|Thursday, 22 August 2019|
OMRI: PURSUING BALKAN PEACE, V1,#15, Apr. 16, 1996
From: OMRI-L <firstname.lastname@example.org>
 A CASE OF "EARLY RECOGNITION?"
 BOSNIAN AID DONOR CONFERENCE MEETS.
 SLOVENIA AND CROATIA PLEDGE AID FOR BOSNIA.
 MUSLIM COUNTRIES DISAPPOINT BOSNIAN HOPES FOR AID.
 WHAT IS GOING ON AMONG THE SERBS?
 BOSNIAN SERBS TEST TERMS OF PEACE TREATY.
 MUSLIM ELECTION CAMPAIGN BEGINS.
 PUBLIC OPINION POLL SUGGESTS SILAJDZIC'S PARTY LEADS IZETBEGOVIC'S.
 "BABO" HITS THE STUMP.
 EX-COMMUNISTS APPEAL FOR ANTI-NATIONALIST VOTE.
 WHY DID THE BOSNIAN DINAR TUMBLE?
 GOVERNMENT BEGINS FORMAL PAYMENTS TO SOLDIERS.
 UNESCO TO INVEST $7 MILLION IN BOSNIAN MEDIA.
 INDEPENDENT JOURNALISTS MEET ACROSS THE DIVIDE.
 UPDATE ON WAR CRIMES, PRISONERS.
 CROATIA CHARGES SIX MUSLIMS WITH TERRORISM.
 BELGRADE MINISTER RULES OUT EXTRADITING WAR CRIMES SUSPECTS.
 UPDATE ON REFUGEES IN MONTENEGRO.
 IS ANOTHER EXODUS TO HAPPEN IN EASTERN SLAVONIA?
 NO FREE MOVEMENT BETWEEN SANDZAK AND SARAJEVO?
OMRI SPECIAL REPORT: PURSUING BALKAN PEACE
Vol. 1, No. 15, 16 April 1996
 A CASE OF "EARLY RECOGNITION?"One of the most controversial discussions connected with the Wars of the Yugoslav Succession is the so-called recognition debate. The issue is whether Germany's extension of diplomatic recognition to Slovenia and Croatia at the end of 1991 had a negative or positive effect on the political and military situations in the region. Those who believe the German decision was a mistake argue that Bonn was over-anxious to consolidate traditional German "spheres of influence" and by so doing destroyed any hopes for the restoration of Yugoslavia by giving legitimacy to the two breakaway republics. Proponents of this view add that the fruit of Germany's action -- which the rest of the EU followed a few weeks later -- was the war in Bosnia in the spring of 1992.
Those who take the opposite stand believe that all Germany was really recognizing was that Tito's Yugoslavia was dead and gone for good, having been destroyed by Serbian attacks on Slovenia and Croatia in the summer of 1991. Given the close political, social, and economic ties between Germany and the former Yugoslavia, Bonn could not afford to take a wait-and-see attitude to events on its doorstep. Persons who hold this view add that recognition forced the Serbs to agree almost immediately to a ceasefire in Croatia, which ended major fighting in that republic for over three years. As to the war in Bosnia, proponents of this position state that the Serbs had knowingly destroyed Yugoslavia and had made careful plans for the conflict in Bosnia as well, regardless of whether Croatia and Slovenia had international diplomatic recognition or not.
At issue now, however, is not the recognition of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, or even Macedonia, but rather that of rump Yugoslavia. Belgrade is anxious to regain at least something of the international standing it enjoyed before it became a pariah for many states and international organizations in response to its support for greater Serbian aggression elsewhere in the former Yugoslavia. Belgrade regarded its participation in the Dayton process last year as a step toward such a return to respectability.
The next stage appears to be to restore diplomatic links to major Western countries. France already announced in February that such ties had been renewed, and Britain followed suit in April. This came as no great surprise, given that these two countries are among Serbia's main traditional allies and that many observers regarded Paris and London as pro-Serbian throughout the war. (Two other traditional allies, namely Russia and Greece, never broke off or downgraded relations with rump Yugoslavia in the course of the conflict.)
Most of the rest of the EU seems, in fact, ready to follow the French and British lead, including Germany and Austria. But just as the earlier "recognition debate" raised the question as to whether moves toward diplomatic came too soon and hence produced undesirable consequences, so the same points could be raised now. In other words, might it not be better to leave the possibility of recognition open as a form of leverage to ensure that Belgrade carries out the promises it made at Dayton and moves quickly to settle outstanding problems with its neighbors?
Rump Yugoslavia has, for example, been dubbed "criminal" by the war crimes tribunal in The Hague because of its lack of cooperation with that body, in contravention to what Belgrade promised to do at Dayton. It is also legally responsible for the compliance of the Bosnian Serbs with the terms of the agreement, but Pale has repeatedly indicated that it wants no part of Dayton's unified Bosnian state.
There are other issues as well. It is true that Belgrade normalized relations with Skopje and thereby paved the way for the EU countries to recognize it as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. But Belgrade has no such agreement with Ljubljana or Zagreb, partly because Milosevic wants his state to be recognized as the sole legal successor to Tito's and hence to be entitled to its properties and assets. Slovenia and Croatia reject this view emphatically, arguing that all ex-Yugoslav republics must share in the rights of succession. They add that in past decades they paid much money into the federal budget and now want their respective shares of the properties and assets.
There are also other open questions between Serbia and Croatia. These include the future of Serb-held Croatian territories in eastern Slavonia and Belgrade's interest in Croatia's strategic Prevlaka peninsula that controls access to rump Yugoslavia's only naval base. There is also concern in the U.S., Albania, and elsewhere over the need to restore at least some form of autonomy to Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority soon. Might it not be premature to renew full diplomatic links to Belgrade before additional progress is made on such issues? -- Patrick Moore
 BOSNIAN AID DONOR CONFERENCE MEETS.But the week's biggest story directly affecting Bosnia centered not on diplomacy but on economic development. The second major international gathering since Dayton to raise money for the reconstruction of Bosnia-Herzegovina took place on 12 and 13 April in Brussels. The sponsors were the European Union's Commission and the World Bank, and participants included 55 countries and 29 international organizations. The agenda centered on moves to raise an additional $1.2 billion in order to reach a planned goal of $1.8 billion for 1996, international and local media reported. In the end, more than enough money was pledged, but it remains to be seen whether it will be delivered. For example, the International Herald Tribune on 11 April quoted former US envoy Richard Holbrooke as criticizing Congress for doing "enormous damage" to American interests by not releasing pledged reconstruction money. In any event, the World Bank's James Wolfensohn said one of his priorities will be the creation of jobs for the 250,000 soldiers being demobilized, Onasa and Nasa Borba noted. The international community's High Representative Carl Bildt had rejected the Bosnian Serbs' demand that they form a separate delegation (see below), so only delegates from the federation were invited and were present. Bildt told the BBC that few donors are interested in putting their money into the Republika Srpska (RS), anyway. The Serbs' absence from the conference will hold up but not block reconstruction aid to their areas. Nasa Borba on 15 April noted that there will be aid money for the Serbs but only for those who support the Dayton agreement. -- Patrick Moore
 SLOVENIA AND CROATIA PLEDGE AID FOR BOSNIA.The war-torn republic's two northern neighbors are among those who have promised financial backing for Bosnia through the World Bank, Onasa news agency noted on 15 April. Ljubljana is offering $3.5 million to repair the homes of 18,000 Bosnian refugees living in Slovenia on the condition that they return home. Zagreb will make available a total of up to $20 million by 1999 to rebuild the port at Ploce, to reconstruct the Sava bridge at Orasje, and to develop water works. -- Patrick Moore
