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OMRI: PURSUING BALKAN PEACE, V1,#13, Apr. 2, 1996
From: OMRI-L <firstname.lastname@example.org>
 PROBLEMS GALORE IN THE BOSNIAN FEDERATION.
 IFOR TO ACT AGAINST CHECKPOINTS.
 YET ANOTHER DOCUMENT ON THE CROAT-MUSLIM FEDERATION.
 SACIRBEY WARNS ABOUT FUTURE OF FEDERATION.
 IS WASHINGTON "HIDING EVIDENCE" OF SERBIAN WAR CRIMES?
 WAR CRIMES UPDATE.
 UN FINDS MASS GRAVES IN SARAJEVO SUBURB.
 IFOR TO HELP WITH BOSNIAN CIVILIAN RECONSTRUCTION.
 KARADZIC REAPPEARS.
 KARADZIC TO RUN IN ELECTIONS?
 OMINOUS SIGNS FOR THE VOTE . . .
 . . . AND FOR JOBS.
 THE OIC PLEDGES TO HELP BOSNIA.
 NATO WANTS MUJAHEDEEN OUT OF BOSNIA.
 RUMP YUGOSLAV TROOPS MAY STILL BE IN BOSNIA.
 IS BELGRADE SHELTERING WAR CRIMINALS?
 MASSACRE SURVIVORS OFFER TESTIMONY.
 SERBIAN PARAMILITARY LEADER TO LAUNCH POLITICAL CAMPAIGN IN BOSNIA.
 SERBIAN SUPREME COURT RELEASES SANDZAK MUSLIM PRISONERS.
 DO LOCAL SERBIAN AUTHORITIES MASSIVELY MISAPPROPRIATE REFUGEES' AID
 CROATIA'S SERBS ORGANIZE.
OMRI SPECIAL REPORT: PURSUING BALKAN PEACE
Vol. 1, No. 13, 2 April 1996
 PROBLEMS GALORE IN THE BOSNIAN FEDERATION.The two cornerstones of the Dayton system are the Republika Srpska and the mainly Croatian and Muslim Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Federation has been at the center of much regional and international attention lately because of the fear that it could collapse and bring the whole Dayton structure tumbling down.
The Croats and Muslims do have, in fact, something of a history of cooperation. Since the destruction of Ottoman power in Bosnia in 1878, Muslims became used to working closely with Serbs or especially with Croats as the political circumstances of time and place dictated. Croatian nationalists over the past 150 years or so, for their part, have generally stressed the need to cooperate with the Muslims or have even regarded them as a special kind of Croat. This was in order to form a common majority against the Serbs in a projected greater Croatia that would include Bosnia-Herzegovina as well as Croatia proper and some other territories.
But the internecine conflict of 1993 has generated continuing mistrust on both sides. Matters have not been helped by the fact that many of the local leaders and warlords from that conflict are still in power or positions of influence. Their enthusiasm for the Federation now is, to put it mildly, open to doubt.
It was thus that former Bosnian prime minister and anti-nationalist politician Haris Silajdzic repeatedly warned recently that the Federation could collapse. Bosnia, he added, may well wind up being partitioned between expansionist Serbian and Croatian states. In this scenario, the Muslims would be confined to a tiny state of their own in central Bosnia, and would likely seek support from Islamic countries. IFOR commander General George Joulwan, for his part, called the Federation "fragile" and said that its survival is the key to lasting peace in Bosnia. International mediator Christian Schwarz-Schilling said that the Federation has now entered a "decisive phase." Bosnian writer Gojko Beric was more blunt, saying that the Federation "is like the Madonna at Medjugorje [in Herzegovina]. She appears rarely to true believers but never to the rest of us."
The problems facing the Federation are, in fact, legion. Perhaps the best known involves Mostar, where the Croats have generally been blamed for blocking the reunification of the two halves of the city. In Sarajevo, by contrast, the Muslims appear to have ridden roughshod over Croatian concerns by setting up a new canton administration.
Elsewhere, international mediators blame the Croats for preventing the establishment of a joint municipal council in Bugojno, while the same diplomats feel it is the Muslims who are responsible for a similar political logjam in Stolac.
The Croats, furthermore, claim the Muslims shortchanged them in determining the ethnic composition of the federal police force in the Sarajevo suburbs that have just passed from Serbian control.
And there is also perhaps one of the greatest violations of the Dayton agreement, namely the reestablishment or continuation of checkpoints. One of the first provisions of Dayton to come into effect was that of freedom of movement, and the checkpoints with their charges for customs and transit fees are clearly against this principle. Bosnian UN Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey charged that "criminal" interests among the Herzegovinian Croat leadership are responsible for the checkpoints and that these warlords would prefer to torpedo the Federation for the sake of their own economic gain. Some journalists have noted that the area around Mostar is a focal point of seedy activity on all sides, in which criminal, political, and military leaderships are closely intertwined.
There are stories of other forms of mutual recrimination and tit-for-tat reprisals on other fronts as well. The burning of three Muslim houses near Jajce seems to have been in retaliation for the expulsion of an elderly Croatian woman from her home in Bugojno. A pilot program for the return of some refugees has fallen well behind schedule, with each side blaming the other.
This state of affairs has led many in Bosnia and abroad to charge that IFOR is not doing its job, particularly in cases involving freedom of movement. The opposition Social Democratic Party in Sarajevo even suggested that the peacekeepers were "incompetent."
Foreign diplomats and military men, for their part, reply that the people in the region alone are responsible for war or peace in the former Yugoslavia. One diplomat recently said that nobody from abroad can hand the local people "peace on a platter." The question nonetheless remains, however, whether the international community has done its best in obliging the signatories of the Dayton agreement to enforce it; in using IFOR to counter clear violations of the treaty; and in helping create conditions for elections in Bosnia so that anti-nationalist voices can be heard and maybe help put an end to the rule of three nationalist parties. -- Patrick Moore
 IFOR TO ACT AGAINST CHECKPOINTS.Perhaps in something of this spirit, U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry announced in Bosnia on 29 March that IFOR will take "vigorous action" to ensure freedom of movement, Onasa news agency reported. He said in particular that checkpoints must be eliminated. He was visiting at the time the latest Croat-Muslim agreement was announced, and added that his troops would not be particularly "polite" in dealing with the roadblocks. -- Patrick Moore
 YET ANOTHER DOCUMENT ON THE CROAT-MUSLIM FEDERATION.That latest Croat- Muslim agreement was, in fact, signed on 30 March and contained a 20- point program aimed at strengthening the shaky federation, Oslobodjenje reported on 1 April. One mediator said that three things are new about the text, namely that neither side will be allowed to set conditions; that municipalities and cantons which do not implement the pact will not get international aid; and that officials who balk can lose their jobs, Onasa news agency noted on 31 March. The text sets target dates for setting up a joint bank and budget, as well as provisions for other common institutions including customs. Skeptics charged that it is just one more attempt at cajoling the two sides into doing what they have already agreed to do many times before. They note that the Geneva summit on 18 March agreed on sacking of uncooperative officials, and that most of the other provisions were set down in the original Dayton treaty. But U.S. Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith told the BBC that the pact is "very significant" and that it involves "converting a piece of paper into the real thing." -- Patrick Moore
 SACIRBEY WARNS ABOUT FUTURE OF FEDERATION.Yet another diplomat, Muhamed Sacirbey, has just resumed his old job as Bosnia's ambassador to the UN. He told a press conference that peace "will fail if the war crimes tribunal is not supported and does not bring about at least a minimum level of justice," AFP reported on 27 March. He singled out the need to protect mass grave sites and to arrest indicted war criminals like Bosnian Serb civilian leader Karadzic and his military counterpart Gen. Ratko Mladic. Sacirbey also warned that the Federation is threatened by powerful interests in the "Croatian para-state of Herceg-Bosna." He alleged that such individuals would like to torpedo the Federation, not for the sake of a greater Croatia but for their own "criminal" economic gain. This includes such pursuits as exacting customs and transit duties, the BBC reported on 28 March. -- Patrick Moore
