UN ponders latest peace deal

As the jet carrying Jimmy Carter left Belgrade on the last leg of his Bosnian peace mission, UN officials in the former Yugoslavia considered how best to implement the ceasefire brokered (amid much scepticism) by the former US president.

Yasushi Akashi, the senior UN envoy, is to visit Sarajevo and the Bosnian Serb "capital", Pale, for talks today on the truce due to begin at noon tomorrow. Alexander Ivanko, a UN spokesman, said in Sarajevo: "Our understanding is that both sides are serious in their pursuit of an agreement on the cessation of hostilities." The Carter visit "created a certain momentum for peace"; the UN must harness this if it is to change the standard pattern in Bosnia, where cease-fires are honoured only in the breach.

The first snows of winter fell on Sarajevo and the UN "safe area" of Bihac yesterday, where fighting had intensified over the past 48 hours. Tuesday had been "probably the worst day in Bihac thus far, at least in the recent past", according to Lieutenant-Colonel Gary Coward, a UN spokesman.

Senior officers are dusting off contingency plans for the monitoring or enforcement of a truce, while civilian officials ponder how best to persuade the parties to see in 1995 with four months of peace. Under the Carter deal, a cessation of hostilities should be negotiated over the next week with the aim of reaching agreement by 1 January.

However, there seems to be some confusion over the specifics of the deal: three separate agreements were signed by Mr Carter during his stay, two with the Serbs and one with the government. "The first impression is that the agreement reached is unclear,"the Sarajevo daily Oslobodjenje said yesterday.

Today Mr Akashi will try to flesh out the deal - possibly, officials say, incorporating elements of a ceasefire proposal he put to the parties several weeks ago. "It kind of dovetails with Carter's, but it's not the same thing," one source said. There appears to have been some tension between UN headquarters and the former US president over the deal.

"I think it's a bit too pro-Serb," said one senior UN official not known for favouring the Bosnian government. Mr Carter did not meet Mr Akashi after his visit to Sarajevo and Pale; instead, one source said: "Carter gave him two crumpled pieces of paper and said `these are the agreements, call me tomorrow if you have any questions'."

None the less, one UN official spoke of "very good prospects" for a genuine truce. Many Sarajevans agreed with Oslobodjenje: "The whole game with Carter was calculated just as the way for Pale to escape diplomatic isolation, and the `mutual agreement' asa way to avoid the Contact Group peace plan."

But the official was more optimistic: "The Serbs have a lot at stake in these agreements. If this fails, their prospects are pretty dim, and that was made clear to them." However, on the negotiations for a political settlement scheduled during the four-month truce, "That's a whole other ball game."

Another UN source said: "Even if there is a tiny, slim chance that there will be some progress because of this, it is at the cost of delivering the Serbs an enormous propaganda coup and giving up some of the pressure on the Serbs to sign the Contact Group plan."

Pale has repeatedly rejected that proposal; now it is committed only to negotiating on the "basis" of the plan, a wording the Bosnian government refused to accept. "There is no real sign both sides are inching towards some kind of settlement," the sourc e added.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Recruitment Genius: Project and Resource Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing experience-led technology co...

Recruitment Genius: Production Scientist

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises in the...

Recruitment Genius: Factory Manager - Food

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Environmental Account Manager - Remote Working

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunit...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable