Serbs stretch land-swap deadline

Peace in Bosnia: Enemies hand over territory on time but Sarajevo suburbs remain a stumbling-block

EMMA DALY

Tuzla

Bosnia's competing armies passed the latest Western peace test at the weekend, pulling out of 1,500 square kilometres of territory to be handed over to the enemy under the Dayton peace plan.

But in the most contentious areas to change hands - five Serb-held suburbs of Sarajevo due to revert to government rule - Bosnian ministers disputed the decisions of the international civilian chief, Carl Bildt, to allow Serb police to remain after the 3 February deadline to still the fears of Serbs in the area.

Hasan Muratovic, the Prime Minister, yesterday grudgingly accepted the continued presence of Serb police in the suburbs for a few more weeks, provided they were disarmed. Nato sources said the government would give Mr Bildt a breathing space to draw up a time-table for the transition to full Bosnian control, which comes into effect on 19 March.

Under the Dayton plan, all "forces" were to have withdrawn from the "areas of transition" - such as the suburbs - by 3 February. Mr Bildt and Nato's Implementation Force (I-For) have interpreted "forces" as strictly military - which means the Bosnian government, which has nominal control of the areas, could also introduce policemen. Thus far they have chosen not to make a move that would cause chaos and, potentially, a renewal of conflict.

Since being defeated at Dayton, the Bosnian Serb leadership has fought to keep Sarajevo divided by inflaming the fears of Serb residents and threatening armed uprisings. It is alleged that they have dressed Serb soldiers as policemen, and ordered a senior Sarajevo Serb official to boycott a meeting on the police issue. The government fears that Mr Bildt's decision will encourage such tactics.

In the face of government protests, I-For agreed to increase its presence in the five suburbs. Security for Serbs, and others returning home across the former front line, is to be guaranteed by I-For troops and officers of the International Police Task Force. However, fewer than 300 of the 1,600 foreign policemen promised have arrived in Bosnia, and only half are stationed in Sarajevo.

The international police are unarmed, have no right to make arrests or investigate cases, and patrol only in daylight hours. Terrified that the line between the military and civilian aspects of the Dayton accords will blur, I-For emphatically does not want to plug the gap.

Elsewhere in Bosnia, I-For's task of monitoring compliance with the deadline has been easier. The largest chunk of territory to change hands was "the anvil", which came under Serb control.

The President of Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic, yesterday reversed a two- year stand and agreed to allow international war crimes investigators to open an office in Belgrade. The move could speed the gathering of evidence of "ethnic cleansing" in the four-year Bosnian war.

Mr Milosevic is still refusing to arrange the extradition of suspected war criminals to stand trial in The Hague, however.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Systems and Network Support Analyst

£26000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is a rapidly expandi...

Recruitment Genius: IT Systems Support Analyst

£20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is a rapidly expandi...

Recruitment Genius: Business Travel Consultant

£20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in London, Manches...

Recruitment Genius: Stock Broker / Trainee Broker / Closer - OTE £250,000

£30000 - £250000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Stock Broker/ Trainee FX, Stoc...

Day In a Page

Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests