This Week: French pilots released, peace treaty signed in Paris, weather delays US deployment, the refugee question.
10 Dec 95
In London, 52 countries and international organizations finished a three day meeting on plans for the reconstruction of Bosnia. The session approved a 47-point document setting down broad guidelines that will have to be fleshed out. A steering committee has been set up; chief EU negotiator Carl Bildt will serve as its chair. Bildt’s first task centers on Sarajevo. He said that “the civilian [reconstruction] aspect is the real key to a lasting peace.”
In Sarajevo, Bosnian Serbs threatened to destroy vital utility lines in their neighborhoods if the Bosnian peace accord is not amended to protect them. In response the UN has begun identifying key points in the Serb suburbs where troops might have to be deployed to prevent any such sabotage. An attempt to destroy utilities serving Sarajevo would be a major challenge to NATO patience in the opening days of the peace process. Utilities were restored in October, one of the preconditions for a ceasefire and, eventually, the Wright-Patterson peace talks.
The Bosnian Croat parliament approved the Dayton peace treaty, albeit with misgivings over northern Bosnia.
11 Dec 95
Clinton sent Congress a formal request for its support of his deployment of US troops to Bosnia. He also promised to arm and train Bosnian Muslims. More congressional support is expected if steps are taken to teach Muslims to defend themselves. That, in turn, would enable US peacekeepers to leave in a year.
Polls indicate two out of three Americans opposed the mission a week before it was to get under way.
Fearing government retribution, some Bosnian Serbs have begun fleeing Sarajevo’s traditionally Serb neighborhoods. Bosnian Serb authorities have begun transferring industrial units and other equipment to Serbia. There was a ‘multiethnic demonstration’ in government-held parts of Sarajevo to urge the suburban Serbs to stay. The Dayton peace treaty puts the 70,000 Serbs living in Sarajevo suburbs under Muslim-Croat jurisdiction. “This is an unacceptable situation,” said Trifko Radik, a Serb leader in Ilidza. The Sarajevo Serbs fear they will be terrorized and discriminated against as a minority group if cut out of the Serb portion of Bosnia.
Croat refugees living in northern Bosnia protested their inclusion in territory to be run by Serbs. They demanded the return of Posavina, a Croat region that Serb forces captured early in the war to link their domains in eastern and northern Bosnia.
Judge Goldstone, chief justice of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, turned down a Russian request to “suspend legal action” against Bosnian Serb President Karadzic, an indicted war criminal. The Russians requested the reprieve so Karadzic could attend the peace treaty signing in Paris.
Bosnian President Izetbegovic promised that all Mujahideen in Bosnia would be sent home within 30 days. He added that his government will work to reassure the 60,000-70,000 Serbs in Sarajevo who will pass from Bosnian Serb to government control.
A Croatian military court sentenced 16 Krajina Serbs to prison terms for war crimes. The only accused actually in custody was given ten years.
12 Dec 95
The two missing French pilots were released by the Bosnian Serbs today. Serb officials in Yugoslavia brought decisive pressure to bear on the Bosnian Serbs. (The US intercepted phone calls in which Serb President Milosevic threatened General Mladic with arrest and loss of pay to get him to free the pilots.) The pilots’ release eliminates one of the last major barriers to the December 14 signing of a final peace treaty in Paris.
Sarajevo’s Serbs voted ‘no’ by a large majority on today’s Dayton peace treaty referendum.
A squabble has broken out at the UN over who should police eastern Slavonia. UN Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali recommended that 9,300 troops be sent to the region under the auspices of a multinational force to be attached to the NATO-led Implementation Force (IFOR). This proposal contradicts an earlier understanding with the US that the east Slavonian force remain a UN operation. US Ambassador to the UN Albright called Boutros-Ghali’s report “misguided and counterproductive”. Albright then convinced Boutros-Ghali to downgrade the “recommendation” to a “preference”. Currently, 1,600 Belgian and Russian UN peacekeepers serve in eastern Slavonia.
The US Air Force’s only two JSTARS (Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System) aircraft deployed to Bosnia. Ten ground station modules are also being deployed.
