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Geert Lovink on Sat, 24 Apr 1999 19:07:06 +0200 (CEST)


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Geert Lovink <geert {AT} xs4all.nl>
          An Appeal to the Leaders of the Free World
          Albanian Physicians call for Airlift and Ground Troops 
          An Appeal in Favor of Montenegro [Libæration]
          Kosovo Newspaper Resurrected in Macedonia  
          IWPR'S BALKAN CRISIS REPORT, NO. 24 

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Date: Sat, 24 Apr 1999 11:57:05 +0200 (CEST)
From: Geert Lovink <geert {AT} xs4all.nl>
Subject: An Appeal to the Leaders of the Free World

                                     Gazeta Wyborcza

                                        April 5

An Appeal to President Bill Clinton ,President Jacques Chirac,Prime
Minister Tony Blair,Chancellot Gerhard Schr=F6der,Janvier Solana ,Secretary
General of NATO and to the governments  of the 19 members of NATO.

                                MAREK EDELMAN

The decision of the member states of NATO to initiate a bombing campaign to
save   the people of Kosovo will change the nature of the world.For the
first time in History,war is  not being waged   to conquer power or
territory,or to defend economic interests.,but for  humanitarian reasons.

During the time of Second World War ,in the Warsaw Ghetto I was a witness
to genocide.The leaders of the Free World ,President Roosevelt and Prime
Minister Churchill, didn't  know how to stop it.They proclaimed that once
the war  was over, all men ,whatever their race religion, nationality or
ethnic group would reconquer their  equality and live in peace, instead of
being hunted  down like animals.When the war ended and democracy had
triumphed, those in whose name the struggle had been fought were no longer
there to enjoy the peace.

One can have little doubt that the allies will win the war to defend the
rights of the Kosovars.Will the Albanians of Kosovo be around to see the
victory? We may  well wake up one day  to find that the people for whom we
fought are no longer with us.

Our intervention must not be limited to air raids. I call on the leaders of
the free world to send ground troops to Kosovo. In the present situation
,only the presence of NATO troops can prevent the genocide of the
Albanians.I know how difficult it is to send soldiers into battle knowing
that they might die. But, like the other members of my generation, I know
that freedom has a price.A price which we must be willing to pay.

Marek Edelman was a leader of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

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Date: Sat, 24 Apr 1999 11:58:39 +0200 (CEST)
From: Geert Lovink <geert {AT} xs4all.nl>
Subject: Albanian Physicians call for Airlift and Ground Troops 

April 22, 1999

For Immediate Release

Contact: Barbara Ayotte (617) 695-0041 ext 210/(617) 776-8020

<center><bold>KOSOVAR ALBANIAN PHYSICIANS CALL FOR IMMEDIATE NATO
GROUND TROOPS AND AIRDROP OF FOOD AND MEDICINES  TO
SAVE REMAINING CIVILIAN POPULATION IN KOSOVO</center>

</bold>Eighteen leading ethnic Albanian physicians from Kosovo who have fle=
d
to Macedonia today called upon NATO to employ at once all possible
measures to bring food and medical supplies to the population left in
Kosovo. They urge NATO to arrange for the immediate air drop of food
and medicine to the populations trapped in the countryside within the
next two weeks or else it may be=93too late=94. =93Mass death may be
imminent=94 unless help reaches them in that period, they say.


=93Only these two measures, in the view of these respected, senior
Pristina physicians, will offer any reasonable possibility of saving the
remnant populations of Kosovo and effect the return of those
who have been forced to flee,=94 said Jennifer Leaning, MD, a
member of the board of Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) who
just interviewed the physicians, now living in Skopje and Tetova,
Macedonia,  arriving since March 24.


=93These physicians experienced terrifying threats to themselves and
their families as they fled or were forcibly expelled from Kosovo.
Their main concern, however, is how to avert mass death among
the hundreds of thousands who are still left in Kosovo,=94 said
Leaning.




The Kosovar Albanian physicians from the Pristina area report that
in the city of Pristina there is very little food left in the homes and
neighborhoods where people are trapped.  People are unable to
leave their apartments because of armed forces patrolling the
streets, snipers, and marauding gangs of armed Serbian civilians.


