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OMRI: PURSUING BALKAN PEACE, V1,#8, Feb. 27, 1996

From: OMRI-L <omri-l@ubvm.cc.buffalo.edu>

Open Media Research Institute: Pursuing Balkan Peace Directory

CONTENTS

  • [01] INTRODUCTION

  • [02] BOSNIAN FEDERAL POLICE ENTER VOGOSCA.

  • [03] "PALE SPREADS PANIC."

  • [04] IZETBEGOVIC SIGNS AMNESTY LAW.

  • [05] IFOR ALLOWS SARAJEVO EVACUATION.

  • [06] CONTACTS RESUME WITH BOSNIAN SERBS.

  • [07] PLAN FOR PHASED TRANSFER OF SARAJEVO PRESENTED.

  • [08] GROUND RULES AGREED FOR ELECTIONS.

  • [09] MIXED SIGNALS ON REFUGEES' FUTURE FROM THE REPUBLIKA SRPSKA.

  • [10] SERBIAN ORTHODOX BISHOP CALLS ON SERBS TO REJECT ETHNIC CLEANSING.

  • [11] BOSNIAN ELECTION UPDATE.

  • [12] INSUFFICIENT AID FOR BOSNIA.

  • [13] CITY AUTHORITIES: SARAJEVO IS SHORT OF AID.

  • [14] BIG REFORMS DUE FOR BOSNIAN HEALTH SYSTEM.

  • [15] EUROPEAN AID FOR ENERGY SECTOR.

  • [16] WORLD BANK, IMF OFFICIALS IN REPUBLIKA SRPSKA.

  • [17] UNESCO SUPPORTS INDEPENDENT MEDIA.

  • [18] CROATIA AND BOSNIA SIGN LEGAL, ECONOMIC ACCORDS.

  • [19] MUSLIM FIGHTERS SWITCH TO TRAINING.

  • [20] UPDATE ON THE HAGUE WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL ACTIVITIES.

  • [21] WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL INTERVIEWS SERBS IN ROMANIA.

  • [22] FRENCH NAZI-HUNTER ORDERED OUT OF PALE.

  • [23] MUSLIM LEADER MARKS FIRST PEACETIME RAMADAN BAJRAM.

  • [24] BLEAK PICTURE FOR MUSLIMS AND CROATS IN BANJA LUKA.

  • [25] SERBIAN RADICAL'S HAGUE TRIP IN LIMBO.

  • [26] BELGRADE PROPOSES AMNESTY.

  • [27] HOLBROOKE TAKES HIS LEAVE.

  • [28] IRANIANS AND FOREIGN FIGHTERS CONTINUE TO PLAGUE BOSNIAN OPERATION.


  • OMRI SPECIAL REPORT: PURSUING BALKAN PEACE

    Vol. 1, No. 8, 27 February 1996

    [01] INTRODUCTION

    Welcome to "Pursuing Balkan Peace," the second in OMRI's series of special reports on developments in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Distributed as a supplement to the OMRI Daily Digest, "Pursuing Balkan Peace" will appear weekly and contain the latest news about developments in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The OMRI Daily Digest will continue to include major stories from the region that do not appear in this supplement. All issues of the special reports are archived on the OMRI WWW server, at http://www.omri.cz/Publications/SR/SR.html

    [02] BOSNIAN FEDERAL POLICE ENTER VOGOSCA.

    The first of 85 federal police -- including ethnic Serbs -- deployed to the northern suburb together with Italian soldiers to find a filthy police station and a population shrunk from 17,000 to about 2,500, Reuters reported on 23 February. UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski said of those who left: "They didn't have to go. They were incited to go by their own authorities. They were incited by a regime previously responsible for expelling tens of thousands of people and killing many others." Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and at least one of the local mayors had urged the Serbs to stay (see OMRI Special Report, 20 February 1996). Onasa said on 19 February that there will eventually be 645 federal police under international supervision in the Serb-held suburbs. The federal officers will carry only short-barrel side arms and be deployed to the remaining four suburbs at six-day intervals. Nasa Borba wrote on 27 February that Bosnian officials entered a series of places the previous day only to find them deserted. Jankowski told Reuters that the Serbs were looting public property in Ilijas before leaving. -- Patrick Moore

    [03] "PALE SPREADS PANIC."

