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OMRI Pursuing Balkan Peace, No. 36, 96-09-10

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. 36, 10 September 1996


CONTENTS

  • [01] BOSNIAN REFUGEE VOTING DECLARED OVER.
  • [02] BOSNIAN ELECTION DEADLINE EXTENDED...
  • [03] ...AS CAMPAIGNING CONTINUES.
  • [04] IZETBEGOVIC: SDA WILL BOYCOTT VOTE IF HERCEG-BOSNA NOT DISSOLVED.
  • [05] OSCE WARNS BOSNIAN SERBS NOT TO VIOLATE ELECTORAL RULES...
  • [06] ...BUT SERBS INTENSIFY SEPARATIST RHETORIC.
  • [07] TWO EXTREMES OF BOSNIAN SERB POLITICAL SPECTRUM CAMPAIGN IN BRCKO.
  • [08] BILDT WARNS SERBS THEY CANNOT SECEDE AFTER POLL.
  • [09] IZETBEGOVIC FOCUSES CAMPAIGN ON RETURN TO BRCKO...
  • [10] ...WHILE PLAVSIC FORBIDS VISIT OF FEDERATION DELEGATION.
  • [11] HOLBROOKE ON BOSNIAN ELECTIONS.
  • [12] SERB POLICE, MOB BLOCKS BRITISH TROOPS.
  • [13] POLAND ON ARMING BOSNIA.
  • [14] FRESH ETHNIC CLEANSING IN BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA.
  • [15] OSCE FUNDS PARTY OF ETHNIC CLEANSING.
  • [16] INTERNATIONALLY SPONSORED INDEPENDENT TELEVISION ON AIR.
  • [17] CROATIANS LOOK AT HERZEGOVINIAN NEIGHBORS.
  • [18] BOSNIAN GOVERNMENT THREATENS TO CLOSE DOWN ARIZONA MARKET.
  • [20] STATES OF FORMER YUGOSLAVIA MEET FOR SUCCESSION TALKS.
  • [21] BELGRADE, ZAGREB ESTABLISH FULL DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS.
  • [22] BOSNIAN, SERBIAN PRESIDENTS TO MEET?
  • [23] FIRST BODY FOUND AT VUKOVAR HOSPITAL MASSACRE GRAVE.
  • [24] OPPOSITION ON THE RULING PARTY RALLY.
  • [25] THE BLAME GAME

  • [01] BOSNIAN REFUGEE VOTING DECLARED OVER.

    Balloting for the 641,010 Bosnian citizens living abroad was declared finished, international media reported on 4 September, although the deadline for absentee ballots was later extended (see below). Voters live in 55 countries and territories ranging from Serbia-Montenegro (SRJ), Croatia, and Germany -- which had the largest numbers of voters -- to Albania and New Caledonia, with but a handful of voters each. The turnout was affected by technical problems -- including late delivery of ballots or issuing of the wrong papers -- as well as by various political problems and general confusion about candidates and parties. Voting lasted from 28 August to 5 September in the SRJ, where the turnout reached 71 percent, Onasa reported. Many Muslim voters in Germany at first stayed away from the polls, apparently confused as to whether their leaders back home had called for a boycott or not. The turnout later picked up to 70 percent. Things went relatively smoothly in Croatia, where over two- thirds of those eligible voted. Balloting in Bosnia-Herzegovina is slated for 14 September, with initial results expected on the 17th. Some 3,000 candidates representing 29 parties will run for offices at all levels except local government. Local government elections will take place next spring. -- Patrick Moore

    [02] BOSNIAN ELECTION DEADLINE EXTENDED...

    However, the OSCE, which supervises the vote, said on 5 September that absentee ballots from abroad can continue to be sent in until 14 September, when elections will be held across Bosnia-Herzegovina. The governing Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA) has called for the ballot in Bosnia to be extended to 15 and 16 September as well, Oslobodjenje wrote on 6 September. Also in Sarajevo, the OSCE has reversed its earlier decision and approved the candidacies of Zlatko Lagumdzija and "several hundred" other people running on the slate of the opposition anti-nationalist five-party coalition, the Joint List (ZL). -- Patrick Moore

    [03] ...AS CAMPAIGNING CONTINUES.

