— Action Council for Peace in the Balkans — May 8, 1995
A Weekly Review of Current Events
larly near the city of Osijek. Serbian artillery and tanks are reportedly being moved toward the Croatian border by Belgrade. The U.N. stated that Croatian Serb civilians are being evacuated from the area. The U.N. Security Council called Friday for restraint from all sides. NATO IS ESCALATING its contingency planning for withdrawing U.N. forces from the former Yugoslavia. France, which has often threatened to withdraw its troops from UNPROFOR, made further warnings this week. Minimalist plans for evacuating U.N. troops call for at least 40,000 NATO troops as part of a four-month operation. Due to anticipated difficulties associated with a winter withdrawal, NATO officials say the “window” for its current plan to begin will close next month. The alliance’s plans are still handicapped by a lack of agreement among NATO allies regarding actual troop contributions and command-and-control structures. The Clinton Administration has pledged to send at least 25,000 U.S. troops. Some NATO officials have warned that withdrawal operations would prompt media coverage of heavily armed Western and international troops abandoning Croatian and Bosnian women and children to Serbian attacks, and being blocked by civilians lying across roads. BOSNIAN SERB FORCES launched the deadliest attack on Sarajevo in months Sunday. Ten people were killed and more than 40 wounded in a mortar barrage on a western suburb. U.N. officials said they would not consider calling in NATO to respond to this latest Serbian violation of the city’s heavy-weapons exclusion zone. UNPROFOR Bosnia commander Lt. Gen. Rupert Smith has repeatedly warned the Bosnian Serbs that he could call in NATO airstrikes if they deliberately target civilian population centers, yet he still has not made such a request. Bosnian Serb and Croatian Serb forces shelled civilian centers across Bosnia throughout the week, including a Friday attack on Bihac’s over-crowded hospital.
The Week in Review — May 1-7, 1995
NEARLY 3,000 CROATIAN ARMY soldiers liberated a Serb-occupied pocket in northern Croatia in an operation beginning Monday. A U.N.-brokered cease-fire announced Wednesday collapsed near week’s end when the Croatian Army engaged Serbian forces who had not surrendered. The pocket, part of “Sector West”, was the smallest region of Croatia occupied by the Croatian Serb nationalists backed by Belgrade. The other occupied territories, designated by the U.N. as Sectors East, North, and South, are still held by Serbian forces. On Friday, the Croatian Government announced that 33 Croatian soldiers and 300 to 450 Croatian Serb soldiers had been killed, and 1,000 Serbs wounded. 170 of the 1,000 Croatian Serb soldiers captured by the Croatian Army were released after being questioned regarding war crimes. The U.N. reported that it was satisfied that Serbian prisoners were being well treated. The U.N. initially accused the Croatian Army of widespread human rights abuses in the operation, but EU observers, U.S. embassy representatives, and Serbian POWs and civilians contradicted these accounts. The U.N. began investigating Sunday the deaths of several dozen Croatian Serb civilians who appeared to have been caught in the crossfire. The operation reduced the amount of Croatian territory held by Serbian forces and ethnically cleansed of non-Serbs from approximately 27% to 20% of the country. The Croatian Government has offered assurances that the Croatian Serb civilians in Serb-held territories can continue to live in Croatia peaceably. Six persons were killed and nearly 200 were wounded when Croatian Serb forces fired cluster-bomb-tipped rockets into residential areas of Zagreb Tuesday and Wednesday. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman warned Wednesday that the Croatian Army would respond if Croatian Serb forces attacked Zagreb again. On Thursday, approximately 1,000 Croatian troops occupied positions within the buffer zone near the Croatian Serb stronghold of Knin. Croatian and Serbian forces are also reinforcing their positions in eastern Croatia, particuBOSNIAN SERB LEADER Radovan Karadzic met with Croatian Serb leader Milan Martic Thursday. On Wednesday, Karadzic had warned while speaking with former President Jimmy Carter on CNN that he would use all means available to aid his Croatian Serb allies. Karadzic also indicated to Carter that he might be willing to begin negotiations on a territorial settlement in Bosnia, with a minimum of 53% of the country being ceded to his forces. U.N. WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL OFFICIALS are “extremely troubled” by revelations that the Dutch Secret Service lied about returning a defector’s potentially explosive documents regarding Belgrade’s involvement in ethnic cleansing. The documents, which appear to be from the Serbian Ministry of the Interior, were thought to be lost last month after disappearing at some point between handling by the U.N., the Dutch Secret Service, and Cedomir Mihailovic, a former member of Serbia’s security service. THE OSCE will mediate between Greece and Macedonia in their outstanding disputes. Observers have already questioned the effectiveness of mediation by the OSCE, which operates by consensus. Greece has blocked Macedonian OSCE membership since 1992. THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION approved criteria Wednesday for East European countries to align their economies with the EU as a prerequisite to full membership. Bulgaria and Romania are among six East European countries with association agreements with the EU. The document must be approved at an EU summit next month. The Commission did not provide a time table for or guarantee accession.
Quotes of the Week
“So far, the Croats have said they will exercise restraint, but obviously at some point a government cannot accept having missiles land in its capital and kill its people.”—Anonymous Western official
(Christian Science Monitor 5/5/95)
“For an extended period Sarajevo is increasingly being targeted by forbidden weapons. Every day
we bury the victims of this public and brazen crime against the civilian population. Security Council Resolutions 824, 836, and 900 and the NATO Ultimatum of February 9, 1994 forbid such attacks against Sarajevo under the mandated threat of airstrikes. With all due respect, I will take the liberty to ask whether the above mentioned documents of the Security Council and NATO are still
valid or have they become devaluated pieces of paper. If these documents are still valid, then meet the commitment and respond as mandated. If they are no longer valid, then say that to the citizens of Sarajevo, and to the World, and say who has abandoned them.”—Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic, in
a letter to U.N. Secretary General Boutros BoutrosGhali, 5/7/95
Calendar: May 12: Third Anniversary of the recall of the U.S. Ambassador from Belgrade. May 22: Third Anniversary of the admission of Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Slovenia to the U.N. May 15: Third Anniversary of UNSC 752 , including the demand that non-Bosnian Army forces disarm, disband, and withdraw from Bosnian territory. May 30: Third Anniversary of U.N. sanctions against Serbia-Montenegro. Balkan Watch is a publication of the Action Council for Peace in the Balkans PO Box 28268, Washington, DC 20038-0268 PHONE (202) 737-1414 FAX (202) 737-1940