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by Valentine Smith, February 2,1993
From the summer of 1990 to the present time roughly two years later, the state of Yugoslavia began to become unglued as a federation of republics. In early July of that year, Slovenia declared the sovereignty of its laws over the laws of Yugoslavia, being the first of the six republics to break away from the federation, and the only one to do so relatively peacably. Two days after that, Serbia dissolved the government and parliament of the autonomous province of Kosovo, one of two in the state (the other being Vojvodina). In August, the Serbian minority in Croatia held a referendum, bitterly opposed by the Croatian government, to decide on autonomy within Croatia. Slovenia declared customs duties on Serbian goods in late October, in effect breaking down the internal exchange process.
In 1991, Slovenia and Croatia declared independence from Belgrade, and Serbian "irregulars," and forces of the Serb-dominated Yugoslav army and air force attacked Croatia, destroying most of the city of Vukovar, heavily damaging the Adriatic port city of Dubrovnik, plus causing some damage to Zagreb and Ljubljana. The fighting at times was ferocious, a large number of people were killed, more became the first of now over 1.5 million refugees, and a fair numbr of cities were damaged or destroyed. Next was the turn of Bosnia-Hercegovina, which declared independence in February, 1992, and the fighting between the republic and the republics of Serbia and Montenegro began almost immediately. Macedonia also declared independence in the spring of 1992, but unlike the other three republics, was not recognized as an independent state by the EC, CSCE, and UN as the first three were because of Greek objections over the use of the name "Macedonia."
At this time, a month into the fall of 1992, the fighting continues in Bosnia, with the city of Sarajevo holding out against a concentrated Serbian push to capture the city, and assimilate as much of Bosnia as they can into a "new Yugoslavia," (currently Serbia and Montenegro, plus the captive "autonomous regions" of Kosovo and Vojvodina) which as yet has not gained any recognition in the international community. 70% of Bosnia is in Serbian hands, with all three communities of the state (Muslim, Croat, and Serb) accused of blood-letting beyond any seen in Europe since World War II, and ethno-centrism to the point of ominous policies like "ethnic purification" and "concentration camps." This has led to a large number of yet unreported-in-full slaughters, and the largest European refugee problem since the last World War. Other states in the region began closing their borders as July began, a policy that has continued throughout the rest of summer and into fall in varying degrees. All of Bosnia's immediate neighbors, including Croatia, are saturated with refugees from Bosnia.
This account begins in November of last year, as the fighting in Croatia still continued, Bosnia was only discussing breaking away from Belgrade, and continues into the latter part of July, 1992, as still another ceasefire collapsed (over twenty-five have so far failed), and Sarajevo airport is one of the few places in all Bosnia under "neutral" control, with 1600 UN "peacekeepers" maintaining a tenuous thread of food and medical aid to the embattled city, but not able to get food or any aid to the countryside at all. As the account opens, on my 600th message to my electronic mail bulletin board, Vukovar is being pounded to bits by Serbian shelling.
The messages are parts of a larger structure of material written from 17 November, 1991 to 5 August, 1992, and include only excerpts relating to the former republics of Yugoslavia, and specific or general conclusions the writer made about the situation, or as it related to Europe as a whole. This account stops 150 messages after the start, spanning a little over nine months of commentaries on just this theme.
In the two months after the messages in this paper stop, the destruction of Sarejevo has continued, (including the cutting off of natural gas, electricity and water to the beseiged city) the "ethnic cleansing" in north Bosnia has continued, the refugee situation is critical, food deliveries by air or truck are erratic or not occurring, and in the month of October, Croat and Muslim, once allied against the Serbs, have begun to fight each other.
Vukovar looks devastated in the fighting of the past week, shelling continues at Dubrovnik, more fires and damage is occurring at Osijek, so the ceasefire last was a bit on the ephemeral side. It did permit "Slavakia," a ferry of some kind, to ponderously (took 36 hours for the ship to get where it was going - somewhere else in "Yugoslavia" - a seeming fictional place these days, despite the efforts of the Serbs) get away from 4000 refugees from Dubrovnik, almost all wounded people, women and children. Osijek looks like the scenes in _The Wasteland, and other stark depictions. (1)
Vukovar fell to the Serb-dominated Federal army last night or early a.m. this morning. The place looks awful. Osijek and Vukovar are both extremely heavily damaged, as are some thirty other towns and villages in eastern Croatia. Dubrovnik remains under seige.
The tragedy of Croatia seems to never end, only getting worse. The Serbs will have a lot to answer for at some point in the near future. (2)
Osijek has become the new focus of the Federal army, and yesterday "thousands of shells" reportedly poured in on this regional capitol in eastern Croatia. Yesterday, many charges were leveled by both Serb and Croat about the vast numbers of dead people so graphically displayed on major network and cable news programs last night and this morning. The Serbs blamed the so-called Ustashe (fascist police and military types as existed in WWII that killed thousands of Serbs at that time), while the Croats blamed the Communist "killers" of the Serbian army. The truth may never be told.
Both sides have drawn battle lines that leave little room for compromise. Serbia and Croatia will both say that they would agree to a ceasefire, and both have asked the UN for UN peacekeeping forces in the region. Croatia wants the peacekeeping border lines to exist where they were in June, while the Serbs want the lines drawn where the army has gotten to in Croatia, with roughly a third of the "state" that existed on 25 June now under Serbian control, which the Croatians see as an anathemic solution. Vance and other UN people have said until an actual, working ceasefire occurs, the chances of a peacekeeping force being brought in are slim.
Tudjman allegedly arrested an opposition leader in Croatia today, for reasons not very clear to me by the report's end. I think it was over this person's ideas about how peace with the Serbs can be achieved. I suspect that nobody in this mess will behave in a "democratic" manner, but such high-handedness is always deplorable to see.
The debacle that Yugoslavia represents is a tragedy compounded by the bullheadedness of ALL sides, and there will be no winners, only the dead. (3)
The bitter fighting in Croatia, while Bosnia-Hercegovina, Macedonia and Slovenia all try to break loose from "old" Yugoslavia, is the most visible problem, but not the only one.
