Karadzic turns screws on Bosnia

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THE PROSPECTS for a Bosnian settlement look dark after Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb leader, made it clear that he would settle for nothing less than a single state incorporating all Serbs in former Yugoslavia.

Extending his ambitions, he said the future Greater Serbia should also include parts of Croatia's Adriatic coast.

'Our objective is to unite in one state, and to have one capital - Belgrade - one assembly, one government and one president. We are not interested in any princedoms,' he told reporters this week. 'I think that we, the Serbs, will unite even before we expect. It seems that a global solution must lead to the creation and recognition of a large Serb state.'

Mr Karadzic added that, in the light of the recent break- down of the Bosnian peace talks, the Serbs were requesting control of part of the southern Adriatic coast down to the peninsula of Peljesac. Such a revision of frontiers would squeeze the Croatian port of Dubrovnik between a zone of Serb-ruled territory and Montenegro, Serbia's ally.

It appeared unlikely that

either the Croats, Bosnian Muslims or international negotiators would concede Mr Karadzic's demands, which are more ambitious than terms he seemed ready to accept two months ago. While Lord Owen and Thorvald Stoltenberg, the Western mediators, want a solution that would grant broad autonomy to Croatia's Serbs and establish a de facto Bosnian Serb state, Mr Karadzic has swept such proposals aside and said he is interested only in a single, expanded Serbia.

'This war will be brought to an end either at a conference table, like all other wars are, or in a long, silent process of bleeding, in which the Serbs will have to use weapons to fortify the borders they are currently holding,' he said.

Mr Karadzic's remarks add to the difficulties facing the Serbian President, Slobodan Milosevic, who has tried to seek a compromise over Bosnia and Croatia in order to secure an end to United Nations economic sanctions and rescue the ravaged Serbian economy.

Mr Milosevic was forced to dissolve the Serbian parliament on Wednesday in order to quash a no-confidence motion tabled by deputies of the Serbian Radical Party, a powerful nationalist group that accuses him of selling out Serbian interests in Croatia and Bosnia. Mr Milosevic is calculating that elections on 19 December will slash the influence of the Radicals and produce a compliant parliament that will endorse his own ideas for a settlement in Bosnia and Croatia. Since Mr Milosevic's Socialist (ex-Communist) Party controls state television, the police and the bureaucracy, the elections will probably go his way.

Still, the almost total collapse of the Serbian economy, under the impact of war, corruption and UN sanctions, is piling pressures on Mr Milosevic. The Belgrade office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that 3 million of the 10 million people in Serbia and Montenegro are at or below the poverty line.

'Over 90 per cent of the population spends all its earnings on food, but even this is insufficient to secure a normal and regular diet,' said Milan Zivkovic, the director of Serbia's statistical institute.

Inflation in August was 1,880 per cent, which translates into 360 million billion per cent on an annual basis. Authorities in the northern Serbian province of Vojvodina said this month that they had been forced to stop the wheat harvest because they had no fuel for vehicles.