Yugo Digest: 1995-11-25

yugo_digest_logoThis Week: Peace agreement reached in Dayton, how peace was made, fine tuning the treaty.
Peace Agreement in Dayton
The presidents of Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia initialed a peace agreement late on November 21, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, near Dayton, Ohio. “The people of Bosnia finally have a chance to turn from the horror of war to the promise of peace,” said Clinton, in announcing what he termed a “historic and heroic” agreement.
The agreement contains 10 articles, 11 annexes and 102 maps. It provides for “one state with one capital” and a central government. The latter will include a presidency, parliament and constitutional court, with familiar Tito-era legal mechanisms (which were a failure fifteen years ago), such as rotating chairmanships and the assignment of posts according to nationality. Free, democratic and internationally supervised elections will take place; refugees can go home; human rights will be independently monitored; war criminals will be banned from public life and there will be “full cooperation” with the international war crimes tribunal; and a corridor will be opened from Sarajevo to Gorazde.
The Bosnian state will consist of the Croat-Muslim Federation and the Serbian Republic and will remain internationally recognized within its present borders. The lines of separation are nearly identical to the current situation in the field, with the Serbs still having to make some concessions before the Croat-Muslim Federation gets its 51.4% allotment of territory. The status of Brcko along the Serb-held Posavina supply corridor will be decided by international arbitration. (Providing an almost sure point of contention, which will could lead the later formal signing of the agreement being delayed or cancelled altogether.)

Croatia can be satisfied because it has achieved most of its aims and could try to distance itself from any future conflict, as Slovenia did after July, 1991. Bosnia can look forward to the lifting of the arms embargo, albeit in stages. Yugoslavia can expect to have most sanctions lifted and will then be free to go its way and claim it has no control over the Bosnian Serbs. It may be that it is ready to abandon the Bosnian Serbs to their fate — as it did in Krajina — or that, having just refurbished the Bosnian Serb military infrastructure, it is simply performing a ruse to get the sanctions lifted.

It remains to be seen whether peace will be the actual result, since controlling local warlords has been a problem for all sides. The big hurdle is the Bosnian Serbs, whom US negotiator Holbrooke called the “big losers.” Serbian President Milosevic frequently overruled Bosnian Serb members of his delegation during the peace talks, and the Bosnian Serbs claimed that Milosevic showed them the final maps only 10 minutes before the pact was initialed. Bosnian Serb Parliamentary Speaker Krajisnik called the maps “blackmail” and denied that Milosevic could speak for the Bosnian Serbs. For his part, Milosevic said the Bosnian Serbs were the big winners, claiming they had been apportioned “a far better” share of Bosnian territory than under previous peace proposals.

Though Bosnia nominally remains a unified country within its previous borders, it has in effect been sliced into two or more pieces. Half its territory will remain for now under the control of the Bosnian Serb forces that seized it early in the war. The other half is allocated to an unstable federation of Muslim-led government forces and Croatian militias that have been at odds in the past and could become so again. It is also not too far-fetched to imagine a future Serbian-Muslim conflict breaking out once Yugoslavia has successfully distanced itself from the Bosnian Serbs and once Bosnia has acquired more heavy weapons.

The agreement will not be final (and this is key) until after a formal signing. Implementation talks are to be held soon in London, with the formal signing following in Paris. Moves are under way to put together a NATO force as soon as possible.

The US cannot now walk away from the peace it brokered. US prestige and the future of NATO are at stake. US troops will help enforce the peace. Deployment could begin as soon as 96 hours after the formal signing, most likely in mid- to late-December. December, 1996, would thus be the likely withdrawal date, but don’t be surprised if it happens before the presidential elections in November, 1996. But before any troops are sent, Clinton must make the case to Congress and the American people that this mission is necessary and prudent. (See the “Now for the Hard Part” editorial later in this issue of Yugo Digest.)

22 Nov 95

“What we accomplished here is a real peace,” said Croatian President Tudjman, adding that Croatia defended its national interests and emerged a winner. Tudjman explained that Croatia had to give up territories it recently took in western Bosnia in order to get what it wanted in the Posavina. He denied there had been a discussion of exchanging Croatia’s Prevlaka peninsula for the Serb-controlled Dubrovnik hinterland. Montenegrin President Bultovic said that the issue of Prevlaka had yet to be resolved.