 MUSLIM COUNTRIES DISAPPOINT BOSNIAN HOPES FOR AID.Just before the Brussels meeting took place, a gathering of Muslim countries took place in Sarajevo, but it fell short of many expectations. Representatives of 14 Islamic countries concluded a conference on helping the war-torn republic rebuild its economy and shore up its defenses, but fell short of promising the joint fixed sum for the effort that many in Sarajevo had expected. Turkey pledged $80 million and Iran $50 million, Oslobodjenje wrote on 11 April. Ten other countries had been invited but did not come. President Alija Izetbegovic himself had appealed to the delegates that Bosnian needs their help. Meanwhile in Manama, UN Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey told businessmen, officials, and bankers from six Gulf Arab states that Bosnia needs private investment to repair the $80 to 100 billion it suffered in damages during the war, Onasa reported on 10 April. Sacirbey stressed that investment, not aid, is the key to Bosnia's future -- Patrick Moore
 WHAT IS GOING ON AMONG THE SERBS?Against the background of the Brusselsconference, there was much speculation about the Serbs' decision not to attend. Most centered on the theory that there is fierce infighting going on between hardliners around RS civilian leader Radovan Karadzic based in Pale and the supposedly more moderate Banja Luka group headed by Prime Minister Rajko Kasagic. Bildt himself placed the blame for the Serbs' latest behavior on the shoulders of Karadzic and of General Ratko Mladic, the BBC reported on 13 April. He also called for the arrest of Karadzic and other accused war criminals, saying that it is unacceptable for such people to be on the loose. There is little love lost between Karadzic and Mladic, but both are indicted war criminals and hence have a personal interest in maintaining a tough line toward the outside world. Nasa Borba noted on 12 April, however, that it was Kasagic who sent a final letter to Bildt, saying that the Serbs could not go to Brussels as part of a joint delegation. Reuters the next day quoted Karadzic's vice president, Nikola Koljevic, as calling the requirement that the Serbs attend as part of a joint delegation "blackmail" and "political pressure by economic means." Underlying the Dayton package was the hope that the promise of international aid and reconstruction money would prompt all sides to observe the terms of the treaty and be cooperative. It appears that the Pale leadership has nonetheless decided to put its own political interests above the welfare of ordinary Serbs, just as it did when it ordered the evacuation of the formerly Serb-held areas of Sarajevo. -- Patrick Moore
 BOSNIAN SERBS TEST TERMS OF PEACE TREATY.Koljevic has again publicly stated views that are openly at variance with the Dayton peace accord. This time he told Nasa Borba of 16 April that "boundaries no longer matter" between the Bosnian Serb state and rump Yugoslavia. He also said that it is not permissable that Muslims and Croats return to their homes on Serb-held territory until Serbian refugees there have been settled. Koljevic noted that the major European powers are coming to accept the Serbian view that Bosnia has no multi-ethnic future. The Economist also said that Europe is rejecting the American and Dayton concept of a multi-ethnic state in favor of a more "evenhanded" approach. -- Patrick Moore
 MUSLIM ELECTION CAMPAIGN BEGINS.Much of what goes on anywhere on the Bosnian political stage can best be understood against the background of the upcoming elections, which Dayton specifies must be held by 14 September. Much doubt has been shed on the feasibility of actually holding a vote by that deadline, but the politicians on all sides have been on the stump almost ever since the peace agreement was concluded. Izetbegovic on 13 April kicked off his election campaign and made his first major public appearance since his hospitalization earlier this year, Oslobodjenje reported on 15 April. Speaking in a stadium at Zenica, he lashed out at former Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic, who on 13 April formally launched his non-nationalist Party for Bosnia- Herzegovina (SBH). At Zenica Izetbegovic said that his critics refuse to give him and his party credit for what are really massive achievements in saving both Bosnia and the Muslim people. That same day Bosnian Croat leader and federal President Kresimir Zubak said that Izetbegovic must be brought into talks aimed at shoring up the shaky Croat-Muslim federation, Slobodna Dalmacija wrote on 15 April. -- Patrick Moore
