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
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
politicsIs David Cameron trying to prove he's down with the kids?
Cumberbatch was speaking on US television when he made the comment (Getty)
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior PHP Developer - Zend Framework

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This number one supplier of Coo...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Forecast Analyst

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Forecast Analyst is required to join a...

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the world's leading suppliers and manuf...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: We require a teacher of Science in this com...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea