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BOSNEWS digest 497 - 12/12/95

From: Dzevat Omeragic <>

Bosnia-Herzegovina News Directory




    EDITORS: Diana McCaffrey and Mildred Sola Neely

    BRITAIN: "What Will Happen Once Troops Are Gone?"

    An editorial in the conservative Daily Telegraph said (12/11), "Barring some dramatic development over the missing French pilots, this week will see the formal ratification in Paris of the Bosnian settlement and the launching of one of the most remarkable peace missions since the Second World War.... On the military front the signs so far are encouraging. The decision to embark on a large, out of area operation has revivified NATO.... More important for Bosnia in the long term is what happens once the troops have gone. Here the prospects are much less rosy. President Clinton said over the weekend that his soldiers would depart after a year, whatever the situation on the ground. The question is whether the fragile political structure erected by the one remaining superpower will long survive once that withdrawal has taken place."

    "Furious Squabble"

    The independent Financial Times commented (12/9), "Yesterday's London conference was only the latest round of a peacemaking game in which all players are looking to maximize leverage and minimize expenditure and risk. A furious squabble over who will oversee next year's Bosnian election--a European or an American--boded ill for the chances of agreement on more substantial issues, such as who will foot the $6 billion reconstruction bill.

    "Almost the only things on which all sides agree is that a year-long mission by NATO's 60,000-strong implementation force has no chance of nailing down peace unless a larger and longer-lasting civilian machinery is also established."

    "London Conference Sorts Out Practical Details"

    On BBC TV's 9:00 bulletin (12/8), reporter Jon Devitt said, "The London conference will sort out the practical details of how elections can be held next year, the requirements for economic recovery, the continued distribution of economic aid and the planned return of refugees. It is unclear what role NATO will have in work such as the distribution and protection of aid convoys, which has been under the control of the UN."

    "What Will Bosnia's Future Be?"

    Lecturer on war studies James Gow commented in the liberal Guardian (12/8), "The question the conference will face is whether Bosnia's future should be that of Germany in 1945, Italy in 1945, or a crippled country in which the conditions for further armed hostilities will emerge in the years ahead.... According to one very senior military figure involved, the destruction in Bosnia is worse than that in Germany at the end of the Second World War....

    "Reintegration of (Bosnia) must therefore be on the agenda today. So must the removal of the criminal and semi-criminal armed barons who dominated military and political affairs during the conflict. If they are not removed, wartime corruption will find peacetime outlets.... War weariness probably rules out a return to war for some years, but now is the time to win the peace. It is already late....

    "The EU, with others concerned, must rapidly develop something like the Marshall Plan--a comprehensive plan for reconstruction and rehabilitation."

    FRANCE: "What Should France Do To Free Its Pilots?"

    With Paris's ultimatum to the Serbs for them to release the French airmen having expired, Marc Ullmann said on RTL Radio (12/11), "What should we do (to get the pilots freed)? To delay the signing of the peace treaty, as the families of our unfortunate pilots are requesting, would not only embarrass the captors, it would also embarrass the entire world. A military operation? Against whom?"

    "Differences Between The French And The Americans"

    Under the headline above, influential Le Monde's London correspondent Patrice de Beer filed (12/11), "This (missing French pilots) crisis allowed the participants in the better assess the difficulties they will face in implementing the accord--whatever its name. The United States is sticking to 'the Dayton accords' while France prefers 'the Elysee treaty.' Is this just a conflict of egos...or does it mirror a deeper malaise? France, supported, it says, by EU countries, does not see the implementation of the accords the same way as the United States does."

    "Why U.S. Thinks Others Should Pay"

    Washington correspondent Jean-Marie Macabrey observed in financial La Tribune (12/11), "The deployment of 20,000 U.S. soldiers to Bosnia, a costly and risky operation, still does not receive unanimous support in the United States.... The president may be participating in the signing ceremonies without the support of the House of Representatives.... Because it will have the biggest foreign contingent on the ground, the United States thinks that it is up to Europe, Japan and Islamic countries to assume the financial burden of reconstruction in Bosnia."

    "U.S. Administration Embarks In PR Campaign"

    Washington correspondent Pierre Briancon filed for influential Liberation (12/8), "The Clinton administration has started a vigorous public relations campaign to explain to the American public the whys and hows of the NATO operation in the Balkans. The military operation is risky...but the United States had no choice--its world leadership was at stake, as was peace in Europe."

    "Dimmed Luster"

    Jean-Francois Bege lamented in regional Sud Ouest (12/8), "The luster of this peace gathering (Paris signing conference) may be tarnished by questions about the fate of the hostages (two French pilots)."

    GERMANY: "But Who Will Pay?"

