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OMRI Pursuing Balkan Peace, No. 33, 96-08-20

Open Media Research Institute: Pursuing Balkan Peace Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Open Media Research Institute <http://www.omri.cz>

Pursuing Balkan Peace
No. 33, 20 August 1996


CONTENTS

  • [01] MORE STELLAR PERFORMANCES BY THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
  • [02] "OPERATION VOLCANO" UNDERWAY FOLLOWING SERB CRITICISMS, THREAT.
  • [03] MUSLIMS, CROATS ELECT MOSTAR MAYOR.
  • [04] TUDJMAN AND BOSNIAN CROATS DISCUSS ABOLITION OF HERCEG-BOSNA.
  • [05] CROATS DEMAND ACTION ON MISSING PERSONS.
  • [06] PLAVSIC ON SOVEREIGNTY.
  • [07] BOSNIAN SERBS ORDER HALT TO EXHUMATIONS.
  • [08] BOSNIAN ELECTION UPDATE.
  • [09] REFUGEES IN SERBIA-MONTENEGRO REGISTER FOR BOSNIA VOTE.
  • [10] SUPPORTERS OF RULING PARTY DISRUPT OPPOSITION RALLY . . .
  • [11] . . . AND ATTACK OPPOSITION SUPPORTERS.
  • [12] BOSNIAN SERBS BAN OSCE ELECTION RADIO PROGRAM.
  • [13] OSCE REJECTS CROATIAN SERBS APPEAL TO VOTE IN BOSNIA
  • [15] BOSNIAN SERBS APOLOGIZE FOR VOTER MANIPULATION.
  • [16] WILL KEY PLAYERS BOYCOTT BOSNIAN ELECTIONS?
  • [17] SARAJEVO AIRPORT REOPENS FOR COMMERCIAL FLIGHTS.
  • [18] BELGRADE REAFFIRMS WISH TO NORMALIZE RELATIONS WITH SUCCESSOR STATES.
  • [19] REPORT FROM BIJELJINA.
  • [20] BRCKO: CENTER OF NEXT CRISIS?

  • [01] MORE STELLAR PERFORMANCES BY THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY

    August is generally known among journalists as the "silly season," during which precious little hard news is available and media people are often reduced to digging up man-bites-dog stories in order to generate copy. This August has proven an exception, not just because of the conflict in Chechnya and the heating up of the U.S. presidential race, but also because of one of the more bizarre developments involving IFOR and the Bosnian Serbs.

    It now seems that NATO peacekeepers avoided possible contact with Bosnian Serb commander Gen. Ratko Mladic rather than be forced to arrest the indicted war criminal. Or, as the headline in the Berlin daily Taz put it on 15 August, "IFOR let Mladic off the hook." IFOR admitted on 14 August that its inspectors had left the Bosnian Serb military headquarters at Han Pijesak on 10 August, not because the Serbs denied them access, as IFOR originally claimed, but because the inspectors wanted to avoid "a close encounter" with Mladic, as Nasa Borba noted on 15 August (see OMRI Special Report, 13 August 1996).

    The Serbs reportedly had told the NATO visitors that they could see what they wanted to only with Mladic as their guide, but IFOR said it would not accept any conditions. The peacekeepers, moreover, are obliged to arrest indicted war criminals if they come across them, but NATO has turned a blind eye to Mladic and his civilian counterpart Radovan Karadzic on numerous occasions in the past. An IFOR spokesman said that their group of seven officers armed with pistols thought it would "not have been prudent" to risk a confrontation with Mladic's 300 heavily-armed bodyguards.

    In any event, IFOR then began to show some teeth. It took two unprecedented steps, namely to withdraw its liaison officers from Pale on 11 August and to activate Operation Fear Naught in the Republika Srpska the next day. That operation raised an already heightened state of alert for IFOR, consolidated NATO troops in more readily defensible positions, and effectively ordered out foreign aid workers and other non-military personnel. The stage thus appeared to be set for military action against the Serbs, who would find it more difficult to take Western hostages or otherwise retaliate against IFOR.

    The point seems to have been made, because NATO's negotiators in Pale soon found their Serbian counterparts to be most agreeable. By 12 August all was set, and NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana joined IFOR commander Gen. George Joulwan for a meeting with Bosnian Serb acting President Biljana Plavsic. She called the whole affair "a small misunderstanding," and, willy- nilly, accompanied IFOR inspectors by helicopter back to Han Pijesak the next day.