    The ZL has accused the SDA and its Croatian counterpart, the Croatian Democratic Community, of having established a de-facto coalition, Oslobodjenje noted on 6 September. The ZL also called for banning from the ballot the leading Serbian presidential candidate, Momcilo Krajisnik, because of his public statements that Bosnia does not exist as a state. In the small part of suburban Sarajevo still under Serbian control, several thousand people cheered at a rally in support of indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic, news agencies noted on 5 September. And in the Bosnian Serb capital of Pale, the leader of the Party for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Haris Silajdzic, appeared on a talk show on Bosnian Serb TV. He was the most important Muslim to be invited to do so since the war began. -- Patrick Moore

    [04] IZETBEGOVIC: SDA WILL BOYCOTT VOTE IF HERCEG-BOSNA NOT DISSOLVED.

    Meanwhile, Alija Izetbegovic, the Bosnian president and leader of the ruling Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA), on 4 September said his party will boycott the forthcoming Bosnian ballot if the Bosnian Croat para-state of Herceg-Bosna is not dissolved, AFP reported the next day. Izetbegovic also said he would not recognize the Serbian entity in Bosnia unless 600,000 non- Serbs expelled during the war return there. Speaking to a meeting of 20,000 SDA supporters in the southern town of Jablanica, Izetbegovic threatened for the second time last week that the largest Muslim party might boycott the 14 September poll. According to a U.S.-brokered agreement, Herceg-Bosna should have been dismantled on 31 August (see ). But as of 4 September, its government was still functioning, AFP reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [05] OSCE WARNS BOSNIAN SERBS NOT TO VIOLATE ELECTORAL RULES...

    In other news from preelection Bosnia, judge Finn Lynhgjem of the OSCE announced that "public statements that undermine or deny the sovereignty and territorial integrity of ... Bosnia-Herzegovina constitute serious violations of the [Dayton] agreement" and he called on those who have made such statements "to retract them," AFP reported on 6 September. That declaration comes after weeks of Bosnian Serb leaders openly campaigning for the division of Bosnia. Senior officials of the ruling Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) publicly declare that the Republika Srpska (RS) has the right to secede from Bosnia and join Serbia. The OSCE has done nothing to punish the parties violating the electoral process, arguing that it can only act when receiving a complaint. The SDA has lodged a complaint on the Serb campaigning, and is waiting for the OSCE ruling. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [06] ...BUT SERBS INTENSIFY SEPARATIST RHETORIC.

    Despite the SDS spokesman's denials of violating the electoral rules while campaigning, party officials have continued their campaign tour in the same tone. On 7 September, SDS head Aleksa Buha said in the northern Bosnian town of Bosanski Brod that Bosnia will disintegrate into separate states, AFP reported. The next day in Trebinje, in southeastern Bosnia, acting RS President Biljana Plavsic said Serbs who decide to live with Muslims "will no longer be Serbs, but Turks or Catholics (Croats)," AFP reported. Also on 8 September, in the northern Bosnian town of Kotor-Varos, Momcilo Krajisnik, the Serb candidate for Bosnia's new rotating presidency, promised to lead his supporters into a union of Serb states. He devoted much of his speech to the strategic town of Brcko, claimed by both the Muslim-Croat federation and the Serbs, saying it was the "alpha and omega of the RS," AFP reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [07] TWO EXTREMES OF BOSNIAN SERB POLITICAL SPECTRUM CAMPAIGN IN BRCKO.

    Two parties with completely divergent programs rallied on 9 September in Brcko, a potential point of a new Bosnian crisis. The relatively moderate Democratic Patriotic Block of Republika Srpska, led by Banja Luka's former mayor Predrag Radic, encountered jeers and catcalls when its spokesperson called for more democracy. Meanwhile, the ultra - nationalist Radical Party of Republika Srpska rally gathered some 10,000 people attracted by the announcement that the Russian Vladimir Zhirinovsky would be one of the speakers; however, Zhirinovsky missed the rally due to a delay at the border with Serbia. Radicals in Brcko said Serbs should be united into a single state, and were greeted with shouts of "Long live Greater Serbia," AFP reported. Posters read "Brcko is Serb and shall remain Serb." -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [08] BILDT WARNS SERBS THEY CANNOT SECEDE AFTER POLL.

