Letter: Reconstruction not destruction

FELIPE FERNANDEZ-ARMESTO's contention that Slobodan Milosevic has not gone beyond his borders is false ("Crimes against truth", 4 April). Belgrade's reaction to the new independence of Croatia and Bosnia was to attack. First Serbian forces shelled civilian Dubrovnik. Later, Belgrade sent 40,000 men into Bosnia to aid Karadzic. At this time, rightly or wrongly, Croatia and Bosnia were already sovereign states.

Most pregnant in an analogy with Hitler's Germany and Mussolini's Italy is the appeasing attitude of the rest of Europe, led by the Major/Hurd cabinet and the Mitterrand government. Between 1991 and 1996 there were no fewer than 21 false "ultimata" to Milosevic, followed by the same number of "peace conferences" which were in reality rubber stamps conceding the Milosevic/Karadzic gang's ill-gotten gains, presided over by the likes of Lord Owen. Those who moan "why won't Nato negotiate?" appear to prefer endless rubber-stamping to any action to stop genocide. Russia's support for Milosevic is contemptible and it is appropriate to reject Yevgeni Primakov's overtures.

Regrettable and dangerous though it is, Nato's action goes some way to restoring dignity and credibility to Europe after the shameful Bosnian years, in particular the debacle of the Srebrenica massacre in 1995. Had such action been taken much sooner, the resultant loss of life and suffering, to say nothing of the risk of escalating war, would have been much less.

DAVID WILDE

NIGEL OSBORNE

Langenhagen, Germany

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