Zagreb's No to UN heightens war fears

President Franjo Tudjman of Croatia yesterday told the UN he would not extend its peace-keeping mission in Croatia, where 15,000 troops police a ceasefire between Zagreb and rebellious Krajina Serbs who hold a third of the country. His announcemen t prompted fears of a renewed war in Croatia and a knock-on effect in Bosnia.

In a letter to Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the UN Secretary-General, Mr Tudjman said he would not authorise the UN to remain after 31 March, when its current mandate expires, and that the force should leave by the end of June. "Croatia finds the present situation in the occupied territories wholly unacceptable," he wrote. "Moreover, given the present inefficient Unprofor [UN Protection Force] mission, Croatia finds [its] continued presence in the occupied territories to be significantly counter-productive tothe peace process."

Mr Boutros-Ghali, who said he was "painfully aware" of the government's frustration at the UN's failure to re-integrate Serb-held lands to Croatia proper, responded with regret and anxiety. "The United Nations played a decisive role in bringing a halt tothe brutal war on Croatian soil three years ago," he said in a statement from New York. "I am gravely concerned about the risk of renewed hostilities should United Nations peace-keepers be withdrawn."

The UN envoy, Yasushi Akashi, warned that the decision could escalate fighting both in Croatia and Bosnia. "The Croatian government has a feeling that our interpositioning along the confrontation lines makes the Krajina Serb position more adamant," he t o ld reporters. "They are, in short, afraid of what they consider a Cyprus phenomenon being reproduced here in Croatia."

Diplomats said Zagreb appeared to mean what it said, despite the risks to Croatia inherent in another war with local Serbs, particularly if they were supported by Bosnian Serbs or by the Yugoslav army. But they added there was little the international

community could do to change Mr Tudjman's mind. "All we can do is simply try to get them to see the risks," said a Western diplomat. "They think the risks are worth taking."

Croatia has offered to allow the UN, which spends more than $250m a year in the country, to keep bases for the Bosnia mission in Zagreb. However, while the peace-keepers will need to maintain a presence at Split airport for the Bosnian aid operation, they are unlikely to remain in Zagreb.

The 300,000 Croats displaced by the war in 1991, and hardliners within the ruling nationalist HDZ party, are pressing for change. Under the [Cyrus] Vance plan and Security Council resolutions, the UN was to disarm the Serb rebels, monitor Croatia's bord e rs with Bosnia and Serbia, and return refugees to their homes. The lightly-armed force is, however, neither willing nor able to fulfil these tasks without Krajina Serb consent. The mission has brokered an economic agreement between the warring parties.B ut the fruits are not yet rich enough to persuade Zagreb of the UN's usefulness.

One diplomat said the Croats had told his government: "Unprofor has kept the peace, but it still has not solved Croatia's problems." Zagreb is now hoping, the diplomat said, that the prospect of a UN withdrawal will concentrate Krajina Serb minds on the need for real negotiations. But it is a dangerous policy, despite Croatia's efforts to build a modern army.

Mr Akashi said yesterday: "If Unprofor is withdrawn from Croatia I think that incidents or accidents may lead to a major escalation of fighting.". Furthermore, the recent truce in Bosnia "can be impeded and affected if anything unsettling" happens to thenorth.

Meanwhile, the UN mission in Bosnia has reported some progress in the ceasefire talks. After a 10-hour meeting in Sarajevo on Wednesay, the commanders of the warring armies in Bosnia agreed that the "blue routes" for civilian traffic into Sarajevo shouldopen by tomorrow.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicHunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original  manuscripts
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
lifeAiming to show breasts in a non-sexual way for cancer awareness
New Articles
i100... while following the referendum
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special
tvNick Frost, Natalie Gumede and Michael Troughton step up
Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Beard, Ben Schnetzer, Douglas Booth and Jack Farthing in ‘The Riot Club’
filmReview: Sheer nastiness of Riot Club takes you aback
Arts and Entertainment
tvBut something’s not quite right
New Articles
i100
News
people
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

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week