Bosnians torn apart by peace plans

'MOTHER says we should sign anything that means she can go out without being shot,' said Amira. 'But father wants to hang President Izetbegovic. He says we fought for a united Bosnia, and now 200,000 people have died for nothing.'

The Geneva peace deal to split Bosnia into three mini-states is likely to tear the Bosnian Muslim community apart. It will set the hundreds of thousands who lost homes, parents and children in the war against those who want to salvage the little they have left.

On the streets of Sarajevo yesterday people took advantage of a ceasefire to gather in knots to argue about the vaguely understood terms. 'I am disappointed because we did not fight for a Muslim state,' said Aiida, a 23-year- old law student. 'My boyfriend is Croat and in the army. What was he fighting for? This land was as much his home as mine.' For Aiida, and tens of thousands of others in mixed relationships, breaking up Bosnia on ethnic lines threatens to draw a line through their bedrooms.

Her friend Dina disagreed. 'It is clear now we are not going to win this war. We will just sacrifice 200,000 more lives and have no country left at all,' she said. 'I have lost my home in Grbavica (a Serb-held suburb). All I want is for me and my family to survive.'

In Geneva, Bosnia's Muslim President, Alija Izetbegovic, tried to cushion the blow of partition to his shocked Muslim supporters. 'Bosnia retains internationally recognised frontiers and membership of the UN; in other words, it remains a state,' he said. He insisted that the government in Sarajevo would retain 'numerous competences', although he did not say which ones.

The ear-to-ear grin on the face of Serbia's President, Slobodan Milosevic, told another story. Backed by Croatia, his kinsmen in Bosnia have forced Mr Izetbegovic to agree to sign away his country. The three ethnic states formed from the ruins of Bosnia will have all the trappings of independence. The only competence left in the hands of Sarajevo will be foreign policy.

Mr Izetbegovic had little option but to give in, as the latest Serbian offensive against Sarajevo left hundreds of Bosnian fighters dead on Zuc hill.

In a front-page editorial, the daily newspaper Oslobodjenje warned: 'Bosnia was unprepared for this war and cannot resist the monstrous war machine of Milosevic and Karadzic. If we carry on, the area under the control of the Bosnian army will shrink, and Sarajevo will fall. We must escape the final cataclysm.'

There are suspicions that Mr Izetbegovic and his Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA) have been toying with the idea of a Muslim mini-state all along. Muslim hardliners have never been happy sharing a state with Catholic Croats and Orthodox Serbs. For some of them, a big Bosnia is worth sacrificing for a little Islamic state.

'We are in a dilemma whether to fight for the state of Bosnia or the survival of the Muslim nation,' said Mustafa Ceric, Sarajevo's chief Imam. 'If partition guarantees the survival of our people, we should accept it. The whole Serbian nation is guilty for what has happened to us, and Muslims must become strong so that the others can never do to us again what they are doing now.'

But without an agreement on territories, optimistic talk of ending the fighting looks premature. Mr Izetbegovic insists: 'We must have a territory where two million people lived before the war, access to the river Sava and the sea. What we agreed till now has no value if we fail to agree on maps.'

No one can vouch for the reaction of the 100,000-strong Bosnian army, at the limit of its endurance in besieged Sarajevo but far from a spent force elsewhere. In central Bosnia, the Muslims are advancing against the Croats several miles each day, taking one Croatian stronghold after another. Breaking the latest ceasefire, Muslims launched a big offensive yesterday against demoralised Croatians near the towns of Gornji Vakuf and Prozor, forcing British UN forces based nearby into a state of maximum alert.

The Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, has said he is ready to see Muslims keep 30 per cent of Bosnia's territory. But the offer relates to lands held by Bosnian Croats, not his own Serbian forces. There is no clue about the future of the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, which could be left cut off from the rest of Muslim-held territory - and dependent on UN airlifts, as was West Berlin.

A partition deal will be the final tragedy for the two million people, mostly Muslims, forced from their homes in 16 months of war. Many are in refugee camps, and if partition goes ahead, they will lose hope of ever going home.

But it is no less tragic for the Serbs and Croats who fought alongside Muslims for a united Bosnia. They will have no homeland at all. Ethnic Serbian journalist Gordana Knezevic, close to tears as she listened to the peace terms on the radio, said bitterly: 'Asking us in Sarajevo what we think about the peace terms is like asking Jews in the Warsaw ghetto. We are in no position to dictate terms. It is the world which has said yes to ethnic fascism.'

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future