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OMRI: PURSUING BALKAN PEACE, V1,#9, Mar. 5, 1996
From: OMRI-L <email@example.com>
 THE SUICIDE OF "SERBIAN SARAJEVO".
 IS GENERAL DJUKIC THE "MISSING LINK" TO MILOSEVIC?
 SIEGE OF SARAJEVO ENDS.
 SERBIAN INITIATIVE TO STEM THE EXODUS.
 SERBS BLOCKING FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT NEAR DOBOJ.
 SOME REFUGEES DETERMINED TO GO HOME.
 SERBS LAUNCH NEW WAVE OF ETHNIC CLEANSING.
 FRENCH OFFICIALS FREE KARADZIC'S VICE PRESIDENT.
 MORE VIOLATIONS OF DAYTON ON PRISONERS, FORCED LABOR.
 WAR CRIMES UPDATE
 PROMOTING DEMOCRACY WITH THE HELP OF MEDIA.
 SILAJDZIC PREDICTS A NEW WAR IN FIVE YEARS...
 ...BUT PROMISES TO FIGHT FOR MULTI-ETHNIC BOSNIA.
 BANJA LUKA AIRPORT OPEN.
 SERBIAN MINISTER SAYS REFUGEES SHOULD GO HOME.
 BELGRADE, INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY LIFT BLOCKADE AGAINST BOSNIAN SERBS.
 REELECTED MILOSEVIC SAYS HE'S COMMITTED TO PEACE.
 LJAJIC DEMANDS DIRECT TALKS BETWEEN SARAJEVO AND BELGRADE ON THE FUTURE
 THE SUICIDE OF "SERBIAN SARAJEVO": THE VIEW ON THE GROUND.
OMRI SPECIAL REPORT: PURSUING BALKAN PEACE
Vol. 1, No. 9, 5 March 1996
 THE SUICIDE OF "SERBIAN SARAJEVO".A multi-ethnic contingent of the Bosnian federal police, which included ethnic Serbs, entered Vogosca on 23 February. The same thing happened in Ilijas on 29 February, and was slated to take place at six-day intervals until all five formerly Serb- held suburbs of Sarajevo were transferred to the authority of the Federation in keeping with the Dayton accords.
There were other parallels between Vogosca and Ilijas as well. In both cases, the towns were virtually empty on the day of the transfer despite assurances by Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, the mayor of Ilidza, an Orthodox bishop, and the leading body of anti-nationalist Sarajevo Serbs that the local Serbs had no reason to leave. Milosevic was particularly emphatic in saying that he had obtained crystal-clear guarantees for the Serbs at the Rome summit on 17-18 February. The bishop pointed out that the Pale leadership had brought the Bosnian Serbs only misery. He added that the Serbs should stay in their own homes and not accept Pale's offers of the looted homes of Muslims or Croats in "ethnically cleansed" areas (see OMRI Special Report, 27 February 1996).
President Radovan Karadzic, Parliamentary speaker Momcilo Krajisnik, and the others in Pale nonetheless went ahead with their ideas, and nobody seemed willing or able to stop them (see below). They forced an exodus of Serbs in order to consolidate the process of "ethnic cleansing" and underscore their argument that people of different nationalities cannot live together. Busses and trucks took displaced Serbs to formerly Muslim areas of eastern Bosnia like Srebrenica or Visegrad, or to the northern strategic Brcko corridor, the fate of which is to be determined later by international mediators. Karadzic and his associates sometimes talked of building a "new Serbian Sarajevo" -- dubbed "Paleopolis" by critics -- but it is not clear who would ever be able to provide the money needed to build the impoverished Republika Srpska's answer to Brasilia.
And the exodus itself was a complex affair. Many of the Serbs involved had already been displaced from other parts of Sarajevo or surrounding areas. They spent much of the war living in the homes of others who had fled to government-held territory in the course of the conflict since it began in 1992. Now these newly arrived Serbs, plus their more established neighbors, were ordered out of their flats at short notice by the Pale authorities, as UN spokesmen repeatedly confirmed.
The methods involved were less than subtle and intimidation was rife. Utilities were cut and essential services, such as police and fire, withdrawn. Fires burned out of control, and it was not clear whether the blazes were the result of looting, accidents, or deliberate arson to hasten the flight. Later, armed drunken bands appeared to plunder any remaining property and terrorize the mainly elderly and infirm people who chose to stay behind. Many of those who remained did so because they felt they could not adjust to new surroundings, while others were too weak to make the trek in often brutal winter conditions. Matters were not helped by the fact that the Serbian authorities at first failed to provide transportation for the expelees, who then staged angry demonstrations in front of official buildings. In the end, IFOR allowed Bosnian Serb army vehicles to haul out the hapless refugees, who were watched over by General Ratko Mladic's men in civilian dress.
True, the picture was not all one-sided. The government did not do as much as it could have to reassure ordinary Serbs of their future, including the vast majority of Bosnian Serb soldiers and officers who were not guilty of war crimes. These people had stressed the need for a formal amnesty, but one was not passed until just days before the transfers began. The UN, moreover, criticized some of the federal police in Vogosca for "insensitivity." Nor were matters helped by some statements like one by Prime Minister Izudin Kapetanovic. On 29 February Onasa reported hat he had announced in Vogosca that "evil has finally been defeated." -- Patrick Moore
 IS GENERAL DJUKIC THE "MISSING LINK" TO MILOSEVIC?At the end of thisperiod, however, a story broke that could have implications for the entire period of the Wars of the Yugoslav Succession. The Guardian reported on 29 February that it had acquired a package of documents and maps that proved that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and his army were the forces that were really behind the Bosnian conflict from beginning to end. The article argued, moreover, that the "international community" knew full well that Milosevic was lying when he claimed to be enforcing a blockade against Pale, and concluded that the revelations have "explosive implications for the Dayton peace agreement." Forged documents and other canards have surfaced in this war -- as in all wars -- and the authenticy of the package has yet to be independently proven. But the documents seem to provide the "smoking gun" of evidence that many observers long felt would emerge eventually to link Milosevic with the conflict in its entirety. If the materials do prove authentic, it may be necessary to rethink a peace built on a deal with an enemy whose "lies the world chose to believe." In the meantime, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia announced on 1 March that Serbian General Djordje Djukic has been formally charged with "crimes against humanity" and "violation of war rights and conventions," AFP reported. It will also hold another Serbian officer, Colonel Aleksa Krsmanovic, until at least 4 April. Nasa Borba on 5 March quoted Djukic as saying that he "does not feel himself guilty" as charged. -- Patrick Moore
 SIEGE OF SARAJEVO ENDS.Back in Sarajevo itself, with the arrival of federal police in Ilijas on 29 February, the blockade of the Bosnian capital formally came to an end. Oslobodjenje on 1 March reported that Interior Minister Avdo Hebib reopened the overland route from the capital to Zenica and Tuzla. The Serbian siege had lasted nearly four years despite repeated attempts by the government army to break through. UN spokesman Alexander Ivanko blamed the Pale leadership for ordering the looting of Ilijas before the federal units arrived. -- Patrick Moore
 SERBIAN INITIATIVE TO STEM THE EXODUS.There have been, however, and continue to be politically active Serbs who oppose the ethnic partition of Bosnia. The anti-nationalist Serbian Civic Council, which represents Serbs loyal to the Bosnian government, has always favored a multi-ethnic state. In addition, the suburban Serb mayor Maksim Stanisic has formed a Democratic Initiative of Sarajevo Serbs, AFP on 3 March reported Bosnian Serb radio as saying. Their immediate program is to provide medical and other emergency services together with information so that there is less chance of people again being stampeded out of the suburbs by a sudden withdrawal of essential services. "Our first priority is to stabilize the extremely difficult situation in Serb parts of Sarajevo caused by the uncontrolled and rushed evacuation," Stanisic said. He is close to the Pale leadership but has been cultivated by the international community. Elsewhere, Reuters reported on the bitterness of Serbs who have fled Sarajevo and their property for an empty refugee life in Pale. -- Patrick Moore