There is Hungary muttering at Romania for the treatment (harsh) of the Hungarian minority by the Romanian majority. Slovakia appears to want to break loose from Czecho-Slovakia. The Gypsies struggle in Hungary, Germany and elsewhere in Europe just to exist, it would appear. There is rising anti-foreigner manifestations in France, the UK, Spain, Germany and Italy in the past twelve months, and to a lesser degree in Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria. As the Washington Post Weekly put it this past week in their cover article "The Eruption of Eastern Europe," and I quote, ""Freed at last from Communist tyranny, the peoples of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe are resuming their historic quarrels." Twice this century, these "historic quarrels" have led to "world wars."
As a 14th ceasefire vaguely holds in Croatia (Osijek the apparent exception, as the city was bombarded, - "pounded," NPR reported today), this situation perhaps represents in microcosm what may occur in what might have been called the USS, but which appears closer to disintegration daily. Brings up an interesting question (I think), what will happen to the USSR seat on the UN Security Council when the USS(R) ceases to exist? I think only the most optimistic can believe that the union is going to hold. I wish I could say I thought that possible.
I am for self-determination, but not to see every 50 square miles declare itself a nation. That kind of chaos will be highly destabilizing, as Gorbachev bluntly warned today.
But rest assured, by next summer, the map of this area of the world will look totally different, and there will be several "nations," (I use that word loosely, for now) where there was once one. History is being made, most sorrowfully it will not be done cleanly. (4)
>Don't get me wrong, I am certainly in favour of a Swedish recognition >of Ukraine. But, if Sweden went ahead and recognized Ukraine on >Monday, I would definitely ask: why Ukraine, why not Georgia and >Moldova who are at least at equally advanced in the independence >efforts? And why not the wanna-be country which really has everything >you could ask of an independent state: control of its territory, own >armed forces, own currency? Why not Slovenia?
>Erland Sommarskog - ENEA Data, Stockholm - firstname.lastname@example.org
Again, I sense a bias and/or a myopia here. The only reason Croatia doesn't have control over THEIR territory is, as I said in early July, the criminal and illegal (by what I understand about sovereignty) invasion of their territory by the Serbian-dominated Federal army. They do have their own army, ragtag as it is, and they would have their own currency if they weren't fighting for their lives. I say, as I've said before, and now the EC, and Chancellor Kohl, apparently are saying or will say, (Kohl did say yesterday) that BOTH Slovenia and Croatia should be recognized. I agree Georgia ought to also be recognized IF the Ukraine is. I think Moldavia should have a referndum about independence/union with Romania and about what to do about the Russian and Turkish enclaves within that have declared independence from the republic! THEN perhaps recognition could be considerd.
What's sauce for the goose cannot, to my self-determination thinking mind, ONLY be sauce for the goose. Consistancy has to overtake cold-blooded pragmatism and opportunism.
But, separately, both Slovenia and Croatia should be recognized, preferably by Europe first, and if Bosnia-Hercegovina and Macedonia also end up seeking to be independent, let them. The Serbs should NOT be allowed to have their way by force. (5)
As Cyrus Vance arrived in Belgrade for the latest peace talks, it was clear that the 14th ceasefire had collapsed. There were graphic pictures of dead folk laying in the streets of Osijek, and heavy fighting (or at least shelling) in Vinkovci, near Osijek. (6)
Anarchy in Croatia has seen the destruction of many Croatian cities - that situation, as the 14th ceasefire breaks down and in Stepe Mesich's resignation as Federal President, declaring Yugoslavia "was no more," threatens other neighbors and also menace to the point of causing danger and damage to them (so far Hungary and Austria). So, I am not confident that "anarchic conditions" would necessarily work in the ex-SU republics any more than in former Yugoslavia. (7)
It would appear that the Vance-negotiated peace fire has gone the way of its thirteen predecessors, as fighting, fires and shell-firing occurred all across Croatia from Osijek to Dubrovnik. I do not know the "right" of all the sides, but the destruction of almost 1000 year old buildings for possibly spurious political goals is the height of social and political crime, and the killing of over 7000 people (highest number I've seen so far) is the epitome of what we tried all those German fellows for at Nuremberg in 1946. The top guys in the Serbian army (and perhaps top Croatian commanders) should perhaps face such a tribunal, assembled at the behest and direction of the UN Security Council. What is happening in the former Yugoslavia could be stopped. It is said cynically here at the grass roots that the reason UN troops are not at Osijek as a dividing force between Serbia and Croatia is because no oil is at stake, only medieval buildings and frightened people. The Serbian army allegedly "apologized" for shelling Dubrovnik today, and claimed that there would be an investigation.
It is so hard to explain to people what is being perceived in this writer's head and heart as all this occurs. Gorbachev warns of "catastrophe" and "war" while his neighbors in former Yugoslavia pound each other over issues similar to some of those expressed by some of the 100 and some ethnic groups of the XSU.
But cooperation HAS to come into the equation somewhere, both in the former SU and in ex-Yugoslavia. If not, the "what else could happen" scenario described as Gorbachev's "crying wolf" will conjure real demons like civil war and widespread death due to hunger, starvation and weather conditions. (8)
Croatia & Slovenia-
Our papers are saying that Kohl has agreed to recognize these two breakaway Yugoslav republics by Christmas, thereby creating an alleged rift between Germany and the US. France, Britain and the US favor recognition as part of a greater peace settlemnt, while Bonn reportedly favors using recognition as a way to pressure Belgrade into a settlement.
It would appear that the world we have seen as static and basically unchanging (save in the Third World!) is now coming unglued and reshaping itself. How will that occur appears everyone's greatest concern. It would appear clear that the changes are not through happening yet, nor is anyone sure what to do in reaction to the changes that ARE erupting, now almost on a daily basis. (9)
Tank firing was occurring at Osijek this morning, but there is relative quiet over Croatia today. Yugoslav troops are reportedly evacuating bases in north Croatia, and the federal navy has been reported as having lifted their siege of Dubrovnik.
I empathize with those people in Yugoslavia and the ex-USSR who are already wistfully saying that they wish this disintegration were not occurring because of the numbers of new entities the world will have to deal with and the number of thorny questions and decisions that will have to be reached because of that multiplicity of new states birthed by the death of empire. However, it IS happening, the potential nightmare will NOT disappear by wishing it so. (10)
Though there is some stabilization behavior going on in Yugoslavia, the region appears in deep flux from Berlin and Zagreb east to the Pacific Ocean. All the countries in this region are struggling, especially "old Yugoslavia," and the ex-XSU is coming apart before our very eyes with amazing rapidity. (11)
Croatia and Slovenia-
The EC has agreed, with angry reaction from Serbia, to recognize Croatia and Slovenia as sovereign nations by or on 15 January, 1992. That may provoke the departure of Macedonia and Bosnia-Hercegovina from the dead carcass that was once the state of Yugoslavia (only Belgrade seems unable to see this truth, sadly for the men of the various armies in the field). Fighting continues in Croatia, with seven dead at Osijek, and the town of Kraskovic recaptured by the Serbs today. (12)
An UN observer team of 21 arrived in Belgrade today, trying to find a way to put UN peace-keeping forces in the war-torn republic. Fighting continues, with pictures today of Croat soldiers in both Osijek and Sisak looking very John Wayne-like. Shelling continues, the Serb-led Federal army is determined to keep up the fighting, for reasons rather murky, while the Croats, whose reasons may be more clear, and whose behavior just as mercurial and unreadable, continue resisting. Sisak has a sixth of the populace it had this past spring. Many Croatian towns in eastern Croatia are similarly depleted. (13)
The Premier of the dying Yugoslav state resigned yesterday. It seems clear that what IS happening is that the constituent parts of the old Yugoslav state are battling it out for who will have what in a post-Yugoslav Balkanized situation of several nations. If Germany and the EC recognize Croatia and Slovenia on the timetable that has been suggested, at least the violation of their sovereignty might become the first big issue for ALL of Europe to grapple with in the New Year. There was reported celebrating in Zagreb at the news that Germany had announced their recognition of Croatia, but that will not actually take effect until 15 January, when the EC as a whole body's recognition takes effect. (14)
Heavy fighting at Osijek and Karlovac continues, while Zagreb went on air alert and blackout for an hour today as fighting went on in the villages near the city.
The past two days have seen the Serbian-dominated Yugoslav Presidency reportedly announce a "new Yugoslavia" would be formed soon, dominated of course by Serbia. The "new state" would be "more compact and smaller" and would in include at the least Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Vojvodina, plus the Serbian areas created as Serbian "satrapies" in Croatia after their seizure by force. The UN is holding off on peace-keeping forces in the region as it would appear the Serbian side, predominantly but probably not alone, have no real desire for anything less than total defeat of the their perceived enemies, the Croats. It would appear that in this situation, too, that pig-headed nationalism and fifty year old quarrels have more hold than a reasonable future for all sides. The UN envoy, Vance, said yesterday, ruefully, "Things are not going very well in the Balkans." (15)
Air raid sirens cried out in 28 Croatian cities today, according to the news this evening. Fighting appeared most ferocious around Karlovac yesterday, which one analyst said this evening that if it it were captured by the assaulting Serbs that they would then control one half of Croatia. The Serbs would also reportedly be able to solidify their rump republic of Kyrenia, using Karlovac as the capital under duress, as apparently most of the Croats who lived there have fled, only an unknown mumber of fighters are left. Artillery fire reportedly killed 10 in Karlovac over the weekend, and was also apparently re-occurring today. The Federal air force is conducting air bombardments at both Karlovac and Osijek, with no reports on Dubrovnik, and with Zagreb as yet unattacked.
The tragedy of the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave continues, with more unyielding people on both sides. Ditto for the incredibly bitter struggle in Croatia. No compromise, and no quarter. Fools! There is enough room and territory for every group that wants a place to be to have that place. The past MUST be stepped away from, as hard as one knows that will be. But, death and pride go before all that reasonableness. On the EC list last week, I saw my "silly" (what it was referred to at the time as) idea about a global re-ordering conference reappear in terms of just Europe.
Fine! But, all these aspirations, be they Croatian, Serbian, Macedonian, Bosnian, Georgian, Azeri, Armenian, Russian, Turkic, Moldavan, Romanian, Hungarian or Basque, need satisfaction IN A REASONABLE MANNER FOR ALL PARTIES CONCERNED. This CAN BE DONE!!!! Why peace and harmony are not occurring is no mystery - pride, ambition, nationalism, stubborness and bullheadedness are a good chunk of the reasons that equitable solutions are not being reached. Compromise IS hard, but it can be done, needs to occur in all these situations. Will reason have a voice at the table? Will folks ever be willing to come to the table?
The year ends with many loose ends, many disconnected people, many jumbled agendas. Perhaps 1992 will be better, but the signs are not particularly positive. (16)
Allegedly, a 15th "permanent" ceasefire is to go into effect 3 January at 1800 hours local time. This may presage Serbian/Yugoslav troop withdrawals, and perhaps the coming of UN peacekeeping troops. Perhaps this ceasefire in Croatia will actually hold, and some semblance of peace for now will come to this war-torn place. (17)
Sporadic violations of the 15th ceasefire have been reported, but most soldiers and tanks pictured by news crews had weapon muzzles wrapped in plastic today to signify that they were not being used. If the truce can hold for a "period of time" (unspecifid) then UN peacekeeping forces might be moved into the area relatively soon. This result does remain to be seen, however. (18)
The truce of 3 January is apparently holding. The new Secretary General of the UN indicated today that UN observers are meeting with EC observers and it may be "soon" that UN peace-keeping forces will go to the area. (19)
5 EC observers, four Italians and a French officer, were killed yesterday when a Yugoslav warplane shot it down, and forced a second copter to land in nearby Hungary. The Federal Air Force may be "reprimanded" for this incident, its head allegedly placed under house arrest, while the pilot was reported as "acting on his own" by NPR in the a.m. yesterday.
