SERBIA SUPPLIES SERBS AROUND SREBRENICA WITH WEAPONS, BREACHES NO-FLY ZONE
5 February 1995.
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — U.N. troops witnessed what they described Saturday as the most flagrant violation yet of Serbia’s pledge to stay out of the war in Bosnia.
Peacekeepers said 15 to 20 Serbian helicopters landed just outside the eastern Bosniak enclave of Srebrenica on Friday evening, apparently to resupply the Bosnian Serb forces there.
The sortie was the largest in the six months since Serbia promised to cut off aid to the Bosnian Serb military, U.N. spokesman Paul Risley said. The flights also are violation of the U.N. no-fly zone over Bosnia.
Serbs have been flying sorties over neighboring Bosnia throughout the war. Last fall, up to 80 Serb sorties were recorded daily, Risley said iN Zagreb, Croatia.
Still, the consensus has been that Serbia was no longer supplying its brethren in Bosnia. As a result, the United Nations relaxed its sanctions on Serbia for fomenting the war.
U.N. military monitors at Serb airfrields just across the Bosnia border didn’t see the latest flights. Risley said Serbs refused to give the U.N. observers access to the radar screens.
The flights are just one indication of how far Bosnia and neighboring Croatia are from genuine peace. Brittle truces in both states threaten to erupt in new violence this spring.
The threat has prompted new international diplomacy to stave off more war. It also has pushed the protagonists into new maneuvering that is putting pressure on the Bosniak-led government.
On Saturday, Croatia’s foreign minister announced that he planned an unprecedented trip to Belgrade, the Serbian and Yugoslav capital, this month to pursue formal recognition of Croatia.
Some 10,000 people died in a Croat-Serb war over Croatia’s independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.
Recognition could avert a new war when 12,000 U.N. peacekeepers leave Croatia this spring. It might persuade Serb rebels who control one-third of Croatia that they could not defeat the Zagreb government on the battlefield, and guarantee that the powerful Yugoslav army did not intervene on the Serbs’ side.
However, such a deal seems likely only if Serbia and Croatia also agree on a division of their neighbor, Bosnia, that would leave its Bosniaks out in the cold.
Meanwhile, the United States is trying to shore up the alliance between Bosnia’s Bosniaks and Croats against the Serbs.
The Bosniaks and Croats in Bosnia formed a U.S.-backed federation last March. It ended their bitter yearlong war but has failed to develop into the envisaged military and political unioin.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke told The Associated Press that he hoped talks with the Croats and Bosniaks in Munich, Germany, today would convince the Bosnian Serbs that their foes are united.
Kresimir Zubak, the Bosnian Croat president of the Bosniak-Croat federation, seemed pessimistic about the federation’s future.
“Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina are one geopolitical space,” Zubak told The AP in Munich. “And confederation between the Bosnian federation and Croatia is the only solution. There will be no giving in to the Bosniak side.”