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December 12, 1994
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 168
Profile: Aleksa Buha, Bosnian Serb Republic Foreign Minister

Cautious Kamikaze

by Dejan Anastasijevic

Year and place of birth: 1939, Gacko.

Education and career: After losing his father in WWII, he came to Belgrade and started primary school. He later moved to Mostar, where he completed his secondary school education. Buha received a degree in Philosophy and German language studies in Sarajevo and at the Free University in Berlin. Before the war, he taught modern philosophy at the Faculty of Philosophy in Sarajevo. He has published three books on philosophy, translated Hegel and Adorn. Buha is one of the founders of the Serbian Cultural Society "Prosvjeta". He is fluent in French and German.

How he entered politics: Buha is a founding member of the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) and was elected a deputy to the Bosnian Assembly after the 1990 multiparty elections. Since May 1992 he has been Serb Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina Foreign Minister (later Republika Srpska).

What he will be remembered for: A threat made in August 1992 at the Belgrade Press Center, when he said that in the event of a military intervention by the West in Bosnia, "Serbian kamikazes and patriots" would attack nuclear plants throughout Europe, which earned him the reputation of a "hawk". He was later more cautious and scrupulously interpreted Pale (Bosnian Serb political center) stands.

His reputation: Despite the above-mentioned "atomic gaffe", he is a calm and modest man and one of the rare members of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic's government whose name is not linked to moral and corruption scandals. He is not directly involved with any of the numerous regional lobbies in Pale.

The foundation of his foreign policy: "Bosnia-Herzegovina as an independent state is a still-born state which cannot be brought to life with any amount of new victims."

Also: "If the international community withdraws Owen and Stoltenberg, we will appoint new unbiased mediators - Russians, Japanese, Chinese, Indians and Germans: Peter Glock, Hans Modrow and retired general Schmikle. I look forward to an improvement in Serbian-German relations." ("Der Spiegel", April 1993).

What he thinks of taking UN staff as hostages: "It is better to keep them under house arrest than to have them face the anger of our people".

How powerful he really is: Not very. Despite his post of Foreign Minister, he rarely takes active part in important negotiations, ceding the responsibility to Radovan Karadzic, Bosnian Serb Vice-President Nikola Koljevic and Bosnian Serb Assembly Speaker Momcilo Krajisnik. However, as a man who enjoys Karadzic's confidence, he has successfully completed several delicate missions.

Why he moved to Belgrade last year: With Karadzic's approval, in April 1993, after it was concluded that Belgrade offered him better working conditions than Pale. After Milosevic's peace turnabout in August this year, Yugoslav border officials stopped him from crossing the border on the Drina River as he was returning from an Assembly session, so he spent several months separated from his family, until the surprise meeting with Milosevic last week.

His reaction to the blockade on the Drina River: "The consequences for the interests of the entire Serbian people could be unforeseeable. I believe that this option can be the option of this or that political group, but in the long run, not the option of the people. Or perhaps, I'm wrong?" ("Politika Ekspres").

What the future could bring: As a "bridge" between Milosevic and Karadzic, he could attain a more important place in the future Bosnian Serb establishment. Of course, if the hard-liners don't win.

What should he be wary of: Momcilo Krajisnik, the powerful Bosnian Serb Assembly Speaker and hard-line figurehead, who views Buha's visit to Milosevic as a betrayal of Serbian national interests in Bosnia.

What can he look forward to: "I hope that we won't all end in darkness and catastrophe." ("Borba", May 1993).

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