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".
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
- 2 Loom bands: Bids for dress made from colourful rubber pass £170,000 on eBay
- 3 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 4 L'Oreal cuts ties with Belgium supporter Axelle Despiegelaere after hunting trip photographs
- 5 The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week
Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
Loom bands: Bids for dress made from colourful rubber pass £170,000 on eBay
Supermoon 2014: When and why will the moon look bigger and brighter this summer?
Gaza-Israel conflict: The terrible price Palestinian children are paying for Israel’s war with Hamas
Iraq crisis: Government forces execute 255 Sunni prisoners in revenge for Isis atrocities, says report
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...
£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...
£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...
£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...