McNeil/Lehrer reported last night that 10,000 people have died in the six months of fighting, and that now 500,000 "Yugoslavians" are homeless. (20)
The UN plans to send 50 observers to the area by the weekend, while the EC suspended its observing until their people's safety could be better guaranteed by "Yugoslavian" troops. I think the Air Force chief resigned today, will report further on this later. (21)
It was reported this morning that the EC rejected the Yugoslav explanation that the pilot that shot down the copter with five EC observers who were killed "acted without approval." Other sources allegedly indicate that such approval was given, according to the EC, and their copters and planes will stay grounded at this time.
Ethnic Albanians in this former Yugoslav republic (which voted for independence overwhelmingly this past fall) want out. The Macedonian government reportedly is calling any such efforts "illegal." (I'm amazed that Serbia has not any more trouble in Kosovo than they've had, considering how preoccupied with Croatia Serbia is). This report probably portends the beginning of a nasty ethnic struggle in Macedonia too, just what the torn corpse of Yugoslavia needs! (22)
50 UN observers arrived in Croatia primarily today to see if the 12 day ceasefire is holding, which may presage 10,000 UN peacekeepers coming here. The Serbs muttered heavily about the Vatican recognition yesterday of both Croatia and Slovenia, warning that such might be a provocation. They are probably right.
I'll close by saying that I believe this first year of change just past across eastern Europe is only the beginning of a fairly long period of sometimes turbulent upheaval, sometimes deceptively peaceful progress. It will not be easy for the changes WE think are necessary to occur. Somehow, the world, and each of us, needs to see as many points of view about all this as possible, and stayed informed! No point of view will be the "correct one," all of us can see elements of truth and falseness in the changes and leaders that are emerging. As someone said to me yesterday, "There's always a quid pro quo somewhere in the process." Tradeoffs and compromises will form the new states, and their relationships, let us hope as reasonably as possible. (23)
Both this troubled republic, and the quieter Slovenia, became officially recognized by the EC yesterday, thereby effectively dissolving Yugoslavia. Wild celebrations occurred all over Croatia. President Tudjman assured that the Serbian minority's rights would be respected. Serbia angrily demounced the recognition, which now has some 16-25 nations recognizing the two republics, and stated that they believe the country is intact, and that all these recognitions are "violations of Yugoslavia's sovereignty." The Vatican had recognized the two republics the day before, which also had drawn Serbia's public ire to the point of denunciations for such a decision. The ceasefire is still loosely holding, though Dubrovnik was shelled yesterday, and 3 Croat militiamen were killed by a presumed Serbian sniper during the day.
This republic was recognized yesterday by Bulgaria. The Greeks immediately objected. They say that a area in north Greece is the "true" Macedonia, and that "Macedonia" ought to call itself something else. So far, no reaction from Macedonia. This area and Kosovo are reported real probabilities for "federal" intervention/warfare now that Slovenia and Croatia have been recognized by the EC. This morning, it was reported troops are "massing" in this republic that desires independence, voted for and declared.
The map keeps changing, and will keep up those changes for some time to come. Aspirations worldwide for autonomy have sprung again into life as Croatia-Macedonia-Serbia (and whoever else!) battle over the states that will emerge from the ashes of Yugoslavia, and as republics like Ukraine and Russia struggle to define the nature of their relationship. Places like Georgia serve up again the difficulties of translating democracy to places and people who really only have the vaguest understanding of its meaning - the gun is still the problem-solver. Bulgaria, still barely emerging from the hand of Communism itself, recognizing an area that they once had great involvement in serves two purposes - to further agitate and weaken the Serbian government, and to form an alliance with a potentially more progressive neighbor with whom a trade relationship may be established. There may also be a hidden hostility problem with Greece that Bulgaria is acting on too. This is a time of great ferment, and that upheaval has a long course yet to run, it seems strongly safe to assume. But who knows? The world COULD get reasonable (but one wouldn't count on that rapidly occurring). (24)
The Croatian Prime Minister today called for 2000 UN peacekeeping forces to be in place in ten days. The Serbian enclaves in Croatia vow to fight if they appear, and it appears that some sporadic fighting and air sorties is still occurring. (25)
The UN mediator on the ground in Croatia, Merritt Goulding, is to certify to the Secretary General that "basically" the ceasefire is holding, and that it would be permissible and desirable to bring in UN peace-keeping forces. A catch, however. Neither the Serbian enclaval leaders in Croatia, or some members of the Croatian government, now want the troops, though for different reasons. The Serbs do not wish to disarm nor let the Federal army leave, Zagreb's opposition is completely obscure at this juncture.
The mess in Nagorno-Karabakh, and Croatia, defies the wisdom of Solomon to solve, I fear. (And if there were a modern day Solomon, SOMEBODY would object to WHATEVER decision was made!)
Nothing is as it seems, and though I may be "dreary" in my outlook, as yet no ray of relief has yet appeared to allay the pessimism all these actions sometimes engenders. Some more change, and definitely more cooperation, has GOT to occur, or all hell is going to break loose before a very startled world patting itself on the back because the Cold War is over. Now the spectre of civil war looms, a much more virulent situation! (26)
CSCE membership now rises to 48, and spans from Vladivistok to the western edge of Ireland, from the northern wastes of Sweden and Russia to the northern edge of the Mediterranean. All of Europe and the "Asian" nations of the ex-SU are now part of this body. It has no cumbersome bureaucracy, and is still pretty flexible. No one clearly sees the organization's future role, though this commentator and others have suggested a mediatory role where all parties can agree to peaceful negotiation. Slovenia and Croatia's membership was rejected by the gutted "state of Yugoslavia." (This points out the one glaring weakness of CSCE, its inability to accept or recognize political realities in a "timely manner.") (27)
Federal leaders, reportedly including the Serbian President Milosevic, apparently unsuccessfully pleaded with Serbian enclaval leaders to allow UN Blue Beret peacekeepers into eastern Croatia, where most of the enclaves have banded together as Kryenia. The Enclave leaders want no peacekeepers or disarming.
