Letter: Lord Owen's near-impossible task

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your leading article on Lord Owen's role in the UN sponsored peace process for Bosnia (12 August) is thoughtful, but it fails to detail the arguments being made against his approach, not just in America, but also by the European Parliament.

UN Security Council Resolution 838 condemns 'all efforts to acquire territory and change existing borders by force of arms'. But the draft proposal being forced on the Bosnian government at the Geneva talks seeks to legitimise control of territory acquired by force, a measure that would lead to the de facto expansion of Croatia and Serbia. As the European Parliament Resolution of 17 May 1993 remarked: 'aggression against UN member states and ethnic homogenisation by terror and war seem to be rewarded by international support'.

The London Conference on Bosnia, held last August, called for a settlement that would incorporate constitutional guarantees for the human rights of minorities. Such guarantees were incorporated in the original Vance-Owen plan. However, the level of autonomy being proposed at Geneva for the Croat and Serb 'ethnic republics', which would in practice be administered by the ethnic cleansers themselves, is such that the international community would have no means of ensuring the implementation of such guarantees.

For these reasons a European Parliament Resolution of 15 July 1993 expressed the EC's 'alarm at the pressure of the representative of the EC, Lord Owen, on the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina to accept the plans of Karadzic and Boban backed by Milosevic and Tudjman for a division of the republic into ethnic


Yours faithfully,



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