A physician who left Pristina on April 15 said that his friends had
reported having reserves of food for their families of only two days
to one week.  All the Albanian stores in Pristina have been looted
or burned.  Ethnic Albanians who dare to go out for milk or bread
are turned away by the Serbian police and are told that only Serbs
can wait in line for food.


The Pristina physicians, many of who traveled regularly throughout the
countryside before they were expelled, say the situation now is even
more desperate.  One physician made contact two days ago by cell
phone with a friend in Peja (Pec) who said that 15,000 internally
displaced people had just come to three small villages outside Peja,
and there was absolutely no food or medicine to support them.


Several physicians reported that there are now no medical supplies,
surgical supplies, or medicines of any kind left in the countryside.
People in the cities cannot seek care at the hospitals because it is too
dangerous to go out in the streets and because the hospitals are
effectively closed to Albanians since the Serb authorities dismissed all
Albanian staff and expelled all Albanian patients in late March.


The eighteen physicians interviewed by PHR call upon NATO to employ
at once all possible measures to bring food and medical supplies to the
population left in Kosovo.  They urge NATO to arrange for the
immediate air drop of food and medicine to the populations trapped in
the countryside.


They also request that NATO act with the greatest urgency to bring
ground forces into Kosovo in order to rescue those now living in hiding
and under siege, and to locate and liberate the large numbers of men
and boys who were separated from their families by Serb forces and
taken to unknown locations.


Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) has a nine member delegation in
Macedonia and Albania conducting a comprehensive survey of some
1,000 Kosovar refugees about human rights abuses suffered over the
past few weeks. Three members of the team, led by Dr. Jennifer
Leaning, are interviewing physicians about conditions leading to their
flight out of Kosovo. For the past six months, PHR has reported on the
systematic pattern of abuses against ethnic Albanian physicians and
their patients by Serb authorities in Kosovo. PHR has documented
murder of at least three physicians, and harassment, detention, and
torture of physicians=97with abuses occurring as far back as the fall of
1998.  Dr. Leaning conducted a training for ethnic Albanian and Serbian
physicians in mid-March on human rights and humanitarian law.




<nofill>
Barbara Ayotte
Physicians for Human Rights
100 Boylston Street, Suite 702
Boston, MA 02116
Tel. (617) 695-0041
Fax. (617) 695-0307
Email: bayotte {AT} phrusa.org
http://www.phrusa.org

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Date: Sat, 24 Apr 1999 12:06:38 +0200 (CEST)
From: Geert Lovink <geert {AT} xs4all.nl>
Subject: An Appeal in Favor of Montenegro 

          Libæration

                                                 April  21,1999

                                An Appeal In Favor Of Montenegro

                                       Wednesday, April 21, 1999

The destabilization of Montenegro which is threatened by a Serbian coup
d'ætat could lead to civil war. The return of peace to this country
is a vital condition if Montenegro is to consolidate its the process of
democratization, and economic liberalization.

Because Montenegro is an oasis of political opposition  in Yugoslavia.

Because It has given political asylum to  students   and intellectual
who have  fled MIlosevic's national -socialist  repression.

Europe has a moral duty  to preserve this enclave of freedom and
democracy.

Over a third of the population of Montenegro is composed of refugees,
Kosovars and others. Its economy is bled dry. It needs help to be
able to deliver emergency humanitarian  aid.

Political support for the democratic orientation  of the government of
Montenegro must take the form of a warning to Milosevic to
withdraw his troops from that country.

First signatories:
Pascal Bruckner, Andræ Glucksmann, Gilles Hertzog, Bernard-Henri Lævy,
  Væronique Nahum-Grappe, Jean-Francois Revel, Alain Touraine

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Date: Sat, 24 Apr 1999 12:38:08 +0200 (CEST)
From: Geert Lovink <geert {AT} xs4all.nl>
Subject: Kosovo Newspaper Resurrected in Macedonia  

April 23, 1999
Kosovo Human Rights Flash #29

Kosovo Newspaper Resurrected in Macedonia

 The Albanian-language newspaper Koha Ditore resumed publication from
Macedonia yesterday, April 22, 1999.

