Letter: EC out of step with UN in approach to Yugoslavia

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Sir: Annika Savill and Leonard Doyle write ('Hurd tries to end row with UN on Yugoslavia', 23 July) that Brussels' offer to the United Nations of a permanent seat at Lord Carrington's talks is unlikely to appease Boutros Boutros-Ghali.

In addition to the reported disagreements between the UN Secretary-General and the EC, it seems that a fundamental difference of approach to the Yugoslav problem exists between them. Before Croatia was recognised, Cyrus Vance, the UN negotiator, was well on the way towards a settlement: as the Croats were afraid of losing more territory and the Yugoslav army was beginning to worry about the morale of its troops, a compromise was possible. However, it was against Mr Vance's and Lord Carrington's advice that the German view


Until the recognition, Bosnia-Herzegovina was peaceful, thanks to the power sharing between Muslims (43 per cent), Serbs (34 per cent) and Croats (18 per cent). The EC's willingness to consider a referendum for an eventual independence, based on a simple majority, signalled an end to power sharing. In the new situation, Lord Carrington and the Portuguese were making considerable efforts to negotiate an arrangement suitable to all three nationalities: they were interrupted by the EC recognition. According to David Howell, chairman of the House of Commons Select Committee for Foreign Affairs, the EC action meant putting a match to a powder keg.

A month ago Mr Boutros-Ghali published a report stating that Serbs were not the only guilty party and that Croat activities in eastern Croatia and elsewhere were destabilising all chances of a ceasefire in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Croats were involved in 'ethnic cleansing' of Serbs and they repeatedly denied permission to the UN monitors to visit Herzegovina and western Bosnia. Despite this report the EC continued to blame only Serbs.

A few days ago in Sarajevo the UN man-in-charge, General Lewis MacKenzie, told the journalists that all sides, including Muslims, were intentionally firing on their own people in order to be able to point the finger at their opponents. According to General MacKenzie, Muslims do not want a ceasefire. Almost at the same time, Douglas Hurd was telling the press in New York that he had assured the Secretary-General of President Izetbegovic's full support of the plan for ceasefire and for the control of heavy weapons.

It seems that Mr Boutros-Ghali's preference for a balanced approach as a means of achieving a political solution does not run parallel to EC policy.

Yours sincerely,



Stafford, Staffordshire

24 July