    This is the headline in Oslobodjenje on 23 February to describe the continuing exodus of Serbs amid brutal winter conditions. The anti-nationalist Serbian Civic Council (SGV) the previous day appealed to the German ambassador to ask the Contact Group countries to send its five ambassadors to the suburbs to try to stop the flight. Onasa also quoted SGV President Mirko Pejanovic as saying that the Council had sent representatives to talk to people and dissuade them from leaving. Nasa Borba on 23 February reported a declaration by the Bosnian state presidency urging the Serbs to stay, but Foreign Minister Jadranko Prlic told Vecernje novine that the Bosnian government should have passed an amnesty law earlier to reassure the Serbs. Nasa Borba quoted Pale's Radovan Karadzic as blaming the international community for not giving the Serbs sufficient guarantees, including the own government and police. -- Patrick Moore

    [04] IZETBEGOVIC SIGNS AMNESTY LAW.

    One of the reasons why the Pale leadership has been able to force the exodus is that many Serbs are genuinely frightened for their future. The main concern is over an expected desire for revenge by Muslims for the four-year siege of Sarajevo, and fears that Muslims will try to force Serbs out of their homes, AFP reported on 21 February. Men who served in the Bosnian Serb army are also worried that they could be arbitrarily arrested and detained, and have sought an amnesty as protection. The day before he was taken to hospital with a heart condition on 22 February, Izetbegovic signed into law an amnesty parliament had passed the previous week, which pardons those who violated the former martial law regulations. This covers those who joined the Bosnian Serb army instead of the government one. Only war criminals are not protected by the new law. AFP quoted the Bosnian president as saying that "honest citizens" of any nationality have nothing to fear. Oslobodjenje added on 22 February that the Bosnian presidency appealed to the Serbs to stay. -- Patrick Moore

    [05] IFOR ALLOWS SARAJEVO EVACUATION.

    But many Serbs are determined to go, and NATO is allowing the Bosnian Serb army to evacuate the remaining Serb-held areas of Sarajevo, international media reported on 25 February. The use of Bosnian Serb army trucks (with all military markings removed and soldiers in civilian clothes) is a move to avoid the scenes of chaos that afflicted the evacuation of Vogosca. Jannkowski again said that Bosnian Serb leaders incited the local population to flee, but he also criticized the federal police for "insensitivity" in dealing with the remaining Serb residents. IFOR commander U.S. Admiral Leighton Smith faced an angry crowd of Bosnian Serbs demanding transportion for evacuation when he toured Vogosca with Bosnian Serb parliament speaker Momcilo Krajisnik on 24 February. -- Michael Mihalka

    [06] CONTACTS RESUME WITH BOSNIAN SERBS.

    These moves followed the restoration of links between the Serbs and the peacekeepers. Senior IFOR commanders met with their Bosnian Serb counterparts beginning on 23 February marking the end of the Serb boycott, international media reported. General Ratko Mladic's command broke off contacts on 8 February in protest against the Bosnian government's detention of several Bosnian Serb military men, two of whom were subsequently sent to The Hague. British Lieutenant-General Sir Michael Walker, the commander of IFOR ground forces, met on 24 February with deputy Serb military commander General Zdarko Tolimir in Ilidza. They discussed the plans to evacuate Bosnian Serbs from these suburbs. -- Michael Mihalka

    [07] PLAN FOR PHASED TRANSFER OF SARAJEVO PRESENTED.

    Plans are going ahead in any event for the transfer of those suburbs to government control. Michael Steiner, the deputy to the international community's High Representative in Bosnia, Carl Bildt, presented a plan on 15 February for the phased transfer of the communities, international media reported. A federal police force will take over on 20 March , having begun to deploy on 23 February. The makeup of the force will reflect the national composition according to the 1991 census. Serb police officers who are not indicted for war crimes may serve on the force. Steiner said: "the transfer of authority cannot be slowed down," adding that there was no longer any need to discuss the matter with Bosnian Serb authorities if they still chose to boycott meetings with intenational organizations. Meanwhile, the UN international police force is slow in deploying. Only some 220 have arrived in Bosnia so far out of over 1,700 promised. It was hoped that the presence of the international police would instill enough confidence in the Serbs so they would remain. Now it is feared they will arrive too late to stem the mass exodus. -- Michael Mihalka

    [08] GROUND RULES AGREED FOR ELECTIONS.

