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October 17, 1994
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 160

Public Vices, Secrer Diplomacy

by Milan Milosevic

We have come back to where we have already been: the Hague, and especially London 1992, when Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, the then Yugoslav President Dobrica Cosic and the then Yugoslav Prime Minister Milan Panic agreed to the mutual recognition of the new ex-Yugoslav countries, which was later undermined by Milosevic with the help of the Radicals. Now he is on the road to turning over a new leaf.

The national opposition in Belgrade includes the anticipated recognition of the so-called AVNOJ republican borders (republican borders in the former Yugoslavia) among the deadly sins of the Serbian president, because they view disputing the ``AVNOJ borders'' as the core of the Serbian national program.

The temperature rose this August during negotiations over the Bosnian peace plan when Serbian Radical Party (SRS) leader Vojislav Seselj, Rakitic (Democratic Movement of Serbia---DEPOS), Democratic Party (DS) leader Zoran Djindjic, the Serbian Orthodox Church and a group of ``national intellectuals'' reproached Milosevic for his break with Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic. The most systematic of all came from Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) president Vojislav Kostunica, who, changing his vocabulary, strongly accused the Serbian government and Slobodan Milosevic of selling out national interests and Serbia's sovereignty for small concessions (the reopening of the airport, for example) during a special session of the Serbian Parliament on August 25. Kostunica later most persistently repeated that Russian President Boris Yeltsin stated that a serious easing of the sanctions depends upon the recognition of Croatia in its AVNOJ borders. Kostunica claimed that Yeltsin failed to mention Bosnia merely because Milosevic had already recognized Bosnia de facto by accepting the Contact Group peace plan.

The Americans have announced that the debate on lifting the ban on arms shipments to the Muslims will most likely be postponed and the French have announced a revision of he Bosnian peace plan, putting on paper Russian Foreign Minister Koziryev's verbal promise to Milosevic that, with acceptance of the plan, Karadzic may be given confederal ties to Serbia. Milosevic can utilize this as evidence that he made a sure bet, but opposition parties such as the DSS claim that this is just proof that it was not necessary to give in immediately. Last Tuesday, DSS leader Kostunica stated that, ``Slobodan Milosevic attempted to isolate the Bosnian Serbs, but actually isolated himself and his government.''

At the beginning of September, Karadzic began an initiative to unite all ``Serb lands'' with the threat that the Serb Republic in Bosnia (RS) would seek recognition as an independent state from the international community if the parliaments of Serbia and Montenegro reject the proposal for unification. RS Foreign Minister Aleksa Buha then reminded that, according to the RS constitution proclaimed on February 28 of 1992, the RS is part of Yugoslavia [``That Yugoslavia no longer exists, but the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SRJ) is the successor to the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRJ) and therefore has responsibilities toward the RS''] and that the SRJ's constitution foresees the possibility of other republics becoming members of the federation. That initiative did not become part of the agenda in Belgrade despite attempts to the contrary by the ``national opposition.'' ``The RS continues to insist upon international recognition of its borders and links to Serbia and Montenegro and is prepared to consider relations and eventual ties with the Muslim-Croat Federation only under those conditions,'' declared Bosnian Serb Assembly Speaker Momcilo Krajisnik in a statement to ``Beta'' news agency on October 5. A week later, on October 12, Krajisnik would strengthen the pressure by saying that the RS aspired to full independence. He rejected the possibility of confederal ties to the SRJ without preliminary recognition of the full independence of the RS and proclaimed the offer of confederal ties for the RS to Yugoslavia as a component of the Union of Bosnia Herzegovina a ``trick'' only two days after French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe announced the internationl community's willingness to give the Bosnian Serbs such guarantees.

At the end of September, President Milosevic received an American message from Zagreb (!) which said that the ``recognition of Bosnia and Croatia in their borders would eliminate the main obstacle to solving the crisis.''

