Letter: Christian Europe's betrayal of peaceful Muslims in Bosnia

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The Independent Online
Sir: Robert Fisk ('Bosnian imam rails against the West's injustice', 12 July) deals sceptically with the hostility shown by Bosnia's Muslim religious leader to international efforts to resolve the conflict. The imam's hostility is, however, well- founded. The recent deterioration of the situation in central Bosnia, which directly threatens the humanitarian relief effort, is the consequence of the breakup of the former alliance between the Bosnian army and Croat forces.

This breakup began last January, when it became clear that the Vance- Owen plan would give the Croats many key Muslim-majority areas in central Bosnia, including Donji Vakuf (55 per cent Muslim, 2 per cent Croat), Jablanica (72 per cent Muslim, 17 per cent Croat) and Travnik (45 per cent Muslim, 36 per cent Croat). Once this was announced, the delighted Croats made haste to secure these areas, a move which local Muslims naturally resisted.

Not content with this blunder, which has contributed more than any other to the worsening situation in Bosnia, Lord Owen's team are now pressing the Bosnian president to accept a scheme drawn up not by the UN but by the nationalist politicians of Belgrade and Zagreb. This plan - which, given the unlikelihood of Serb or Croat withdrawals from occupied lands, will give the Muslims a derisory 13 per cent of their country - represents a scandalous abdication of those stan-

dards of justice which the international mediators are charged with upholding.

How are we to understand such disgraceful conduct? Are the negotiators simply incompetent? Or is it not time to admit that the imam's suggestion, namely, that Europe prefers Christian miscreants to peaceful Muslims, is not so far from the mark?

Yours sincerely,

JULIAN JOHANSEN

St Edmund Hall

Oxford

12 July

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