Allies ready to build on success of ceasefire: First step is to ensure freedom of movement in and out of capital

WESTERN governments and United Nations commanders yesterday studied fresh peace initiatives in Bosnia to build on the ceasefire in Sarajevo and the removal of Serbian heavy weapons around the city. France's Foreign Minister, Alain Juppe, said a first step would be to bring the siege of Sarajevo to a complete end by ensuring freedom of movement for people and traffic and then by placing the Bosnian capital under UN administration.

A second step would be to open the airport in the northern city of Tuzla to UN humanitarian aid flights so that more than 1 million civilians trapped in central Bosnia can receive food, medicine and shelter. The Tuzla region is the largest under the control of Muslim-led Bosnian government forces, but its airport is closed because it is within range of Serbian gunners.

A third step would be to relieve four other Muslim enclaves - Bihac in the north-west, and Gorazde, Srebrenica and Zepa in the east - that were designated UN-protected 'safe areas' last year along with Sarajevo and Tuzla. This would be coupled with efforts to end the Croatian blockade of Muslims in the southern city of Mostar.

A fourth step would be to restart negotiations on an overall Bosnian settlement, with the United States and Russia guiding the Muslims and Serbs respectively towards peace. The shape of such a settlement is still unclear, but in the event of Bosnia's de facto partition into Muslim, Serbian and Croatian areas the minimum aim would be to provide the Muslims with a viable territory. The maximum aim would be a loose, decentralised Bosnian state within its pre-war borders in which each national group has certain guaranteed rights.

Obstacles stand in the way of each proposed step. It is possible that Serbian forces around Sarajevo, buoyed by the arrival of friendly Russian peace-keepers, will refuse to lift the siege until an overall Bosnian settlement favourable to Serbian interests is reached. Since that could be years away, Sarajevo could in the meantime become a divided city like Berlin, Beirut or Nicosia.

President Bill Clinton said yesterday that he understood the fears expressed by Bosnian Muslim leaders that Serbian forces might redeploy their Sarajevo guns on other war fronts. 'We're quite concerned about that,' he said.

It also seems unlikely that Western countries will be able to reopen Tuzla airport, or exert pressure on other fronts, by repeating the threat of Nato air strikes against Serbian artillery. The threat may have played a part in securing the removal of Serbian heavy guns from around Sarajevo. But unless the West wants a serious confrontation with Russia, air attacks have been made almost unthinkable now that Moscow has intervened in the Bosnian crisis in an overtly pro-Serbian fashion. 'You won't solve the problem from the air,' said Lord Owen, the European peace mediator.

President Boris Yeltsin's spokesman, Vyacheslav Kostikov, portrayed Moscow's move in Sarajevo as a Russian triumph. 'It is not just that Russia has returned to the roots of its historical role in the Balkans and defended the Serbs, whose faith, culture and national spirit is close to us. Russia has firmly established the parameters of its influence in Europe and the world,' he told Interfax news agency.

However, the head of Croatia's parliament, Stipe Mesic, expressed concern at the Russian initiative. 'It's a terrible danger. Now they are capable of putting some kind of ring around every city and securing Serbian gains. It is important that Serbs get it into their heads that there won't be any Greater Serbia,' he told the Independent in London.

Mr Mesic proposed that Nato should deploy peace-keepers on roads, bridges and railways along the Bosnian-Serbian, Bosnian-

Croatian and Croatian-Serbian borders. 'This would return the world to its principles: no change of borders by force,' he said. Without adhering to such principles, the West would one day face the danger that countries such as Russia, Hungary and Albania would demand the right to expand their frontiers and incorporate all their compatriots in neighbouring states, he said.

Another requirement for a lasting peace is an end to the Muslim- Croat war in central and southern Bosnia. Mr Mesic said that the two sides had made some progress at talks in Germany since they now appreciated that the Serbs alone benefited from their war. 'Muslims and Croats have fought in the way that two wounded animals in the same corner fight,' he said.

US experts said that, by dwelling on the issue of Serbian guns around Sarajevo, Western public opinion had lost sight of the larger question of what sort of Bosnia should emerge from the war.

'The issue is establishing a Bosnia that is viable,' said Robert McFarlane, a former US national security adviser. 'As matters stand, if you withdraw all the weapons and leave the Muslims with this gerrymandered piece of terrain surrounded by Serbian and Croatian forces, it's just not viable. It will be only a matter of time before Bosnia is extinct.'

(Photograph omitted)

Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
The Digicub app, for young fans
advertisingNSPCC 'extremely concerned'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, RSPSS, R, AI, CPLEX, SQL)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Law Costs

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution