and water.

    "During the siege of Sarajevo over the past three and a half years Sarajevans have burned tires, shoes and furniture to keep warm, leading, doctors say, to serious respiratory problems aside from the health consequences of simply being cold."

    Sarajevans say conditions improved this week, with gas on again full time, but many credit warmer weather and reduced demand for heat. Few Sarajevans expect to have uninterrupted heat or electricity this winter, and residents are trying to buy or find alternative means to keep from freezing.

    Firewood, virtually impossible to buy in the besieged city, sells for a staggering 100 German marks (about $75) per cubic meter when available. The same wood costs just 7 marks in nearby Tuzla.

    [11] DAYTON TALKS CONTINUE.

    "Conflicting reports circulated that the three sides were either making much progress or were so deadlocked that each delegation was threatening to walk out of the sprawling Wright-Patterson base," Reuters reported early this week from Dayton. However, by Thursday night, both Reuters and the BBC were speculating that talks might wrap up this weekend.

    The future of Sarajevo remains a major point of contention, with Serbs seeking to divide the city into ethnic zones. A corridor to the besieged enclave of Gorazde, which the Serbs oppose, as well as widening a narrow Serb- held route around Brcko, are also reportedly hotly disputed.

    The N.Y. Times says that Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic, a passionate proponent of a multi-ethnic Bosnia, is emerging as a key swing vote on the Bosnian negotiating team.

    [12] SERB-CROAT AGREEMENT.

    Officials at Dayton announced an agreement for the last Serb-occupied territory in Croatia, eastern Slavonia, to be returned to Croatian rule after a two-year transition period. "This is a historic signing," exulted U.S. Ambassador Peter Galbraith. "For the first time in this conflict an issue has been solved by a signature and not by a bullet."

    However, a BBC analyst said the deal does nothing to solve the problems plaguing Bosnia. And some are skeptical that the agreement will in fact be implemented peacefully.

    [13] BOSNIAN-CROAT ACCORD A `ONE-WAY STREET.'

    A Dayton agreement to allow Muslim and Croats to return to their respective homes "is so far a one-way street," Associated Press reports. Bosnian officials are allowing some Croat refugees to return to two towns, AP says, and even moving Muslims refugees out of houses to make way for returning Croats.

    "Our wish is that everybody will return home," Travnik Mayor Muhamed Curic, a Muslim, told AP. "Bosnia is not for just Serbs, Croats or Muslims, it's for all three. Without that there is no Bosnia."

    Croats, however, are not acting in kind, AP says. "Bosnian Croat authorities prevented thousands of Muslims from visiting graves of their relatives and friends in Stolac, Jajce and Capljina" during a recent holiday to remember the dead, according to AP. "The visit was intended to test whether these people would be welcome in territory where they once lived, and the test failed."

    A German television crew who reached Croat-occupied Stolac found the city's four mosques destroyed and no Muslims in evidence. The population was 45% Muslim before the war. Those driven out of the region lived for months in caves; conditions now are little better. "Most still reside in Blagaj in metal containers provided by relief agencies," Reuters reports.

    [14] DAUNTING TASK.

    The UNHCR says it will will take at least two years and $500 million to try to repatriate Bosnians uprooted by "ethnic cleansing." If a peace deal is signed, the first phase would try to return the 1.3 million Bosnians now living as refugees within the country. The second phase would try to help 820,000 refugees living in other Yugoslav and ex-Yugoslav republics, followed by another 700,000 elsewhere abroad. UNHCR officials believe that many of the refugees will never be able to return home -- especially those who were driven out of Serb-occupied territory.

    [15] ROAD OPENS FOR SERB-OCCUPIED SARAJEVO SUBURBS.

    The UN opened a road connecting the Serb-occupied suburbs of Ilidza and Nedarcici with Lukavica, site of a major Serb military installation, for humanitarian traffic. The UN is pushing to allow Serb civilian traffic as well.

    Meanwhile, Serb forces still maintain barriers and checkpoints at all main routes in and out of Sarajevo center -- "barriers supposedly banned under an agreement which halted NATO air strikes against Serb positions earlier this year," Reuters notes.

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