 IS WASHINGTON "HIDING EVIDENCE" OF SERBIAN WAR CRIMES?Sacirbey alsosaid that the US is concealing evidence linking Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic -- a signatory to the U.S.-sponsored Dayton agreement -- to internationally wanted war criminal Zeljko Raznatovic "Arkan." Sacirbey claimed that former U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke gave Milosevic a whole file of evidence on Arkan, Nasa Borba reported on 29 March. Sacirbey added that the U.S. has not made the evidence public or brought charges against Milosevic for his ties to the man widely believed responsible for some of the most grisly war crimes. Zagreb has issued an international warrant for his arrest, and Interpol wants him on older criminal charges. -- Patrick Moore
 WAR CRIMES UPDATE.Still on the issue of war crimes, IFOR commander U.S. Admiral Leighton Smith said that his troops will assist in war crimes investigations for the first time. They will provide security and other assistance to an international team in the Srebrenica area, news agencies reported on 31 March. The investigators from The Hague arrived in Bosnia to inspect 12 reputed sites of war crimes in what the BBC called the court's "politically most sensitive mission to date." Meanwhile in Mrkonjic Grad, Bosnian Serbs have exhumed 28 bodies so far from a mass grave in the presence of international observers. The investigation is continuing, and bodies of civilians and soldiers alike appear to be involved in deaths that date back to the battle for the area last fall, AFP noted on 1 April. In Banja Luka, a Bosnian Serb military court sentenced a Croat, Ivan Stjepanovic, to death for war crimes involving the death of 80 Serbs in the contested Posavina region. A spokesman for the tribunal in The Hague told the BBC on 29 March, however, that the court could only hope but not insist that Stjepanovic be sent to the Dutch city for investigation. On 1 April, indicted war criminal Gen. Tihomir Blaskic of the Bosnian Croats gave himself up to the tribunal, thus becoming the first such person to do so. Zagreb had been under heavy pressure from Washington to support the court's work, as the Dayton agreement specifies. -- Patrick Moore
 UN FINDS MASS GRAVES IN SARAJEVO SUBURB.Back in Sarajevo, international police confirmed on 29 March that five graves in Hadzici contain at least 20 bodies, AFP reported. The return of the area to government control and the arrival of spring weather has enabled investigators to look for evidence of atrocities by Serbs against their Muslim and Croat neighbors at the start of the war four years ago. Police spokesman Alexander Ivanko said that this was not the first but certainly the largest of such finds. The biggest single grave held at least ten corpses. The government authorities are determined to press ahead with such investigations and have said that no lasting peace is possible until the full truth is known. -- Patrick Moore
 IFOR TO HELP WITH BOSNIAN CIVILIAN RECONSTRUCTION.In an apparent reversal of NATO policy, meanwhile, U.S. commander General George Joulwan said on 27 March that IFOR troops will join in civilian projects as well as perform purely military tasks. They will concentrate on opening roads, building bridges, and clearing mines to permit freedom of movement, AFP reported. The general said that "if this doesn't happen right, then it's going to be very difficult to carry out an election. If people can't travel along the roads, I don't call that 'mission creep,' I say that's part of the mission." In Washington, the U.S. Defense Intelligence chief, Gen. Patrick Hughes, stated that IFOR would also arrest indicted war criminals like Karadzic and Mladic, Nasa Borba wrote. That same daily on 1 April reported that the U.S. may be beginning a drive that could lead to the two men's arrest. -- Patrick Moore