 SERBS BLOCKING FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT NEAR DOBOJ.Totally avoidable human tragedies took place in the north as well. Bosnian Serb police and civilians have been preventing Muslim and even Serbian refugees from visiting relatives or reclaiming their homes and property in this strategically important region of northern Bosnia, AFP reported on 4 March. Doboj is the key to controlling the supply corridor linking Serbia with Banja Luka, but the Dayton accord strictly specifies that there is to be freedom of movement and that refugees have the right to go home. Late last month the Serbs increased the number of checkpoints and began blocking visitors in what seems to be a series of moves designed to test the limits of IFOR's patience. So far the peacekeepers have been reluctant to challenge any local forces beyond purely military matters. They say freedom of movement is the business of the UN's police force, which has hardly begun to appear on the scene. -- Patrick Moore
 SOME REFUGEES DETERMINED TO GO HOME.In some parts of Bosnia, however, refugees appear to be standing up for their rights.. Pale wanted to send Serbs from Ilijas to Zvornik, which was a mainly Muslim town in eastern Bosnia but is now in Serb hands. The duly elected city council president, who is now in exile on Bosnian government territory, protested to the international community's Carl Bildt on 28 February and demanded he overturn Pale's decision as a clear violation of Dayton. The citizens of Zvornik are well-organized and determined to return. Meanwhile in the north, Muslim refugees from Teslic staged a protest in Jelah, which is southwest of Brcko on the way to Teslic. They demanded that the Serbs let them go home in a demonstration that put the local Polish IFOR contingent into "visible panic." In the end, the Polish commander did not show up and the Muslims marched to the outskirts of Teslic. They agreed there that within ten days their representatives will meet with those of the Serbs living in their homes. -- Jan Urban and Yvonne Badal
 SERBS LAUNCH NEW WAVE OF ETHNIC CLEANSING.Meanwhile, the end of "Serbian Sarajevo" is having repercussions elsewhere. Serbs arriving from the suburbs have begun forcing some of the few remaining Muslims and Croats in the Banja Luka area from their homes. Onasa on 4 March quoted a UN spokesman as saying that reports of expulsions are coming in "almost daily." Elderly Serbs were said to be moving into empty houses vacated earlier by Muslims and Croats in Trebinje, the Serbian stronghold in eastern Herzegovina. In Brussels, NATO discussed the idea of putting teeth into IFOR's mandate to enable it to take a more active role in catching war criminals and protecting the evidence of war crimes, AFP reported on 4 March. Karadzic himself has reportedly crossed through NATO checkpoints or passed in the vicinity of IFOR unhindered allegedly because nobody recognized him or the peacekeepers were outgunned or there were too many civilians present. -- Patrick Moore
 FRENCH OFFICIALS FREE KARADZIC'S VICE PRESIDENT.In Paris, French police briefly arrested Bosnian Serb Vice President Nikola Koljevic on 2 March on the basis of an international arrest warrant issued in Sarajevo in 1992 for genocide, AFP noted on 4 March. He was freed after French government officials intervened and he went on with an advisor to Karadzic to visit the Serbian community in France. And in Croatia, the Helsinki Committee reported on atrocities committed against mainly elderly Serbs by uniformed Croats in Krajina since the area fell last summer, Novi list reported on 5 March. -- Patrick Moore
 MORE VIOLATIONS OF DAYTON ON PRISONERS, FORCED LABOR.Still on the human rights front, Onasa news agency on 29 February quoted a prominent Roman Catholic priest, Karlo Visevicki, as telling Kapetanovic in Banja Luka that Serbs continue to make Muslims do forced labor in western Bosnia. AFP the same day reported that the International Committee of the Red Cross said that the government authorities are holding 52 more Serbian prisoners in Tuzla, bringing the total there to at least 129, plus two more in Zenica. These Serbs and all other prisoners not wanted for war crimes should have been freed six weeks ago. The Serbs are still officially holding 23 captives and the Croats two, in addition to those all three sides are keeping in connection with war crimes investigations. -- Patrick Moore
 WAR CRIMES UPDATE.Onasa on 28 February quoted Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic as saying that evidence is being collected against Canadian General Lewis Mackenzie on suspicion of his participating in war crimes, "mainly rapes," when he was UNPROFOR commander in Bosnia. Mackenzie was linked to reports about gatherings at "Sonja's Kon-Tiki" -- a Serb-run brothel near Sarajevo -- and later became a lobbyist for the Serb cause. Meanwhile in Zagreb, parliament agreed on 27 February after heated discussion to postpone until March a vote on a bill to enable Croatia to extradite suspected war criminals wanted by the tribunal. Vladimir Seks, a leading politician of the governing party, warned that any delay would "cause the worst damage for the interests of the Croatian state." -- Patrick Moore
