"Bosnia must step out of the crisis through negotiations"
Berlingske tidende, Copenhagen
Jimmy Carter's comment in the Berlingske tidende of june 20,
If the international community still wants to play a role in
Bosnia and Herzegovina, it must choose between two
alternatives: an escalation of the war conflict or an attempt
to reach an allinclusive peace solution through negotiations.
Except for the intricate problems which have been causing a
discord among the political and ethnical groups in the
Balkans, the absence of a clear view on the part of
international peace mediators and military forces, causes
confusion and may even have an adverse effect.
Since 1992, the former EU and the UN have each had their own
representatives who have been trying to jointly reach a peace
solution for this area. The Contact Group was formed in April
1994 and it took over the greater part of the responsibility.
At the same time, the UNPROFOR and the NATO tried to divide
the military competencies among themselves.
Out of their own frustration due to the fact that nothing is
happening in Bosnia and Herzegovina, certain politicians
demand that the American arms embargo be unilaterally lifted
so as to enable the MoslemCroat federation to increase and
modernize its military potential.
The UNPROFOR has announced that if that should takes place,
it would not be able to fulfill its mission, and the leaders
of France and Great Britain have stated that they would
withdraw their troops. Withdrawal of the UN forces would
cause the same consequences as lifting of the arms embargo.
In both cases, there would be an even greater bloodshed in
Bosnia and the result would be an increased American
engagement. If the Serbs in Bosnia or the MoslemCroat
federation realized that they would be defeated, the war
could also spread to Croatia and Serbia and later on to
Kosovo and Macedonia. In that case, Greece, Turkey and
Bulgaria could be involved in the conflict. The NATO members
could than be faced with a dilemma which would completely
eclipse the current problems in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Considering the fact that there are no prospects for
resolving the crisis by military means, it is time to
consider the possibility of resolving the problem by
negotiations. What are the conditions for such direct
If such allinclusive unconditional peace negotiations are not
acceptable for the Contact Group, I believe that the good
will of both sides will suffice. It will be indispensable to
undertake the obligations similar to those that both the
Serbs and the MoslemCroat federation accepted last year in
December: Termination of the hostilities and separation of
the armed forces. Providing for the freedom of movement of
the UN soldiers. Unlimited movement of the UN convoys for
Sarajevo and other safety zones. Opening of the Sarajevo
airport for the UN planes. Freeing of all those who are
detained. Guarantees that human rights will be respected, as
well as the rights of refugees to return home. As was the
case then, both sides will have the same treatment during the
negotiations. The policy of the Contact Group has been to
isolate the Serbs in Bosnia and to negotiate only with the
president of Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic on the issues which
are the concern of the Serbs in Bosnia.
Attempts of this kind have not been successful, and the
prospects for their leading to peace in Bosnia are poor, even
if Milosevic should opt for cooperation. The Bosnian
government and the Serbs in Bosnia should take direct part in
the negotiations. Now, just as it was the case last year, we
still have an unresolved issue: The MoslemCroat politicians
insist that the Serbs who are now controlling 70% of Bosnia,
should accept the plan according to which they must cede a
majority of their territories, as a condition for the
negotiations. On the other hand, the Serbs would be ready to
accept a reduction of their territory down to 53% and they
have expressed their readiness to negotiate about other
The best thing to do would be to organize peace negotiations
in a neutral place under the organization of the Contact
Group, and within a certain period of time. Both sides should
be present during the negotiations.
Such a period of peace should also involve the lifting of the
UN trade sanctions imposed on the Serbs, as long as Serbia
and the Serbs in Bosnia are acting in favour of peace
negotiations. The agenda should include the issues of
constitution and autonomy of the MoslemCroat and Serb groups,
the mutually accepted partition of territories on the bases
of the Contact Group's proposal, and the right to establish
relations between the Serbs and the Croats in Bosnia on the
one hand, and their neighbours in Serbia and Croatia, on the
other. All those who are interested in peace, and the
American Government is one of them, should support this
attempt to find a peace solution to the crisis.
Aspirations towards a peace strategy will not justify
violations of human rights and ceasefire, taking hostages or
absence of good will to respect the UN resolutions. These
acts have been condemned by everyone. The most important
task, however, is to establish lasting peace and to prevent
its further violation.
L'evenement de jeudi, Paris