    But another effort by the international community proved more successful. All sides in the conflict agreed on 23 February in Sarajevo on the ground rules for organizing elections by September, Reuters and Tanjug reported. Robert Frowick -- the OSCE mission head to Bosnia who also chairs the provisional election commission -- said that everyone, including refugees, will be allowed to vote where they lived in 1991. This is in keeping with Dayton. At least 900,000 of the estimated two million refugees are considered eligible to vote. Voters' lists, based on the 1991 census, are expected to be prepared by 31 March. This could be a tall order, because many lists have been destroyed. -- Michael Mihalka

    [09] MIXED SIGNALS ON REFUGEES' FUTURE FROM THE REPUBLIKA SRPSKA.

    Meanwhile on Bosnian Serb territory, the UNHCR reports the "shocking" destruction of Mrkonjic Grad, mostly at the hands of the Bosnian Croat forces during their brief occupation during the fall and winter. Serbs are increasingly returning to the homes they fled there, however, while the UN provides and IFOR distributes food. Mines are a big problem and the UNHCR is conducting a mine-awareness program. In Brcko, local authorities oppose the return of non-Serb refugees despite the provisions of the Dayton accord to the contrary and despite efforts by the UN to increase its presence as a reassuring factor. UNHCR and UN Civil Affairs reports often contradict each other as to the real state of affairs on the ground. In Derventa, "ethnic cleansing" is almost complete: the Serbs make up almost 100% of the population instead of their prewar 41%. Things look more promising in "ethnically cleansed" Banja Luka, where non-Serbs have largely stopped leaving and where some refugees are trying to return. The UNHCR said that the local Serbian authorities showed "a real willingness" to implement Dayton provisions on the return of refugees. Serbian refugees staying in Banja Luka said they wanted to go back to their homes, including to places controlled by the Federation or in Krajina. -- Jan Urban and Yvonne Badal

    [10] SERBIAN ORTHODOX BISHOP CALLS ON SERBS TO REJECT ETHNIC CLEANSING.

    Still in Banja Luka, the Orthodox bishop for northwest Bosnia, Hrizostom, urged Serbs to return to their homes outside the Republika Srbska and reject attempts to settle them in dwellings of expelled Muslims and Croats. "This is the moment when we decide whether we will be the beggars of this world, or whether we will return to our homes as international accords and conventions foresee. [The Pale leaders] are cheating you when they tell you that they have solved our problems by giving us burnt and looted homes which belong to others, who are also refugees just as we are... The Serb politicans... have used our trust against the interests of their people." Onasa carried the report on 21 February, citing Belgrade's Vecernje Novosti. -- Patrick Moore

    [11] BOSNIAN ELECTION UPDATE.

    Bosnia's future as a multi-ethnic state has been discussed on the political stump as well as from the pulpit. Independent intellectuals in the Circle 99 group from Sarajevo and the Citizens' Forum from Tuzla called for creating a tolerant and democratic climate for the elections slated for later this year. They said that democracy needs to be fostered and warned international representatives against appointing only representatives of the nationalist parties to the electoral commissions. Onasa on 21 February added that the pro- Milosevic Socialist Party in the Republika Srpska has backed the Rome accords and the Dayton agreements. The party slammed Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and General Mladic, saying that "their stubborness has caused us only sufferings and troubles." -- Patrick Moore

    [12] INSUFFICIENT AID FOR BOSNIA.