    High Representative Carl Bildt said the Bosnian Serbs will not be allowed to secede from Bosnia after next weekend's elections, international and local agencies reported on 9 September. He threatened action against any party seeking to split from the republic. The secessionist rhetoric that dominates Serb preelection campaigning led Bosnia's main Muslim leaders on 7 September to ask the international community for guarantees that the forthcoming election will not result in the country's division, AFP reported. Meanwhile, at their meeting in Tralee, Ireland on 7 September, EU foreign ministers decided that troops will remain in Bosnia for at least two more years, Onasa reported. Bildt backed the idea and urged full implementation of the constitution agreed to under the Dayton peace accords. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [09] IZETBEGOVIC FOCUSES CAMPAIGN ON RETURN TO BRCKO...

    Meanwhile, during an 8 September SDA rally held in a village near this northern town, the Bosnian President also underscored the importance of Brcko and said the Muslim refugees will return there, Oslobodjenje reported. Otherwise, he warned of serious trouble but did not clarify. Bosnian federation Prime Minister Izudin Kapetanovic told the crowd "a big battle for Brcko is ahead of us," AFP reported. The town is vitally important for Serbs because its narrow corridor links the western and eastern parts of the RS. It also controls a major communications route between the Muslim-Croat federation and Croatia. If international arbitration on Brcko fails, the issue could result in renewed fighting. In other news, a Ukrainian peacekeeper was shot dead on 8 September in the early morning by an unknown assailant. The soldier was guarding a warehouse where voter ballots were stored. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [10] ...WHILE PLAVSIC FORBIDS VISIT OF FEDERATION DELEGATION.

    Acting Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic on 4 September informed Roberts Owen, the Brcko arbitration group chairman, that the Republika Srpska has not approved an announced visit by a federal delegation to that northern Bosnian town, Nasa Borba reported. Owen had earlier decided that a delegation from the Bosnian federation should come to Brcko to inspect the town's infrastructure. But Plavsic warned that if the federal delegation tries to enter Brcko, they will be stopped, and if incidents occur, those who authorized the arrival will bear the responsibility. Plavsic also said Owen does not have "jurisdiction" to give permission for inspection, and only the RS authorities have such powers. Meanwhile, Bosnian Serbs, Muslims, and Croats agreed on 4 September to allow the exhumation of alleged mass graves in territories they control, AFP reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [11] HOLBROOKE ON BOSNIAN ELECTIONS.

    Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. mediator who brokered the Bosnia peace accord, warned on 5 September that the same political leaders who threw Bosnia into a civil war might win the elections, international agencies reported. He singled out Bosnian Serb acting President Biljana Plavsic, the head of the ruling Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) Aleksa Buha, and Bosnian Serb parliamentary speaker Momcilo Krajisnik as the greatest cause for concern that "fascists and separatists might be elected future leaders in Bosnia," AFP quoted him as saying. Holbrooke called for another Dayton-type conference after the elections to correct some of the mistakes made at Dayton. He also said a reduced military presence should be maintained in Bosnia after the NATO peace mission ends. Meanwhile, the former Bosnian premier and an opposition leader Haris Silajdzic called The Hague-based war crimes tribunal to abolish the nationalist SDS party, Onasa reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [12] SERB POLICE, MOB BLOCKS BRITISH TROOPS.

    Bosnian Serb police and -- in a now familiar pattern -- "a typical Balkan mob" of 300 civilians blocked British IFOR soldiers who were attempting to remove illegal weapons near Banja Luka. The NATO troops left only after taking shelter at a Bosnian Serb army base, the BBC reported on 5 September. In Bihac, the trial in absentia of local kingpin and accused war criminal Fikret Abdic began on 4 September, Oslobodjenje noted. In Sarajevo, the OSCE has confirmed 3,398 candidates for the 14 September elections. IFOR has meanwhile agreed to a Serb demand to limit cross-border freedom of movement on election day to 19 approved crossings between the Republika Srpska and the Croat-Muslim federation. -- Patrick Moore

    [13] POLAND ON ARMING BOSNIA.