 Before its March closure by Serb police, Koha Ditore was the largest
and most influential Albanian-language newspaper in Kosovo.  On March
22, the newspaper and its editor, Baton Haxhiu, were convicted for
publishing information that "incited hatred between nationalities,"
according to article 67 of Serbia's controversial Law on Public
Information. (For more information about Mr. Haxhiu's conviction, please
see our March 22 press release, available on the Human Rights Watch
website). The paper was fined 420,000 dinars (US$26,800) and Haxhiu
personally was fined 110,000 dinars (US$7,200). On March 24, Serbian
police shot and killed the guard at the Koha Ditore newspaper office in
Pristina, and then ransacked the office.

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Date: Sat, 24 Apr 1999 12:52:35 +0200 (CEST)
From: Geert Lovink <geert {AT} xs4all.nl>
Subject: IWPR'S BALKAN CRISIS REPORT, NO. 24 

WELCOME TO IWPR'S BALKAN CRISIS REPORT, NO. 24, 23 April 1999

MACEDONIA UNRAVELS. KLA arms caches, Serbian pro-Milosevic demonstrators,
and friction between Skopje and the West. The signs are ominous for the
fragile republic. Iso Rusi in Skopje reports.

CREEPING COUP IN MONTENEGRO. Podgorica is distancing itself further from
Belgrade--and from the Yugoslav Army, which it feels poses a direct threat.
Zeljko Ivankovic reports from Podgorica.

TROOPS COME TO PREVLAKA. Since 1992, this disputed peninsula has remained
quiet, but effectively blocked, and talks got nowhere. This week, explains
Mark Thompson, Milosevic broke the silence.

ON HOLD IN RS. Whatever the outcome, the repercussions from the NATO
bombing will be huge for Republika Srpska. Igor Gajic reports from Banja
Luka.

*****************************************************

IWPR's network of leading correspondents in the region provide inside
analysis of the events and issues driving crises in the Balkans. The
reports are available on the Web in English, Serbian and Albanian;
English-language reports are also available via e-mail. For syndication
information, contact Anthony Borden <tony {AT} iwpr.net>.

The project is supported by the European Commission, Press Now and the
Carnegie Corporation.

*** VISIT IWPR ON-LINE: www.iwpr.net ***

To subscribe to this service, send an e-mail to <majordomo {AT} iwpr.org.uk>; in
the body of the email write the message <subscribe balkan-reports>. To
unsubscribe, write <unsubscribe balkan-reports>, Alternatively, contact
Duncan Furey directly for subscription assistance at <duncan {AT} iwpr.org.uk>.

For further details on this project and other information services and
media programmes, visit IWPR's Website: <www.iwpr.net>.

Editor: Anthony Borden. Assistant Editing: Christopher Bennett, Alan Davis.
Internet Editor: Rohan Jayasekera. Translation by Alban Mitrushi.

"Balkan Crisis Report" is produced under IWPR's Balkan Crisis Information
Project. The project seeks to contribute to regional and international
understanding of the regional crisis and prospects for resolution.

The Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR) is a London-based
independent non-profit organisation supporting regional media and
democratic change.

Lancaster House, 33 Islington High Street, London N1 9LH, United Kingdom
Tel: (44 171) 713 7130; Fax: (44 171) 713 7140 E-mail:info {AT} iwpr.org.uk;
Web: www.iwpr.net

The opinions expressed in "Balkan Crisis Report" are those of the authors
and do not necessarily represent those of the publication or of IWPR.

Copyright (C) 1999 The Institute for War & Peace Reporting <www.iwpr.net>.

*************************************************

MACEDONIA UNRAVELS

KLA arms caches, Serbian pro-Milosevic demonstrators, and friction between
Skopje and the West. The signs are ominous for the fragile republic.

Iso Rusi in Skopje

In the first evidence of a guerrilla presence within Macedonia, police have
seized a tractor-trailer filled with 308 pieces of weaponry in the town of
Kumanovo. Subsequently in a nearby in a deserted mine, 4.5 tons worth of
guns, ammunition, land mines and hand grenades were uncovered. Their
Chinese origin suggests that the cache was smuggled in from Albania by the
Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).