The UN Security Council met for show today, and heard a couple of highly contrasting views, that of Yeltsin and Li Peng. CSCE stopped meeting, and is now a bigger organization. Tibet's fate is sad, as is the apparent inability for the UN to do anything about Croatia and Slovenia like they had done over Kuwait. CSCE continues to intrigue this observer as it tries out new roles. The future is murky, and much the major powers do is disappointing, but there is SOME effort to correct excesses. However, they ought to join the 20th century, as should also the other "violators of human rights" the State Department went after besides China; Egypt, Iraq and Myamar (formerly Burma). There is no excuse for that kind of tyranny today. (28)
It was reported this afternoon that one Serrbian enclaval group holding much of southeast Croatia allegedly agreed to UN peacekeepers. However, most of the other "Serbian rebel" leaders still are opposed to UN forces in the area. (29)
Serbian leaders of the self-styled republic of Kryenia busily denied today that they had in any way agreed to allow UN peacekeepers in the territory of Croatia that they control. They WERE willing to speculate on peacekeepers on the borders, and no disarming of their fighters, but that's all. (30)
The self-styled President of Kryenia refuses still to sign onto the UN troop deployment. Interviewed this morning, he stated baldly that it is "an insult" to call the region "part of Croatia," when it is Serbian-held, and those Serbs by "self-determination" have decided to be independent. Basically, the guy was giving the blowoff to Belgrade, Zagreb AND the UN - Kryenia is, was retaken from the "evil" Croats, and that's that, according to this fellow (Babarsh, Babash, something like that). The Balkanization continues.
It would appear that despite the debate of the "mighty" UN Security Council that the Serbs in Croatia continue to take the stand that they can and will do as they please towards the Croats. The fragmentation of ex-Yugoslavia continues (one thinks the CSCE should recognize at least Slovenia, and see what Belgrade does). (31)
The UN Secretary General is recommending to the Security Council (which convenes next week) that 13,000 UN peacekeepers (one of the largest such forces in UN history) be deployed in three contested areas of Croatia. The Federal army allegedly promises to keep Milan Babash, self-styled President of Kryenia, "under control," whatever that means (according to a report on NPR's "Morning Edition" yesterday). The peacekeeping force will further strain the UN peacekeeper's budget at a cost of $400 million per year, at a time when most members are in arrears in ALL of their UN financial obligations. (32)
Butrous-Gahli, the UN Secretary General, made it clear that 13,000 peacekeepers from 31 countries will be deployed here in Croatia, probably within the next three weeks, despite Babash of Kryenia's objections. This will be the largest UN peacekeeping force ever put into the field. (33)
Comments on democracy and governance-
In recent days on the nets, there has been a rising-in-acrimony discussion about Russia, Ukraine and ex-Yugoslavia's relations that dovetails right into other facets of the discussion there and elsewhere - constitutional democracy and separate courses versus "unified" courses. I agree with some people's feelings that this all joins together philosophically around the "eternal vigilance" principles of democratic government, of which has been cited to me tolerance, open debate and "clean politics" as keystones of.
Elsewhere, the picture grows murkier.
"Democracy" to me, at this juncture in the post-Soviet period, is a path with many nuances. In Azerbaijan's elections that were weighted in favor of the incumbent "President," the fact that another candidate was on the ballot was considered "democratic." Ukranians may face a demand by Russians for a "self-determination vote" in the Crimea. The Russians have declared such votes in Chechen-Ingush and Tatarstan "illegal," (yet do not dare move against them to suppress such activities without setting off the messiest of situations!) and we've seen that CSCE is still catering to the defunct Belgrade regime on the issue of Slovenia and Croatia's recognition, despite the EC recognitions, and others from around the globe (though notably NOT that paragon of democratic aspiration - the United States ... this place is a wonderful country, but we sure do some contradictory things!). So, self-determination can mean nothing, or little, depending on whose ox is being gored, whether we're talking about Russia, Israel, the Kurds of Iraq, Turkey, Iran and Russia, Angola or Chile, where Pinochet has now been stylish to pose as a possible model for what might emerge in Russia, ex-Yugoslavia and other "CIS states."
Yet, somehow, it seems to me, the aspirations of major ethnic sub-divisions of these countries are going to be hard to ignore. Some are already leaping out, such as the Turkish and Russian minorities in Moldava, and the large Russian and Polish minorities of Ukraine. "Open debate," it has been said, but not that if one got 80% of the vote in a popular election, one could act undemocratically as Gamsakhurdia has been accused of. It seems that a "coup mentality" is rampant in the ex-USSR states, and that democratic decision-making is definitely on the wane, for now. I think the pressure for that kind of "democratic" behavior politically will stay high, perhaps unrequited, though so will the suppressive efforts of those still in power - many of which were in power before, but in different guises.
We in the net community are in a remarkable position to discuss constructive ideas with folks who are on the ground, working on democratic foundations for nations who have only scanty ideas about what "constitutional democracy" means. It sems sad to see nationalism, and hatreds formed in other times, govern a dialogue as critical as the forms of government of the future for the "CIS states." We must be able to have rational discussion, and perhaps actually aid in constructing a more cooperative "global democracy" in our learning. (34)
The UN Security Council approved the reported $633 million budget for the UN peace-keeping force of 14,000 to Croatia - to disarm, provide a buffer in three Croatian areas, and keep the fighting at a minimum. There was shelling in Croatia today. The Security Council does not want to pay that much, so not necessarily all these troops authorized will necessarily be deployed. The US is to bear about 1/3 of the total cost - why us, I'm not sure, but that's the current plan. (35)
President Milosevic declared the civil war "over," saying that he believed "conditions n exist for a peaceful solution" to thje differences between Croat and Serb. The President also reportedly welcomed the coming of UN peacekeeping forces. Meanwhile, artillery fire directed at Croatia by "Serbian forces" renewed itself yesterday.