    U.S. special Balkan envoy James W. Pardew Jr. visited Warsaw on 6 September to determine what Poland can do to help the Train and Equip program aimed at strengthening Bosnia's Moslem-Croat Federation military forces, Polish media reported. Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Robert Mroziewicz said Poland would like to participate in the Train and Equip program "at the lowest possible level." The U.S. asked Poland to sell T 72 tanks to be financed by a NATO fund; however, Poland declined, in line with the policy of many EU states of maintaining equal distance from all sides in the Bosnian conflict. The U.S. will sell M60A tanks. Mroziewicz said Poland will decide the extent of its assistance after Bosnian elections on 14 September. -- Jakub Karpinski

    [14] FRESH ETHNIC CLEANSING IN BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA.

    Ethnically related incidents continue to take place in the runup to the September elections, news agencies reported on 3 September. The common denominator seems to be the determination of nationalists to consolidate "ethnically pure" regions as a prelude to a possible breakup of the country along ethnic lines. In a Banja Luka suburb, some of the town's few remaining Muslims were driven from their homes by Serbs and had to be evacuated by the UN. In Croatian-held west Mostar, a gang tried to throw a Muslim woman from her balcony, while other Croats succeeded in driving an ethnically mixed couple out of town. In the strategic Serb-held town of Brcko, a series of incidents has taken place against Muslim property. In Muslim-held Bugojno, former Croat residents returning for an election rally were pelted with stones by Muslims, although the rally nonetheless took place, Vecernji list wrote on 4 September. -- Patrick Moore

    [15] OSCE FUNDS PARTY OF ETHNIC CLEANSING.

    The OSCE, which is supervising the 14 September Bosnian elections, has paid $222,000 to the Party of Serbian Unity (SSJ) from a $3.4 million fund to help political parties. The SSJ is headed by Zeljko Raznatovic, better known as Arkan, who is an internationally wanted felon and a suspected war criminal. His paramilitary gangs are generally believed to have committed some of the worst atrocities associated with ethnic cleansing in the wars in Bosnia and Croatia. German taxpayers provide over half the fund, AFP reported on 5 September, quoting The Guardian. The OSCE's Jean Ouellet defended the payment, saying: "The political campaign funding is basically for all political parties to get their message across. We may not agree with some of them, but we cannot censor them. There is still the right to free speech in this particular country." -- Patrick Moore

    [16] INTERNATIONALLY SPONSORED INDEPENDENT TELEVISION ON AIR.

    The Open Broadcast Network (OBN) began broadcasting on 7 September, after delays caused by all the Bosnian parties' unwillingness to cooperate, AFP reported the next day. The network - established by the Office of the High Representative, the leading civic agency in Bosnia - is designed to bring together five existing independent channels in the Bosnian federation. But disagreements over a basic program concept are already noticeable. Heads of the local television stations that joined the OBN fear it will become a new organization employing new journalists, while destroying existing stations, Oslobodjenje reported on 10 September. Meanwhile, Tuzla's mayor Selim Beslagic closed down the town's local television station, part of OBN, for unknown reasons, local media reported. RTV Tuzla. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [17] CROATIANS LOOK AT HERZEGOVINIAN NEIGHBORS.

    According to a survey conducted by the pro-government weekly Odbor, some 58% of Croatians surveyed think that parts of Bosnia-Herzegovina controlled by Croats will eventually join Croatia, AFP reported on 8 September. In addition, only 19% of the 450 respondents said they felt 14 September elections in Bosnia will reinforce Bosnia as a multiethnic state made up of Muslims, Serbs, and Croats. Nearly 61%, however, said they felt the elections would divide Bosnia's ethnic communities. -- Stan Markotich

    [18] BOSNIAN GOVERNMENT THREATENS TO CLOSE DOWN ARIZONA MARKET.

    Bosnian Trade Minister Nikola Grabovac said the illegal trade at the market in the zone-of-separation at Porebrice, north of Tuzla, was seriously endangering official sources of revenue, AFP reported on 3 September. Arizona market, named after the U.S. army's term for the route north from Tuzla, in the past months became a place where Bosnian Muslims, Serbs, and Croats met and conducted large-scale trade[19] .