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Albania offered the use of its harbors and airfields to NATO. Hungary may also allow the US to use its facilities to support the peacekeeping operation. US experts inspected those facilities this week. Poland will send an contribute an infantry battalion to the IFOR.

Note: The latter two countries are very hungry to become full-fledged members of NATO.

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Russian President Yeltsin, speaking from his hospital bed, said Russia had yet to decide if it would participate in the IFOR. The statement contradicted Russian Colonel-General Shevtsov, who is slated to command the Russian peacekeepers, who said earlier that his troops would be assigned to guard the strategic Posavina corridor, which links Serb-held territory in eastern and western Bosnia.

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The UN Security Council voted to suspend sanctions against Yugoslavia, as agreed upon at the Dayton conference. The sanctions are suspended immediately and indefinitely, though they could be re-imposed should Yugoslavia violate the peaceaccords. Other sanctions — a ban on Yugoslav membership in the UN and access to World Bank loans, for example — will remain until Serbs show a compliance with the agreement. The sanctions against the Bosnian Serbs remain and their suspension will be considered only when they comply with the terms of the peace agreement, which include withdrawing from some areas of Bosnia they currently hold. The arms embargo will be gradually eased beginning 90 days after the agreement is finalized.

Now for the Hard Part
Thomas L. Friedman
New York Times
November 22, 1995

In announcing the Bosnian peace accord, Clinton declared that the role of US troops in implementing this agreement will be “a clear, limited, achievable mission,” with minimal risks. I think that such a minimalist mission — but only such a minimalist mission — can be sold to the American public and Congress.But before we can judge whether that is really the mission Clinton is dispatching US forces on, we need to know not only the fine print of this agreement, but what has not been printed at all, only whispered to the parties in the hallways of Dayton. There was obviously a lot of 11th-hour horse-trading.

When American diplomats were negotiating the withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam they accepted a lot of ambiguity in the accord, and told different things to different people — but that was in order to get US troops out. It would be very worrying if we have adopted the same sort of diplomacy in Dayton to get US troops in.

Here are the questions Congress should be asking:

1. Initial reports suggest that this deal came about as a result of a Croatian-Serbian squeeze play on the Bosnian Muslims. And no wonder. Croatia and Serbia, the two big powers in this theater, got virtually everything they wanted out of this deal – international recognition for the slices of Bosnia they have seized. It is the Muslims who wanted a reunified Bosnia, but got far less. The question is: What has the US promised the Muslims in terms of military support and training for their army? And does the US have the backing of the Serbs and the Croats for playing the role of peacekeeper with one hand while arming the Muslims with the other?

The US has to be very careful that it is not drawn into a process whereby the Muslims use the US Army to get for them on the ground in Bosnia what they could not get at the negotiating table in Dayton. This is also a crucial point to sort out with our allies, because the Germans, British and French have neverliked the idea of the US upgrading the Muslim army while also serving as peacekeepers. Do France, Germany, Britain and the US share the same objectives under the NATO umbrella?

2. This agreement states that while Bosnia is being divided into self-governing Serbian and Croatian-Muslim states, these two halves are supposed to be united under an “effective” umbrella central government, central bank, national parliament and constitutional court. Also all refugees are to be allowed to return home. What role will the US military play in achieving those difficult goals? What if the Serbs and Croats drag their feet in participating in these federal institutions or in letting refugees return?

3. How will we know when this mission has succeeded? Will we declare victory and bring the troops home only after all-Bosnian elections and a return of refugees to their original homes? Will we declare victory and bring the troops home after 12 months in which we have given the parties a legitimate breathing space to solidify peace, whether they have done so or not? Or will we declare victory after we have built up the Muslim army enough so that there will be a stable balance of power among the three parties? There has always been a trade-off in the Balkans between stability and justice. Which is our objective?

Finally, a question for Clinton: In traveling around this country I am sure you have noticed that not only is there no public enthusiasm for this mission, there is virtually no public understanding of it. Even those inclined to support you on this aren’t quite sure why.