This weekend, this "republic" will vote on independence from the what seems to be already defunct Yugoslavia. Already, there is a great deal of restlessness among the large number of minorities in the republic, unsure of what their status would be in an independent Bosnia. War appears in the offing here. The West still seems unsure about Yugoslavia's status, with roughly 25 of the roughly 170 nations in the world recognizing Croatia and Slovenia, no one specifically recognizing Macedonia (maybe Bulgaria), and almost no one saying what they'll do about Bosnia-Hercegovina if the vote is overwhemingly pro-independence. (36)
Barricades went up in Sarejevo, reportedly placed by Serbians disgruntled over the independence vote this weekend. Last reports were that the barricades had been removed again, though widespread reports have that some violence HAS occurred through the day, and that more is expected after the voting results are released tomorrow. Just what the region needs, another conflict! (37)
The barricades raised yesterday by Serbs opposed to the weekend's independence vote came down this morning, but not until a couple of shooting incidents had occurred, and the barricading had spread to outside of Sarejevo, Bosnia's capital and the site of the long ago June assassination that initiated many of the conflicts that have happened in Europe since. Had Princip missed, Serbia might have survived, as might have the Kingdom of Montenegro, as separate entities. Yugoslavia, as we have known it, might not have existed. Bosnia-Hercegovina is one of the more ethnically mixed of the former Yugoslav republics, and one of the more divided.
The Serbs of Bosnia favor staying in the old "union," while the Croats, Muslims and other minorities oppose that in favor of a sovereign state. At last report, 65% of the electorate of Bosnia-Hercegovina favors independence. The big question for many is will the EC recognize them as it has Croatia and Slovenia?
Though cost "bugs" still need working out, the first of the UN peacekeeping forces are due to arrive next week. (38)
It has been reported that 65% of those voting this past weekend favor independence, but that is only with the 2/3 Croats and Muslims voting. The 1/3 of the republic who are Serbs boycotted the vote, and for two nights running have put up barricades within Sarejevo. The state radio urged people last night "not to listen to rumors, or to carry guns." Cyrus Vance, arriving in "Yugoslavia" today, stated that the sporadic violence in Bosnia will "not inhibit the introduction of units of the UN peacekeeping forces to the area." So far, 10 people have been killed in Bosnia-Hercegovina over the independence drive.
NPR reported today that 700,000 people have been "displaced" since the beginning of the fighting last June. 50,000 are reported to have fled into Hungary. (39)
"Tens of thousands" of reported Serbian "nationalists" or a crowd of 10-30,000, considerably smaller than the million expected, demonstrated in Belgrade today, calling for the resignation of President Slobodan Milosevic, claiming that his "communistic actions" in the dealing with the secession of four Yugoslav republics has brought Serbia to the state of isolation by the world community.
The chief "leader of the opposition," Vuk Druskovic, called for a general strike in hopes of forcing a Milosevic resignation. The protesters allegedly carried pictures of Prince Alexander, pretender to the old Yugoslavian throne, chanting, " We want the King, not the Communists."
The war in Azerbaijan, the enormous economic problems of Russia and other "CIS states, "and the difficulties in ex-Yugoslavia should make it imminently clear that not always is change a pleasant or positive phenomenon. This spring and summer will probably bring to our knowledge many unpleasant and tragic events. Hopefully, constructive solutions can be found. (40)
Fighting has occurred here, is occurring here, and is intensifying as the first UN troops arrive "in-country." A cargo train here was attacked by gunfire, and its operator severely wounded.
Shelling is "occurring along the Adriatic coast and in Slovonia by the Serbian-led army," while the US indicated today that it will recognize Croatia and Slovenia "soon," and after consulting with the EC, will announce a timetable for recognition of all four of the breakaway republics.
Azerbaijan and Moldava remain the trouble spots within the XUSSR, Bosnia-Hercegovina and Croatia on the east European side of the "trouble" equation. Civil war may yet be fought in earnest on either side of the scale. (41)
Three policeman were killed here 13 March, as the commander of the UN forces General Navier (French? - they reportedly have the largest contingent of troops in the 14,000 man UN peacekeeping forces to be deployed primarily in Croatia) arrived in Sarejevo. (42)
Fighting here has picked up again. The first 350 troops have arrived, including first time ever Russian/Ukranian troop participation in a UN peace keeping force.
The situation in eastern Europe and the "CIS" appears very fluid, and does not look to be improving in the near future. The dead do not care who is right, they will remain dead none the less. The pain the "CIS state's" and the fragments of "old" Yugoslavia's arrivals into the modern world reverberates all over the planet. Can the hatreds be transcended? (43)
Vague agreement has reportedly been reached to divide the republic into ethnic "zones" within the republic, though at least some Serbians within and outside Bosnia-Hercegovina do not agree with the plan. Iam not sure what to think about this latest "plan" about Bosnia-Hercegovina, but if the plan CAN be accepted by all factions, then more power to them - it would be great to see a reasonable solution to that situation, though rather unbelievable. (44)
The UN pauses, hesitating, as the fighting breaks out anew here, allegedly for "in place" advantage when the UN peacekeepers come and the various rebel groups "have to" disarm. So far, only a token advance force of "Blue Berets" has arrived.
Reportedly (NPR's "All Things Considered" offered this), the EC will recognize Bosnia as a nation next month.
The potential for a renewal of the ex-Yugoslav nation's "civil war" appears very high.
Croatia AND Bosnia-
Heavy fighting has been reported from this area along the border of the two republics. It would appear that the Vance truce is collapsing. (45)
Twenty to fifty people were reported killed in sharp fighting in four Bosnian towns and in various spots in Croatia between "Muslim militia" and the "Yugoslav" army. I'm not sure what either of these groups really are - the latter is mostly Serbian, as I believe Yugoslavia to be dead, and the former could be anyone of a number of nationalities. The "President" of Bosnia (as yet unrecognized by almost all the nations of the world) called on the UN to rapidly deploy military observers. Osijek in Croatia, already severely damaged in the earlier fighting, was shelled again yesterday, with casualty reports varying on the number killed.