 PUBLIC OPINION POLL SUGGESTS SILAJDZIC'S PARTY LEADS IZETBEGOVIC'S.It appears that Izetbegovic may have had good reason for concentrating his fire on his former prime minister rather than on other Muslim politicians. According to a poll in the April issue of the Sarajevo monthly magazine Dani, Silajdzic is the most popular politician among urban Muslims, and his SBH leads among the political groups in the areas polled. The survey was done in March in Sarajevo, Tuzla, Zenica, east Mostar and Gorazde, which are all urban Muslim-led areas within the Federation. The sample was 5,355. Some 37% of them back Silajdzic's SBH, another 33% support the ruling Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA), 7% prefer the ex-communist Social-Democratic Party, and 6% want the Union of Bosnian-Herzegovinian Democrats. In addition, 7% gave no preference, while ten parliamentary parties share the 10% that is left. In Sarajevo (41.9%), east Mostar (44.06%) and Zenica (33.03%), the Party for Bosnia and Herzegovina leads the nationalist SDA , while in Tuzla and Gorazde the SDA outpolls Silajdzic's party. In terms of the popularity of individual politicians, Silajdzic takes 42% and leads Izetbegovic everywhere except Gorazde, where the president's lead over his former prime minister is only 0.5%. Some 56% of the respondents want neither Serbia nor Croatia as an ally, while 31% prefer Croatia and only 12% Serbia. Asked whether they plan their own future in Bosnia, some 87% said yes and only 12% no. -- Daria Sito Sucic in Sarajevo
 "BABO" HITS THE STUMP.But it would not be election season in Bosnia without Fikret Abdic, one of the country's most controversial figures. He has launched a new party, the Democratic People's Community (DNZ), Nasa Borba reported on 16 April. The Bihac-area kingpin has been living in Croatia since his Serb-backed empire fell to joint Croatian and Bosnian government forces last fall. To his enemies such as Izetbegovic, Abdic is a crook and a traitor who is for sale to the highest bidder. To thousands of people from the Bihac region, he is "Babo," or "Daddy," who brought prosperity and peace. He appears to have exchanged Serbian for Croatian backing, and some observers have suggested that the Croats' recent arrest of five Muslims allegedly sent to kill Abdic was merely a publicity stunt on his behalf, Novi list and Politika noted (see below). The renegade Muslim politician himself said that he "was not surprised" that assassins were sent to kill him, because Izetbegovic cannot tolerate the presence of a moderate Muslim politician who got more votes than he did in the 1990 elections. -- Patrick Moore
 EX-COMMUNISTS APPEAL FOR ANTI-NATIONALIST VOTE.The Union of Bosnian Social Democrats (UBSD) is the successor to the former communists and to the reformist party that took only 10% of the vote in the parliamentary elections, but it held on to the mayor's seat in multi-ethnic Tuzla throughout the entire war. Mayor Sejfudin Tokic has launched the UBSD's republic-wide electoral campaign by stressing that his party seeks to represent all Bosnians, which, he claimed, Izetbegovic never did, Nasa Borba said on 16 April. Tokic claimed that his party has 40,000 members, including some from Serb-held regions. He stated that the Serbian and Croatian nationalist parties will fall apart under internal pressures, but that Izetbegovic's Muslim nationalist party will be a tougher nut to crack because of its radical populist profile. -- Patrick Moore
 WHY DID THE BOSNIAN DINAR TUMBLE?Aside from electoral and aid politics,the hot news in the Bosnian press on 9 and 10 April was the sudden fall of the dinar over the preceding weekend (see OMRI Special Report, 9 April 1996). Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic and Central Bank Governor Kasim Omicevic claim there were no real economic reasons for the fall. This implies that the cause was the recent agreement within the Federation on -- among other things -- customs fees, and also the decision by the finance minister that all taxes must be paid exclusively in German marks. Both Muratovic and Omicevic said the Bank guarantees each dinar issued and its exchange rate. "The state can repurchase all at the official exchange rate and that is our guarantee of the rate," Oslobodjenje quoted Omicevic as saying. Some analysts suggested, however, that the crisis may have been set off by Bosnia's pledge to the IMF to establish a new common currency throughout the republic, with the German mark used for customs and tax purposes during a five-year transition period. Expecting they will thus have to pay numerous fees only in marks, private businessmen started to panic and forced a devaluation in the dinar. -- Daria Sito Sucic in Sarajevo
 GOVERNMENT BEGINS FORMAL PAYMENTS TO SOLDIERS.Bosnian authorities meanwhile held official ceremonies to start paying soldiers, invalids, and families of dead soldiers for their contributions during the war, Oslobodjenje reported on 16 April. The problem is that the government has little or no money to meet its obligations, so instead of paying in cash it is issuing "bank books" that show exactly how much each man earned, Onasa news agency noted. The average salary for soldiers is DM 400 per month, which is still a princely wage by Bosnian standards. The authorities expect to distribute up to 3,000 of the bank books daily. It is not clear exactly when and how the men or their families can convert the paper payments into hard cash. All three sides in Bosnia face huge problems connected with the demobilization of tens of thousands of men who have few, if any, skills besides fighting. -- Patrick Moore