    Relatively little media attention, however, has been devoted to long-term plans for the social and economic reconstruction of Bosnia. The challenges are daunting and the resources few. Most immediately, jobs must be found for demobilized troops and basic infrastructure rebuilt. Onasa on 22 February noted that Bosnia's first postwar strike ended when miners accepted assurances that their January salaries of about DM 80 per person would finally be paid. Federation President Kresimir Zubak appealed to the international community to help his country deal with the job issue. The same news agency on 25 February reported that the Federation has 650,000 unemployed and only 210,000 persons "taking part in production." For its part, the EU on 20 February said that the reconstruction effort in Bosnia is threatened by donors' failure to deliver on their pledges of aid. Although more than $700 million was promised for vital reconstruction work in the first three months of 1996, only $62.5 million has arrived so far. That entire sum reportedly comes from the EU. The U.S., Japan, the Islamic countries, and the World Bank have so far not lived up to their promises, international media reported. Meanwhile, U.S. President Bill Clinton said he would ask Congress for $820 million in aid for Bosnia. -- Patrick Moore and Michael Mihalka

    [13] CITY AUTHORITIES: SARAJEVO IS SHORT OF AID.

    And Sarajevo itself is facing other problems as well. Onasa reported on 15 February that Silvana Maric, technical director of the Department for Reconstruction and Development in Sarajevo (DORS), said that the amount of aid that arrived there by the end of 1995 fell short in terms of both the city's needs and the promises made. "The insufficient efficiency of the international community has resulted in a failure to meet deadlines for realizing the [rebuilding] project. However, the modest results could also be sought in the realistic conditions in which we have worked," she said. -- Stan Markotich

    [14] BIG REFORMS DUE FOR BOSNIAN HEALTH SYSTEM.

    The Bosnian Health Ministry is similarly strapped for funds but is going ahead with making postwar plans because of the magnitude of the problems it must face. Minister Bozo Ljubic told Oslobodjenje of 18 February that he has a short-term program to take care of the most pressing needs, together with a medium- and long-term strategy. He said that his ministry must formulate clear statements of its requirements if it wants to obtain funding early in the Dayton process. He suggested that later "funds will not be unlimited." -- Patrick Moore

    [15] EUROPEAN AID FOR ENERGY SECTOR.

    But for now, the European Commission has agreed to provide DM 18 million to purchase spare parts and equipment for the power and gas systems. Onasa added on 22 February that the project is urgent, given the severe dislocation of the prewar power system during the conflict. Bosnia is blessed with hydroelectric resources and had provided energy to neighboring republics in the former Yugoslavia. These countries now have a vested interest in seeing some of the old power grid restored. -- Patrick Moore

    [16] WORLD BANK, IMF OFFICIALS IN REPUBLIKA SRPSKA.

    Reconstruction has also been extended to Pale as a major incentive for making the Dayton package work. A joint delegation of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund met with representatives from the Republika Srpska on 11 February, where the main topic of discussion was existing plans for reconstruction aid to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Some $1.4 billion of a total $5 billion is earmarked for projects in the Serbian entity, OMRI's Sarajevo office reported. The delegates from the international organizations outlined development strategies which would focus on creating conditions for overall economic stability and market reforms. In response, Pale's Premier Rajko Kasagic reported on the progress an international team of experts already working there was having on reforming the legal system in such a way as to accommodate and promote a market economy. Kasagic, who announced he plans to visit Montenegro and the Czech Republic to study economic reform processes, rejected the notion that Pale ought to look back on the days of the socialist Yugoslavia for inspiration, noting that the economic future lies in aspiring to liberal democratic values and European Union standards. The first set of development projects slated to get off the ground will focus on transportation, agriculture, and rehabilitation aid for the victms of the war. -- Jan Urban and Yvonne Badal

    [17] UNESCO SUPPORTS INDEPENDENT MEDIA.

    Yet another kind of aid is slated for the Bosnian media. An international delegation consisting of representatives of UNESCO, the European Union and the commercial station WTN visited Bosnia and Herzegovina and held talks with representatives of the governments of both the Republika Srpska and the Bosnian Federation, Oslobodjenje reported on 23 February. Klaus W. Schmitter from UNESCO stressed they would support only media having an independent editorial policy. They will help improve the public broadcasting system and aid the creation and development of independent media, especially electronic media. The visitors expressed their willingness to consult the governments of both entities, but reminded them that there will be no funds for government propaganda, and that financial support for independent media will be significant. UNESCO plans to start very soon, first by sending an international team of experts to discuss the public broadcasting system and the creation of media networks. The idea is that each entity will have, besides state television, an independent commercial one that will be linked in a network with the others. In this way independent journalists from both sides would be able to cooperate, and UNESCO would provide equipment, consultants and other necessary assistance. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [18] CROATIA AND BOSNIA SIGN LEGAL, ECONOMIC ACCORDS.

