Alija Izetbegovic Addresses the CSCE Summit
by Budapest, 5 December 1994
Recent developments in our country have filled me with bitterness, so here I will be short and forthright. There is more than a touch of irony in the fact that before this high forum of an organisation created twenty years ago with the aim of security and cooperation I have to speak of something completely opposite: about insecurity and non-cooperation. It is not enough to say that what is happening in Bosnia is due to the weakness of the West. Something far more substantial is at stake.
A month ago rebel Serbs from the so-called UNPA zone in Croatia attacked from the rear the 5th Corps of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, triggering off the Bihac crisis. A UN 'safe area' in one country was attacked from a UN 'protected area' in another country. Not only did the UN do nothing about this, it also proclaimed that nothing could be undertaken. The whole of the international community gathered in the United Nations and the mighty NATO Pact cannot save one endangered city! Can this possibly be true?
In the six months prior to the attack on the Bihac region the population there was being deliberately starved. Of the 143 convoys dispatched, only 12 managed to get through, while 131 convoys were turned back by armed Serbs. Prior to the attack, the French battalion was withdrawn from the Bihac region and replaced by a Bangladeshi unit, which is both small in size and inadequately armed. A media blkockade was imposed upon the whole of the region, which was left without a single foreign journalist, whilt UNPROFOR on its reports continually minimalized the significance and extent of the attacks on it. Could this entire sequence of events be pure coincidence?
One gentleman, a high-ranking official [US Secretary for Defense William Perry], with cynical indifference then proclaimed to the world and to the people threatened with slaughter and destrution that the Serb side had won. Is the war in Bosnia a football match, for which he can blow the final whistle? Because it is a battle for survival, this is not the end. The battle will continue. This is why Bihac, Kladusa, Cazin and Krupa, after a whole month of offensives against them are still fighting back. To the gentlemanI have just mentioned, I could list numerous times when similar prognoses by his esteemed colleagues proved utterly wrong. The opposite of what they have predicted is in fact coming about.
Paris and London have from the very beginning taken the role of Serbia's protectors; they have blocked the Security Council and NATO and prevented all attempts at stopping Serbia's aggressive war.' Those are not my words but those of the Society for Imperilled Peoples based in Gottingen.
And what can I say about Russia's behaviour? RussÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÔ
ua vetoes the resolution of the Security Council! It votes that oil be delivered to the very Croatian Serbs who are prohibiting delivery of food and medicine to the starving people of the Bihac region! Karadzic's Serbs have deployed over one hundrea dn fifty rocket systems throughout Bosnia. The inescapable question is: Where did they get them from?
What will be the result of the war in Bosnia, now being prolonged due to a mixture of incompetence, hesitation and sometimes even ill will on the part of the West? A discredited UN, a ruined NATO and a demoralised Europe, impotent in the face of the first crisis after the Cold War. There will be a different, worse world in which relations between Europe and the USA, the West and Russia, and the West and the Mislim world, will never again be the same. Clearly many have under-estimated the importance of what is happening in Bosnia. At the beginning it was a regionl crisis, then it became a European crisis, while today it is unequestionably a world crisis. In this sense the question of the defence or fall of Bihac is of global significance - a question of concern to all of us here.
Faced with brutal aggression, genocide, concentration camps, the West has reacted with a 'humanitarian response.' It has treated a serious illness with palliatives, until as expected - and perhaps even as planned - the illness has become really serious. Once that happened, the 'humanitarian response' turned into a blackmaikl - and lately into a double blackmail.
We deserve to be helped all the more because we have not been sitting idly with crossed arms. We have organised a resistance which, for many of you, was as unexpected as it is inexplicable. From no more than a hundred small groups, each made up of between 20 and 150 people equipped only with small arms, we have forged an army of 150,000 soldiers which has neutralised thousands of the aggressor's soldiers and destroyed more than 1,000 of their tanks and armoured vehiles. As our defence grows stronger, however, your readiness to help us weakens. Why? Is there an answer?
In Bosnia we have a confrontation between democracy and the darkest forms of nationalism and racism. Our enemies recognise only one ethnicity - their ethnicity; only one religion - their religion; only one political party - their political party. All that is not theirs is condemned to extermination. Even the cemeteries have been ploughed up. I would like to ask the gentlemen who are so devotedly helping to fashion into a state this montrosity that calls itself the 'Serbian Republic' - some of whom are sitting in this very room - will they tomorrow demand recognition of that 'republic', so that its creators may join us in this room next time? Will they - are they preparing to - invite a creation steeped in tyranny and genocide into the family of civilised nations?
In liberation wars, there is some undefinable dimension which resists all analysis. This is why some military and political analysts continually come up with wrong prognoses. Our peopkle are fighting for their freedom and more - for their survival. Such wars are usually difficult to fight, but are also difficult to lose. No liberation war has been lost in the past half century. I do not see why we should lose this one either. No one can force our 150,000 soldiers to hand over their weapons. I would sugget everyone take account of this fact, as much for their own sake as for ours.