Bosnia offers qualified Yes to Geneva peace plan

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The Independent Online
THE Bosnian government yesterday denied it had withdrawn approval of the Geneva peace plan, but warned the world it would not stand for 'any further concessions' to the Bosnian Serbs.

Haris Silajdzic, the Bosnian Prime Minister, told reporters: 'Our 'Yes' is still on the table.' But he added that Sarajevo saw 'some hesitancy' among the contact group members who drew up the plan to fulfil their threats against the Bosnian Serbs. This, he said, had prompted the President, Alija Izetbegovic, to qualify the Bosnian answer: acceptance of the plan depended on the contact group 'staying true to its commitments'.

Under the plan, proposed by the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Russia, punitive measures - the tightening of sanctions on Serbia, an extension of Nato protection in the 'safe areas' and even an end to the arms embargo on Bosnia - should follow a Serbian rejection of the plan.

'Those were the conditions spelt out by the contact group,' said William Perry, the US Defence Secetary after talks with Mr Silajdzic.

The contact group is to decide its policy at a foreign ministers' meeting next Saturday. Mr Silajdzic is determined to hold the group to its ultimatum. 'I hope this time the international community will remain true to its commitments,' he said. 'Otherwise there will be a serious loss of credibility and an intensification of the war.'

He said Sarajevo would offer full diplomatic recognition to a rump Yugoslavia if it agreed to respect the territorial integrity of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Borders were an issue at Mr Perry's meeting yesterday with Mate Granic and Gojko Susak, the Croatian foreign and defence ministers, when he emphasised the need for a settlement between Croatia and its rebellious Krajina Serbs.

'The key to this is Unprofor (the UN force),' Mr Perry said. 'This is a sensitive issue in Croatia where relations with the UN are at a new low because many feel the peace- keepers have done nothing to re-integrate Serb-held areas.'

Croats displaced by the war have blocked UN access to the Krajina area for three weeks, leaving the mission close to collapse. Yasushi Akashi, the UN special envoy in the former Yugoslavia, has told Zagreb to disperse the blockades or face censure from the Security Council and, as a last resort, a UN withdrawal.

'The situation is quite dangerous,' said Michael Williams, a UN spokesman. 'The ceasefire line is wearing very thin. The present situation could not last for more than a week.'

(Photograph omitted)