West turns up heat on Serb hardliners

The West has increased the pressure on Bosnian Serb hardliners over the weekend, following clashes last week with Nato troops.

On Saturday, the United States special envoy, Robert Gelbard, accused hard-line supporters of wartime leader Radovan Karadzic of instigating the violence, and criticised them for using women and children as shields for rock-throwing demonstrators.

Mr Gelbard, on a one-day visit to shore up the crumbling Dayton peace accords and stem mounting violence that has included attacks on US soldiers, gave measured support to the more moderate Bosnian Serb leader, Biljana Plavsic, but heaped scorn on her hardline rivals. He said the backers of the indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic had impoverished the Bosnian Serb people, whose economy was wrecked during the 43-month-long Bosnian civil war.

"I warned him in the most serious terms that there is a need right now to change his behaviour," Mr Gelbard said after he met Momcilo Krajisnik, a top Karadzic aide. "The consequences will be the most serious imaginable," he added.

Mr Krajisnik hit back at Mr Gelbard. "We took Gelbard's message very seriously, but we don't accept threats," he said.

The Bosnian Serbs' embattled President Plavsic met the US administrator of Brcko, where intra-Serb tensions sparked attacks against US peacekeeping troops three days ago. After speaking with the administrator, Robert Farrand, for two hours, Mrs Plavsic condemned her hard-line rivals for "putting women and children in the front line ... which is beyond every moral norm".

Mrs Plavsic controls the western section of Serbian territory in Bosnia from her base in Banja Luka, while Mr Karadzic controls the east from Pale, near the capital, Sarajevo. The peace force and other international representatives in Bosnia have sided increasingly with Mrs Plavsic.

Clashes erupted in Brcko after US soldiers serving with the Nato peace mission moved to maintain order after learning that Mrs Plavsic's forces were planning to seize police stations and media outlets controlled by her rivals. Mr Farrand criticised local radio in Brcko for instigating Thursday's violence.

The North Atlantic Council, Nato's policymaking body, said on Saturday that Nato-led troops in Bosnia "would not tolerate the use of force or intimidation" and promised to shut down any media inciting violence. The council met in special session late on Saturday to consider the developing situation in the Serb part of Bosnia-Herzegovinia.

The Nato Secretary-General Javier Solana said that allied peacekeeping troops would use force, if needed, to shut down Bosnian Serb media outlets that urge violence against peacekeepers.

President Plavsic warned that the hardliners would face punishment when the power struggle in Bosnian Serb territory was over. "Their biggest punishment would be their conscience, if they had one," she said during a television programme on Saturday night. "Since they do not have one, they will be punished once all this over."

The West, together with Mrs Plavsic, have been gradually wresting power from the hardliners in the west of the republic, including putting Plavsic loyalists in charge of police stations. They also have been taking control of the state-run television network, which previously broadcast only news programmes put together by the hardline-run studios in Pale.

Suggested Topics
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: Office Administrator

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established managed services IT...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Advisor is r...

Recruitment Genius: Plant Fitter - Construction Industry

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This well established construction equipment d...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitm...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003