Letter: Karadzic's regime in Bosnia

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The Independent Online
From Professor Adrian Hastings

Sir: I have recently returned from a week's visit to Sarajevo and Mostar with a delegation of the Alliance to Defend Bosnia-Herzegovina. We were fortunate to be able to discuss the current situation at some length with Hasan Muratovic, the new Prime Minister, Dr Kupusovic, the Mayor of Sarajevo, Ambassador Frowick, Head of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe mission responsible for the coming elections, Herr Steiner, deputy head of the "Office of the High Representative" and Herr Hans Koschnick, the EU administrator in Mostar, among many other people of a variety of viewpoints.

We were greatly impressed by the earnest endeavour of Frowick, Steiner and Koschnick to advance the cause of peace and reconstruction and to prepare the way for free and fair elections. But it also became clear to us that their mission is an essentially unrealistic one unless certain things change. Quite the most important such thing is the continued total grip on power in Republika Srpska of Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic.

It is perfectly clear to all the people we spoke to that Republika Srpska is a police state in which there is no freedom of expression and in which two indicted war criminals remain as much as ever in control. It is obvious in these circumstances that it is as farcical to imagine free elections can be held in six months' time.

Theoretically, the international community refuses to recognise Karadzic in any way. In practice, it does so almost daily. The might of Ifor is now achieving very little. It could perfectly well be used, in conformity with its secondary mandate, to mount effective road blocks which would either arrest or demobilise Karadzic.

If that were to happen, a process of reconciliation might well develop quite fast. But while the regime of Karadzic is not only not challenged but is, in reality, actually being reinforced by its control of all relations with international organisations, there can be absolutely no progress in that direction.

Yours faithfully,

Adrian Hastings

Department of Theology

and Religious Studies

University of Leeds