 PROMOTING DEMOCRACY WITH THE HELP OF MEDIA.There was, however, good news for journalists. The center for media and education of the U.S. embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID) have launched a series of activities aimed at building democracy in Bosnia, particularly during the preelection and election periods, Oslobodjenje reported on 28 February. These two agencies in cooperation with Sarajevo's Faculty of Political Sciences organized a meeting with the representatives of political parties in Bosnia to discuss media coverage in the forthcoming elections. In addition, since this is an election year in both the U.S. and Bosnia, two exchange programs have been proposed to help political parties and the media. The first would be a visit of Bosnian journalists, both from the electronic and print media, to the U.S. to observe the Republican election campaign. The second program proposes sending two experienced American journalists to help their colleagues in Sarajevo, Zenica and Tuzla. AID also plans to support the independent electronic media in Bosnia, as well as the independent legal system and a program for establishing cantons. -- Daria Sito Sucic
 SILAJDZIC PREDICTS A NEW WAR IN FIVE YEARS...Meanwhile, a veteran politician has surfaced again. Former Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic told The Guardian of 27 February that the three nationalist parties are working towards a tripartite partition of the country. He gave an example of the Serb exodus from Sarajevo as not only being ordered by Pale but also welcomed by some officials of the governing Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA). Commenting on the Muslim-Croat Federation, he said it had become "little more than a front for the creation of two separate ethnic states," and the consequence of its possible failure would be a rump Islamic state sandwiched between a greater Serbia and a greater Croatia. The next steps Silajdzic predicts would be the radicalization of the Muslim mini-state, and a new war within a five years, in which the Croats and the Serbs would seek to partition the Muslim entity. -- Daria Sito Sucic
 ...BUT PROMISES TO FIGHT FOR MULTI-ETHNIC BOSNIA.In the same interview, Silajdzic laid out his plans for a new multi-ethnic political movement to fight for a unitary state in this year's elections. He announced that his new party, as yet unnamed, would be launched within the next fortnight. Although he indicated his doubts that elections scheduled for September would be free and fair, he will nevertheless enter the race as an underdog. Political observers find it difficult to predict Silajdzic's electoral chances, having in mind that television is controlled by the nationalist parties, and that the SDA regards him as a heretic (and even denied him access to television when he was in office). -- Daria Sito Sucic
 BANJA LUKA AIRPORT OPEN.Outside the realm of pure politics, the Banja Luka airport reopened on 29 February, AFP quoted SRNA as saying. British IFOR commander General Michael Jackson said the facility will handle only IFOR flights for the time being, with its status for civilian air traffic remaining uncertain. Still in Banja Luka, on 27 February the prime ministers of the two Bosnian entities agreed that the Republika Srpska can use the Croatian port of Ploce, Onasa reported on 29 February. Bosnian Minister of Energy, Mining and Industry Enver Kreso told Dnevni Avaz that he brought up the issue of joint use of natural gas arriving from Russia. Both entities have used the gas during the war but only the Federation paid. Kreso said the Bosnian Serb side has promised to consider as soon as possible a federal proposal on dividing expenses, Onasa reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic
 SERBIAN MINISTER SAYS REFUGEES SHOULD GO HOME.Serbia, for its part, is anxious to put a somewhat different legacy of the conflict behind it. On 24 February Branislav Ivkovic, Serbia's minister for municipal planning, suggested in Subotica that it is the aim of Serbian and rump Yugoslav authorities to see to it that as may refugees as possible go home. According to a TV Serbia report on 24 February, the minister expressly stated that he expected the international community to provide guarantees for the safe return of the refugees. The minister did, however, add that for those who decide to stay in Serbia, the government has developed a program whereby all municipalities in the republic have been requested to provide information about housing availability, abandoned dwellings, and uninhabited areas. The minister criticized local authorities in Subotica for allegedly refusing to comply with his requests. There has been concern on the part of ethnic Hungarians and other minorities in Vojvodina that the Belgrade authorities may settle large numbers of Serbian refugees in that province to further reduce the importance of Hungarians, Ruthenians, Croats, Slovaks and other non- Serbs there. -- Stan Markotich
