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OMRI Pursuing Balkan Peace, No. 42, 96-10-22

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. 42, 22 October 1996


CONTENTS

  • [01] BOSNIAN ELECTIONS TO BE PUT OFF.
  • [02] BOSNIAN SERB PARLIAMENT OPENS.
  • [03] SERBS BULLDOZE FORMER MOSQUE SITE IN BANJA LUKA.
  • [04] NEW AGREEMENT ON BOSNIAN REFUGEE RETURN . . .
  • [05] . . . BUT TROUBLES REMAIN.
  • [06] IFOR GETS TOUGH WITH MUSLIM MILITARY.
  • [07] CROATIA ADMITTED TO THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE.
  • [08] SLAVONIAN MARKET BACK IN BUSINESS.
  • [09] BULATOVIC STILL WANTS PREVLAKA.
  • [10] CROATIA, ITALY AGREE ON MINORITY PROTECTION.
  • [11] SLOVENIAN-ITALIAN MILITARIES ON JOINT EXERCISE.
  • [12] LJUBLJANA-BELGRADE RELATIONS AT A STALEMATE?
  • [13] THE DEBATE OVER THE FORMER YUGOSLAV INHERITANCE.
  • [14] SERB OPPOSITION PARTY SEEKS COOPERATION WITH BOSNIAN SERBS.
  • [15] SESELJ SAYS RUSSIA WILL BE BACK.
  • [16] SANDZAK MUSLIMS PREPARE FOR ELECTIONS.
  • [17] MORE WARRANTS ISSUED FOR SUSPECTED KOSOVAR TERRORISTS.
  • [18] GREEK FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS THREE CAPITALS.
  • [19] BULGARIA, RUSSIA, TO STRENGTHEN MILITARY TIES.
  • [20] ON THE SCENE IN BANJA LUKA.

  • [01] BOSNIAN ELECTIONS TO BE PUT OFF.

    The local vote slated for 23-24 November has been postponed until spring, OMRI's correspondent said on 22 October. The ballot was first put off from 14 September because of massive fraud, particularly by the Serbs, in registering voters in strategically important towns where they never lived. The new rules require that persons register only for places where they lived in 1991 or since the end of 1995. The Serbs had threatened to boycott the vote in protest, claiming that the new rules will disenfranchise 380,000 Serbian refugees, Novosti noted. The November ballot was also endangered by numerous technical problems. The decision to postpone the vote seems to have been reached in Washington, Oslobodjenje wrote. The Clinton administration had originally wanted to vote to go ahead in November so that it could claim that "Dayton is on track," as a spokesman put it to the VOA. Also on 22 October, U.S. envoy John Kornblum succeeded in bringing together the three-man presidency for a meeting, OMRI's correspondent added. -- Patrick Moore

    [02] BOSNIAN SERB PARLIAMENT OPENS.

    Meanwhile in Banja Luka, the National Assembly of the Republika Srpska began its inaugural session on 19 October, international and regional media reported. The 83-member body includes 17 Muslims and one Croat, as well as some Serbian opposition deputies, but 45 of the seats and the legislature's key offices are controlled by the nationalist Serbian Democratic Party (SDS). The non-Serbs stood for the Bosnian Serb anthem, but then briefly walked out to protest an oath of allegiance that involved expressions of loyalty to Orthodox Christianity, including kissing a Bible and a crucifix (see below). One SDS deputy charged that it was "pure folklore" to have non-Serbs present, but a Serbian socialist deputy reminded him that "this is not a one-party parliament," AFP noted. President Biljana Plavsic said that "this is the beginning of a new era of Serb statehood, [but] we are not completely independent. Our sovereignty is limited, and we have to respect what was signed." -- Patrick Moore

    [03] SERBS BULLDOZE FORMER MOSQUE SITE IN BANJA LUKA.

    Before the session even began, however, it seems that some moves were already taken to make the Muslims feel less than welcome. Bosnian Serbs began bulldozing the remaining buildings on the site of the sixteenth-century Ferhadija mosque in Banja Luka, which was blown up three years ago, Oslobodjenje reported on 18 October. Colum Murphy, the spokesman for the Office of the High Representative for Bosnia, said the act was probably aimed at provoking the Muslim deputies in the Serb parliament from not attending. Murphy said that Michael Steiner, who is High Representative Carl Bildt's deputy, had gone to Banja Luka to demand an end to the project and a meeting with Plavsic. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [04] NEW AGREEMENT ON BOSNIAN REFUGEE RETURN . . .