 UNESCO TO INVEST $7 MILLION IN BOSNIAN MEDIA.Another set of problems confronting those who are trying to implement the Dayton agreement is the issue of promoting independent media. Most of the print or electronic media are directly or indirectly controlled or influenced by the three nationalist parties: the SDA, the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS), and the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ). The Director of UNESCO for Bosnia Colin Kaiser announced that UNESCO plans to provide $7 million for the media there, Oslobodjenje reported on 11 April. Some $2 million of the total will go for reconstructing state radio and television and making it a public institution in keeping with high democratic standards. UNESCO and the Bosnian government on 31 March signed an agreement on aiding state and other electronic media, which includes 39 projects in the fields of communication, culture and education, as well as journalist training. The program envisages support for the independent media, particularly in central Bosnia. UNESCO also wants to establish contacts with the RS and with Croatian-controlled western Herzegovina to set up independent television stations that would be part of a republic-wide network. UNESCO plans to financially support RS television, too, but only if it changes its editorial policies. An agreement will only be signed once TV Pale demonstrates a respect for free access to the media and for freedom of expression, Oslobodjenje added. -- Daria Sito Sucic in Sarajevo
 INDEPENDENT JOURNALISTS MEET ACROSS THE DIVIDE.In another move to try to offset the nationalist monopoly on the media and to bridge the gap between the RS and the Federation, the OSCE and OMRI sponsored the first meeting of independent newspapers from both "entities," as the Dayton agreement calls them. They journalists met in Banja Luka on 10 April, agreed on some common points, and will hold their next session in Sarajevo, Onasa reported. That agency also said that the Christian Science Monitor's correspondent David Rohde won the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting on account of his work in investigating the mass graves of Muslims murdered after the fall of Srebrenica last summer. -- Patrick Moore
 UPDATE ON WAR CRIMES, PRISONERS.In that same area, UN investigators now in the field have found evidence of additional mass graves, Reuters noted on 10 April. They closed their two-week project on 13 April and returned to The Hague, but would not comment on their findings, Onasa said. Serbian authorities meanwhile freed 211 Muslim refugees from Srebrenica, who had been held like prisoners at Sljivovica in rump Yugoslavia. The Serbs continue to detain 13 more Srebrenica refugees there as possible war criminals. The UNHCR has protested, saying that all 224 people are legitimate refugees who should have been freed, Nasa Borba reported on 11 April. Meanwhile in Pale, the Bosnian Serbs on 9 April freed three out of 19 or 20 prisoners they are keeping. The government side also continues to hold a number of Serbs, some of whom it has officially declared and some not. In The Hague, war crimes tribunal authorities took custody of Zdravko Mucic, who was delivered to Schiphol airport by Austrian police. Mucic, a Croat, is charged with war crimes against Bosnian Serbs while he was the commander of the Celebici prison camp in central Bosnia, Nasa Borba noted on 10 April. And in Sarajevo, the young Serbian man and his Muslim girlfriend who were killed as they tried to cross front lines in 1993 were reburied in the main cemetery in an atheist ceremony, CNN noted. They had become known as the "Romeo and Juliet of Sarajevo" and their death symbolized the triumph of nationalism over the multi-ethnic society. -- Patrick Moore
 CROATIA CHARGES SIX MUSLIMS WITH TERRORISM.Turning to relations with Zagreb, Croatia has formally indicted six Bosnian Muslims on charges of planning to murder Bihac kingpin Abdic in Rijeka, Reuters reported on 10 April (see above). "There is a founded suspicion that the accused intended to commit a criminal act of killing Fikret Abdic," Rijeka county public prosecutor Drago Marincel told Croatian TV. Four men and one woman have been arrested, while another man is still at large. Two of those arrested worked for the Bihac police, while the man still being sought was employed by Bosnia's security department. They reportedly had a large number of weapons stored in Croatia. Bosnia's ambassador Kasim Trnka told Onasa news agency, however, that Bosnia has no reason to send terrorists to Croatia. His embassy spokesman said that those arrested were really Abdic's own agents trying to sabotage Zagreb-Sarajevo relations, Slobodna Dalmacija wrote on 11 April. The Croatian government has since delivered a formal protest note to the embassy over the incident, Nasa Borba stated. Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic said that there is no proof behind the Croatian claims, Dnevni avaz reported on 15 April. -- Patrick Moore
