Karadzic threatens Muslims over Belgrade blockade

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The Independent Online
THE BOSNIAN Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, yesterday said he would impose a blockade against the Bosnian Muslims within a few days unless rump Yugoslavia ended a month-long embargo of its former proteges.

Speaking to a parliamentary session in Pale called to announce the results of a referendum on the international peace plan - a resounding 'no' - Mr Karadzic gave no hint of a compromise. 'You can expect one of these days that we are going to impose against the Muslims the strictest and severest possible sanctions until Yugoslavia releases its economic sanctions against us,' he said.

His threats drew applause from the delegates, who earlier heard that 96.1 per cent voted 'against' when asked if they accepted the map dividing Bosnia-Herzegovina drawn up by the international contact group. The president of the self-styled Republika Srpska claimed that the Serbs had yet to use 'electricity, gas, food or water as a weapon' - which will come as a surprise to the citizens of Sarajevo - but that they should consider changing this policy.

Mr Karadzic's words are apparently addressed to the major powers, which pressed President Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia to cut off his former clients by threatening to tighten UN sanctions on Yugoslavia. The Bosnian Serbs, who are still besieging civilians in Sarajevo, Gorazde, Srebrenica and Zepa, have already cut Muslim supply lines to the capital. In July they effectively closed the 'Blue Route' over Mount Igman, the only road access for commercial convoys into Sarajevo, by firing at traffic.

To strangle Sarajevo and the three eastern Bosnian enclaves, they need only deny access through Serb-held territory to all UN aid convoys, and to keep the heat on the Blue Route. The Serbs might also try to cut the Mostar road, which leads from the coast to Mount Igman and central Bosnia. SARAJEVO - France yesterday criticised US-led moves to lift the arms embargo on Bosnia's Muslim government if Bosnian Serbs do not agree to the peace plan, Reuter reports.

The French Prime Minister, Edouard Balladur, said lifting the embargo to supply weapons to the Bosnian army to help them tackle their Serbian foes would be tantamount to 'washing our hands' of ex-Yugoslavia.