 BELGRADE, INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY LIFT BLOCKADE AGAINST BOSNIAN SERBS.But if Belgrade had bad news for Vojvodina, it had glad tidings for the Republika Srpska. Nasa Borba on 28 February reported that the previous day the federal government of rump Yugoslavia voted to lift its blockade against Pale. The blockade, which was implemented on 4 August 1994 and supposedly sealed the Drina River border between Republika Srpska and rump Yugoslavia, was lifted officially at midnight local time, on 28 February. Belgrade's actions followed a move by the international community, which has also lifted sanctions against the Bosnian Serbs. The report in The Guardian (see above) on General Djukic suggested, however, that the blockade was a sham from start to finish and that the "international community" pretended otherwise in order to enhance Milosevic's status as a legitimate diplomatic partner. The article noted that international monitors had ample evidence that the "blockade... was a sieve, [Milosevic's] assurances a giant lie." -- Stan Markotich and Patrick Moore
 REELECTED MILOSEVIC SAYS HE'S COMMITTED TO PEACE.And more was still to come. International media on 2 March reported on the third congress of the Socialist Party of Serbia, an affair which saw Milosevic almost nearly unanimously reelected SPS president. In a sure sign that he still firmly controls the party, only four out of 1,799 delegates did not support the Serbian leader. Much of the session was devoted to lauding Milosevic, who was dubbed by the Congress the "historic" player at Dayton. For his part, rump Yugoslav Deputy Premier Nikola Sainovic said that "Milosevic made possible at Dayton what looked lost. He forged the conditions for a just and honorable peace." Milosevic himself dwelt on the meaning of the regional peace accord's implications for the Bosnian and Croatian Serbs. He said that the Serbs outside Serbia owed him and Belgrade a debt of gratitude for support during the time of the conflict. Now that peace was at hand, he said "that everybody who has been the beneficiary of this support and solidarity needs to remember it as an example of generosity that future generations might be asked to repay." AFP quoted Milosevic as adding: "Peace has been signed. Sanctions have been suspended. Refugees are going back home and Serbia, economically weakened, must now get on with its own development." -- Stan Markotich
 LJAJIC DEMANDS DIRECT TALKS BETWEEN SARAJEVO AND BELGRADE ON THE FUTURE OF SANDZAK.Rump Yugoslav and Bosnian issues dovetail in Sandzak. The area is divided between Serbia and Montenegro, is contiguous to Bosnia, and has a slight Muslim majority. SDA-Sandzak leader Rasim Ljajic said that the Bosnian and Serbian governments should start direct talks on the future of the area, Beta reported on 1 March. Ljajic, however, pointed out that such talks should "under no circumstances implicate the expression of territorial claims [by Sarajevo] against its neighbor." He added that although "we are emotionally much nearer to Sarajevo than to Belgrade, we must build our political future in the other state, due to the political realities." Ljajic had earlier proposed that his SDA should join a list of opposition parties in the upcoming rump Yugoslav elections. Meanwhile, the Sarajevo branch of the SDA called on the Bosnian government to send an official delegation to Sandzak to improve the situation of the SDA-Sandzak and other Muslim institutions in rump- Yugoslavia. It also called on the Bosnian government to demand the release of political prisoners and ensure the safe return of SDA-Sandzak President Sulejman Ugljanin, who was forced into exile in Turkey, Onasa reported on 28 February. -- Fabian Schmidt
 THE SUICIDE OF "SERBIAN SARAJEVO": THE VIEW ON THE GROUND.Since the beginning of January, IFOR and the representatives of the international community in Sarajevo were fully informed of the Pale government's plans to organize and encourage the mass exodus of Serbs from Sarajevo suburbs as a media event. The Pale officials openly telegraphed their intention to build a telegenic tent city in the Lukavica barracks and to relocate a great many Sarajevo Serbs to the Brcko, bolstering the numbers of their ethnic kin in a strategic area where international arbitration is scheduled later this year. The response of the International agencies was supine and when none challenged the radio and television campaign inspired by the Republika Srpska to whip up fears of an "Islamic djamahirija," the scare stories became self-fulfilling prophecy. Only the UNHCR, of all the agencies, stated clearly that it was not willing to assist "the cynical manipulation of human suffering." That was not enough to counter a six-week campaign. Weeks before the mid-March deadline for the suburbs to come under the Federation's control, their Serbian dwellers left with all they could take, some of them even digging up their dead.
