French intellectuals stand for Sarajevo

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The Independent Online
FRENCH intellectuals campaigning for Bosnia to be the central theme of next month's European Parliament elections went ahead yesterday with their threat to register as candidates. The move, annoying the political establishment, is likely to do the most harm to Michel Rocard, the Socialist leader.

Leon Schwartzenberg, a leading cancer specialist, who heads the 'Europe Starts at Sarajevo' list, handed in the names of the 87 candidates to the Interior Ministry before the close of nominations yesterday. According to an opinion poll in Le Point news magazine this weekend, 12 per cent of French voters would vote for the Sarajevo list, which would give the list about 10 members in the European Parliament.

Professor Schwartzenberg, who said earlier that his supporters were concerned by 'the cancer in the heart of Europe', is the main candidate on the list inspired by Bernard-Henri Levy, a philosopher who has been campaigning for an end to the UN embargo on arms sales to Bosnian Muslims. Mr Levy, who presented a documentary on Bosnia during the Cannes Film Festival, first mooted the idea of the list on 15 May.

In France, voting for the Strasbourg assembly is by proportional representation for national lists; any list obtaining 5 per cent or more of the total vote is assured of seats.

Mr Rocard said he would favour lifting the arms embargo, a position which earned him virulent criticism from some members of his own party and an effective rebuke from President Francois Mitterrand. The prospect of the intellectuals' list has annoyed almost the entire political spectrum. Ministers and officials say that France, with more UN troops in former Yugoslavia than any other nation, cannot be accused of complacency.