    Meanwhile, mediators tried to defuse tensions surrounding other Serb-Muslim contacts. The interior minister of the Croat-Muslim federation, Avdo Hebib, met in Sarajevo with his Republika Srpska counterpart Dragan Kijac on 15 October. The two accepted a plan put forward by international mediators to enable refugees to return to their homes in areas now controlled by another ethnic group. Prospective returnees will now have to apply to the UNHCR, following which other organizations will determine whether the applicant indeed has property in the area. The returnees must be civilians and will have to accept the authority of the side now in control. There will be financial aid for reconstruction and provisions for UN police to supervise local police when the latter send out patrols of more than three men, Oslobodjenje and news agencies reported. The new measures are thus aimed at preventing unnecessary tensions from arising when refugees try to go home, while at the same time ensuring their right to do so. -- Patrick Moore

    [05] . . . BUT TROUBLES REMAIN.

    Nonetheless, 15 abandoned Muslim homes were blown up on the eve of the RS parliament's opening session. IFOR troops then discovered a booby-trap planted in a power station in the formerly Muslim village of Koraj near Sapna. Reuters said on 20 October that the suspicion is that the Serbs are still anxious to discourage further attempts by Muslims to return to their homes in this border district. Plavsic called the Muslims' actions "terrorism along our borders," Onasa stated. Two Bosnian Serb children in a bus were, in fact, shot on 15 October, AFP reported the next day. They were sent home after treatment. Also on the border-region road between Ugljevik and Priboj in northeast Bosnia, a bullet hit a Republika Srpska police car. Meanwhile, the Bosnian Serb authorities have settled 32 refugees who had been living in Zvornik into a village near Jusici, where Muslims had begun the campaign to return, Oslobodjenje reported on 22 October. Some 350 additional Muslim families from that area want to go back, too, Onasa noted. In a related development, Kijac said that the UN police have not been abiding by the new agreement on the orderly resettlement and policing of the border area, Nasa Borba reported. -- Patrick Moore

    [06] IFOR GETS TOUGH WITH MUSLIM MILITARY.

    Turning to military affairs, NATO peacekeepers have placed a republic-wide ban on parades by the mainly Muslim Bosnian army following an unauthorized one in east Mostar, Oslobodjenje reported on 18 October. The corps involved may not train for a week, nor may any other unit train in the area during that time. The parade ban is of indefinite duration. IFOR stumbled upon the display when it unwittingly took two Turkish officers to the site to participate. Elsewhere, IFOR also protested remarks made at another ceremony by Gen. Atif Dudakovic, Onasa noted on 17 October. The politically active general said that "Dayton allowed for a reunited Bosnia, including Banja Luka and Bijeljina, which will be ours in the next war." He also stated that "children should wave toy guns, not flowers." An IFOR spokesman said that the remarks "are unhelpful to the peace process." -- Patrick Moore

    [07] CROATIA ADMITTED TO THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE.

    But Zagreb seems to have convinced at least some people in Strasbourg that it has become more helpful in Mostar, and on 16 October that that body's Council of Ministers voted to admit Croatia. The country is now slated to become the 40th member of the Strasbourg-based organization on 6 November. Croatia's admission had been delayed over concerns about press freedom, minority rights, democracy, and Croatia's role in the Bosnian peace process. The Council now apparently feels that Zagreb has made sufficient progress on most of these fronts to justify approval. Recent weeks have seen a judge throw out a government-backed slander suit against critical journalists, and the passing of an amnesty law for Serbs who took up arms against Croatia but did not commit war crimes. The delay in accepting Croatia angered not only the government but also many in the opposition, who charged that Croatia was being forced to meet tougher standards than were some other countries. The decision to admit Croatia was warmly received in the domestic press. -- Patrick Moore

    [08] SLAVONIAN MARKET BACK IN BUSINESS.

    And bordering the last part of Croatia under Serbian control, the Croatian authorities on 20 October permitted the reopening of the UN-sponsored market linking Croats and Serbs in eastern Slavonia (see ). The Croats continued to ban fresh food sales, but persons describing themselves as Croatian health inspectors who were trying to discourage Croats from visiting the market were unable to produce any identification, AFP noted. -- Patrick Moore

    [09] BULATOVIC STILL WANTS PREVLAKA.

    Croatia may, however, still be facing a serious problem on its borders, despite all the recent efforts made toward normalization. Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic told an election rally for the ruling Democratic Socialist Party (DPS) in Herceg Novi on 18 October: "Even though Croatia will still not admit it publicly, a legal, just, and final fixing [of borders] with Montenegro includes Prevlaka's becoming part of the natural [Montenegrin] hinterland, a result that is even in Croatia's own interests." Nasa Borba carried the report. The disputed Prevlaka peninsula belongs to Croatia but is claimed by Belgrade and controls the federal Yugoslav navy's access to the sea. At the same rally, Montenegrin parliamentary speaker Svetozar Marovic said a vote for the DPS on 3 November would be a ballot for a strong Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and "a life together ... [with] the citizens of Serbia." -- Stan Markotich

    [10] CROATIA, ITALY AGREE ON MINORITY PROTECTION.

    Zagreb's relations with Rome, however, appear to be on the mend. Deputy Foreign Minister Ivan Simonovic and his Italian counterpart Piero Fassimo agreed on 16 October to sign an agreement on minority rights next month, Croatian media reported. Fassimo said he hopes that after the agreement is signed, the Croatian government will pass a bill on bilingual education, Novi List noted on 17 October. Milorad Pupovac from the Serbian cultural society Prosveta, however, is not happy with the way the Croatian government treats its Serbs. Pupovac has threatened to request from parliament the resignation of Education Minister Ljilja Vokic for keeping the proposal on Serb minority education on hold for five months, Vecernji list stated on 17 October. Pupovac also said that Prosveta insists that the Serb minority be granted the same rights as the Italians, who have their own schools, teachers and translated textbooks. The ministry has agreed only to the textbooks so far. -- Daria Sito Sucic

    [11] SLOVENIAN-ITALIAN MILITARIES ON JOINT EXERCISE.

    Rome's relations with Ljubljana have been in the news as well. The Italian and Slovenian airforces, a Slovene warship, the Italian coast guard, and a total of 150 soldiers from both sides were involved in a 16 October exercise in the Gulf of Trieste code-named Dolphin '96. Radio Slovenija reported the exercise lasted about five hours and involved rescue operations following a simulated crash of a large civilian aircraft. -- Stan Markotich

    [12] LJUBLJANA-BELGRADE RELATIONS AT A STALEMATE?

    But Ivo Vajgl, a representative of Slovenia's Foreign Ministry, said on 14 October that relations between Slovenia and Serbia-Montenegro are not likely to advance or improve in the near future, despite Belgrade media reports to the contrary. The Ljubljana daily Delo quoted Vajgl saying that "except for the fact that we've both recognized each other, we have yet to get any official word from Belgrade that it intends to normalize bilateral ties." Onasa, meanwhile, reported that Vajgl said many "open" questions remain between Ljubljana and Belgrade, notably the succession to the former Yugoslavia. -- Stan Markotich

    [13] THE DEBATE OVER THE FORMER YUGOSLAV INHERITANCE.

    In fact, succession talks involving the countries of the former Yugoslavia got underway recently, and this time even Belgrade was willing to participate. Serbia-Montenegro's Federal Republic of Yugoslavia claims that it is the only constitutional successor to Tito's state and has avoided such sessions in the past. Croatia and Slovenia especially argue in response that all successor states must share the inheritance equally, and that they are entitled to a share of the assets commensurate with their large contributions to the former Yugoslav budget over many decades.

    The latest round of talks on the division of the assets and debts -- valued at between $60 and 100 billion -- began behind closed doors in Brussels on 14 October. It included representatives from the five countries of former Yugoslavia and the international community's mediator Arthur Watts. On 16 October, Belgrade's independent Nasa Borba summed up the results of the meeting by saying that the gathering came off with "no result." Representatives from the five countries are nonetheless to meet again in Brussels on 11 and 12 November.

    The main point of contention has been how to define the nature and status of the contested assets. But Miran Mejak, head of the Slovenian negotiating team, alluded to the possibility that a breakthrough just might be possible. According to Radio Slovenija reports on 14 October, Mejak said that acceptance of a piecemeal approach to the division of the assets was a possibility. He noted that in 1992 a plan for their division had been drawn up, and while that list included 56 "controversial" and hotly "disputed" items, piecemeal agreement on the division of other assets could be readily achieved. This, in turn, could pave the way for an eventual resolution of all outstanding matters, he noted.

    Mejak hailed the fact that representatives of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia are finally participating in succession talks as a possible sign of bigger things to come. Reuters quoted him on 16 October saying: "The dialogue has started as this was our first meeting with Belgrade in recent years...We reached no agreement but [federal] Yugoslavia at least started to consider several alternatives." In fact, Belgrade spent much time in 1996 attempting to derail efforts by the other republics to settle their shares of former Yugoslavia's commercial debt, estimated at $4.3 billion.

    The Brussels talks also indicated that Belgrade is continuing to distance itself from the Bosnian Serbs. On 14 October the Bosnian Serb leadership openly complained about being excluded from the succession talks -- presumably with Belgrade's approval -- SRNA reported. Momcilo Krajisnik, the Serb representative in the Bosnian collective presidency, publicly protested that the "Muslim representatives" were trying to speak for all parties in Bosnia. Only days later, on 16 October, Plavsic confirmed that relations with Milosevic are going from bad to worse. Beta quoted her saying that Pale would no longer accept Milosevic making decisions on behalf of the Bosnian Serbs, adding "I do not know if Milosevic, knowing his ways, is willing to accept this new situation." -- Stan Markotich

    [14] SERB OPPOSITION PARTY SEEKS COOPERATION WITH BOSNIAN SERBS.

    Meanwhile, relations between Pale and some of the Serbian opposition are getting closer. The leader the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), Vojislav Kostunica, met in Belgrade on 14 October with Aleksa Buha, acting chairman of the SDS, Beta reported. According to the DSS, the two discussed the possibility of SDS "cooperation" in the DSS's campaign for the 3 November federal Yugoslav elections. Although the SDS has a branch across the Drina, party representatives announced at a press conference in Belgrade on 14 October that the SDS would not field candidates in federal or local elections. That decision was taken to avoid "splitting the votes of those who would vote for the national-patriotic bloc," SRNA reported. The SDS has asked voters in Serbia to support "national and democratic" candidates as a way of "confirming political unity with the Serb people in the Republika Srpska." -- Stan Markotich

    [15] SESELJ SAYS RUSSIA WILL BE BACK.

    Still on the stump in Serbia-Montenegro, Vojislav Seselj -- the leader of the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS) and accused war criminal -- has seemingly emerged the strongest advocate of national expansion in the campaign. At a rally in Niksic on 13 October, Seselj publicly called for "the creation of a unified Serb state, the liberation of Serb Krajina, of Serb Dubrovnik, of Serb Bosnia and Serb Macedonia." Seselj also said that the eventual creation of a greater Serbia would depend heavily on Russia's support, noting that "Great Russia will lift herself up, she will thunder across Europe and the world, she will return to the Balkans -- and when she does, day will dawn for the Serbs." AFP, citing local press reports, carried the story. -- Stan Markotich

    [16] SANDZAK MUSLIMS PREPARE FOR ELECTIONS.

    Muslim parties in the largely Muslim area of Sandzak in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia are also getting ready for the elections and have formed a coalition, Onasa reported on 17 October. (The historic Sandzak of Novi Pazar is now divided between Serbia and Montenegro, a matter that is a constant thorn in the side of Sandzak Muslim politicians.) The Party of Democratic Action (SDA) and the Liberal Bosniak [Muslim] Organization (LBO) will field joint slates in the 3 November federal elections, the republican elections in Montenegro, and the local elections in Serbia and Montenegro. SDA leader Sulejman Ugljanin said that his priorities are "resolving the national status of [Muslims] within [federal] Yugoslavia and resolving the status of Sandzak, a European region in which [Muslims] make up the majority of the population." Ugljanin demands that Muslims in federal Yugoslavia be given a status of "a constituent people (narod)" instead of that of a national minority. Before announcing the coalition officially, the SDA Sandzak had sent a delegation to Sarajevo to discuss the upcoming elections with the branch of the party in Bosnia and Herzegovina. -- Fabian Schmidt

    [17] MORE WARRANTS ISSUED FOR SUSPECTED KOSOVAR TERRORISTS.