    This was certainly a strange series of events, to say the least. NATO finally showed firmness that produced compliance, but only after it had been taunted. And the Alliance was ultimately left embarrassed once the truth about what happened on 10 August finally emerged. It may be that the Serbs' behavior at their mountain stronghold reflected Mladic's well-known sense of humor (he keeps 23 goats named after politicians he does not like, including U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright). It may also be, however, that IFOR's reluctance to confront war criminals in the past and its fondness for avoiding confrontation tempted the Serbs to once again display inat, or stubborn defiance, and see what they could get away with.

    IFOR, moreover, has refused to help enforce the civilian provisions of the Dayton agreement, and the international community in general has been reluctant to confront the nationalists on all three sides over violations of principles such as the right to freedom of movement or of refugees to go home. It should thus not come as a surprise that the nationalists are already busy disregarding the principle that Bosnia is a multiethnic state and seeking to consolidate their control over their respective "ethnically pure" territories in the 14 September elections (see ).

    Against this background, U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher met in Geneva with Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic and his Serbian and Croatian counterparts, Slobodan Milosevic and Franjo Tudjman. As was the case at similar gatherings in the past, all parties agreed to implement their previous promises and agreements, many of which have gone unkept. Christopher gave a pep-talk on the importance of the elections, and the three presidents agreed that they must be "successful," Nasa Borba and Oslobodjenje reported. What they really understand by that remains, of course, to be seen.

    Washington and its allies are obviously hoping that the elections will come off relatively smoothly and enable IFOR to declare victory and leave around the end of the year. If, however, the multiethnic Bosnia of Dayton is replaced on the ground by three antagonistic nationalist states, those who shaped the Dayton peace and then failed to enforce it will have no one but themselves to blame. -- Patrick Moore

    [02] "OPERATION VOLCANO" UNDERWAY FOLLOWING SERB CRITICISMS, THREAT.

    IFOR troops destroyed the first batch of contraband Bosnian Serb munitions at around 7:00 CET on 19 August, international media reported. This first batch, reportedly consisting of at least several hundred tons of material, was part of an ammunition dump, consisting of "rockets, packets of TNT, small arms ammunition and about 5,700 cases of anti-tank and anti-personnel mines" found in a former schoolhouse in Margetici exactly two weeks ago, Onasa reported on 18 August. Onasa also added that Bosnian Serb reaction to the destruction was hostile, with the Bosnian Serb army dubbing the destruction plan, or Operation Volcano, "a very dangerous provocation" and saying the munitions dump was kept in accordance with the terms of the Dayton accord. Destroying the rest of the munitions is expected to take almost a week. -- Stan Markotich

    [03] MUSLIMS, CROATS ELECT MOSTAR MAYOR.

    At the first joint session of the new Mostar City Council on 14 August, Croats and Muslims elected Ivica Prskalo, a Croat, as mayor of Mostar, international media reported. Safet Orucevic, former mayor of the Muslim-held part of Mostar, was elected his deputy. The Croats had tried to postpone the session until 19 August, but Sir Martin Garrod, the EU's special envoy for Mostar, rejected that proposal. The agenda of the first session provided only for the election of a new major and his deputy, but the Croats also wanted to elect a new city council president. Hamdija Jahic, a Muslim who had been elected to that post at an earlier city council session boycotted by the Croats, said electing a new president was "out of the question," Oslobodjenje reported. As a compromise, Vjekoslav Kordic, a Croat, was elected council deputy president. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [04] TUDJMAN AND BOSNIAN CROATS DISCUSS ABOLITION OF HERCEG-BOSNA.

    Croatian President Franjo Tudjman on 19 August held talks on Brioni Island with senior Bosnian Croat officials to discuss the phased abolition of the Croatian ministate of Herceg-Bosna, international and local media reported. Kresimir Zubak, the president of the Muslim-Croat federation, said the Bosnian Croats will respect the 31 August deadline for Herceg-Bosna's dissolution, as agreed with their Muslim partners over the weekend. Following talks with Tudjman, Zubak said that "the ball is now in our [Muslim] partners' court." Meanwhile, Bosnian Premier Hasan Muratovic, on an official visit to The Hague, said the Bosnian general elections would be compromised if Herceg-Bosna is not dissolved by 14 September, AFP reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [05] CROATS DEMAND ACTION ON MISSING PERSONS.

    On 8 August, the Croatian government denied charges by the UNHCR that it is blocking the return of ethnic Serb refugees to Croatia, Reuters reported. That same day 35 Bosnian Croats from Bugojno blockaded Bildt's Sarajevo office, demanding information on the 21 missing Croats from that central Bosnian town whom the Muslims took prisoner in 1993. Meanwhile, Bildt's spokesman, Colum Murphy, announced that Vitomir Popovic, the Serb representative on the commission to decide the fate of the strategic Brcko area, did not show up for that group's first meeting. Murphy added that Popovic would be in violation of Dayton if he does not have a good reason for his absence, AFP reported. Brcko is likely to be a top Bosnian issue once the 14 September elections are over. - - Patrick Moore

    [06] PLAVSIC ON SOVEREIGNTY.

    Plavsic told Serbian TV that the Bosnian Serbs' Republika Srpska (RS) will "have more than 80 percent sovereignty" after the 14 September elections, Nasa Borba reported on 14 August. This represents a climb-down from her previous position that the vote will mean complete sovereignty. Her view is nonetheless still in conflict with the Dayton agreement, which specifies that Bosnia-Herzegovina is one state consisting of two "entities," namely the RS and the Croat-Muslim federation. -- Patrick Moore

    [07] BOSNIAN SERBS ORDER HALT TO EXHUMATIONS.

    The Pale authorities have issued a statement banning further uncovering of mass graves on their territory, AFP reported on 7 August, quoting SRNA. They say that the Croat-Muslim side has not allowed the exhumation of what the Serbs say are mass graves of Serbs at Glamoc and Ozren on federal territory, and that Pale demands reciprocity. The Serbs also want a meeting with the Croats, Muslims, High Representative Carl Bildt, and the Red Cross to discuss a host of issues, including missing persons and prisoners of war as well as mass graves. The Serbs are apparently embarrassed by evidence found in previous exhumations on their territory indicating that thousands of Muslim males were massacred after the fall of Srebrenica just over a year ago. Pale's latest declaration appears to be a propaganda exercise aimed at blocking the uncovering of any further evidence. On 8 August Bildt's office warned the Serbs that their continued ban on exhumations violates the Dayton agreement, Nasa Borba said on 9 August. -- Patrick Moore

    [08] BOSNIAN ELECTION UPDATE.

    IFOR's commander Gen. Michael Walker warned the Bosnian Serbs to "take the [14 September] elections seriously" and prevent any "angry, unruly crowd trying to stop people from voting." He was apparently referring to the possibility of actions against Muslims and Croats coming home to vote on what is now Serb- held territory. Gen. Walker also noted that local Serb authorities are interested in seeing "the voting go smoothly, [but] I am worried that this attitude isn't shared at the top," Onasa reported on 7 August. The commander added that IFOR is present to stop the war from being resumed but will not police the elections. Meanwhile, on the campaign trail, the opposition Party for Bosnia-Herzegovina (SBiH) of former Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic announced on 5 August that it will not hold pre-election rallies. Deputy leader Izudin Saracevic indicated that the SBiH fears provocations and physical attacks, presumably by supporters of the leading Muslim Party of Democratic Action. Finally, news about one particularly important group of voters, the unemployed. The Bosnian government unemployment office said that the job situation has reached a "critical point," with 850,000 people across Bosnia-Herzegovina seeking work, Oslobodjenje noted. The demobilization of soldiers on all three sides has greatly complicated what was already a very pressing problem. -- Patrick Moore

    [09] REFUGEES IN SERBIA-MONTENEGRO REGISTER FOR BOSNIA VOTE.

    An OSCE representative has said that 220,640 refugees have registered with his organization to vote in the 14 September elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Beta reported on 12 August. Of that number, 97,636 have opted to cast their ballots in Serbia-Montenegro while the remainder will vote in Bosnia- Herzegovina, with the majority of them expected to cast ballots in the Republika Srpska. Polling in Serbia-Montenegro will take place between 28 August and 3 September, and will be supervised by OSCE monitors. According to Beta, there are 450,000-480,000 Bosnian refugees in Serbia-Montenegro, and some 633,584 refugees dispersed throughout 28 countries have registered to vote in the elections. -- Stan Markotich

    [10] SUPPORTERS OF RULING PARTY DISRUPT OPPOSITION RALLY . . .