 KARADZIC REAPPEARS.The Bosnian Serb leader has nonetheless made his first public appearance in some time, apparently without any interference from IFOR. He spoke in a factory near Pale and handed out medals to Bosnian Serb fighters, Reuters said on 31 March. He told the parliament the next day that he would continue to seek peaceful union with rump Yugoslavia. Gen. Ratko Mladic and Prime Minister Rajko Kasagic were not present, prompting speculation on the state of the leadership. Nasa Borba and AFP ran the story on 2 April. Bosnian Vice President Ejup Ganic appealed to IFOR to arrest Karadzic, saying that the "NATO military is capable of removing [him and Mladic]. We are begging [IFOR] to do it. There will be no free elections with Karadzic still in power." -- Patrick Moore
 KARADZIC TO RUN IN ELECTIONS?Republika Srpska Vice President NikolaKoljevic on 26 March said, however, that Karadzic may run in the upcoming elections, Greek and Western media reported. During a visit to Thessaloniki, Koljevic said the Dayton accords bar Karadzic from holding office but do not rule out his candidacy. Koljevic said the Bosnian Serb civilian leadership focuses its efforts on Karadzic's candidacy despite the fact that he is indicted as a war criminal by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia . "External pressures" will not result in division among the Bosnian Serb leadership, Koljevic added. Koljevic said he will consider running for Republika Srpska president if asked to do so, but he "will not even think about it if I am to be Mr. Karadzic's opponent." -- Stefan Krause
 OMINOUS SIGNS FOR THE VOTE . . .That is, of course, if the elections ever take place. Much skepticism has been evident in recent days, given the formidable problems facing the organizers and the September deadline set down in the Dayton treaty, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung stated on 30 March. Republika Srpska officials argue that the voters should actually be living in the district in question, while Muslim leaders are equally adamant that the Dayton provisions -- i.e. that people vote where they registered in 1991 -- be enforced. The OSCE, which will run the balloting, has sent large questionnaires to municipalities about past voting practices. But many local officials are perplexed -- because the forms are written only in English. -- Patrick Moore and Yvonne Badal
 . . . AND FOR JOBS.If the elections seem to pose formidable problems, however, the employment picture is even worse. Reports from both entities and across Bosnia are so often the same: many young men are being demobilized into a work force that has little prospect of providing even a fraction of them with jobs. In the Republika Srpska alone there are 300,000 registered jobless and an unknown number of unregistered, especially after the flight from the Sarajevo suburbs. The head of the Labor Office warns that this is a socially explosive situation. One common problem across Bosnia is a lack of electric power, which prevents factories in Banja Luka and Zvornik, for example, from reopening. Bihac has in-tact production facilities and could easily expand the Agrokomerc food conglomerate, but marketing is a problem as long as there is no freedom of movement. Agrokomerc currently employs 600, against a prewar total of 3,500. In Foca, there are plenty of ideas about relaunching tourism and reopening factories, but nothing can be done without foreign capital. Tomislavgrad has promising agriculture because it has few mines, but it also has many rats and mice. Nearby Livno has a new power transformer station and a digital telephone exchange, but other infrastructure is in limbo as are numerous property and damage claims. -- Yvonne Badal in Sarajevo
 THE OIC PLEDGES TO HELP BOSNIA.Assistance has, of course, been promised from various quarters as part of the Dayton package. An Islamic aid mobilization group on 12 March pledged to help Bosnia with reconstruction and hunting down war criminals, Onasa reported, quoting Reuters. A declaration following a two-day meeting of the 14-nation group of the 51-member Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) said the Islamic contribution would be within the framework of the Dayton peace accord, asking OIC member states to join in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Bosnia. There was also a passage on meeting "the legitimate defense needs" of the Bosnian armed forces in accordance with the Dayton agreement, an idea that has been strongly criticized by Russia, Serbia, and France. Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate on 13 March voted to withhold $200 million of civilian aid to Bosnia until President Bill Clinton certifies that Iranian military and intelligence officials have left the country, Onasa reported, citing Reuters. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole said the continued presence of the Iranians was a "potential threat" to U.S. forces and urged Bosnia to choose whether it intended to be part of the West or not. -- Daria Sito Sucic