The stakes for you could not be higher. If this peace mission succeeds, your whole foreign policy will be judged very differently than it has been up to now. But if you can’t get the public’s support for this mission, or if this mission fails on the ground because it turns out not to have been either limited or clearly defined, everything else you’ve achieved in foreign policy will be forgotten.

Putting 20,000 US troops into a risky peacekeeping role in the Balkans, with relations with NATO and Russia on the line, is a major foreign policy endeavor. To make it a success will require you to exhibit something that you have never exhibited before — a sustained, personal involvement with foreign policy. That is the only way you can sell this.

But first, you have to tell us exactly what you’re selling.

23 Nov 95

Under current plans, the 1st Armored Division would leave for Tuzla about two weeks after the final agreement is signed. First, however, after approvals and before signing of the agreement in Paris, 1,500 to 2,000 troops, including US forces, will deploy to set up logistics and communications. As many as 800 Special Forces soldiers and civil affairs specialists are expected to deploy from Germany and from reserve units in the United States.

French forces will be headquartered in Sarajevo; the British in Gornji Vakuf.

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Secretary of Defense Perry spent Thanksgiving in Macedonia. He and the Defense Ministers of Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland (the other countries with peacekeepers in the country) met with President Gligorov and Defense Minister Handziski. Perry also met with US members of UNPREDEP.

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The UN Security Council passed resolution 1023, acknowledging the agreement on the peaceful reintegration of eastern Slavonia, Baranja and western Srijem (See the 12 Nov 95 item in this issue of Yugo Digest.) Croatian UN Ambassador Nobilo welcomed the resolution, saying Croatia would not renew the UNCRO mandate, which expires on November 30, and that a new force should be established to esablished to monitor the transition.

Note: If this is November, the Croats must be threatening to kick out the UN. Happens every year …

How Peace Was Made

The wine was drunk, a lavish lobster dinner eaten, and it was time to resolve one of the most delicate issues in the Bosnian peace talks: the creation of a route for the Bosnian government from Sarajevo through Bosnian Serb territory to the beleaguered Muslim enclave of Gorazde.President Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia made his way to a high-tech auditorium to play Powerscene, the Pentagon’s computer mapping program that reproduces terrain on a vast movie screen. The Serbian leader was adamant that the corridor could be no more than two miles wide.

Gen. Wesley K. Clark, the senior American military official at the negotiations, whisked Milosevic off on an imaginary aerial tour of the region to show why such a narrow corridor made no strategic sense. “As you see, God did not put the mountains two miles apart,” Clark said.

Milosevic downed a large whisky, considered this geophysical fact, and the deal on a five-mile-wide corridor was consummated. It became known as the “Scotch Road.”

Throughout the 21 days of talks at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base outside Dayton, from the wary chill of the opening to the sleep-deprived marathon and near collapse at the end, the American negotiators established a remarkable rapport with Milosevic. The Muslim-led Bosnian government, which the Americans initially saw as their friend and the victim of the war, ended up not fitting into the fraternal Realpolitik in which negotiators cut through days of stalemate over slugs of whisky.

Meeting rooms and corridors became popcorn-littered expanses reeking of stale fast food. Versailles it was not.

Note: This brings to mind Kaiser Wilhelm’s famous remark about there being two things one should not see being made: sausages and laws.

24 Nov 95

The Bosnian Serbs agreed to abide by the peace agreement. They reportedly “fully accepted” it and initialled it in Belgrade last night.

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The question of who will become the next NATO secretary-general has become an important issue since the Dayton agreement. There were several remaining candidates for the position including Spanish Foreign Minister Havier Solana former Danish Foreign Minister Ufe Eleman-Jensen of Denmark.

More Fine Tuning

All traffic between Sarajevo and Gorazde will be under NATO control. NATO forces will not be required to wait until being fired on before shooting. All early-warning and air defense radars must be shut down within 72 hours of the accord taking effect. Within 30 days, information on the number and location of all troops within six miles of the buffer zone must be handed over, along with any information on locations of land mines, unexploded ordnance, and SAM systems. Within 120 days, all tanks, armored vehicles, artillery 75 mm and larger, and mortars 81 mm and larger are to be moved to barracks or NATO designated areas. All equipment that cannot be moved must be made inoperative.Note: This has all, of course, been tried before.

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