bosnia report
No. 6 September - 1994
Let Bosnia Defend Itself!
by From the Editors

One more "peace plan", drafted by the so-called Contact Group in a yet more abject attempt to appease Serbia and impose ethnic partition on Bosnia, has failed and to nobody's surprise. The resounding "Take it or leave it" message to Serbi- a's proxies in the "Republika Srpska", accompanied by all manner of dire threats, has been replaced following the "No" from Pale by handwringing and an offer actually to relax sanctions against Serbia, if Belgrade is seen to put pressure on Karadzic and Co.

This, of course, is not expected to produce any concrete result. The supposed blockade by Milosevic is largely cosmetic (see General Delic's statement on page 3). Stockpiles have been built up well in advance in the territories under Pale's control. The hundred-odd civilians now being sent to monitor the Serbian-Bosnian border will be acting under complete control of the Serbian po- lice and military. Supply routes through the Serbian-occupied areas of Croatia will remain unchecked. (Indeed these areas - nominally under "UN protection" - have been being used openly in recent weeks as staging posts for military as- saults on the "UN safe area" of Bihac!).

The very minimum that might justify any relaxation of sanctions - that Serbia should recognize Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia within their internationally acknowledged borders - figures not at all in the current Security Council overtures towards Serbia, despite repeated formal declarations that borders cannot be changed by force (declarations that do not seem to prevent the British Prime Minister from publicly advocating such changes: see extracts from Der Spiegel interview below).

A diplomatic solution to the war in former Yugoslavia remains as elusive as ever. Yet the sole justification for imposing and maintaining an arms embargo upon Bosnia-Herzegovina (and Croatia) has throughout been that this is a precondition for such a solution. Does the "No" from Pale mean that the embargo should be lifted, then? Not so far as Britain is concerned. Indeed, the British government is currently engaged in a major propaganda offensive against the Clinton administration's professed intention of seeking a lifting of the arms embargo on Bosnia if Karadzic fails to sign up by 15 October. Having in the past blamed Germany for the outbreak of war in former Yugoslavia, it is now set to blame the United States (and Bosnia, of course) for the consequences of the failure of yet another "peace plan" drafted under its own auspices - though without offering any meaningful alternative. Meanwhile, the egregious Sir Michael Rose, evidently following a Foreign Office brief rather than one defined by UN resolutions, swallows every humiliation by Mladic's forces while seizing every opportunity to frustrate the endeavours of the Bosnians to free their country.

Britain sent troops to Bosnia nominally for humanitarian purposes, and in order to implement UN resolutions. The presence of these troops, however, has become an excuse to block each and every move that might ensure that aid goes where it is really needed, that UN resolutions are actually implÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌTemented, or that the political and military situation shifts against the aggressor. The possibility of open Bosnian access to (in the first instance) defensive weapons is presented as a sufficient pretext to justify abandoning en bloc the humanitarian effort, existing UN resolutions, and the sacrifices already made by young Britons in UN uniforms.

There is no more excuse for maintaining the arms embargo against Bosnia-Herzegovina, or for pursuing a policy of neutrality between aggressor and victim states.


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