 NATO WANTS MUJAHEDEEN OUT OF BOSNIA.President Alija Izetbegovic has replied in an interview (see OMRI Special Report, 26 March 1996) and in a letter to U.S. senators that only about 50-60 Iranian and other foreign Islamic fighters remain in Bosnia, and that they have taken Bosnian citizenship and become civilians. IFOR disagrees, however, and says that "small groups" of mujahedeen are still in place and are mainly involved in training, the International Herald Tribune reported on 27 March. NATO and the U.S. State Department called on the Bosnian government to send all foreign forces home "immediately." According to the Dayton agreement, they were supposed to have gone nearly two months ago. -- Patrick Moore
 RUMP YUGOSLAV TROOPS MAY STILL BE IN BOSNIA.Dayton's ban on foreign troops includes those from neighboring republics of the former Yugoslavia as well. OMRI's special correspondent in Sarajevo reported on 25 March, however, that journalists claim that rump Yugoslav troops are controlling sites of alleged mass graves in eastern Bosnia. IFOR spokesman Simon Haselock was asked by the journalists to comment, but he would neither deny their story nor say whether the presence of Serbian troops represented a violation of Dayton. The correspondent added that Russian IFOR soldiers have been intimidating some 4,000 Muslims near Zvornik in disputed territory and telling them to leave. The Russians also allegedly told the residents to take down the Bosnian flag, which they called "Muslim." -- Patrick Moore
 IS BELGRADE SHELTERING WAR CRIMINALS?Moving across the Drina intoSerbia, signs have appeared in recent days and weeks that Belgrade, despite numerous declarations and commitments to the contrary, is not prepared to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague. On 28 March, AFP quoted prosecutor Clint Williamson as saying that Belgrade is a "criminal" government. He added that "when a government gives refuge and support to criminals in the eyes of the world that government then too becomes criminal.... And that is exactly what the Belgrade government has done in this case."
What prompted Williamson's remarks was the case of three accused Serbian Yugoslav army officers who participated in the massacre of 261 people near the Croatian city of Vukovar during the 1991 advance by Serbian fighters. Mile Mrksic, Miroslav Radic and Veselin Sljivancanin were all indicted in November 1995 for their involvement in the Vukovar atrocities. However, the authorities in Belgrade do not want to send them to The Hague. On the contrary, they appear to be sheltering and rewarding the men. Back on 21 March, Belgrade's independent Radio B92 reported that Sljivancanin had even been promoted recently, from major to colonel, and re-posted to the Serbian capital.
Belgrade's attitude towards accused war criminals, however, has not necessarily been the same in all cases. On 12 March, for example, U.S. war crimes investigator John Shattuck met with Drazen Erdemovic and Radoslav Kremenovic, two men arrested by Serbian police in Novi Sad on 2 March for their alleged involvement in mass killings of civilians following the fall of the Bosnian Muslim enclave of Srebrenica. Shattuck also met with Milosevic and said that Milosevic appeared to be cooperating with the international community in bringing these two men to justice.
Then on 30 March RFE/RL reported that on same day Belgrade authorities agreed to send Kremenovic and Erdemovic to The Hague. A representative of the Tribunal said both men were being treated as witnesses, but the possibility of their prosecution was not ruled out. At least Erdemovic is suspected of having participated in the mass killings, and he has made statements implicating himself.
Simply, perhaps it may serve Milosevic's interest to have Erdemovic and Kremenovic sent to The Hague. Both men are reportedly in a position to give testimony that may implicate Karadzic directly in war crimes. Insofar as Milosevic has an interest in checking Karadzic's political power in Republika Srpska, Milosevic may appear willing to cooperate with The Hague.