    One of those two entities is the Croat-Muslim federation -- known officially as the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina -- which has been plagued by problems. In an effort to remove some of them, Prime Ministers Zlatko Matesa of Croatia and Hasan Muratovic of Bosnia met on 26 February in Split, accompanied by their respective delegations. They signed agreements on air traffic, investments and legal assistance in civil and criminal proceedings, Vecernji list reported the next day. According to Reuters, Croatian radio said Bosnian citizens would no longer need visas to enter Croatia as of the beginning of March. The two sides agreed that the status of the Croatian port of Ploce, which Bosnia sees as vital for the future of its economy, would be determined within two weeks. Repatriation and the status of Mostar remained unresolved issues. Reuters reported on 24 February that the EU administrator for Mostar, Hans Koschnik, told the German weekly Bild am Sonntag that he would step down from his post in July and not stay on "under any circumstances." He has recommended to the EU Ministerial Council to accept the demand by Croat and Muslim authorities that the EU mandate in the city be extended for another six months, but with a new person replacing him. Meanwhile on 26 February, a joint Mostar police group, which consists of Croatian, Bosnian and West European officers, along with those from both parts of the town, started working on securing the local EU headquarters, Hina reported. International agencies discussed freedom of movement in Mostar, but the total number of crossings from east to west is still small. Hina added that on 23 February a young man was knocked on the head with a stone in the Croatian part of Mostar, while vehicles bearing Bosnian Croat license plates were stoned in the Muslim-populated neighborhood two days later. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [19] MUSLIM FIGHTERS SWITCH TO TRAINING.

    Turning to military matters, on 19 February OMRI's Sarajevo office reported that the "El Muwafaqa" brigade of the Bosnian army will cease operations as a combat unit, and become instead a training unit. The 700-strong group is based in Travnik and still officially uses Iranian advisers. The brigade is reportedly "IFOR- friendly" and describes, in its teaching literature, the army of the Republika Srspka as its enemy. -- Jan Urban and Yvonne Badal

    [20] UPDATE ON THE HAGUE WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL ACTIVITIES.

    One local military man, however, may soon have a date in The Hague. Nasa Borba on 23 February reported that the Bosnian Croat officer Ivica Rajic is next to face hearings in absentia before The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. He has been accused of being in charge of the October 1993 massacre of 16 Muslims in the village of Stupni Do in central Bosnia. The first such hearing will be on Milan Martic, the leader of Krajina Serbs, who has been charged with responsibility for a rocket attack on Zagreb in April 1995. While Martic's case is scheduled for a court hearing on 27 February, diplomatic sources in The Hague say that the tribunal has officially requested that Croatia ask for information about the Rajic case in local papers, and also publish an invitation for him to appear before the court. There will also be a call for anyone with information on Rajic to step forward. In addition, Globus said on 23 February that Croatia will deliver to The Hague General Tihomir Blaskic, another Bosnian Croat military commander accused of war crimes. He currently holds a high post in the regular Croatian army. The article suggested that Justice Richard Goldstone has agreed to a Croatian request that Blaskic be allowed to defend himself "without being arrested," meaning that he would stay in a hotel at Croatian government expense and not in jail. He would then attend court hearings. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [21] WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL INTERVIEWS SERBS IN ROMANIA.

    Meanwhile, other hearings have been taking place in the Romanian part of the Banat, an historically Hungarian region that the Treaty of Trianon after World War I divided between Romania and the former Yugoslavia. Radio Bucharest announced on 21 February that members of The Hague tribunal had started interviewing in Timisoara people from Serbia who were detained in Muslim camps during the war. Those interviewed had volunteered to testify and Timisoara has been chosen "at the request of Serbian citizens" who consider the Romanian town near the Serbian border to be "a safe place, where nothing can happen to them." The findings will be made public once the interviews end, Radio Bucharest said. -- Michael Shafir

    [22] FRENCH NAZI-HUNTER ORDERED OUT OF PALE.

