European Elections: Intellectuals show Sarajevo solidarity: Bosnia: Central issue for French philosopher

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The Independent Online
FRENCH intellectuals said yesterday they were pressing ahead with plans to make Bosnia a central issue in the European elections.

Professor Leon Schwartzen berg, a leading French cancer specialist, said at a press conference that he still planned to lead a list under the campaign slogan 'Europe Starts at Sarajevo'. The list, which has to be registered by Friday was inspired by Bernard- Henri Levy, a philosopher, who is 14th on the list of 87 candidates.

In France elections to the European Parliament are by proportional representation with a national list. This means that any list with 5 per cent of the national vote is assured of at least one out of France's 87 seats in Strasbourg.

Mr Levy, who presented a documentary on Bosnia at the Cannes Film Festival this month, comparing the conflict there with other 20th-century European wars, said the list would be withdrawn if conventional political parties displayed a real commitment to Bosnia. Alija Izetbegovic, the Bosnian President, visited Paris on Monday at Mr Levy's invitation for meetings with Michel Rocard, the Socialist Party leader, and Dominique Baudis, who is heading the election list for the governing centre-right parties. While Mr Rocard said he would support an end to the UN arms embargo Mr Baudis rejected the policy in line with the French government's position.

Although Professor Schwartzenberg, who was briefly a minister when Mr Rocard was appointed Prime Minister in 1988, refused to rule out eventual withdrawal from the campaign, he suggested that the intellectuals would go ahead with their challenge to the political establishment.

The prospect of a Sarajevo list is seen as a particular threat to the Socialist Party. President Francois Mitterrand said its backers had succumbed to passion.