    A Bosnian opposition rally on 10 August in Gradacac, northern Bosnia, was disrupted by a group of supporters of the ruling Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA), Onasa reported on 12 August. Youths wearing SDA T-shirts caused a commotion and broke up the meeting, organized by the opposition Joint List, which consists of anti-nationalist parties and one Croatian group. The Joint List has accused the SDA of wanting the Muslim-Croatian federation to be controlled by ethnic Muslims. The rally was staged in Gradacac because Muslims and Croats have never stopped cooperating there and their respective national parties -- the SDA and the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) -- have only limited support there. Meanwhile, Sejfudin Tokic, vice president of the Union of Bosnian Social Democrats, has said he is concerned about the lack of neutrality among police officials at campaign rallies, AFP reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [11] . . . AND ATTACK OPPOSITION SUPPORTERS.

    The day after three separate explosions occurred in the northwestern Bosnian city of Cazin, Alexander Ivanko, a UN spokesman, noted on 16 August that violent harassment of opposition-party supporters continues there, Onasa reported. Explosive devices were aimed at the homes of three people campaigning on behalf of opposition candidates in Bosnia's upcoming elections. No injuries were reported. Ivanko said the International Police Task Force was encouraging the Cazin police to conduct a full investigation, but one of the victims said he did not trust the police, whom, he said, had harassed him. Meanwhile, the Joint List of Bosnia-Herzegovina, a coalition of five opposition parties, issued a statement complaining that regional police in Bihac on 15 August confiscated the coalition's campaign posters and leaflets, Oslobodjenje reported on 18 August. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [12] BOSNIAN SERBS BAN OSCE ELECTION RADIO PROGRAM.

    The Bosnian Serb Ministry of Transport and Communications on 12 August banned the Free Election Radio Network (FERN) from broadcasting its election radio program via the Lisina transmitter, Onasa reported on 14 August. FERN is sponsored by the OSCE. Explaining its decision, the ministry said an "inspection revealed the transmitter was being used without the permission of the respective Republika Srpska ministry." A Bosnian Serb official told FERN and the OSCE that they cannot file a complaint but that they can file a lawsuit with the Republika Srpska Supreme Court. The ban came amid negotiations between FERN and IFOR on the former using the latter's transmitters to improve reception of the program in the eastern part of the Republika Srpska. In addition to journalists from abroad, FERN employs the local journalists from both Bosnia-Herzegovinian entities. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [13] OSCE REJECTS CROATIAN SERBS APPEAL TO VOTE IN BOSNIA

    . . . The OSCE Election Appeals Sub-Committee on 12 August said it has rejected an appeal by Croatian Serb refugees to be allowed to vote in the September elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Onasa reported. The Association of Croatian Serbs in Bosnia, which made the appeal, said it represented the interests of almost 60,000 people, some of whom had acquired real estate and settled in the Republika Srpska. The OSCE noted that, according to preliminary estimates, 77% of all voters living abroad have so far registered to vote in the elections, Onasa reported on 13 August. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    . [14] . . AND PENALIZES RULING BOSNIAN SERB PARTY.

    The OSCE Election Appeals Subcommittee on 13 August decided that the ruling Serb Democratic Party (SDS) in Doboj, the Republika Srpska, is guilty of having denied humanitarian aid to refugees unless they agree to vote in their new settlements in the upcoming Bosnian elections, Reuters reported on 15 August. The subcommittee levied a $25,000 fine against the SDS and demanded a public apology from its list of candidates in Doboj. It also noted that election rules had been violated in the Serb-held town of Modrica. Meanwhile, OSCE Chairman Flavio Cotti has cast serious doubt on how free and fair the Bosnian elections will be, AFP reported on 14 August. Cotti expressed his "greatest concern" over freedom of movement, the return of refugees, and prevailing attempts to create ethnically pure states. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [15] BOSNIAN SERBS APOLOGIZE FOR VOTER MANIPULATION.