 BELGRADE MINISTER RULES OUT EXTRADITING WAR CRIMES SUSPECTS.Moving away from Croatia and Bosnia and into Serbia, on 5 April the Belgrade-based Dnevni Telegraf reported that rump Yugoslav Defense Minister Pavle Bulatovic said officially that extraditing three key war crimes suspects is out of the question. Veselin Slivancanin, Milo Mrksic and Miroslav Radic are all former Yugoslav army officers suspected of playing a key role in the atrocities against non-Serb civilians after the fall of Vukovar in November 1991(see OMRI Special Report, 9 April 1996). He invoked the now-familiar Belgrade refrain that extraditing these suspects would constitute a breach of the rump Yugoslav constitution. -- Stan Markotich
 UPDATE ON REFUGEES IN MONTENEGRO.In the other party of rump Yugoslavia, the Montenegrin authorities will launch a month-long census of the republic's refugee population starting 1 May, Montena-fax reported on 9 April. Earlier reports said the census was to have begun on 15 April, but administrative and technical matters, including the training of census takers, will last another two weeks. Some estimates suggest that there may now be as many as 700,000 refugees throughout the whole of the rump Yugoslavia. -- Stan Markotich
 IS ANOTHER EXODUS TO HAPPEN IN EASTERN SLAVONIA?And more may soon be onthe way. Developments in eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srijem suggest a possible repeat of the exodus that took place from western Slavonia, Krajina, and "Serbian Sarajevo." Vreme on 13 April ran a story saying that the Serbs in what is broadly known as eastern Slavonia have lost any confidence in the international civil administration and have begun to load their possessions on trucks and tractors and cart them off. They have nonetheless returned to see what happens. The UN Transitional Administrator for the region, U.S. General Jacques Klein, called on the Serbs to stay and said that a Serb exodus would mean the failure of his mission, Nasa Borba reported on 11 April. Klein added that he would do everything in his power to maintain the region as the multiethnic one it was before the war. Currently, the UN is clearing mines along the railway between Vinkovci and Sid and expects that two trains per day can soon travel the route again. The line is part of the former main connection between Belgrade and Zagreb. Klein denied that any lists exist of accused war criminals to be arrested from the region. He added that there is no significant problem of Serbs who moved into property of people driven out during the war since there were no major movements of people in the area, a statement that many would contest. The Serbian Helsinki Committee, for its part, on 8 April condemned the Serbian authorities for systematically forcing Serb refugees to settle in eastern Slavonia, Hina reported. The refugees said they were ordered to go to the region in recent days by the Belgrade Municipal Court. An agreement signed between Serbia and Croatia during the Dayton talks provides a framework for the region to return to Croatia within two years. -- Fabian Schmidt
 NO FREE MOVEMENT BETWEEN SANDZAK AND SARAJEVO?But Bosnian and rumpYugoslav affairs come together most in Sandzak. The region has a slight Muslim minority, is divided between Serbia and Montenegro, and borders Bosnia. Its Muslims regard their fate as closely bound with that of those across the frontier. Travel agencies in Sandzak have begun offering trips to Sarajevo and other cities in the Federation, Beta reported on 12 April. The travel agencies claim that the journey is "safe," but Montena fax carried a story of five Sandzak Muslims who were harassed by Republika Srpska police in Zvornik on the border to rump Yugoslavia. In one case a traveler was refused entrance, while the other four people were allowed in only after paying a bribe. In other Sandzak news, Nasa Borba on 9 April said that the return of SDA-Sandzak leader Sulejman Ugljanin is unlikely. Ugljanin fled into exile in Turkey after he faced jail on charges of separatism in 1993. The recent release of 24 SDA members by the Serbian Supreme Court had led to speculation about a possible amnesty for Ugljanin. -- Fabian Schmidt
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.