    Izet Hadzic, the governor of Tuzla canton, said the market is costing the state $67,000 a day in unpaid taxes. He said the law being flouted was initially tolerated because the market proved to be an example of ethnic tolerance. But as more traders started to come from Serbia, Hungary, and Macedonia, discussions began about closing down the market. Hadzic said other markets should be opened in the region's towns instead, because "it's time for people to be together in (local towns) and not in a zone-of-separation," AFP quoted him as saying. In other news, a strategic 500 meter-long bridge across the Sava River, linking the Croatian town of Slavonski Brod with the Serb-held Bosnian town of Srpski Brod (former Bosanski Brod) was reopened on 7 September, AFP reported . -- Daria Sito Sucic and Stan Markotich

    [20] STATES OF FORMER YUGOSLAVIA MEET FOR SUCCESSION TALKS.

    Representatives from Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, and Slovenia met in Ljubljana on 3 September to discuss the succession issue, but, according to Reuters, failed to make any headway. A plan by Sir Arthur Watts, legal expert on succession to the international community's High Representative Carl Bildt, was discussed at length but ultimately panned. While details of the Watts proposal remain sketchy, international media reports suggest its main weakness insofar as the representatives were concerned was its treatment of former Yugoslav assets held abroad. Shedding some light on the Slovenian position, Miran Majek, head of Slovenia's succession commission told a news conference "we cannot agree that the new Yugoslavia [SRJ] retains embassies that used to belong to the former Yugoslavia." -- Stan Markotich

    [21] BELGRADE, ZAGREB ESTABLISH FULL DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS.

    Croatia and Serbia-Montenegro (SRJ] on 9 September, with the exchange of diplomatic letters, established full bilateral relations, Nasa Borba reported on 10 September. According to a Croatian foreign ministry statement, both sides have upgraded their existing liaison offices to embassy status. AFP reported that in Zagreb the exchange of letters involved Deputy Foreign Minister Ivan Simonovic and head of the SRJ mission Veljko Knezevic, while in Belgrade an identical ceremony included Deputy Foreign Minister Radoslav Bulajic and the head of the Croatian mission Zvonimir Markovic. Ambassadors shall be named before year's end, and while some western reports suggest no names have been seriously floated, Croatian state media report Damir Zoric, head of Zagreb's refugee bureau, will represent Zagreb in Belgrade. Allowing this latest development was the 23 August mutual signing of an accord on normalizing relations. -- Stan Markotich

    [22] BOSNIAN, SERBIAN PRESIDENTS TO MEET?

    At some point next week, Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic is to meet face to face with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, Nasa Borba, citing the Slovenian daily Delo, reported on 4 September. The purpose of that meeting, notes the report, is to move Bosnia-Herzegovina and the SRJ toward mutual recognition. For security reasons, it reportedly "remains unknown where the meeting will take place, but it will in no way be held in Athens, where Milosevic [on 7 August] talked with Croatian President Franjo Tudjman." Turkey, Hungary, and Slovenia are being mentioned as the likeliest meeting venues. However, SRNA reported that no time or place has been set for such a meeting.-- Stan Markotich

    [23] FIRST BODY FOUND AT VUKOVAR HOSPITAL MASSACRE GRAVE.

    War-crimes investigators uncovered the first body at the Ovcara mass grave in eastern Slavonia, thought to contain the bodies of Croats executed in the 1991 Serb-Croat war, international agencies reported on 5 September. The exhumation is part of the UN International War Crimes Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia's investigation into events that occurred in the Vukovar hospital and at Ovcara in November 1991. U.S. forensics expert William Haglund said about 170 to 260 bodies were estimated to be in the grave. The site was revealed by a former Vukovar hospital patient who survived the massacre. The site reportedly had not been disturbed since last inspected in 1993. Three senior officers of the former Yugoslav national army were indicted last November for war crimes for the Ovcara massacre, but Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic has refused to allow their extradition to the war-crimes tribunal in The Hague. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [24] OPPOSITION ON THE RULING PARTY RALLY.