    The SDS on 17 August issued a public apology, prompted by the OSCE, for using humanitarian aid to manipulate voters in the towns of Doboj and Modrica, Reuters reported. In other news, the international community's high representative for Bosnia, Carl Bildt, visited Srebrenica and Zvornik. He warned SDS officials there that they risk disqualification from Bosnia's elections unless Radovan Karadzic posters disappear, Reuters reported on 18 August. An SDS official in Srebrenica said the international community can eliminate Karadzic from public life but cannot forbid people to love him. Srebrenica officials complained to Bildt about such problems as a shortage of running water and electricity. In response to pleas for help, Bildt said Bosnian Serb leaders have refused international assistance earmarked for Bosnia-Herzegovina because they want their own independent state. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [16] WILL KEY PLAYERS BOYCOTT BOSNIAN ELECTIONS?

    U.S. officials said that former Bosnian prime minister and leader of the Party for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Haris Silajdzic, plans to boycott the 14 September vote. He feels that the ballot will be manipulated by the three dominant nationalist parties of the Muslims, Serbs and Croats and serve to legitimize the partition of the country along ethnic lines. Silajdzic called it "ratification of genocide," AFP reported on 15 August. The previous day, parliament speaker Miro Lazovic said that his Social Democratic Party and its anti-nationalist coalition of five parties is also considering a boycott. Still in Sarajevo, the International Crisis Group of former prime ministers, foreign ministers, and other public figures called for the elections to be postponed and for a new Dayton-style agreement to be worked out, Oslobodjenje wrote on 16 August. President Alija Izetbegovic, meanwhile, condemned attacks by his supporters on opposition rallies, Dnevni avaz said. In Belgrade, Vreme added that the most recent incident, in Gradacac, could trigger a mass boycott of the vote by the opposition. -- Patrick Moore

    [17] SARAJEVO AIRPORT REOPENS FOR COMMERCIAL FLIGHTS.

    U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic on 15 August presided over the opening of the Sarajevo airport for commercial flights for the first time since 1992, international and local media reported. The first such flight was to Turkey. The airport was a major battlefield during the Bosnian war and hundreds of lives were lost there. Christopher said he had come to Sarajevo to witness "Bosnia's summer of hope" ahead of the September general elections, AFP quoted him as saying. In an televised address to the nation, he appealed to Bosnian voters to support the landmark elections. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [18] BELGRADE REAFFIRMS WISH TO NORMALIZE RELATIONS WITH SUCCESSOR STATES.

    Belgrade on 13 August reaffirmed its wish for a complete normalization of relations with Croatia and other successor states of former Yugoslavia, Nasa Borba reported. Belgrade and Zagreb committed themselves to normalizing bilateral relations following the meeting in Greece between Presidents Slobodan Milosevic and Franjo Tudjman. The Belgrade authorities said current ties with Croatia in the economic and humanitarian fields are "positive" and stressed the importance of finding solutions to the issue of the Prevlaka peninsula, which has been claimed by both countries. Meanwhile, Novak Kilibarda, head of the Montenegrin People's Party, said Milosevic is not authorized to solve the border problem of Serbia-Montenegro. He added that the issue should be decided by the people, Nasa Borba reported on 14 August. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [19] REPORT FROM BIJELJINA.

    The talk around this northeast Bosnian town about the media company SIM has been brought to an abrupt end after roughly two months: the municipal assembly simply decided to transfer ownership of the firm to the Republic. The management of the company--which owns a local radio station, a newspaper, and a new television studio--had asked the Ministry of Information to register SIM as an independent entity. According to a local journalist, the city's media battle began three months ago, when the local SDS split, and Ljubisa Savic Mauzer, who was the commander of the special unit "Panthers," founded the Democratic Party. Some editorial board members at SIM's holdings reportedly started to support the new party, a move which angered Pale and prompted Karadzic himself to become involved. After the transfer of ownership, Rerica Simic, SIM's manager and main editor, was dismissed, and a new editorial board was named. The new board immediately accepted a new program schedule and an editorial policy dictated by Pale. This was "the final shot for the short period of independent media in Bijeljina," said the local source. Ex-manager Simic explained: "the management board of SIM and the municipality government tried to find a compromise with the state leaders. We offered to take on their information and political programs in order to be able to keep [broadcasting] the parts of the program that we do. They didn't accept. They called us traitors and threatened us with all kinds of things if we kept on arguing." Dusko Tuzlancic, a journalist and host of radio SIM, said that the assembly's decision was illegal, because the required number of members was not present for the voting. Nobody, however, seems to dare file a complaint with the legal authorities. "Bijeljina has lost its first battle with Pale for independence," said the local journalist. -- Yvonne Badal in Sarajevo, from reports by OMRI contacts

    [20] BRCKO: CENTER OF NEXT CRISIS?

