Letter: A recipe for eternal civil war in Bosnia

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The Independent Online
Sir: As the West prepares to do its duty, a gross error is surely still being committed. Lord Owen and Cyrus Vance wish to 'avoid a crude ethnic division of Bosnia- Herzegovina into three blocks', as the Bosnian Serbs have demanded, but to create a 'republic with about 10 autonomous regions under a loose central authority in Sarajevo'. But that means about 20 internal regional borders between the three nationalities, prolonging the mutual hatreds. So this is a recipe for eternal civil war, plus occasional 'foreign' invasions by Serbia and/or Croatia, which will each have about three 'oppressed minorities' to 'protect' - no longer one each] Anyhow, Alija Izetbegovic has, like the Serbs, rejected this scheme.

The present Serbian demand must, then, paradoxically, be accepted, but interpreted in a far more anti-Serbian way. Notably, we must 'cleanse' a very large area around Sarajevo so that the Slavic Muslims can move into it and defend their historic capital. Without this local armed superiority there will be no peace for this small nation, and no end at all to our inevitable peace-keeping expenses. For, of course, whatever is decided in Geneva, there must be a long-term, military guarantee, perhaps of that area alone.

Finally (and irresponsibly?), I suggest that religiously motivated outsiders such as Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iran be intimately consulted over any settlement.

Yours faithfully,

P. J. D. WILES

London School of Economics

London, WC1

4 January

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