A step along a treacherous road
PEACE DEAL FOR BOSNIA
Wednesday 27 September 1995
Almost as obvious as what has now been agreed, both at yesterday's talks and at the original milestone meeting in Geneva on 8 September, are the issues that remain outstanding. Among the most glaring is a final and precise agreement on the sharing of territory in the future Bosnia. And no effort has yet been made to settle the status of Serb leaders identifed as war criminals.
Nor did yesterday's session broach the one issue that so bothers the Muslim-led government in Sarajevo that it almost refused to turn up for it: nothing is committed to paper yet - and may never be - that can guarantee that what will be the Serb portion of the country, identified in Geneva as the Republika Srpska, might one day break away and join its ethnic brothers in the Yugoslav Republic. "That is our greatest nightmare", one US diplomat admitted.
What is being gradually crafted, under the guidance of US special envoy Richard Holbrooke, is a constitution that will allow the two sides in the Bosnian conflict to lay down their arms and live together in a single country - assuming that they resolve that is what they want to do.
If that is not their determination, then the provisions being set now will prove worthless.
The document stipulates that free elections should be held across Bosnia 30 days after a team of international monitors, probably sent by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), determines that peace has taken root. Citizens would vote in whichever portion of the country they live - the Muslim-Croat federation or the Srpska Republic.
Elections would establish both a parliament and a presidency, presumably with a cabinet of ministers. Significantly, however, two-thirds of both these institutions would be elected from the territory held by the Muslim- Croat federation and only one third from Srpska. This takes account of the current population distribution in the country.
Safeguards were also agreed to ensure that elected representatives from either part of the country cannot monopolise power. Thus all presidency decisions would be taken by majority vote on condition, however, that if one third or more of the members disagreed with a certain decision and declare the issue in question of vital interest to one or the other halves of the country, it would be referred to the parliament of whichever half was dissenting.
Meanwhile, both the parliament and presidency would be responsible for managing the foreign policy of the new state in its totality.
It was also agreed to create a constitutional court with jurisdiction for the whole of the state.
The caveats about yesterday's text almost crowded out any brief sense of celebration. Warning that the document was still nothing more than a "piece of paper", the Bosnian foreign minister, Muhamed Sacirbey, noted that elections would never take place if peace was not first established.
He also underlined the importance of resolving the fate of the two principal Serb leaders already charged as war criminals, the Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic and the Serb military commander, Ratko Mladic.
"As long as they are around there is no freedom and no conditions for free elections. Those people are a threat to any peace agreement", Mr Sacirbey said.
In the first Bosnian Serb reaction, the leader, Radovan Karadzic, hailed the agreement as "another step toward peace and a confirmation of the existence of Republika Srpska".
Lincoln MP Karl McCartney 'denied all knowledge' of the Twitter activity
- 1 Sean Abbott: Messages of support flood in for bowler following death of batsman Phil Hughes
- 2 Exodus Gods and Kings: Ridley Scott never considered casting 'Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such' in lead role
- 3 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 4 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
- 5 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
Black Friday 2014: Opening times for Asda, John Lewis, GAME, PC World and Argos
Miss Honduras Maria Jose Alvarado's stylist Luis Alfredo Garcia is found stabbed to death
Sean Abbott: Messages of support flood in for bowler following death of batsman Phil Hughes
Dr Lam Hoe Yeoh: Voyeur doctor jailed for eight years after using network of hidden cameras to film patients, colleagues and friends on the toilet
'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Rochester aftermath: Sacking of Emily Thornberry will make work of Labour MPs '10 times harder'
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Development Scientist is required to join a ...