Leading Article: Serbs still need outside pressure

Share
Related Topics
THE CHANCE of ending the war in Bosnia is in danger of slipping away. The Bosnian Serbs have rejected the federation offered by the new alliance of Muslims and Croats. Serbian forces have been pounding the Muslim enclave of Gorazde, which was declared a UN 'safe area' almost a year ago. Savage ethnic cleansing continues with atrocities such as those in Prijedor last week. The UN is also drawn into ethnic cleansing when it is asked to rescue beleaguered minorities.

The most visible response by the West so far has been its refusal to send the reinforcements requested by Lieutenant-General Sir Michael Rose. A case can be made for saying that the presence of more Nato troops would contribute to freezing the situation, whereas a just settlement still demands Serbian withdrawals. As a signal, however, the refusal must be read by the Serbs as further evidence that the West's commitment is at best half-hearted.

It is, therefore, important to keep up as much pressure as possible, especially by working on the differences between the Bosnian Serbs and the leadership in Belgrade. The more militant Bosnian Serbs are persuading themselves that American attention will soon wander, that divisions in the Western alliance will again paralyse action, that the Russian presence will inhibit Nato air strikes, and that Vladimir Zhirinovsky will become president of Russia before the 1996 elections, and come rushing to the rescue of Greater Serbia.

Fortunately, a different reading of the situation is beginning to impinge on the leadership in Belgrade. President Slobodan Milosevic seems to realise that time is no longer on the side of the Serbs. The Muslim-Croat alliance is holding, strongly backed by the Americans, Germans and Russians. Muslim forces are becoming stronger and better organised, whereas Serbian forces are suffering from shortages and low morale. In serious fighting, the Serbs could be driven back. At the same time, the sanctions against Serbia, although full of holes, are adding to strains in Belgrade and threatening the position of Mr Milosevic.

If Western pressure can be maintained, it should reinforce the spread of realism in Belgrade by showing the Serbs they can only lose by continuing to fight. It is also time for the Russians to play their hand more firmly. When they sent troops to Sarajevo, their main concern was to be acknowledged as a power with interests in the region. So far, they have behaved constructively. Indeed, they have disappointed the Serbs, who did not realise the largely phoney mythology of Serbian solidarity would take second place to Russia's national interest, which is to avoid a Balkan war.

Nevertheless, the Russians can only really earn their place at the table by delivering the Serbs to a settlement. With the West leaning hard on the Croats, and ready to press the Muslims to settle when the terms are right, there is just a chance of ending the war by the summer. It will be lost if outside pressure is not maintained.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The economy expanded by 0.8 per cent in the second quarter of 2014  

British economy: Government hails the latest GDP figures, but there is still room for skepticism over this 'glorious recovery'

Ben Chu
Comedy queen: Miranda Hart has said that she is excited about working on the new film  

There is no such thing as a middle-class laugh

David Lister
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little