UN deal averts threat of Croatian war

FROM EMMA DALY

in Zagreb

Croatia yesterday agreed to allow a smaller United Nations peace-keeping force (Unprofor) to remain in the country, prompting sighs of relief from diplomats and UN officials who hope to avert a new Balkan war, at least this spring.

Under the agreement, Croatia's President, Franjo Tudjman, who had ordered the 14,000 peace-keepers to leave Croatia when the UN mandate expires in three weeks' time, will allow 5,000 to stay. The deal struck with the US Vice-President, Al Gore, may only postpone an inevitable battle with the Croatian and Bosnian Serbs.

Meanwhile, at Sarajevo airport, a bullet fired into a jet carrying the UN envoy to the former Yugoslavia,Yasushi Akashi, narrowly missed one of his bodyguards. By that time, five people had been killed in the city in the previous 24 hours.

According to a statement issued by President Tudjman, the new mission would have three tasks; to control Croatia's borders with Bosnia and the rump Yugoslavia; to control the passage of aid to Bosnia through Serb- held territories in Croatia; to facilitate implementation of agreements with the rebel Serbs, notably a ceasefire and economic accord, and to encourage the reintegration of Croatia.

"This is very good news," Mr Gore said. "I consider this a major step away from war and towards peace." Douglas Hurd, the Foreign Secretary, said: "This paves the way for an effective UN force to continue keeping the peace in Croatia. Such a force is vital to the stability of Croatia and the region."

The US-Croat deal must still be approved by the Security Council and accepted by the Krajina Serb leaders in their Knin headquarters. The Serbs have rejected the idea of a smaller UN force and are unlikely to welcome monitors on the frontier with their ethnic kin in Bosnia and Yugoslavia. But they want an international presence and may have to accept border monitors as the price.

President Tudjman may also find it difficult to sell the deal - a face- saving formula and a retreat from his demand that the UN should leave - to a domestic audience stirred to contempt for the UN by Croatia's media.

UN officials fear they will be saddled with a mandate they cannot implement. Mr Tudjman's reason for expelling Unprofor was its inability to reintegrate Serb-held areas of Croatia, despite numerous Security Council resolutions .

"The worries are twofold. First, that the UN is going to have its size cut and be given more jobs to do," one official said. "Second, this mandate will last for six months. What if by September there's not much to show for it? What if the political talks with the Krajina Serbs have not got anywhere?"

Many fear this could mean an autumn offensive. President Tudjman blames the UN for his government's failure to entice the Krajina Serbs back into the Croatian fold. If the force goes, he will have no scapegoat.

"If you think through the implications of a new mandate, and the fact that Tudjman's options could narrow quite considerably [after September], it's not necessarily grounds for optimism," said another UN official. As for Bosnia, "My mood is rather one of tenacity than optimism", said Mr Akashi, who is in Bosnia hoping to extend the faltering truce. There has been a big increase in sniping in the city, and the Bosnian Serbs are again harassing the UN, blocking convoys, stealing supplies and arresting local UN staff.

On Saturday they announced the closure of the only road into the capital after two girls were shot dead in a Serb-held suburb of the city. Shortly after, Serbian snipers killed a 49-year-old woman, and two other Bosnians died in mortar attacks on the city. The welcome that Mr Akashi's plane received at Sarajevo airport, probably from the Bosnian Serbs, does not bode well for his peace mission.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Opilio Recruitment: QA Automation Engineer

£30k - 38k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: An award-winning consume...

Opilio Recruitment: UX & Design Specialist

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

Opilio Recruitment: Digital Marketing Manager

£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game