    Turning to Kosovo, the state prosecutor's office has issued 12 more arrest warrants for suspected members of the mysterious Kosovo Liberation Army, international agencies reported on 15 October. The ethnic Albanians are suspected of committing a number of bomb attacks earlier this year. Three suspects have been arrested recently. Meanwhile, Kosovar shadow-state Prime Minister Bujar Bukoshi called on Germany to ensure "the rights and dignity of ... Albanians [to be expelled to Kosovo from Germany] be respected," AFP reported. Shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova has called for international supervision of the refugees' return. The Kosovo Serbian newspaper Jedinstvo, meanwhile, alleged that Albanian terrorists, trained by separatist organizations abroad, would infiltrate Kosovo during the refugee return. The paper demanded detailed identity checks and selective repatriation "in order to prevent our country admitting ... enemies." -- Fabian Schmidt

    [18] GREEK FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS THREE CAPITALS.

    Greece, for its part, was at the center of Balkan-wide news stories this week. Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos on 16 October embarked on a three-day trip to Sarajevo, Belgrade, and Zagreb. The outcome of this tour did not signal a radical shift in Greek politics vis-a-vis the successor states of the former Yugoslavia. It did suggest, however, that Athens wants to establish better relations with Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia, relying less on its traditionally good ties with Belgrade.

    On 16 October Pangalos met with Bosnian Presidency Chairman Alija Izetbegovic, Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic, and Foreign Minister Jadranko Prlic in Sarajevo. Pangalos announced that Greece will open an embassy in Sarajevo by the end of the month and pledged $7 million for reconstruction programs.

    The announcement that Athens will open an embassy in Sarajevo signals some improvement over the past. During the war in Bosnia, Athens had almost no contacts with the Bosnian government, while relations with the Bosnian Serbs were so good that former Bosnian Serb civilian leader and indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic once said that "the Serbs have only two friends: God and the Greeks."

    But Karadzic might reconsider his position after a second announcement by Pangalos. After meeting with Prlic, the Greek foreign minister said that in the future, Greek officials would meet only with representatives of the republican government. "We have had contacts with the representatives of the Bosnian Serbs. I think those contacts will not be necessary in the future," Pangalos said. If Greece sticks to this line, Pale will lose the tacit support of one of its most reliable partners abroad, and of the only EU and NATO member sympathetic to the Bosnian Serbs.

    From Sarajevo, Pangalos traveled to Belgrade, where on 17 October he met with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, federal Prime Minister Radoje Kontic, federal Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic, and the Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Pavle. Pangalos and Milutinovic signed a cooperation agreement between their ministries and discussed regional developments and bilateral cooperation. Pangalos said federal Yugoslavia must be "completely reintegrated into international life" and repeated the Greek view that "the discrimination against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is no longer justified." Pangalos' visit to Belgrade had few concrete results and obviously was primarily aimed at ensuring Belgrade that better relations with Sarajevo and Zagreb will not deter Athens' ties with Serbia and Montenegro.

    In Zagreb on 18 October, finally, Pangalos met with President Franjo Tudjman and Foreign Minister Mate Granic. Pangalos and Granic signed agreements on the protection and promoting of investments, preventing double taxation, and road traffic. They said the agreements would promote good and stable relations between their countries. A Croatian Foreign Ministry spokesman described bilateral relations as "very good." This is an obvious exaggeration, given the pro-Serbian Greek position over the past years, but it could signal that both sides do want to improve things.

    It is unclear whether Pangalos' travel was aimed at more than just bilateral issues between Athens and the capitals he visited. But the announcement before Pangalos left that he will brief Athens' EU partners and the U.S. about his talks suggests that broader regional questions were higher on the agenda than official statements suggest. -- Stefan Krause

    [19] BULGARIA, RUSSIA, TO STRENGTHEN MILITARY TIES.

    Moving over to the eastern Balkans, Russian Chief of the General Staff and First Deputy Defense Minister Gen. Mikhail Kolesnikov visited Bulgaria on 15- 16 October. He and his hosts discussed the possibility of closer ties in the fields of military and technological cooperation, including the possibility of joint manufacture of military hardware, ITAR-TASS and Bulgarian media reported. Kolesnikov noted that "no spectacular results should be expected" from his visit. He met with Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, President Zhelyu Zhelev, and Parliament Speaker Blagovest Sendov. A Bulgarian official said Zhelev and Kolesnikov did not discuss Bulgaria's possible NATO membership, which Zhelev favors. Kolesnikov said Bulgaria will receive spare parts for its military planes worth $48 million by the end of the year as a partial repayment of Moscow's $100 million debt to Sofia. Russian Duma Deputy Chairman Mikhail Yuryev told Zhelev that Russia will repay its whole debt by the end of 1996. -- Stefan Krause

    [20] ON THE SCENE IN BANJA LUKA.