But what of people like Sljivancanin? He served in the Yugoslav army, and may be in a position to implicate Belgrade and Milosevic. In recent days, survivors of the Vukovar massacre have been speaking to Hague officials about their experiences. On 28 March Nasa Borba reported that two survivors, Zarko Kojic and Vilim Karlovic, have explained how they managed to survive and testified that they heard rump Yugoslav army officers encouraging men to kill and ordering the preparation of mass graves. Insofar as Milosevic is concerned, sending these three accused men to The Hague may prevent him from maintaining what undoubtedly is a fiction: namely, that he and Belgrade had nothing to do with the war crimes and atrocities in Croatia and Bosnia. -- Stan Markotich
 MASSACRE SURVIVORS OFFER TESTIMONY.Kojic and Karlovic, the two men who survived the atrocities of Vukovar began offering their testimony to the court last week, Nasa Borba reported on 28 March. In November 1991 Yugoslav army forces massacred at least 261 persons near Vukovar, taking their victims from a hospital in the Croatian city. Kojic described how paramilitaries and officers tormented people with metal pipes, chains, and ax handles at a farm near the town; torturing individuals before in some cases bludgeoning them to death. For his part, Karlovic said he noticed the sound of heavy machines, a signal that he noted marked the preparation of mass graves. Both men testified that what ultimately saved them both and at least some of the other 300 people taken from the hospital was establishing a rapport with their tormentors, Serbs whom they knew from before the war. -- Stan Markotich
 SERBIAN PARAMILITARY LEADER TO LAUNCH POLITICAL CAMPAIGN IN BOSNIA.Arkan (see above) told a press conference on 26 March that his political party, the Party of Serbian Unity (SSJ), is preparing to participate in elections in the Republika Srpska. Arkan, who is an accused war criminal as well as an internationally wanted felon, said that the aim in running a political campaign was to advance the goal of Serbian unification through peaceful, "parliamentary" means. Arkan told Tanjug that it was his hope that the fighting in Bosnia has stopped, but added that this ought not signal a halt to the aim of uniting all Serb-populated territories into one state under Belgrade's control. -- Stan Markotich
 SERBIAN SUPREME COURT RELEASES SANDZAK MUSLIM PRISONERS.Elsewhere in Serbia, the Serbian Supreme Court overturned the sentences of 24 Sandzak Muslims, who had been arrested in 1994 under charges of separatism. All prisoners were members of the Party of Democratic Action [SDA] of Sandzak, the rump-Yugoslav branch of Bosnian President Izetbegovic's party. The SDA claimed that the men, who were sentenced from one to six years were political prisoners, Onasa reported on 26 March. Meanwhile, SDA-Sandzak leader Rasim Ljajic said that "now it is certain that the majority of the [Sandzak Muslims] will turn out in the upcoming elections." In the previous ballot the SDA had called for a boycott. Ljajic further pointed out that "there is a general consensus in Sandzak that participation in the elections [is necessary to secure] our political goals." The party leader said he was convinced the majority there would vote for the SDA, Beta reported on 31 March. -- Fabian Schmidt
 DO LOCAL SERBIAN AUTHORITIES MASSIVELY MISAPPROPRIATE REFUGEES' AID FUNDS?The legal adviser of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights inSerbia, Biljana Stanojevic, accused local authorities in Jagodina with gross abuse of aid funds for refugees, Beta reported on 31 March. According to Stanojevic, goods were sold on the markets while private people received the profits. She further points out that all members of the local branch of the Red Cross who were not members of the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia have been replaced by party members. The Helsinki Committee estimates the losses in millions of dinars. Similar cases were reported from Vojvodina, Banja, and other places. -- Fabian Schmidt
 CROATIA'S SERBS ORGANIZE.The refugees in question came chiefly as the result of the mass exodus of Serbs from formerly Serb-held Croatian territories. That flight in 1995 as the Croatian army advanced reduced the republic's Serbian minority from about 12% of the population to only perhaps 2-3%. Those remaining Serbs insist nonetheless that the government guarantee their rights. The Supreme Council of the Community of Serbs of Croatia (ZSH) met and called upon the government to guarantee funds to ensure the Serbs' "civil, cultural, and national rights," including cultural autonomy, Slobodna Dalmacija said on 29 March. In Zagreb, representatives of the Serbian Democratic Forum, the Prosveta cultural society, and some regional Serbian groups founded the League of Serbian Organizations (SSO). Spokesmen said that no political parties have been included at this stage to underscore the SSO's non- party character. Its chairman is nonetheless likely to be the prominent Serbian political figure Milorad Pupovac, Novi list reported on 29 March. The SSO stresses the traditional Austro-Hungarian concept of "personal ethnic autonomy" as opposed to group territorial autonomy, which is realistic given that the remaining Croatian Serbs live widely dispersed. Meanwhile in Zagreb, the Croatian Helsinki Committee condemned the "plundering and mining" of homes belonging to Serbs in the former Krajina region. The report added that Interior Ministry officials were involved in violations of Serbs' human rights, Slobodna Dalmacija reported on 1 April. -- Patrick Moore
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.