    Brcko, an industrial town on the Sava River, again appears at the epicenter of the Bosnian crisis. All parties involved in the implementation of the Dayton accords have their own unique views of how to solve the problem of Brcko's status. As each side holds a view disparate from the others, and because this can change or a compromise can be reached at any time, it becomes clear that the issue of Brcko will be a key one in determining the success or failure of the Dayton peace accords.

    Even now, following the start of the "arbitration business" and the official nominating of the three arbitrators, nobody in Brcko knows exactly what the subject of the arbitration will be, and what will change after 14 December. Upon first glance, the town goes on with its daily routine, but underneath the tranquillity, there boils a fear and uncertainty of what the future may bring.

    Before the war, Brcko was home to some 87,000 people, of which 38,000 were Muslims, 22,000 Croats, 18,000 Serbs and 6,000 declared Yugoslavs. During the war, the territory of the Brcko municipality was divided into two halves. The Serb-held part is inhabited by some 50,000 people, including 35,000 refugees. On the territory left to Croats and Muslims there are no estimates of the number of nor the ethnicity of the inhabitants. It consists of two newly established municipalities--the Muslim municipality Maoca, and the Croat municipality Ravne Brcko.

    The curiosity of this distribution of territory according to ethnic affiliation is that none of the three ethnic parties currently occupies the area where it was a majority before the war. Next to the fifteen Serb periphery settlements, Bosnian Serbs control the town that was once a place where people of all three ethnic groups lived together. Serbs also control suburban parts which previously were 95% Muslim, along with seven Croat villages. On the territory controlled by Muslims and Croats, a dozen Serb villages remain that were home to about 7,000 people. The majority of the population was either exchanged or forcibly moved to their respective ethnic areas controlled by the respective national armies, which has effectively resulted in ethnically "pure" areas, except for the town of Brcko where a few thousand Muslims remain. All three national armies were alike when it came to burning, destroying and looting the occupied settlements of other ethnic groups. Consequently, most of these settlements are empty or virtually uninhabited. Some refugees can be found there, consigned to living under extremely poor conditions.

    At the moment, there is an absolute political consensus on the Bosnian Serb side that Brcko has to remain in the Republika Srpska (RS) -- at any cost. The only traffic artery connecting the west part of the RS (where the majority of Bosnian Serbs live) with Serbia-Montenegro runs through Brcko. Without a doubt, no one and nothing could stop a mass exodus of Serbs from the area, if Brcko were to revert to the Bosnian federation. Compared to a possible exodus here, the flight of Serbs from Sarajevo would seem like child's play.

    Despite assertions by the Bosnian Serb leaders that Brcko will not be a subject of arbitration--and only the line of demarcation behind the town would be discussed--the city authorities are obviously frightened by the possible outcome of negotiations.

    Radoslav Bogicevic, one of the city officials, said no one from the local authorities was authorized to give a statement on arbitration; moreover, Pale has implemented a gag-order affecting all wishing to comment on the issue. Yet Bogicevic has articulated his personal view that the Muslims are determined to bring the town into the federation, and that few if any benefits will go to the Serb party, contrary to what Pale and leaders in Belgrade are telling people. Bogicevic also said that if Brcko were given to the federation, the future and very survival of the Serb entity in Bosnia-Herzegovina would be highly questionable.

    In its claim for Brcko, the Muslim side also presents strong arguments, further complicating arbitration. At the moment, the Bosnian Army controls only a couple of kilometers of Bosnia's border line near the northwestern town of Bihac, and the rest is under the control of either the Bosnian Serb or Croat armies. This is why the Muslim side is desperately asking for an exit to the river, so as to not fall victim again should a new conflict erupt. On the other hand, Brcko was the biggest port in Bosnia-Herzegovina, through which most of the goods from northeastern Bosnia were exported and imported. Without this port, a major share of industry in the Tuzla region would not be able to develop. Thanks to the media, tensions on both sides have already become very high, and the coming months are expected to place severe psychological strains on the citizens of Brcko. -- Jan Urban, from reports by OMRI contacts (Translated by Daria Sito Sucic)

    Compiled by Daria Sito Sucic


    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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