Letter: No prizes for catch-22 diplomacy

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IN ITS deliberation as to whether a peace prize might be appropriate ('A good guy once again', 9 May) in the context of any Bosnian 'peace plan', the Nobel committee might consider the following.

That David Owen has consistently maintained that the Vance- Owen Plan represented the best possible option for the former Yugoslavia in the absence of a willingness of the outside world to intervene militarily. Yet, simultaneously, the reason most commonly cited by Europe for not intervening militarily has been in order not to pre-empt these often Byzantine negotiations. Meanwhile the critical element for the survival of the Muslim community - time - has been squandered.

European policy throughout this shameful episode has been characterised by a convenient double-think typified by this 'catch-22' diplomacy. This approach is also apparent in the introduction of peace-keeping forces, which has effectively prevented a meaningful military intervention and reduced the unfortunate soldiers on the ground to helpless observers of 'ethnic cleansing'.

Meanwhile the 'peace process' is also responsible for an arms embargo which perpetuates a gross imbalance of forces at the expense of the Muslims, surely the most politically isolated and vulnerable population in Europe.

Whatever settlement that is achieved could not possibly be considered a success for European diplomacy, now the object of worldwide contempt and ridicule. A 'peace prize' would only serve to disguise a diplomatic and political failure of catastrophic proportions and put the seal on our hypocrisy.

Peter Walsh

Co Wicklow, Ireland