For Serbs like speaker Krajisnik, the movements could hardly have been surprising. As early as 16 February he had talked to Bildt in Pale about "technical and logistical support by the peace forces for the evacuation of Serbs from Sarajevo, if this happened." By the next evening, as the Rome summit was dealing with some of the "bumps on the road" and as suburbs like Vogosca showed no signs of panic flight, officials of the Pale government were appearing on television openly advising Serbs to leave. The distribution of an IFOR leaflet offering assurances of security was delayed when Bildt called from Rome and ordered that the flyer not be given out until it was certain that nothing that was concluded in Rome was at variance with the text. Meanwhile, TV Pale was reporting: "It is proposed that the organized exhumation of graves in Serb Sarajevo should begin this evening." And in what was to be an echoing sound-bite, Krajisnik said that "the forces that want Sarajevo to become another Teheran have won."
As the momentum for flight was being generated, it was becoming obvious that in the moment of crisis the decision- making capacity of the international community boils down to two people: Bildt and Admiral Leighton Smith. Their absence in Rome and their unwillingness to confront any of the parties on concrete violations of the Dayton accords makes them easy targets for manipulation by determined elites toughened by war
A frustrated official of the UNHCR complained that the two "know very little of the region or the actual situation and are most of all interested in how Brussels and Washington like them. Whenever someone from Pale tells them he wants peace, they are sure that they have it, as if we did not have 700 broken ceasefires behind us."
On 21 February, Bildt went to Pale and met privately with Krajisnik, who proposed to him that they jointly visit the suburbs. At about this time, the indicted war criminal Karadzic was in patent violation of Dayton, calling for the expropriation of property from non-Serbs who had left the territory. On 25 February Bildt went to Vogosca as Federation police were taking over patrols in the suburb. He told a group gathered there that Leighton Smith would be coming by a different route and bringing Krajisnik.
One man who was there recalled how dumbfounded he was left by this news. "None of us could even imagine that the guy, who was responsible for this mess, could be asked by anyone to calm it down."
When, a few minutes after the politician's arrival, the meeting began, the atmosphere changed sharply. "Krajisnik stole the show," said the witness. "He played the crowd so skillfully that no one dared oppose him. He said: 'I know you would prefer to stay, but now you are afraid. I understand your fears but we are here to help you.' He asked: 'Who wants to stay?' and nobody dared move. Then he asked: 'Who wants to leave' -- and he got loud applause. Anybody thinking differently just shut up. He took Smith behind closed doors and came back with a proposal that IFOR guarantee the security for Serb army trucks to help in the evacuation." CNN showed pictures of the commander of the biggest military force in Europe, pale and unsure, in front of a crowd of 100 angry civilians, giving in to demands that he help in yet another ethnic cleansing. People in Vogosca and other suburbs who may have wanted to stay and could have used the lack of transport as an excuse for their decision were now faced with what to say when a Bosnian Serb army truck stopped in front of their house and strangers climbed down offering to "help them move out." Later, Kris Jankowski, the spokesman for the UNHCR, had this to say about that meeting with the Serbs in Vogosca: "The behavior of Momcilo Krajisnik was disgraceful. He was obviously manipulating those people. This contributed greatly to the siege mentality and fear among the Serbs in Sarajevo districts." But the Pale parliamentarian did not crash that party. He was invited and brought there by the two most powerful representatives of the international community supervising the implementation of the Dayton peace accords. -- Jan Urban and Yvonne Badal
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.