Skip to main content
March 27, 1995
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 182
Interview: Rasim Delic, Bosnian Moslem Army Commander

Ready to Continue the War

by Dubravko Brigic (AIM)

Over a month ago, Bosnian Moslem leader Alija Izetbegovic warned that his army would launch offensives on other fronts if the fighting around Bihac did not die down. What is the situation today, we asked his army chief general Rasim Delic.

"The attacks by the aggressor against the Bihac region are of high intensity but we feel the forces of the 5th corps can resist them," Delic said. "That can be seen on the ground. We want to reach a situation where the representatives of the so-called international community in Bosnia will finally stop their alleged neutrality and say who is violating the cease-fire. If necessary we will open other fronts and the 5th corps certainly won't be left on its own. Even if we activate ourselves, that does not mean we will show it in the media. We believe it is the Bosnian army's and state's obligation to defend itself everywhere and we must not allow this agreement to be valid only in some parts."

VREME: You were invited to talks with general Mladic and UN commander general Smith recently. Will that meeting take place and what will it discuss?

DELIC: "As a man and a soldier I face a situation where I have to go to meetings which are useless. I am saying this because the agreement of December 31 is completely clear. We spent hours defining obligations for the signatories. We underscored that with a document on January 11 which listed the obligations of UNPROFOR and the Serb side primarily in the withdrawal of foreign troops from the Bihac area and opening humanitarian roads. Since that was defined, I see no reason to meet and talk about it. How do you talk to someone who doesn't respect his own signature? I think further negotiations are a cover for UNPROFOR and general Smith. Or for the international community to show that something is happening. I am not ready to cover for anyone's inactivity and lack of respect for agreements."

VREME: You met with HVO and Croatian army (HV) leaders in Zagreb recently. Will a joint headquarters be formed soon?

DELIC: "The joint staff is something my presidency has to decide upon as collective chief of the army. We will continue activities along those lines with a common goal: making the Serbian-Montenegrin aggressor realize they can't split us. On the contrary, we will offer joint resistance both in Bosnia and Croatia. In regard to joint military operation, we showed that is possible at Kupres. Whether in four months, or I don't know when, the Bosnian Moslem army and Croat Defence Council (HVO) will certainly act together. That is beyond doubt and we have introduced measures in that sense to redeploy part of the operative joint headquarters from Sarajevo to coordinate those combat activities."

VREME: There is a rumor that HVO Sarajevo will be reformed. Is that true?

"As commander of the Bosnian army, I have nothing against the formation of the HVO anywhere if it is reciprocal. The HVO can't exist in Bosnian army territory without it being reciprocal. So, I recently suggested to HVO commander that they form two Bosnian army units in HVO controlled territory. At the moment, there can be no mention of forming the HVO in Sarajevo or anywhere else. It is only my good will that we allowed their 110 and 108 brigades to remain in the Tesanj and Brcko areas."

VREME: Animosity between the Bosnian army and UNPROFOR is obvious at Tuzla airport and Gornji Vakuf over Serb liaison officers. Why the tension?

DELIC: "There are no disputes. There are principles UNPROFOR must obey. In regard to Gornji Vakuf and Tuzla, they violated the December 31 agreement. It mentions liaison officers but all the details are to be worked out by a joint central commission. We warned at one of its sessions that we will not allow a Serb liaison officer into Bosnian army territory because we can't be present in Banja Luka, Zvornik or Bijeljina. UNPROFOR is bringing in intelligence officers to spy for the Serb aggressor. We feel they can't do that and we want to know in advance when they bring them through. In some places UNPROFOR is trying to force its way between the lines, transfer Serbs to the other side. We are the hosts here. If we agree that they can visit one observation post they can't go to others. They want to do what they want. Here in Sarajevo they run over someone and they can't be tried. They cause traffic accidents, they don't pay for anything. I think it's up to the UNPROFOR command to get their men in order and make them behave. Then there will be no problem."

VREME: Western media have reported that cargo planes with US weapons for your army are landing at Tuzla.

DELIC: I wish that were true. NATO should speak up because its AWACS control the skies over Bosnia. Not a single planeload of humanitarian aid has come to Tuzla, let alone weapons. The airport is completely controlled by the UN. I think those stories were caused by several elements. First, they want to keep the balance of responsibility in Bosnia. Let me remind you of the report by UN observers of flights from Serbia and Montenegro. To find a balance to that they dreamed up tales of weapons. Second, they probably want to involve the US in arming and training the Bosnian army. They didn't give us a single rifle!. Even if officials accepted that, the US would not get involved but would let someone else do the job. There's no need for experts to train my troops. We, the leaders of this army have graduated from military schools even if it was the JNA (former Yugoslav national army) (Delic deserted from the JNA on April 13, 1992 ed. note).

Also I feel that with their experience our officers are good enough not to require anyone else. All in all, there was no help from anywhere, which does not mean there won't be any help, but the US will certainly make it public because they are a big power and there's no need for them to do it secretly."

VREME: What happens after the end of the cease-fire? Offensives or continued negotiations?

DELIC: "That is up to the political bodies. Officially they have said there will be no continued cease-fire because no political solution has been reached. As a solider, I want a peaceful solution. The Bosnian army is prepared to continue the war. The decision remains political. Unfortunately, the international community has not found the mechanisms to force the Serb side to accept the Contact Group plans and implement it on the ground. Until the mechanisms are found and full equality is achieved in the fighting there can be no peace. Because of the embargo we are unequal in the fighting but we have achieved a balance. We are ready to continue the war and it is not up to us whether we will continue and for how long, but up to the international community.

© Copyright VREME NDA (1991-2001), all rights reserved.