13 Dec 95
The US House of Representatives and Senate defeated attempts to cut off funding for the US mission in Bosnia. The House vote was 210-218 to cut off funding. The Senate voted 77-22 to maintain funding.
Wisconsin’s Russ Feingold was the only Democrat Senator to vote against funding the mission. “It is obvious that this institution … does not have the will to challenge decades of executive aggrandizement of congressional war powers,” said Feingold.
The Senate had debated three options: Cut off funding (the proposal that failed); oppose Clinton’s decision to send troops but support the soldiers themselves, which is expected to pass; and permit Clinton to send troops while imposing restrictions on the mission, which is also expected to pass.
The House has twice previously voted against deployment.
A large explosion at a mujahideen camp near Podbrezje killed one Muslim. Police say the car exploded when people trying to rig a car bomb accidentally detonated it.
Tuzla is sinking. Literally. Hundreds of salt mines, which once formed the basis of the city’s economy, were never shored up after they were abandoned dozens of years ago. (Tuzla means ‘salt mine’ in Turkish.) Now, houses, shops and roads are badly cracked from the settling of the mines and are being swallowed. Sinkholes are opening up almost weekly, and certain parts of town are considered unsafe to even walk through.
14 Dec 95
The presidents of Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia finalized the Dayton peace treaty in Paris. Witnessing the signature of Presidents Izetbegovic, Tudjman and Milosevic were Clinton, French President Chirac, German Chancellor Kohl, British Prime Minister Major and Russian President Yeltsin. Over 50 countries and international organizations were represented at the ceremony. Earlier in the morning, the foreign ministers of Bosnia, Croatia and Yugoslavia signed the annexes, which contain the real substance of the Dayton agreement.
Five mujahideen were killed in a shootout with Croatian militia near Zepce. Two Bosnian Croat police officers were wounded. The attack was caused by yesterday’s car bomb explosion. Bosnian Croat forces are preparing for further car bombings and assaults on isolated villages by the mujahedeen. There are 2,000-4,000 mujahideen in Bosnia. Only 136 have so far left, which the Dayton peace treaty requires them to do. (Many are second or third generation European Arabs.)
The US is sending a special “combat stress team” of 15 specialists, including psychiatrists and psychologists, to Bosnia with the troops to help soldiers handle stress.
Two feet of fresh snow in Sarajevo prevented 17 US troop flights from landing.
15 Dec 95
In a unanimous vote, the UN Security Council formally ended UN peacekeeping in Bosnia. It formally passed authority to NATO.
Bosnian Serbs shelled the Bosnian government area of Sarajevo. Bosnian government troops fired at a French helicopter. Croatian troops clashed with the Mujahideen allies of the Bosnian government.
Poor weather prevented US aircraft from landing in Tuzla for the second day in a row.
In the week since the PSRC was signed by Clinton, 52 National Guard units with 2,223 personnel and 33 Army Reserve units with 1,370 personnel have been mobilized. That represents more than 65 percent of the call-up authority of 3,388. 26 units have been identified and are awaiting mobilization.
16 Dec 95
NATO commander GEN Joulwan approved the North Atlantic Council operations order, officially beginning Operation Joint Endeavor. “The mission is clear, limited in time and scope, and with robust rules of engagement,” said Joulwan. Deployment in force begins tomorrow. Meanwhile, winter weather delayed NATO air deployment to Bosnia for the third straight day. Up to 60 flights have been delayed so far. British and French troops have not had as much trouble. (Many of them are already in country, most of the rest are traveling by land or sea.)
The illegal Albanian-language university in Tetovo, Macedonia, celebrated its first anniversary. University dean Fadil Sulejmani called the day the university was founded, a “day of Albanian liberation in Macedonia.” Police earlier this year destroyed parts of the self-proclaimed university’s premises and prevented students from entering the building. (One person was killed in the ensuing riot.) Nonetheless, the university’s 150 professors teach a wide variety of ‘underground’ courses to its 1,300 students.
The Hotel Ilidza, in Sarajevo, is host to the NATO headquarters in Bosnia. It is the same hotel where Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand stayed the night before he was assassinated by Gavrilo Princip — the spark that touched off World War I.
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