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BosNet NEWS -- March 14 1996

From: Davor <dwagner@MAILBOX.SYR.EDU>

Bosnia-Herzegovina News Directory

From: Davor <dwagner@MAILBOX.SYR.EDU>

Subject: BosNet NEWS -- March 14 1996


CONTENTS

  • [01] Arms Aid Won't Start Until Iranians Leave Bosnia

  • [02] Dole Stops $200 Million in Civilian Aid to Bosnia

  • [03] Bosnia Admitted to World Bank


  • [01] Arms Aid Won't Start Until Iranians Leave Bosnia

    March 14, 1996 WASHINGTON, United States

    A controversial U.S.-backed effort to train and arm Bosnian Muslim and Croat forces to make them a match for Serbs is likely to cost between $700 and $800 million, U.S. officials said Wednesday. The officials were speaking ahead of a pledging conference in Ankara Friday that will seek to gather funds for the so-called "train-and-equip" program, a much-disputed part of last November's Dayton accords that ended the Bosnia war. "Seven to eight hundred million dollars needs to be got together," said one official who asked not to be identified.

    The United States plans to contribute about $100 million, James Pardew, U.S. special representative for Military Stabilization in the Balkans, said in Brussels Monday. The plan, widely seen as a concession to the pro-Muslim Congress, is to bring Bosnia's Muslim-Croat federation up to military par with the Serbs by the time NATO-led peace forces leave the country towards the end of this year.

    U.S. officials have repeatedly said, however, that the train-and-equip program will not start until the Muslim-led Bosnian government has ejected from the country foreign forces, mostly Iranians, who helped it against the Serbs. The Senate signaled its concern about the lingering presence of Iranian military and intelligence officials by voting Wednesday to withhold $200 million of civilian aid until the president certifies they have left Bosnia.

    Under the Dayton accords, light arms can begin to arrive in Bosnia from March 19, and heavy arms 90 days later. "Hopefully, between Ankara and the 19th, Bosnia will take care of the foreign forces,'' the U.S. official said. U.S. assessments of the Bosnian federation's military needs are based on a study by the Institute for Defense Analyses, a non-governmental consultancy based in Alexandria, Virginia, and staffed largely by retired U.S. officers.

    Tanks, Missiles and Helicopters Included in Arms Package

    According to the study the goal of the program is to enable federation forces to "deter and defend against" attacks by the Serbs and establish a stable military balance by the time NATO leaves. It puts the cost of training and supplying the federation army with equipment including tanks, surface-to-air missiles, helicopters, medium artillery, anti-tank weapons, radars and communications equipment at $740-860 million.

    A less ambitious variant, with no helicopters and with six instead of 14 anti-aircraft missile batteries, would cost about $570-670 million and would "redress the most serious deficiencies" in the government army, it says. The plan would merge the Muslim and Croat forces more effectively, demobilize 200,000 soldiers and create a leaner and meaner army of about 55,000 troops. The plan is based on the assumption that the Serbs reduce their arms as they are required to do under the Dayton accords, but would still give the Muslims and Croats "substantial qualitative advantages" even if they do not.

    European states, who have said they will not attend the Ankara conference or will send only low-level representatives, are unhappy with the U.S. plan. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said last weekend: "It is not right to undermine arms control by rearmament."

    U.S. officials said some American military officers were also worried that arming the Muslims and Croats while NATO is still in Bosnia could place alliance forces in danger. But they said policymakers were determined to go ahead rapidly.


    [02] Dole Stops $200 Million in Civilian Aid to Bosnia

    March 14, 1996 WASHINGTON, United States

    The Senate voted Wednesday to withhold $200 million of civilian aid to Bosnia until President Clinton certifies Iranian military and intelligence officials have left the country. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, author of the proposal, said the continued presence of the Iranians was a "potential threat" to U.S. forces and urged Bosnia to choose whether it intended to be part of the West or not.

    "A continuing military and intelligence relationship with Iran clearly jeopardizes Bosnia's future as a pluralistic democratic state in Europe," the Kansas senator and Republican presidential front-runner said in a statement. The Dayton Accords set a Jan. 19 deadline for departure from Bosnia of foreign fighters, including Iranian military siding with Bosnian Muslims.

    Dole's plan would also limit use of U.S. aid to projects in the U.S. sector of Bosnia and require Clinton to certify that the combined donations from other countries have matched the total $532 million U.S. contribution for reconstruction. It would also prohibit use of funds to repair housing in areas where refugees were refused the right to return due to their ethnicity or political affiliation.

    The Bosnia amendments were added to a general government spending bill that also provides $777.7 million for U.S. military efforts and training of Bosnian forces. The $200 million withheld was for construction projects in Bosnia. The Bosnia conditions passed without objection, but the government spending bill is still awaiting Senate approval.

    Sen. Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican and chairman of the appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations, said humanitarian aid would not be affected by the measure. He expressed concern that a continued Iranian role in Bosnia could lead to creation of a separate Muslim state, which he said was "a goal Iran has long pursued." He said he was disturbed about reports of Iranian Revolutionary Guards were building a new secret security organization in Bosnia, called the Agency for Investigation and Documentation. He said this could threaten security of American forces and undermine the Muslim-Croat federation.

    Both McConnell and Dole said they opposed any delay in sending military support and training as that would drive Bosnia closer to Iran, which provided military aid when the United States and other countries refused to.


    [03] Bosnia Admitted to World Bank

    March 14, 1996 WASHINGTON, United States

    The World Bank said on Wednesday it expects to lend war-torn Bosnia $450 million over the next four years after approving a plan to allow Bosnia to join the bank despite debts owed by the former Yugoslavia. Under the plan, Bosnia will assume its share of the Yugoslav debt and the arrears will be consolidated into a new 30-year loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD).

    The World Bank normally does not participate in debt rescheduling agreements but in a statement it drew a parallel between Bosnia and Bangladesh, when it took responsibility for loans to Pakistan in its territory. Due to Bosnia's exceptional needs, a first wave of emergency projects would be financed from a $150 million trust fund approved on Feb. 23.

    An initial $45 million supported by the trust fund will go to finance critical imports for agriculture, power and transport industries plus support for key government institutions and the poorest households. Once Bosnia clears its arrears it will be eligible for long-term financing at no interest from the International Development Association (IDA) because of its decline in gross domestic product per capita to $500 from a pre-war $1,900.

    The bank said Bosnia was expected to borrow a large amount from IDA over the next three years but as its creditworthiness improves IDA lending will be phased down and loans from IBRD are expected to increase.

    "Under the plan the World Bank Group expects... to make a positive net transfer of funds to Bosnia of about $450 million over the next four years - most of which will be on concessional terms," it said.

    Close partnerships with other agencies and donors would be critical. The bank estimated Bosnia's reconstruction program needed $5.1 billion over the next three to four years. "This commitment from the World Bank Group should encourage the international donor community to join us in providing the substantial additional funding that is needed." World Bank President James Wolfensohn said in the statement.

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