Croatia/Bosnia again threaten to plunge the region into war, not a very encouraging end to the week. (46)
The place is full of sad and strange events. 5 people were killed during a peace march "of thousands" in Sarejevo today, by alleged Serbian snipers in a hotel looking over the line of marchers. 6 Serbians were arrested for the murders. The EC recognized Bosnia as a sovereign state today, but still no European power, the CSCE or the UN is willing to give "Yugoslavia" the boot, though it is clear that such an entity is for intents and purposes a "dead letter." A state of emergency has been declared, a curfew imposed, a ex-Communist "government of national unity" has allegedly been formed, while "dozens" have been killed in the past three to four days of clashes in this republic, many from the artillery and mortar shelling in Sarejevo proper by the "Yugoslav" army.
Bosnia-Hercegovina stands poised for all-out civil war, aided and abetted by the domination-minded, Serbian-dominated military of Belgrade. Things are not getting better in this part of the world, and probably will continue escalating into stupidity of the many kinds as spring waxes on. (47)
This state, and Croatia and Slovenia (but not Macedonia, I wonder why!), were recognized today by the United States as independent states after EC recognition yesterday.
Fighting continued here, and in Croatia, with the Bosnian "President" protesting to the Yugoslav army chief over an air attack in southwest Bosnia that reportedly killed seven. Mortar fire was occurring in Sarejevo.
It would appear that the Serbs cannot accept certain realities, but are demanding from Bosnia that a separate Serbian area in Bosnia be created, and a similar demand is being placed on the government of Croatia. (48)
The fighting in Bosnia has tragically escalated, with the "Yugoslavian army" now (to my way of thinking) criminally occupying and attacking a sovereign state without boo being said by the vaunted "protectors of democracy"; the US, the EC, and the UN. Bosnia's joint Presidency declared a state of emergency today, and they AND the European Parliament asked the UN to extend the peacekeeping committment to Bosnia along with Croatia.
One entertains the thought that the "coalition" in the UN that went to bat for the sovereignty of Kuwait over the "illegal and criminal invasion" of Kuwait by Iraq ought to do the same against the Belgrade regime for their criminal and illegal attacks against the sovereign, and recognized as such by a chunk of the major powers in the world, states of Bosnia-Hercegovina and Croatia. The circumstances are roughly the same, with Serbia making the same claims about Croatia and Bosnia that Iraq made about Kuwait. This was also the "principle" cited when the US attacked Panama, and went after the head of government there for allying himself with "criminals" to the detriment of Panamanians and Americans living there. Am I being too broad in my condemnation of the West's seeming indifference? Principle is principle, if we are willing to war against Arabs for wrongnesses, it seems that the Balkans are no different if the circumstances are the same, or roughly so.
The "new world order" seems much more willing to attack places where the risk of serious entanglement is much lower, rather than to defend a stated belief across the board, no matter who the offender. Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina are being launched as nations under the crummiest of conditions, and with scarcely a voice raised to do much more than say "we recognize that you DO exist." Big deal, if the Serbian-dominated "Yugoslav army" (which I'm inclined to call the Serbo-Montenegran army at this juncture) is allowed to crush these fledgling states without any effort by the self-annointed "protectors of democracy" to do SOMETHING about it!
Tragic times, confusing times, rapidly changing times, but not boring, and not easy to fathom either. (49)
This writer heard one of the most racist things stated up to now relating to this conflict on Saturday - that the Serbians were creating an ethnically "clean" area (devoid of Bosnians AND Muslims) along the Bosnian/Serbian border IN BOSNIAN TERRITORY, and sending "tens of thousands" into refugee status to further such a racist policy. It is VERY hard to have much sympathy for the Serbs when this kind of report floats across the news outlets, because the policy would seem to really care only for the Serbian "Communist" position, and damn anyone who gets in their way, to the point of death and/or dislodgement from homes held for generations. What is equally shocking is the muteness of the so-called "democracies," will to cluck about Peru, smash Iraq and kill thousands to prop an anti-democratic regime in Kuwait in the name of democracy, but ignore attempts (save by hollow recognitions) of Bosnia-Hercegovina, Macedonia, Croatia and Slovenia to achieve democratic nationhood (Our refusal to recognize Macedonia appears to revolve around our "ally" Greece's objections to Macedonia using THAT NAME, as if the Greeks held a world copyright on the use of the name - and the world is going along with this ridiculous notion!
It is difficult to stomach some of the things one sees in the world. I know individual Serbs are not bad people, no more than any other group in the region. But, the Serbian-led "Yugoslav" army, and the actions of "Serbian militias" in Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina border on war crimes or a "war of aggression" at the least. The apathy and silence of the UN and the so-called "free nations" of the West amounts to moral lassitude of the worst kind. I'm not of any of these groups, but I empathize most with the uprooted families in Bosnia and Croatia, who are losing everything as Serbia furthers what would appear to be racist goals that no one is calling them on. Might and murder should not make right, nor should ANY side be forgiven for promoting ethnic hatred and racism. Thast appears to be what's happening here, the world loses every minute it continues without efforts more overt than at present to stop it. (50)
There is now talk in the CSCE of giving Bosnia full state membership in this organization, and suspending or expelling Serbia. Serbia's "continued aggression" against Bosnia-Hercegovina (especially in Croatia, and in Croatian Hercegovina) is the reason given for this possible scenario.
The US, finally, warned Serbia today that they are in serious danger of complete European "isolation" if they continue on their current course. Yet, this rhetoric was immediately undermined by the US' UN envoy in Belgrade, Cyrus Vance, who stated that there are no plans (primarily because of a lack of money!) to put peacekeepers into Bosnia, despite the fact that the peacekeepers are headquartered IN BOSNIA! Our State Department did warn today that the situation in this newly recognized sovereign nation was "very, very serious." One has to wonder if that is all that will emanate from the US and UN about this grave, and overt, set of aggressions against a sovereign nation.
It would appear that the turbulence in ex-Yugoslavia will be allowed to continue, with no action by the UN against a seeming aggressor, Serbia, while we attempt to buy off the "CIS states" from civil war by giving them money, eventually. Strange world! (51)
Cyrus Vance, the UN envoy either in Belgrade or in Sarejevo, (not sure where he is today) has reportedly signed onto an idea of dividing Bosnia in three parts, for Croatians, Serbians and "Muslims." (cannot quite figure out what ethnic group this latter bunch is!), while quite publicly condemning the "Yugoslav" army's ongoing violence within Bosnia. I heard earlier yesterday that "several hundred people" have already been killed in the Bosnian fighting just since the independence declaration of 29 February.
