LETTER : The only way to build lasting peace in Croatia

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From Ms Lib Peck and

Mr Danny Thompson

Sir: On Wednesday Croatia's President Tudjman declared that "Croatia will no longer tolerate the continuation of ethnic cleansing in Croatian areas behind the cloak of the [UN] peace forces".

On Thursday evening Chris Gunness, the UN spokesman in Zagreb, expressed concern for the fate of male Serbs from the town of Pakrac. They had been separated from women and children and taken away by Croatian soldiers - who refused to allow the UN to monitor the "evacuation".

Until the fighting this week Pakrac was a town divided. When the 1991 ceasefire was negotiated the war ground to a halt in the middle of the town. Half was held by Croats, half by Serbs. For the past year the "Pakrac Project", consisting of teams of international volunteers organised by the Anti-War Centre in Zagreb, has worked in both sides of the town.

The rebuilding of homes, schools and clinics destroyed by the fighting has been accompanied by a gradual restoration of contact, official and unofficial, between those in the two sides of the town - and by a slow but sure rebuilding of trust.

Now the Serb side of Pakrac has been "liberated". Thousands of residents of the area have become refugees in Bosnia. And a year's painstaking work by the Pakrac Project has been demolished in a bloody afternoon.

A long-term solution to this war will never be achieved by the bombing and shelling of towns like Pakrac, or indeed by rocket attacks on Zagreb. It is only through the slow, unglamorous and unreported work of projects like that in Pakrac that a lasting peace, for all those living in the region will be built.

Yours sincerely,



National Peace Council

London, N1

5 May