    At first sight, the inaugural session of the National Assembly of the Republika Srpska in Banja Luka on 18 October looked like a complete victory for the nationalists. Satisfied, smiling deputies of the ruling SDS and its nationalist allies sat in front, while the more sober-looking, outnumbered opposition deputies sat behind. The dozens of anti-Muslim and anti-Dayton remarks from the rostrum were each met with applause and broader smiles from the front benches. The well-organized SDS majority quickly voted down all opposition proposals. All parliament posts were given to the SDS and its allies -- although the party with the second-highest number of deputies in the parliament is the SDA. Six Sarajevo journalists protested in vain against being given "foreign media" credentials. The peak of the event came when Muslim deputies refused to take an oath before Orthodox priests based on Orthodox religious ceremony and walked out of parliament for a portion of the televised ceremony.

    But Safet Bico, chairman of the SDA parliamentary faction, seemed nevertheless very satisfied. "Do not judge on first appearances today," he advised. "Look for the substance. And that is, the mere presence of Muslim deputies has become the one and only theme. Despite the tough rhetoric, they know our mandates are valid even without this ceremony. We opened the door the nationalists here thought would be closed forever."

    The Muslim deputies came with a special bus from Sarajevo, accompanied by a car from the Office of the High Representative, and after crossing the inter- entity border, a Serb police car, a fleet of five white international police pick-ups, and a British IFOR reconnaissance helicopter. "It's too much even for the first time," said Sejfudin Tokic, a deputy for the opposition Joint List. "We are just deputies going to our workplace. It's up to local police to guarantee our safety."

    He later pointed out to journalists that for all the nationalist outbursts at the parliament's first session, there was not one direct or indirect threat against Muslim deputies among them. "That is positive. And even the religious and nationalist slogans and gestures can play to our advantage, because they create the possibility to compare." Tokic waved the text of the parliamentary oath: "Take it and replace 'God Almighty' with 'Allah' and the Gospels with the Koran. Then try to imagine what the world would say if we [Muslims] demanded that all deputies have to swear this in front of an imam. Everybody would accuse us of Islamic fundamentalism. Here it seems tolerated."

    For pure nationalist pomp, it was quite a ceremony. The levels of applause given to the various foreign representatives present made clear that the only diplomats truly welcomed by the nationalist majority were those from Greece, Cyprus, and Russia. But all foreign dignitaries were caught by surprise when the absolute strongest welcome went to elderly Prince Tomislav Karadjordjevic, who came especially for the occasion from his post-war exile home in the United States. The Prince, who spoke in Serbo-Croatian with a heavy American accent, repeated for the international representatives in English with a heavy Serbian accent: "Nobody should want to teach democracy to the Serbs. You should not forget that already under my grandfather King Peter I Karadjordjevic, Serbia was the most democratic country in Europe."

    There were many memorable quotes and gestures. Plavsic announced that, according to a survey, religion is the most popular subject in Republika Srpska primary schools -- which, she said, is why it will be made obligatory even in high schools. Professor Djuretic, who spoke on behalf of the Senate -- still stacked with Radovan Karadzic's appointees -- said that "the Republika Srpska is for the Serbs around the world what Israel is for the Jews." Probably the most striking was the applause given to a congratulatory fax from Vojvoda Dzujic, one of the last living leaders of the World War II chetnik movement. In the former Yugoslavia his name is tied to the worst mass killings of non-Serb civilians during that conflict. At the age of 92, he is again a hero for nationalists in the Republika Srpska.

    "It will be a long march," said Sejfudin Tokic on the way back to Sarajevo. "But we are on it and that is hopeful. It is not a national-only issue anymore." Someone points to Tokic and laughs: "Take his tie as the best comparison to today's session. From a distance it looks serious. When you get close, you see it is full of small Mickey Mice." The consensus among deputies living in the Croat-Muslim Federation was that the session was a good first step. But to their surprise, the Bosnian TV report they watched on the bus back to Sarajevo described the event in a confrontational tone. Senka Kurtovic, one of the six Sarajevo journalists who accompanied the deputies on their historic trip to Banja Luka, remarked: "It will be a long march on all sides." -- Jan Urban and Yvonne Badal in Sarajevo

    Edited by Patrick Moore


    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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