    Igor Rajner from the opposition Union of Bosnian Social-Democrats commented the huge 31 August rally of the ruling Muslim SDA party in Grebak, for the independent television Studio 99 the next day, saying: "I was very happy to hear from the president (Alija Izetbegovic) that the world, that is the U.S., would not allow any part of Bosnia-Herzegovina to secede. However, I cannot understand what kind of Bosnia this is all about. We saw in a very short TV report on this rally a mass of people praying as if they were in Mecca. We saw soldiers dressed in white uniforms, while to the best of my knowledge our army's uniform is still not white. We saw flags with Arabic letters on it, therefore I do not know what they said, but they certainly were not our flags. So what kind of seccesion are we talking about? A secession within the country or from the country? We most certainly will not have an integral and democratic Bosnia-Herzegovina if that is what it is supposed to be like". -- Yvonne Badal in Sarajevo

    [25] THE BLAME GAME

    The Dayton Peace Accords do not matter anymore, but public relations damage control does. Two weeks before the September 14 election date a visible change in posture began surfacing among the major international institutions represented in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Suddenly there was no more talk of ensuring "free and fair elections." "Free" vanished from official rhetoric while "fair" was replaced by "as fair as realistically possible."

    For months, the international guarantors of peace implementation's apparent lack of political will to at least cry foul further undermined an increasingly messy situation .At least nine out of the 11 preconditions set by the OSCE as the basis for giving the go ahead for elections do not exist. Today's Bosnia and Herzegovina is a long way from goals projected in Dayton. Meanwhile, a hunt has begun for those who are to blame for the failure to ensure not only free and fair elections but the equally elusive overall peace implementation.

    One does not hear self-confident rhetoric any more and there are not a wide range of excuses being offered. Generalizations are most frequently heard, putting blame irrespectively on "the parties" and pointing to the impossibility of reaching for political support for any particular action in the too multifaceted world of international power politics. As he answered journalists' questions during a press conference in Sarajevo on 29 August, General Michael Walker uttered the following phrases: "Conditions are what they are," and, "Freedom of movement [in Bosnia and Herzegovina] is not what you and I know as freedom of movement in our countries." Column Murphy, speaking at the same occasion on behalf of the Office of the High Representative, tried to explain why Carl Bildt's team could not have achieved more. He stated that Bosnia and Herzegovina is "a country at least as divided as Cyprus," and expressed hope that elections, though "controversial," [[??]]will do more to "help then damage." He pleaded for realism in "the real world we live in." According to the Dayton accords, "the parties" surely bear the most responsibility for implementation of hundreds of detailed arrangements devised to bring their country to peace. But the critical role of a warden for the entire process was given by Dayton to the Office of the High Representative, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, IFOR, and IPTF. The parties, according to Dayton, cannot function without international mediation - at least until elections and the formation of a joint institutions for the future Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    To now blame 'the parties' is just a way of covering up the passivity of international players within Bosnia and Herzegovina and their unwillingness to fulfill their obligations, or to at least blow their whistles on the many occasions when the parties broke the Dayton rules. It was clear from the very beginning of the Dayton process that the High Representative Carl Bildt was the most likely candidate to be cast in the role of chief scapegoat when failure stood exposed. By concentrating on discreet diplomacy and for the most part shunning the media, he made himself an easy target. But much of his behavior is representative of many in the highest echelon of post Cold War western politicians who, concentrating on their own domestic political future show an inability to understand the nature of the authoritarian regimes they have to deal with in international politics. Bildt's biggest intellectual and political mistake - shared by IFOR and OSCE - since January is his conviction that what he says to individual politicians in Republika Srpska is important. He does not understand that they, like all Communist-trained authoritarians, draw their legitimacy from keeping respect among their people with whatever method - be it terror, fear, lies, fanaticism, or love - but most of all strictly through controlled propaganda. Outsiders like Carl Bildt do not matter - unless they dare to enter the authoritarians' own turf with counterpropaganda. Not to do so means to live in a false space of parallel worlds with parallel truths, where both sides happily claim they are right and change nothing. That is the best way to keep little Stalins happy.

    At the beginning of their mission, international institutions backed away from a proposal to use their mandate to ensure a half-hour weekly prime time program on all government-controlled TV stations to inform the public about their arguments in what were expected to be hot debates. Eight months later, Pale TV uses open lies to paint IFOR as an occupation force and Radovan Karadzic as an innocent victim of an international anti-Serb conspiracy. Verbal protests expressed at Sarajevo press conferences never reach the screen. After losing a battle for free and fair elections, the international community turns to hopes that opposition parties in both entities will win strong positions and be able to defend independent media and gain time for more international mediation. That would make the weak and passive attitude of the last months look like a strategy that paid off. And if it does not work, there are still more scapegoats to blame. -- Jan Urban in Sarajevo

    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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