According to Interior Minister Pavle Trajanov, there will be more attempts
to smuggle in arms from Albania weaponry. Trajanov fears that unless the
war in Yugoslavia is resolved soon, the security crisis there will be
"exported" to Macedonia.

Guns, ammunition and the like are not the only problem according to
Trajonov, who has speculated on the likely presence of KLA members among
the refugees now camped inside Macedonia. The New York Times has already
reported meeting with a half-dozen Albanian men it said were
"self-described officers of the KLA."

And Albanian radicals are not the only ones becoming active in Macedonia.
Skopje held its first rock concert for peace, echoing the ones being held
in Serbia. Flags of the former Yugoslavia and even pictures of Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic were seen in the capital's central square.

Malisa Bozovic, secretary-general of the Democratic Party of Serbs in
Macedonia, argues that Yugoslavia has the right to target NATO positions
within Macedonia. "NATO planes are bombing Yugoslavia through Macedonian
skies and they have at their disposal logistical support, complete military
and civil infrastructure that is being used for spying and stationing
ground forces." The Democrats are planning another big protest in the
capital soon.

Meantime, the owners of land around Stenkovec, the largest refugee camp in
Macedonia, are refusing permission for it to be enlarged. Made up of both
Macedonians as well as local Serbs, they sympathise with the demonstrators
in the capital.

But the camp, which already houses more than 40,000 refugees, is too small
to receive the latest refugee wave from Kosovo. According to the UN High
Commissioner for Refugees, up to 4,000 have been arriving each day. UNHCR
spokesperson Ron Redmond has predicted up to 100,000 new refugees will be
arriving at the border soon. He says they include 20,000 from the region of
Urosevac and 50,000 from Gnjilane.

Conditions within the camps are far from ideal. Bribery to escape the camps
has been reported, and cigarette and alcohol smuggling has increased. On
Sunday a carton of the cheapest Macedonian cigarettes reached the
staggering price of 100 DM ($57) in the camps. Sanitary conditions are
deteriorating with the overpopulation, and the weather has been cold and
rainy.

Promises by other countries to take some 92,620 of the refugees have been
delayed. UN figures show that out of 560,000 Kosovo refugees it has
registered since the beginning of the NATO strikes, 132,700 entered
Macedonia. The Macedonian government puts the figure at 150,000. With the
existing camps only able to house a third of the refugees, the rest are
being looked after in private homes. While initially, the international
community planned to fly out 1,500 people a day from Skopje, less than
13,000 have departed since the airlift started.

Disputes over the refugee issue have flared regularly between the
Macedonian government, aid agencies and Western governments. Macedonian
Minister of Defence Nikola Kljusev has stated firmly that the government
has no intention of building any more camps and that new refugees from
Kosovo cannot stay in the country. This has prompted German Defence Deputy
Secretary of State Walter Koblon to suggest that his country will not help
Macedonia's bid to join the European Union. Kljusev replied in turn that
this was tantamount to blackmail.

Within the Macedonian government, differences among the coalition partners
about the role of NATO are getting more obvious. The parliament has passed
a resolution supporting the government's refusal to allow NATO to use
Macedonia to stage an intervention into Yugoslavia. The media speculate
whether the Social Democrats of President Kiro Gligorov are applying
pressure to change this stance. Meanwhile, Arben Xhaferi, the leader of the
Democratic Party of the Albanians, which is a member of the governing
coalition, argues that Macedonia has already taken sides in the conflict
(with NATO) and must follow through. He has also called for a more open and
generous policy towards the refugees.

Iso Rusi is a journalist with Fokus in Skopje.


CREEPING COUP IN MONTENEGRO

Podgorica is distancing itself further from Belgrade--and from the Yugoslav
Army, which it feels poses a direct threat.

Zeljko Ivankovic in Podgorica

The Yugoslav Army is increasing the pressure on Montenegro's civilian
authorities, putting at risk the republic's attempts to remain neutral in
the war between Belgrade and NATO. Some Montenegrin observers describe as a
"creeping coup".

Tension between Podgorica and the Yugoslav Army has grown steadily since
the beginning of the month when Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic
installed Gen. Milorad Obradovic at the head of the Yugoslav Army in
Montenegro, replacing Gen. Radoslav Martinovic.