On October 3, Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic stated in Sarajevo that he had received support from the U.S. and President Clinton for the demand that Serbia and Montenegro recognize Bosnia-Herzegovina, adding that the Sarajevo government ``is prepared to recognize Serbia and Montenegro if they recognize the sovereignty and inviolability of the internationally recognized borders of Bosnia-Herzegovina.''

Obedient Tudjman attempted to be the first to capitalize upon the stick and carrot offered to Milosevic. On September 21, Croatian government Vice-president and Foreign Minister Mate Granic stated in the Parliament that the peace plan must entail the recognition of all countries on the territory of the former Yugoslavia, border controls, the continuation of sanctions against the SRJ until the crisis in this region is solved and new sanctions if Belgrade and Knin reject such a peace plan.

Subsequently, Zagreb was gripped by a massive commotion after a document appeared in the Belgrade weekly ``Telegraf'' in which a proposal that the Serbs in Croatia receive a federal or confederal position in that republic along with more or less military autonomy is mentioned. The document is said to have originated from the secret negotiations between Tudjman's and Milosevic's representatives in Graz, Austria [in the city where then Bosnian Croat leader Mate Boban and Karadzic met in 1992].

This commotion was also caused by the knowledge that a mini contact group, made up of the American and Russian Ambassadors to Zagreb, Ambassador Arens and others, has been working on a peace proposal for Croatia for the past month. Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic told the Croatian Parliament that this group's document is expected in four to six weeks.

In this war of nerves it was also stormy on the other side of the front lines (see the story from Krajina); On October 9, Slobodan Jarcevic, an adviser to Republic of Serb Krajina (RSK) President Milan Martic, denied the existence of ``a secret plan'' according to which the RSK would be reintegrated into Croatia during the next six months and the Krajina would be divided so that, ``eastern Slavonia and Baranja would be joined with Serbia and Western Slavonia with Croatia, while the other parts would receive autonomy.'' Jarkovic firmly concluded that, ``the country of RSK is entering its fifth year of existence and there is no government---either today's, or one which will come to power after eventual elections---that will accept something like that.'' On October 4, RSK President Milan Martic protested the rejection of the RSK's request that it participate in UN attempts to resolve its conflict with the Republic of Croatia. In a letter addressed to Security Council President Sir David Hannay, Martic alleges that, ``the Republic of Croatia uses such a situation to its advantage, representing the Serbo-Croat war completely incorrectly and ignoring the problem of hundreds of thousands of Serbs forced from the territory under its control by state terror.''

RSK Prime Minister Borislav Mikelic denied Radio-Sarajevo's assertion that he was the one who secretly met with Croatian government representatives in Graz, that he knows nothing about Milosevic's preparations to ``the sale of Krajina,'' and that any disagreements exist because the RSK leadership does not desire to return to Croatia.

However, according to the Zagreb daily ``Vjesnik,'' only a day earlier (October 11), Veljko Knezevic, the highest-ranking SRJ representative in Zagreb, who met behind closed doors with Osijek-Baranja ``zupan'' (district-prefect) Branimir Glavas when he visited Osijek on an invitation from the Union of Serbs from Slavonia and Baranja, stated that the RSK problem must be solved through meetings between representatives from Zagreb and Knin (the RSK capital) and that the Yugoslav government will not interfere in internal matters in the Republic of Croatia and will only direct attention to problems that must be solved. This statement upholds the position of Yugoslav Foreign Minister Vladislav Jovanovic in an interview for the Belgrade daily ``Politika'' in which he says that, ``we should not clash with the lifting of sanctions,'' ``the establishment of a modus vivendi in relations between Knin and Zagreb'' (which, according to Jovanovic, entails the signing of an all-encompassing agreement to cease all military activities and the normalization of economic life and economic relations). ``Knin in a Croatian package'' thereby becomes the half-recognition of Croatia while the Krajina question is not tied to Kosovo.

The statement by Knezevic, ``Serbian ambassador,'' really does not differ much from the new official stand in Belgrade. SRJ Foreign Minister Vladislav Jovanovic declared that in New York ``the doors were opened and it would be very beneficial to go through them.''

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