Izetbegovic rejects 'vivisection'

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BOSNIA WAS being subjected to 'political vivisection' and could never accept a peace plan that perpetuated 'ethnic cleansing', the country's President, Alija Izetbegovic, told the United Nations General Assembly yesterday.

Referring to the peace plan mediated by Lord Owen for the European Community and Thorvald Stoltenberg for the UN as 'unjust', the Bosnian leader said the plan was 'based on the repugnant and historically failed concept of ethnic partition and apartheid'.

He said the US would be obliged to take part in any Nato force to implement a peace accord in his country. 'As the only superpower left, America cannot escape its obligations,' he said.

Mr Izetbegovic said the Bosnian parliament's provisional acceptance of the peace proposals last week was dependent on 'the same minimal adjustments which we have consistently held to be necessary for a durable peace'. These changes, which have for the most part already been rejected by the Serbian and Croatian leaders, included the surrender of territories 'where they have slaughtered and expelled civilian populations so that Bosnians can return to their homes'.

In addition, Mr Izetbegovic said the Bosnians would require guarantees on the implementation of the plan from those nations involved in its creation, which included by implication the US commitment to send 25,000 ground troops to carry out the plan should it finally be accepted. Without such guarantees, the accords would 'become worthless for peace and of value only to further legitimise the aggressor'.

If the international community failed to implement the plan, then the UN should lift the arms embargo allowing Bosnia to rearm and defend itself, he said. He called on the UN General Assembly to act to save Bosnians from 'annihilation'. Otherwise the Bosnian people would 'never forgive you'.

The UN-EC peace plan would divide Bosnia into Muslim, Serbian and Croatian states, with Muslims controlling about 30 per cent of the territory, Serbs 52 per cent and Croats 18 per cent. Warning of the 'humanitarian tragedy' that this winter may bring to Bosnia, he called on the international community to help maintain the ceasefire, keep the relief convoys moving, reopen Tuzla airport and 'establish clear demands for the lifting of the siege of Sarajevo'.