Though both men are Montenegrins, the move was significant since General
Obradovic is viewed as a Milosevic loyalist and Montenegro's President Milo
Djukanovic was not consulted about the change.

Since his appointment, Obradovic has charted a collision course with the
Montenegrin authorities, stepping up mobilisation throughout the republic
and launching a media offensive. As a result, many Montenegrin observers
feel a coup is already taking place.

"The army is abusing its position to settle scores with the Montenegrin
government," said Dragan Soc, Montenegro's justice minister, who has three
times refused to respond to call-up papers.

"They have no need for extra soldiers, since they don't even have the means
to keep them in the army. They are just throwing their weight around to
demonstrate their influence and power," he said.

Military press gangs are mobilising young men indiscriminately in the
streets, military courts have begun prosecuting draft dodgers, and the
Yugoslav Army has stepped up its public criticism of key politicians and
other leading figures in Montenegrin society.

One target of the Yugoslav army's wrath is Novak Kilibarda, Montenegro's
deputy prime minister, whom it accuses of "intending to weaken the
country's defences".

On the eve of NATO's bombing campaign, Killibarda said that NATO could not
be an aggressor because it was an alliance. Moreover, in the event of war,
Montenegro would remain neutral, declare independence from Serbia and
prevent the Yugoslav Army in Montenegro from activating its defences.

Obradovic has set up his own television station in a building belonging to
the Yugoslav Army with equipment brought from Belgrade. The output of this
station is very similar to that of Serbian television, whose headquarters
in Belgrade were targeted Thursday night by NATO bombing. NATO is
systematically referred to as "fascists" or "aggressors".

The terminology used on the military station contrasts with that of
Montenegrin television, which the Yugoslav Army accuses of bias. The
Yugoslav Army is also impeding the work of foreign journalists, whom the
Montenegrin government allows to operate freely. The army has confiscated
equipment and detained reporters.

"The Yugoslav Army is intimidating foreign journalists to show them the
impotence of the government and the absence of security guarantees. They
hope that the journalists will go away so that they can stage a coup in
Montenegro," asserts Soc.

A series of meetings between Obradovic and Montenegro's prime minister,
president and its parliament's speaker have failed to ease tensions.

Geneneral Obradovic, nevertheless, succeeded in pressurising Montenegrin
television into broadcasting every night a 30-minute programme entitled
"Defending the Homeland", a move which has upset Montenegro's independent
media.

"The Yugoslav Army's aim in Montenegro is not to defend the homeland from
aggressors, as they say, but to silence Milosevic's opposition in
Montenegro, that is the government and independent media," the independent
daily newspaper Vijesti said in an editorial.

A day later, military police entered the newspaper's offices and threatened
to "stop this view being printed" in the future.

"The Yugoslav army is supposed to be the army of Serbia and Montenegro, but
instead it's Milosevic's tool to impose his political views on Montenegro,"
said Miodrag Perovic, the founder and publisher of the weekly magazine
MONITOR.

He urges the Montenegrin government to seize control of army barracks and
units in their republic. "This could be achieved by forming a Republican
Ministry of Defence and the republican parliament voting to give
Montenegro's prime minister complete control of the army in his
jurisdiction," Perovic says.

Tension soared most recently when the Yugoslav Army fired a surface-to-air
missile at a NATO plane from a naval ship anchored in the port of Bar.
Petrasin Kasalica, director of the port, immediately protested the "abuse
of the port's hospitality" to the Yugoslav Army.

"If you wish to defend the homeland from NATO planes, then I advise you to
move your ships from the port," he said. "If your provocation is returned
and NATO planes start bombing, then our future will be doomed and
everything that we have now will be destroyed."

Zeljko Ivanovic is founder and director of Vijesti, the only independent
daily newspaper in Montenegro.


TROOPS COME TO PREVLAKA

Since 1992, this disputed peninsula has remained quiet, but effectively
blocked, and talks got nowhere--leaving Milosevic another card to play
against Croatia and Montenegro. This week, he checked his hand.