    Centrist Leipziger Volkszeitung's editorial concluded (12/11), "There is no alternative to Bosnia's reconstruction, for which the London conference paved the way.... If the ceasefire is to turn into real peace, the men, women and children on the scorched earth need hope for a decent life. Only if Serbs as well as Muslims and Croats set stone upon stone instead of refilling their cartridges, will the violent and expensive military mission be worthwhile. It is true that the London conference is about to set up new commissions and structures but the main thing has been postponed. The decisive question of 'who is to pay for this?' is being passed back and forth like a ping-pong ball between Brussels and London. Enormous budget deficits, an economic downswing and mass strikes are not creating a generous mood in Paris, Bonn, London and Washington."

    "Great Challenge To Europe...And Germany"

    Wolfgang Kuballa opined in an editorial in right-of-center Rheinische Post of Duesseldorf (12/11), "The pillaging of Muslims and Croats in villages that are to fall into Serbian hands are signs of irreconcilable hatred and bitter revenge. The Bosnian Serbs' fear of a Bosnian administration in turn is evidence of enormous distrust between the population groups. It is hardly possible to organize in one year and in such a spoiled atmosphere fair and free elections and to resettle more than two million refugees. Experts in Brussels will decide before Christmas who will have to bear the horrendous costs for the reconstruction after this nonsensical war. It is already clear that it is not the United States...which must pay for it, but mainly the Europeans. It is not unexpected that Germany will have to pay the brunt of it. In view of overstrained budgets, this will be a great challenge for Europe."

    "Germany The Paymaster?"

    Munich's centrist Abendzeitung said in an editorial (12/8), "For the Germans, who experienced generous reconstruction aid after World War II, reconstruction aid for the downtrodden ex-Yugoslavia must be self-evident. Nevertheless, it is right that the budget committee of the Bundestag is now sounding the alarm. In view of the DM 15 billion which Germany has so far spend on bilateral assistance for ex-Yugoslavia, it is necessary to raise the question of a fairer international task-sharing regarding assistance for Bosnia. Germany as a comfortable paymaster for all--this cannot be the role of the Bonn government even from a viewpoint of moral self-commitment."

    ITALY: "Europe Defeated By U.S."

    Under the headline above, Enzo Bettiza commented in centrist La Stampa (12/8), "The main point is that the war in Bosnia has been won by America and lost by Europe.... The French and the Germans, suspicious of each other, tended to turn the war in the Balkans into an inter-European diplomatic competition, focused on the 19th century prejudice of 'spheres of influence.'...

    "The Americans, with Holbrooke's pushy diplomacy, have reversed in just a few months a four-year stalemate which offered no prospects whatsoever.... Will the armistice turn into real peace?... That will depend mostly on the awareness of the Serbs that they have to deal with the Americans now, and no longer with the frail, maneuverable Europeans, with NATO and no longer with the United Nations."

    RUSSIA: "A Challenge That Would Throw Russia Out Of World Politics"

    Semyon Vasilyevsky observed in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (12/8), "The Dayton accords, regrettably, leave too many questions (unanswered) to earn unqualified acclaim. Sadly, most of those questions, as always, have to do with the Bosnian Serbs' vital interests.

    "As if NATO's expansion in southeastern Europe were not enough of a challenge, the deployment of NATO troops in Bosnia sets a dangerous precedent as far as the prospects of a European security system in the post-confrontation world are concerned. "An arrangement in which the UN is reduced to cultural and humanitarian matters, with NATO in charge of military-political ones, will inexorably tend to toss Russia out of world politics."

    "Russia Must Do Everything Possible To Change Dayton"

    Reformist Segodnya ran a comment by Pavel Felgenhauer (12/8), "Obviously, Russia must do everything possible to change the Dayton agreement, even if it has to use the right of veto in the UN Security Council. In any case, Moscow should in no way involve its own troops in that operation.

    "That way it would find friends in Europe sooner than through sustained attempts to continue 'strategic partnership' with the United States. The Cold War is over, and ever more Europeans increasingly feel annoyed by the nonsensical, brash U.S. foreign policy diktat. No one likes a world dominated by the only remaining superpower."

    BELGIUM: "Differences Over Reconstruction Cost Estimates"

    Marc Rozen observed in independent Le Soir (12/11) that "differences have surfaced during the debates. For instance, on the financing of the reconstruction, whose cost was estimated at $4.9 billion over three years by the World Bank, positions remain very different.... "On paper, the Europeans and Americans should each foot one-third of the bill, the last third being paid by the other participants. But the Americans have already announced that they do not intend to spend more than $600 million in total."

    CANADA: "New Bosnian Mission Isn't In Canada's Line Of Work"

    Dalton Camp wrote in the liberal Toronto Star (12/6), "This is a NATO operation...which only means it will be run by our Great Neighbor, the Americans.... It would seem to me imprudent for a country like ours to commit our own men and women to a cause in which the principal partner involved is supported by second-guessers, a reluctant if not recalcitrant population, and soldiers who have been told the whole enterprise is not worth the life of a single one of them since America has no fundamental interest at stake in the region. With an ally like that, I would not be utterly confident, in the event push came to shove, how secure my flanks were.... Now, all we hear from the principal ally is about the revised 'rules of engagement.'... This may or may not bring peace to the region, but it seems to me for a country such as we, and allowing for our humble means, and our honored role as United Nations peacekeepers, this is not really in our line of work."

    SPAIN: "London Left Three Main Questions Unanswered"

    According to Alvaro Vargas Llosa in London for conservative ABC (12/10), "The London conference ended without answering the three main questions on how much, who will pay and who will administer peace in Bosnia.... The United States and Europe underwent bitter confrontation on the total cost and on how to share the financing of implementing the peace accord in Bosnia."

    SWEDEN: "What Does Motive Matter When U.S. Is Prepared To Save Europe?"

    Independent Expressen commented (12/11), "No one in Washington will deny that the sudden U.S. engagement in Bosnia had a domestic motive. But does the motive matter, now when the United States is prepared to save Europe? Yes, because this intervention may become a soup which Capitol Hill can swallow at the moment, but which may turn sour in the Bosnian mountains. Hotheads on both sides may have their reasons to attack the Americans, who are prepared to respond both with massive force and possibly a quick withdrawal.... The United States shows an unmatched mix of cynicism and idealism, but compared to European folly and paralysis in the Balkans, it is eminently preferable. In just trying to bring about a change Bill Clinton has earned more respect than any European leader."

    IRAN: "U.S. Afraid Of Presence Of Islamic Groups In Bosnia"

    Official Tehran Radio remarked (12/10), "Washington, after an artificial isolation period, resorted to the double track plan in the region: That is, all-around participation in political and military issues to seize the initiative in the face of the Europeans to establish a casefire and for the peace process. It now seeks to dilute the role of Islamic states in the material and spiritual support of Bosnian Muslims.

    "Western observers, especially U.S. officials, are fearful that the presence of Islamic states in the arena of Bosnian developments may more than ever result in the strengthening of a foothold for Islamic groups in that country. Islamic groups in the form of charitable and humanitrain organizations are active in Bosnia. Western governments strongly suspect these groups because they are concerned these groups may effectively promote the objectives and strengthen the position of Bosnian Muslims by establishing satisfactory and constructive relations through similar organizations. This is something that has been assessed as contrary to the interests and viewpoints of Western leaders in the development of the region."

    PAKISTAN: "U.S., Europe Assume Full Responsibility For Bosnia"

    Karachi's independent Dawn said (12/11), "The consensus on the plans and the timetable for peace and rehabilitation emerging from the London conference on the implementation of the Dayton accord augurs well for peace and reconstruction in war-shattered Bosnia. "This was in sharp contrast to the international community's indecisiveness which marked the three-and-a-half years of the savage ethnic conflict in the Balkans.... At London, the United States and the European nations seemed to have assumed almost total responsibility for putting Bosnia back on its feet, marginalizing the United Nations. This should surprise no one as the world body displayed an abysmal lack of will to follow up with action any of its occasional threats and warnings to deter the Serbs from their onslaughts against the Bosnian Muslims."

    JAPAN: "Subtle Discord Between U.S., Europeans"

    Liberal Mainichi's Washington correspondent Takahata wrote (12/10), "Subtle discord is brewing between the United States and Europe as European countries have become increasingly dissatisfied with what they call the Clinton administration's attempt to hijack major military and civilian posts in the peacekeeping force. France is particularly vocal about its opposition to the U.S. move."

    BRAZIL: "A Grandiose Project That Risks Falling Apart"

    Caio Blinder wrote in Rio de Janeiro's conservative O Globo (12/10), "Bosnia is one of these grandiose projects that run the risk of falling apart when the strong hand of its patron is taken away.... "The mission is almost impossible and one of the reasons is the term. There is so much resistance in the United States to this military involvement in Bosnia that the White House set an arbitrary term of one year to clean up the area and leave.

    "For Bosnia, the cases of Cambodia and Haiti offer appropriate lessons. The first is the typical arrogance of powerful countries like the United States and bureaucracies like the UN. They think they have the best solutions for tangled problems and can set rules for any corner of the world. The second lesson is the irresponsibility of the term. It is proof of political demogaguery to try to sell the idea that a complex mission can be completed on cue."

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