LETTER: Planning peace for Bosnia

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The Independent Online
From Professor Adrian Hastings

Sir: For the first time since the start of the war in Bosnia in April 1992, the possibility of a lasting peace settlement is emerging. This cannot, however, be based on any re-juggling of previous plans, all of which were inherently unjust, even, to use David Owen's phrase for one of them, "made in hell". The ludicrous 51:49 per cent formula for dividing the country is also quite outdated.

I suggest seven basic principles for a viable settlement:

1. Recognition of the sovereignty and integrity of Bosnia-Herzegovina with its international frontiers unchanged and a single army initially under Nato command.

2. A central government in which the three communities are effectively and not only symbolically represented.

3. Internal decentralisation based on a map of the mix of population as it was in 1991, and not as it is now after "ethnic cleansing".

4. Recognition of the right of the more than a million refugees to return in safety to their homes. No plan which does not include this can bring stability or justice.

5. International guarantees for a free press.

6. Guarantee of massive financial aid from the EU, US and Organisation of Islamic States for the reconstruction of the country.

7. No change of constitution can be agreed more than provisionally without approval through a referendum involving all Bosnians, including the refugees.

Yours faithfully,

Adrian Hastings

Department of Theology

and Religious Studies

University of Leeds


7 September