    Back in Bosnia, Onasa reported on 23 February that Serge Klarsfeld went to Pale. He hoped to persuade the two top Serbian indicted war criminals Karadzic and Mladic to give themselves up to The Hague. "If they consider themselves innocent, it will be the best means to publicly establish their innocence. If they consider themselves guilty or responsible -- which appears to us obvious -- [they] should take into consideration the fact that the international community will not let them go unpunished," Klarsfeld said. He concluded that "one day [Karadzic and Mladic] will be ignominously brought by force to justice as some Nazi war criminals have been, decades after their crimes." Nasa Borba reported on 26 February, however, that the Nazi- hunter had been ordered out of Pale after a two-hour police interrogation. -- Patrick Moore

    [23] MUSLIM LEADER MARKS FIRST PEACETIME RAMADAN BAJRAM.

    The question of the legacy of World War II and justice in the face of war crimes also concerns the head of Bosnia's Islamic religious community, Reis-ul-ulema Mustafa Ceric. He gave an interview to Oslobodjenje of 21 February on the occasion of Ramadan Bajram, which marks the end of the Muslim month of fasting. He said that it will be necessary in the future to keep alive a knowledge of war crimes and injustice stemming from the current conflict to prevent matters from being swept under the rug as they officially were in Tito's Yugoslavia following World War II. Ceric stressed that this is crucial if truth is to be preserved and history not rewritten. -- Patrick Moore

    [24] BLEAK PICTURE FOR MUSLIMS AND CROATS IN BANJA LUKA.

    One set of war crimes that Ceric must have had in mind are those in Banja Luka. The Frankfurter Rundschau wrote on 23 February that the chief imam there, Ibrahim Halilovic, estimates that all 217 mosques in northwestern Bosnia were blown up or burned down between April and September 1993. This includes two major historic mosques in Banja Luka itself, which were registered as international cultural properties by UNESCO. Halilovic added that "ethnic cleansing" in the region is 93% complete and that 65,000 Muslims are listed as killed or missing, some 35,000 of whom are from the Prijedor area alone. His Roman Catholic counterpart, Bishop Franjo Komarica, painted a similar picture. He noted that of his prewar flock of 16,000, only 3,000 remain. Novi list reported on 24 February that rump Yugoslav police barred Komarica from crossing into that country for a conference on reconciliation sponsored by the Serbian Orthodox Church. They told him he had "no chance of entering Serbia." In Tuzla, Serbian Orthodox Church officials met with Mayor Selim Beslagic to propose the monk Nikolai Markovic to be the town's first Orthodox priest since 1992. Onasa said on 22 February that Nikolai is "a clergyman for whom religion is not and cannot be influenced by politics." -- Patrick Moore

    [25] SERBIAN RADICAL'S HAGUE TRIP IN LIMBO.

    Meanwhile in Serbia, Nasa Borba reported on 21 February that the leader of the Serbian Radical Party, Vojislav Seselj, has been denied a visa to visit Holland and testify at The Hague. Seselj, who himnself is an indicted war criminal, has said several times in recent weeks that he wishes to go the The Hague to offer testimony against Milosevic. He said he would need a formal invitation to get a visa; but court authorites have noted for the record that they would listen to any persons offering testimony, but they do not issue special invitations to individuals. -- Stan Markotich

    [26] BELGRADE PROPOSES AMNESTY.

    Nasa Borba on 21 February also reported that on the previous day the federal government of rump Yugoslavia proposed legislation which would allow for the pardoning of all fighting-age men who avoided or evaded military service during the time of the wars throughout the former Yugoslavia. The amnesty legislation, which has yet to be approved by the federal parliament, would pardon individuals whose transgressions took place before 14 December 1995. Aim Belgrade news agency on that same date added, however, that "there will be no pardon... for professional officers and non-commissioned officers, that is, for active military personnel." While it is difficult to say precisely how many people may be affected by the legislation, some estimates suggest that up to 200,000 people from rump Yugoslavia opted not to fight in the regional wars. -- Stan Markotich

    [27] HOLBROOKE TAKES HIS LEAVE.