Places like Bosnia-Hercegovina, Croatia and Serbia may well bne flashpoints for regional war if the "new world order" folks don't get off their duffs and take some assertive actions to influence how all this goes. This writer is not in favor of a uni-polar world, but it is sure is distressing to see so little action emanating from all the dramatic changes that have occurred since the Berlin Wall came down in November, 1989. The big fragment, the small fight. The times are not dull, but an awful lot of people are negatively effected by what IS happening. Perhaps "tomorrow" will be better, for "today" is rather turbulent. (52)
Fighting has intensified in Sarejevo, with the Bosnian President accusing Serbia (rightfully, I believe) of trying to swallow the new country. Milosevic of Serbia denies "Yugoslav" army participation in the fighting, other Serbs say it is "militias" doing the dirty work. Well, militias do not normally use, or have as equipment, what has been reported as "warplanes." They are coming from "Yugoslavia," no matter what Milosevic says. Six were reported killed in today's fighting. Yesterday, a fellow from the New York Times reported on NPR that the Serbian takeover goal of Bosnian territory is 70%.
The TV station in Sarejevo is burning, the police station under attack by machine-guns, mortar and sniper fire is rising in intensity daily.
It would appear that the new countries emerging from the dead carcass of Yugoslavia WILL eventually achieve their goal, but only after a lot of blood is spilled. (53)
The fighting in Sarejevo has intensified. Serbian President Milosevic's claim yesterday that Serbia is not involved in the attacks on Bosnian towns and the Bosnian capital is belied by the appearance of "Yugoslav warplanes" over several Bosnian cities in the Hercegovina region. The "para-militaries" are clearly under the command of Belgrade, as they are trying to create a "Serbian line" that devours 70% of Bosnia, and to the world, no shame, no apology, just further seizure of Bosnian and Croatian lands. All the reports in the Western media make it seem that most of the attacking is being done by one kind of Serbian force or another, call them what you may.
Mortars and machine guns being shot in the capital city of a newly recognized country, yet no one will say out loud that these actions constitute illegal aggressions under the UN Charter, and brand Serbia in the same way the "world" went after Saddam Hussein. It is sad to see such hypocracy. I do not have an anti-Serbian bias - I have a bias against aggression being allowed as a "legitimate means" of securing one's foreign policy goals. What is happening, it seems, is a de facto acceptance of Serbian violence to achieve "Communist expanionism." Milosevic and company are inheritors of the "communist" tradition in terms of power in Belgrade. What can come from not denouncing them, and more actively opposing the expansionist killing being done by "masked" Serbian forces?
The US today warned that "Yugoslavia" had a week to cease and desist from their "invasion" of Bosnia-Hercegovina, or sanctions would be applied. That's not good enough. A large UN force has to be put in place, and cause a rollback of Serbian advances to the borders of 29 February (Vance ruled this out due to lack of money - the money HAS to be found!). Expansionism at the point of a gun accompanied by murder has no business being rewarded by being allowed to keep what they have "stolen" of their neighbor's territory. "Yugoslavia" is dead, was dead the day Croatia and Slovenia declared independence, is VERY dead now, despite Western reluctance to recognize Macedonia because of Greek objections, and despite the fact that Slovenia, which has few Serbs in their space, has NOT been attacked while Bosnia and Croatia have been.
15 are known dead on the "Serbian side" of the Bosnian fighting, it is not known what the death count is on the Bosnia-Hercegovina side. Several Bosnian cities have been attacked by air, and there IS close fighting in Sarejevo.
This situation is a tragedy; for Europe, for ex-Yugoslavia and its constituent parts, for the newly emerging "CIS states." It serves as an example of how NOT to solve one's problems in Europe, or anywhere else, for that matter. But, the tragedy spins on, so far unobstructed by reason. (54)
Fighting continues here, despite the presence of two EC officials (the Portugese Foreign Minister and Lord Carrington) stating flatly to the Serbs primarily (but also to the Bosnian Muslims and Croats) that the fighting has to stop. Butrous Butrous-Gahli, the UN Secretary General, warned yesterday that NO peacekeeping forces would go to Croatia until the fighting stopped, and refused to extend the UN "mandate" to cover Bosnia.
But the fighting in Sarejevo and surrounding areas continues, with at least one sharp defeat of Serbs by Croatians yesterday, and the alleged shooting down of five "Yugoslav warplanes," plus continued fighting in the Hercegovina region and in Croatia. The UN Security Council met yesterday afternoon over Bosnia, but reached no conclusive results, despite a specific call by France, Germany and Poland to the Security Council for UN "intervention" in the struggle. Boutrous-Gahli's "go-slow approach" had the backing of the US, so no troops will go to Bosnia in the near term. Late yesterday, NPR reported that the Serbian Parliament rejected the notion that the "Yugoslav army" was the aggressor in the conflict, and announced that a merged Serbia and Montenegro would form the "Federal Republic of Yugoslavia."
The fighting in Bosnia/Croatia threatens the peace of all of Europe, another fiery beacon of a turbulent period, as the map of Europe continues to remain in a state of flux. (55)
The fighting continues, with the "Yugoslav army" charged by most observers as the continued "aggrssor." The acting "Yugoslav" Defense Minister warned that that the troops that are in Bosnia will NOT be removed, despite threats vis CSCE, the UN and the EC that severe sanctions will be applied to Serbia/Montenegro if their aggressions against Croatia and Bosnia do not cease. Mostar (?) is reported "near destroyed" by "Yugoslav" shelling, 5 other towns "destroyed" by mortar and grenade fire, and some reporters believe that Sarejevo could be "in ruins" in two weeks.
NPR reports 500 roadblocks have been set up by "Yugoslav" forces around Bosnia, that 5 southern predominantly Muslim Bosnian towns have been d