Letter: Serbs' right to self-determination in a land of artificial borders

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The Independent Online
Sir: I must reply to M. G. Payne (letter, 1 June) who justifies the rights of Serbs uniting as a part of a Greater Serbia. First, the Slovenes, Croats and Muslims did not "destroy the once viable pluralist state of Yugoslavia". Such a state was never really viable and was held together only by the strength of Tito as a leader. Serbia's refusing to pass on control of the rotating parliament (which sparked off the calls for Slovenian independence) is just one example of the Serbian domination that had been in force since the end of the Second World War.

Second, in the case of Bosnia, there were Serbs and Croats, as well as Muslims, who sought independence. Unfortunately, the nature of this war has meant that anybody not agreeing with a "tear-away" group of Serbs has been terrorised, shot or "ethnically cleansed".

Third, Britain and the West cannot avoid being involved in the war in some way. That was decided the day that the arms embargo was imposed on the Bosnian government. Britain, the West and the United Nations have given in to the Serbs time and time again. They stood by and watched as Dubrovnik, an internationally protected city, was bombed. They stood by and watched the atrocities committed in the concentration camps (or detention camps, as they like to call them) and they stood by and watched as Serbs bombarded UN-designated "safe areas". I only hope that John Major's pledge not to give in to blackmail amounts to something other than more hollow words.

Yours sincerely,



1 June