Sir, For over a year now several observers, including myself (Letters, 13 May 1994), have been lobbying for a mini-Marshall Plan for Bosnia, to be offered to both sides in the conflict before a ceasefire as a means of obtaining peace. The donor powers, meeting in Rome on 5 and 6 October, should consider this option.
Until the Croatian and Bosnian offensives in Krajina and north-west Bosnia, the only likely peace effectively involved a division of Bosnia between the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and a still armed "Republika Srpska" bent on a subsequent anschluss with Serbia. Such a peace would be inherently unstable for obvious geographic reasons. It would also reward aggression and the policy of "ethnic cleansing".
Now another peace is tantalisingly near: a unitary Bosnia-Herzegovina with a Serb autonomous region and the prospect of reassimilation of the Serbs, all groups having their security guaranteed by Nato forces.
Peace by diplomacy invariably reflects military and economic realities. If the international community wants to shorten the fighting, it should offer its reconstruction basket to both sides now on the strict conditions that Brian Atwood, head of the US Agency for International Development, spelt out last week: human rights, disarmament, voluntary return of refugees, and normal relations between the three countries concerned.
If the extremist Serb leaders refused, as Stalin refused the Marshall Plan, the discontent of large numbers of demoralised Serbs could destabilise them. (As those of us who have visited Republika Srpska know, morale is its Achilles' heel). If they accepted, real peace would have arrived. Let us hope that, at Rome, donors will let money talk now.
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