Yugoslav peace talks yield pledges for a cease-fire

August 28, 1992|By Richard O'Mara | Richard O'Mara,London Bureau

LONDON -- Driven by what British Prime Minister John Major called "a real sense of anger," the international conference on the Balkans conflict declared it had won a commitment from the parties involved for a "full and permanent cessation of hostilities" in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The conference also declared it had won a promise from the Bosnian Serbs to lift their siege of Sarajevo and other towns and cities in Bosnia, as well as their agreement to put their heavy weapons under United Nations supervision and bring "all forces, including irregulars, under central control."

The provisions of the agreement were supposed to be implemented within four days, but grave doubts existed whether they actually would be. The conference itself did not end, but only agreed to continue in a more permanent role in Geneva.

None of the parties -- especially the Serbians -- fully committed themselves to a return of land seized by force in the last six months of fighting in Bosnia.

Asked if he thought the fighting would really stop, Mr. Major said, "Only events will prove that. That is why pressure has to be kept up."

Referring to Slobodan Milosevic, the Serbian leader who was in London, Lawrence S. Eagleburger, the acting U.S. secretary of state, told a news conference: "I don't have any particular evidence that he will live up to the bargain."

Serbia promised to cease assisting Serbian irregulars in Bosnia in their war against the government of Bosnia, and to try to "restrain them from taking territory by force and expelling the local populations," the so-called "ethnic cleansing" that has so agitated the world's conscience.

The Serbians also said they would use their influence with the Serbs in Bosnia to "obtain the closure of their detention camps . . . and to permit the return of refugees to their homes."

No carrot was offered to the Serbian government of President Milosevic for these concessions, only the stick of tighter economic sanctions.

The pressure on Serbia will be turned up. Serbia is considered by most experts as the instigator and author of the violence that has occurred as Yugoslavia disintegrated into its constituent parts.

Currently the United Nations and European Community are enforcing a ban on trade and air traffic into Serbia, and have frozen Serbian assets. From now on monitors will be placed along the Serbian borders with Bosnia (to prevent assistance to the Bosnian Serbs), and on its outer borders, to prevent goods from reaching the Belgrade regime.

The Danube River route for trade and smuggling into Serbia from now on will be closely watched.

U.N. monitors, in what Mr. Eagleburger called a "preventive diplomacy," will also be placed in Kosovo province in southern Serbia, in Macedonia and other areas where ethnic conflict has been anticipated or Serbian intervention.

"The sanctions will go when the killing ends and there is no need for sanctions," said Mr. Major.

Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the U.N. secretary-general, announced that the U.N. protective force already in Bosnia and Croatia would be enlarged by the inclusion of an unspecified number of troops. Various countries at the conference had promised more troops, and Western European Union would be marshaling new contingents for former Yugoslavia starting today.

A ban on military flights over Bosnia will be enforced, said the secretary-general.

The conference also achieved "full collaboration in delivery of humanitarian relief by road throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina" as well as the progressive return of refugees to their homes.

The parties also agreed to the dismantling of detention camps and the release of all civilians detained.

And in response to demands for some kind of retribution against those who have committed atrocities in the Bosnian war, Mr. Boutros-Ghali said the conference "is studying the possibility of creating an international penal tribunal."

The U.N.-European Community conference, a summit in full panoply, brought together not only the leaders of all the warring states and factions in former Yugoslavia, but the heads of governments and international organizations far removed from the Balkans, such as Japan, and nations from the Persian Gulf that are concerned by what they perceive as persecution of Bosnian Muslims by the Christian Serbs and Croations, both of ** whom have seized large segments of Bosnian territory.

The conference, in fact, opened amid a heavy atmosphere of pessimism that sufficient force could be marshalled to make the Bosnian Serbs and Croatians surrender the territory they had gained during the seven months of civil war in that country.

That pessimism was hardly dispelled last night. The Bosnian Serbs, it was noted, had promised to return only 20 percent of the territory the Serbs were holding.

Mr. Major and Mr. Eagleburger both pointed out that the Bosnian Serbs, all parties to the conference, agreed to abide by the basic principle under which the conference was organized -- respect for the integrity of frontiers and "non-recognition of all advantages gained by force or fait accompli . . ."

Said Mr. Eagleburger: "The conference sent a clear symbol that the international community would not endorse aggression."

No matter what the Bosnian Serbs think, he said, the conference will insist on a "return to the status quo ante."

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