A Balkan glossary

BOSNIA A three-page special report
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The Independent Online
FOR MOST people, the names Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia have become

synonymous with perplexing arguments, posturing

politicians and endless

cruelty. To make matters more confusing, the conflict is replete with doublespeak; words and phrases have come to mean the exact

opposite of their literal

readings. In order to clarify the conflict and puncture diplomatic pretensions, here is a "Devil's Glossary'' for former Yugoslavia.

Arms embargo - Either the means by which the world prevented war from

spreading beyond Bosnia, or the way it guaranteed the Bosnian Muslims' defeat. Adopted under UN Security Council resolution 713 in September 1991 at the height of the break-up of Yugoslavia, it now applies to the successor states, most controversially Bosnia.

Bosnians - Proper name for the Muslim, Catholic and Orthodox Slavs living

between Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro. Can be

compared to the three legs of a stool: when all stand

together, they are Bosnian; when one or more want to go their separate ways, they

become Serbs, Croats and Muslims. Term today

generally refers to Muslims. In the case of Bosnian Serbs, the adjective is used to

distinguish them from

Orthodox Slavs from Serbia and "Krajina'' Serbs in Croatia. However, to these groups, Bosnian Serbs are simply "Bosnians'', which, for them translates as "bumpkins".

Chetnik - Term of

endearment when spoken by one large hairy irregular

Serbian soldier to another. Otherwise an insult used by Muslims and Croats to refer to nationalist Serbs. From the name adopted by Second World War irregulars.

Contact Group - cabal of

envoys from Britain, France, Germany, Russia and the US whose members appear out of touch with both the

situation in former

Yugoslavia, and with one

another. Disagreements rage between Russia, traditional supporters of Serbs, and the US, considered pro-Muslim and anti-Serb.

Ethnic cleansing - First coined by Croatian Fascists in the 1940s, an ugly

euphemism for the forced expulsion of one ethnic group by another. The

practice in Bosnia, mainly by Serbs against Muslims, has been most loudly

condemned by the US, whose mistreatment of American Indians is still considered a textbook case.

Level killing field - Term used to describe the

situation in Bosnia if the arms embargo were lifted and the government forces were able to better defend themselves.

No-fly zone - Zone of

moderate to heavy aerial

activity where Serb, Croat and Muslim helicopters and small planes re- supply or

ferry troops in violation of a UN resolution, under the watchful gaze of Nato

observation jets, which are empowered, but not

inclined, to shoot them down.

Peace-keeper - Unlike their counterparts in Somalia who waged war, UN soldiers in Bosnia are merely watching it, except when, of course, they themselves are under fire. Peace-keeper is a true misnomer. UN troops in Bosnia are not there to

enforce peace, but to escort aid deliveries and "protect'' UN-designated safe areas.

Serbs - A self-designated "celestial people'' who form the largest ethnic group in the Balkans. They trace their national origins to their

defeat by Ottoman forces in 1389 at the Battle of Kosovo Polje. Ever since, Serbs have made a habit of

championing losing causes, the latest being Greater

Serbia, the move to unite all Serbs in one country. Such an entity, called Yugoslavia, existed until 1991.

Safe areas - A place where one would definitely not want to live. Refers to any of six UN-designated, mainly Muslim towns and cities,

including Sarajevo, which are in the sights of Bosnian Serb guns and under the protection of UN forces.

Sanctions - An international trade ban which, although aimed at punishing Serbia and Montenegro for their role in the Bosnian war,

ended up destroying the most pro-Western sections of society, while elevating

thieves and smugglers to the status of patriots and

members of parliament.

Unprofor - the 22,000-strong UN Protection Force, at

present seeking protection from being taken hostage by the warring parties.

Weapons exclusion zone - An area around Sarajevo from where warring parties frequently snipe at and shell one another.