By Mark Thompson

Yugoslav soldiers entered a demilitarised zone separating Croatia and
Montenegro on Tuesday, April 20--demonstrating that Belgrade still has
plenty of potential to cause trouble away from the main theatre of Kosovo.

Since October 1992, Prevlaka, Croatia's southern-most peninsula, has been
closed to everyone except 28 UN monitors. While Croatia's ambassador to the
UN, Ivan Simonovic, has complained to the Security Council that up to 300
Yugoslav troops had moved into the DMZ, the UN monitors themselves numbered
only 20.

This southern-most tip of Croatia lies about 40 kilometres south of
Dubrovnik and only 2 kilometres from the border with Montenegro. A couple
of kilometres in length and half a kilometre wide, Prevlaka projects part
way across the mouth of the Kotor Bay, Yugoslavia's principal deep-water
harbour.

Prevlaka had been a military base for decades before Croatia won its
independence, and the Montenegrin headland on the opposite, southern side
of the bay is riddled with military installations--allegedly including
missile sites.

When Yugoslav forces withdrew from Croatia in 1992, they refused to abandon
Prevlaka and its hinterland before they had secured an agreement to keep
the area demilitarised, under UN supervision, until the two parties reached
a final settlement to ensure security between Dubrovnik and Kotor.

The wider demilitarised zone agreed in 1992 stretches to a depth of 5
kilometres on either side of the Croatian-Yugoslav border, which extends
for some 79 kilometres between Kotor Bay and the border with Bosnia and
Herzegovina.

In practice, neither side fully respects the DMZ. Yugoslav troops have
never withdrawn from positions near the Bosnian border, while Croatian
"special police" occupy bunkers beside Prevlaka, where they have no
business being. Both sides retain heavy weapons near the border.

Nevertheless, the area has remained remarkably stable for a long time.
Despite occasional minor incidents or provocations, no shot has been fired
since 1995. Every six months, the Security Council reviews the situation
for two or three minutes before authorising a further extension of the UN
monitors' mandate there.

The main responsibility for the failure to resolve the issue lies with
Belgrade, which has resorted to a variety of time-wasting tactics to
forestall serious talks. Presumably, it has done so to retain potential
leverage against both Croatia and Montenegro which is may be seeking to
call upon now.

Belgrade insists that Prevlaka is a territorial dispute to be solved by
changing the international border--a position rejected by Croatia and the
rest of the international community.

For its part, Zagreb has kept fairly quite on the issue. This is partly
because President Franjo Tudjman has previously entertained a possible land
deal exchanging Prevlaka for territory in Herzegovina, behind Dubrovnik.
But by putting paid to any such schemes to change Bosnia's border, the
Dayton Peace Agreement effectively opened the way to serious bilateral
negotiations. Despite this, Zagreb and Belgrade have agreed a statement in
1996 on normalising relations, but nothing more on the issue. Meanwhile the
border remained closed.

This balance was disturbed by Montenegro's election results in 1998, which
installed a leadership keen to rebuild commercial relations with Croatia.
Late in 1998, encouraged by Podgorica's positive signals and pushed by US
diplomacy, Zagreb tabled a proposal to settle the disputed issue through
bilateral demilitarisation. The Security Council commended the move.
Podgorica and Zagreb then agreed to open the main border-crossing, despite
Belgrade's objections. Belgrade responded by excluding Podgorica from the
Yugoslav team in the on-going Prevlaka talks.

This was how matters stood until earlier this week when Yugoslav troops
took up positions on the last road junction before the border-crossing,
close to the peninsula but still within Montenegro. Croatia promptly
complained to the Security Council that 200 to 300 soldiers had moved into
the DMZ.

It is more than likely that the incursion is indeed intended only as a
signal that Milosevic could indeed make trouble in this little-regarded
corner of the Balkans should he chose to do so. But sideshow or not, great
vigilance should be shown by Croatia, by NATO, and above all by Montenegro,
if Belgrade's symbolic act is not to result in a general heightening of
tensions on all sides.

Mark Thompson, author of The Paper House: The Ending of Yugoslavia
(Vintage, 1992) and Forging War: The Media in Serbia, Croatia and
Bosnia-Herzegovina (Article 19, 1994), was part of the UN mission to
Prevlaka until December 1997.