    Few, if any, would deny that the Dayton agreement that ended the worst of those wars was chiefly the work of U.S Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke. He left office on 21 February to return to Wall Street, although speculation abounds that he is simply playing a waiting game in hopes of being summoned later to higher office. In the meantime, he left some parting thoughts, as reported by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. His central theme was that Bosnia showed that American leadership is necessary for world peace, adding that this lesson could be applied to other potential points of conflict in the region. He specifically mentioned Hungary's relations with Romania and Slovakia, and Romanian-Ukrainian issues. Turning to Dayton, he called the negotiations the most dramatic ones of their kind in history. Like most observers, he felt that the military provisions are being met better than are the civilian ones and pointed out that the success or failure of Dayton will have a big impact for both the U.S. and for NATO. He greeted the deployment of 4,000 Germans to Croatia to maintain transport links between their home country and Bosnia, and pointed out that French policy toward NATO has taken a clear turn away from that set down by President Charles de Gaulle in 1966. Ultimately, however, the civilian aspects will make or break Dayton, and Holbrooke specifically mentioned the need for successful elections, the return of refugees, and the prosecution of war criminals. -- Patrick Moore

    [28] IRANIANS AND FOREIGN FIGHTERS CONTINUE TO PLAGUE BOSNIAN OPERATION.

    Although the problem may seem minor in comparison to those Holbrooke mentioned, the specter of Iranians and their potential involvement in terrorist activities against IFOR continue to plague the Bosnian operation. Reports persist that Iranian "mujahedeen" or foreign fighters remain in the country in violation of Dayton peace accords. Nine Iranians were released on 24 February in Zagreb after having been held for six days by Bosnian Croat authorities. Meanwhile, Brigadier General John B. Sylvester, chief of operational intelligence for the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC), said at an IFOR press briefing in Sarajevo on 23 February, that up to 150 foreign fighters may still be in Bosnia. On 20 February U.S. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns warned that the continued presence of "foreign fighters" in Bosnia threatened further American military aid. He cited IFOR estimates that up to 300 fighters remain in the country. The issue needs to be cleared up by 15 March when the U.S. can begin rearming the Bosnian military with light weapons according to the Dayton peace accords

    The great sensitivity to the Iranian issue can be seen by the Bosnian Croat detention of the nine Iranians released on 24 February, who by all accounts were not "mujahedeen." Iranian government officials said the nine were reciters of the Koran who were touring the region to give concerts. The Bosnian Croat police said their suspicions were aroused because the Iranians were carrying "state-of-the-art technical equipment" generally used for "intelligence purposes" in addition to a great deal of propaganda material. Although the nine complained that they had been the victims of "physical and psychological violence," they declined to show western reporters any evidence of the alleged mistreatment. An Iranian official had earlier said that they had been "well-treated."

    The detention of the nine Iranians came shortly after IFOR raided an alleged terrorist camp on 16 February. Eleven individuals were detained, eight Bosnian nationals, with documents identifying them as employees of the Bosnian Interior Ministry, and three Iranian nationals, one of whom carried a diplomatic passport. Despite Bosnian government claims that the camp was for counter-terrorist training, children's toys and shampoo bottles wired with explosives, building mock-ups, weapons and considerable materials on IFOR headquarters were found at the site. However, a IFOR spokesman confirmed the Bosnian government's claim that the base was in the process of being closed down. "We have more places like that in Bosnia for training people to hunt war criminals," President Alija Izetbegovic said on 17 February on Bosnian television "We will continue that activity." However, Ejup Ganic, Vice-President of Bosnia's Muslim-Croat federation, told Reuters: "Somebody in the government responsible for this embarrassing mess will lose his job." The three Iranians were deported and claimed on their return to Iran that they had been subjected to "every sort of savage behavior and treatment." The Iranian government media said the three had been in Bosnia to "render humanitarian assistance." -- Michael Mihalka


    Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

    This material was reprinted with permission of the Open Media Research Institute, a nonprofit organization with research offices in Prague, Czech Republic.
    For more information on OMRI publications please write to info@omri.cz

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