Delors calls for direct military intervention in Bosnia

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IN A MOVE that could prove a turning- point in European policy towards Yugoslavia, Jacques Delors yesterday made the most outspoken call yet by an international leader for direct military action against Serbia. In contrast to ministers and diplomats who have talked of using military force only to guarantee the delivery of aid to besieged Bosnian towns, the President of the European Commission pressed for military action unencumbered by limits or conditions.

'In the absence of a credible prospect - and I mean credible - of military intervention, nothing can stop the subtle, deadly strategy of the Serbian leadership,' he told an emergency hearing of the European Parliament in Brussels.

Mr Delors' intervention puts him in unexpected sympathy with Margaret Thatcher, who is the only figure of worldwide stature to have wholeheartedly endorsed a military excursion into the former Yugoslavia. In his first important public statement for weeks on the crisis, Mr Delors warned that only a credible military threat would give a chance of success to the EC peace conference in London on 26 August.

The head of the Community's executive branch also put forward a six-point plan for the international community over the coming weeks. He called for: all detention camps, Serbian and others, to be put under international surveillance; a military, or at least UN, guarantee of the safety of aid shipments to Sarajevo and Gorazde; money to be given to the republics of the former Yugoslavia that accept refugees from the fighting in Bosnia; special measures to admit refugees temporarily to the EC, consistent with not encouraging further expulsions of minorities; tighter enforcement of the international sanctions against Serbia as 'a concrete signal' that the world will not tolerate its policies; intensified diplomatic action for human rights.

Mr Delors acknowledged that the prospect of military intervention would raise fears that Yugoslavia could deteriorate into another Lebanon or Dien Bien Phu. But he warned that the fighting now raging only two hours' flying time from Brussels could spread across the continent if nothing was done to stop it.

The former French finance minister also hit back yesterday at critics who have accused the European Community of impotence and indecisiveness in the face of the Yugoslav crisis.

While many diplomats and analysts have maintained that the EC's confused and delayed response to the civil war in Bosnia is proof that it can never successfully operate a coherent foreign policy, Mr Delors insisted that the crisis showed that Europe needed a single foreign policy more than ever.

Going further, he enlisted the Yugoslav crisis as another reason why Europe should rush faster towards federalism. 'Only political union, with its double prongs of monetary integration and common foreign and security policy, will allow us to face our international responsibilities with clarity and courage,' he said.

'And what's more, the experience of the last 15 months shows us that if the Community hadn't existed, with its weaknesses but also with its achievements, the Yugoslav tragedy might have provoked grave political tensions inside the countries of western Europe.'

In an uncharacteristically emotional speech, Mr Delors made it clear that he saw intervention in the Yugoslav crisis as not merely a political but also a moral duty for the EC.

BONN - Germany threatened Serbia and Montenegro with a full break in diplomatic relations yesterday, writes John Eisenhammer. The Foreign Minister, Klaus Kinkel, also said that Germany would be pressing at the London conference for the expulsion of Serbia and Montenegro from all international institutions. 'We would be quite prepared to break off all diplomatic relations,' said Mr Kinkel.