UN's envoy attacks 'slow response' to crisis

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The Independent Online
TADEUSZ MAZOWIECKI, the UN's special rapporteur on Yugoslavia, has complained of the slowness with which the United Nations has reacted to the breaches of human rights which he documented in his report on his recent trip to Bosnia, writes Steve Crawshaw.

Speaking before he left London after a one-day visit yesterday, the former Polish prime minister said: 'There is a glaring gap between the drama of the situation in Bosnia, and a certain slowness with which recommendations are taken note of. I must emphasise this.'

Showing apparent frustration at the nature of his UN brief, Mr Mazowiecki talked of the 'slowly grinding mills of international organs, which are not equipped to handle such difficult situations which require a quick solution'.

He insisted that international political action must be 'more resolute, so that it will have an effect'. He argued, too, against the proposals for cantonisation - dividing Bosnia into ethnic areas, as the Serbs and Croats want, instead of the mixed republic that the Muslim-led government has pressed for.

Mr Mazowiecki has been asked to return to Bosnia, and continue working as rapporteur, but expressed some caution on this score. He said he put several conditions to Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the UN Secretary-General, before agreeing to work further. Mr Mazowiecki insisted: 'There is already a plethora of reports on the situation. I believe we shouldn't just go on turning out reports, but draw effective conclusions.'

Mr Mazowiecki emphasised the importance of distorted local media reporting in inflaming the conflict. 'I believe a crucial problem is to combat the misinformation and the hatred which is an essential element of the situation.' He said that he wanted funds to be set aside for the creation of an 'independent information agency', which would be 'given the right to use local radio stations to broadcast'. Although it sounds a nice idea, it also seems highly improbable that it would ever be accepted anywhere except, perhaps, in Sarajevo.

Yutel, an all-Yugoslav television service that sought to provide an unbiased news service throughout the old federation, was banned from broadcasting both in Serbia and in Croatia in the run-up to the Serb-Croat war last year.

BELGRADE - Yugoslav leaders held emergency talks yesterday after Serbia attacked plans by Milan Panic, the Prime Minister, to seek admission of the rump Yugoslavia into the United Nations as a new state, Reuter reports.

President Dobrica Cosic interrupted a holiday to head a session of the Supreme State attended by Mr Panic, the presidents of Serbia and Montenegro and General Zivota Panic, the armed forces chief. Borisav Jovic, president of the ruling Socialist Party, said the idea 'must seriously pose the question of further confidence in Milan Panic's government'. Mr Panic is suggesting that the present Yugoslavia, comprising Serbia and Montenegro, would drop its claim to be the successor state of the former federation. This was intended to head off efforts by European Community countries and the United States to suspend Yugoslavia from the UN this week.