ON HOLD IN RS

Whatever the outcome, the repercussions from the NATO bombing will be huge
for Republika Srpska--where pragmatic politicians are trying to keep their
options open.

Igor Gajic in Banja Luka

Republika Srspka lacks a president, is unsure whether it has a prime
minister and government, and its population feels as much under attack from
NATO's bombs as Serbia itself. In effect, life is on hold until the war
next door comes to a conclusion.

The NATO bombing campaign has dominated the news and distracted attention
from Republika Srpska's internal political squabbling and the failure to
form a government in the seven months since the September 1998 elections.

The air strikes followed soon after the March dismissal of the President of
Republika Srpska, Nikola Poplasen, by High Representative Carlos Westendorp
and the final arbitration award on Brcko which effectively took territory
in that strategic town away from Republika Srpska.

While ordinary Serbs in Republika Srpska have responded with similar
defiance to the Serbs of Serbia proper, the political elite, especially
those politicians who have been built up and promoted by the West, has been
more cautious.

Having themselves been on the receiving end of NATO bombs in 1995, Serbs in
Republika Srpska naturally sympathise with the plight of their ethnic kin
across the border. Indeed, most feel as if Republika Srpska is itself again
under attack.

The threat of the bombing campaign to Serb national interests everywhere
has generated an outpouring of national anger which has manifested itself
in a series of protest meetings and minor incidents. As a result,
international agencies and diplomatic missions have reduced their presence
in Republika Srpska to a minimum.

In addition, in a manner reminiscent of 1991, patriotic associations for
the defence of Serbdom have sprung up all over Republika Srpska. These are
usually headed by former members of the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS), the
party which used to be dominated by indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic,
and accuse their peers of betraying Serb national interests.

While the restructured SDS has been comparatively restrained, the Serbian
Radical Party (SRS), now headed by Mirko Blagojevic, has attempted to make
political capital out of the current situation.

In effect, the bombing campaign has been welcomed both by Blagojevic and
Vojislav Seselj, his political master in Belgrade. It appears to vindicate
their position, namely that there is a global conspiracy against the Serbs.
Interestingly, Poplasen, the Serb Radical leader who was elected president

of Republika Srpska in September, has been marginalised for allegedly being
too soft.

Leaders of the many Serb political parties meet up on a regular basis to
discuss the on-going bombing campaign. While they have issued joint
declarations formally condemning the bombing and expressing solidarity with
the Serbs of Yugoslavia, the more pragmatic among them are keeping their
options open, waiting to see how the situation evolves and who--whether
Slobodan Milosevic or NATO--emerges victorious, before definitively
committing themselves.

Meantime, the March dismissal of Poplasen as president of Republika Srpska
has failed to break the political deadlock and, despite sustained
international pressure, parliament is yet to agree a prime minister.

Milorad Dodik, the West's preferred candidate for prime minister, attempted
to broker a deal with the international community and the SDS and SRS by
which Poplasen would be reinstated as president and the SDS and SRS given
key ministries. However, the SDS and SRS rejected the offer.

Dodik remains prime minister by default in the absence of a new government.
But his star has been falling since the beginning of the bombing campaign.
He is perceived as being excessively mercenary and pro-Western. And Mladen
Ivanic, another moderate candidate, has also failed to obtain sufficient
support to form a government as a result of overt Western support.

Zivko Radisic, Serb member and president of the three-member Bosnian
Presidency, continuously changes his position. Having officially suspended
participation in the Presidency, Radisic, nevertheless, visits Sarajevo. As
the bombing campaign appears to be cementing Milosevic's hold on power in
Serbia, Radisic is also eager to improve relations with Belgrade.

While the politicians bicker, living conditions for the majority of the
population deteriorate. Inflation is taking off and companies whose
business is dependent on Yugoslavia, i.e. the majority, have lost their
markets.

Serbs in Republika Srpska are also worried about possible repercussions of
the war against Yugoslavia for Bosnia. Defeat for Serbia, they fear, may
lead to revision of the Dayton Peace Agreement and force them into a closer
relationship with the (Muslim-Croat) Federation on unfavourable terms.

Igor Gajic is a journalist with Reporter in Banja Luka.

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