NATO chief ready to enforce Bosnia no-fly zone e.2

January 13, 1993|By Charles W. Corddry | Charles W. Corddry,Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- The Western alliance's military command will be ready with plans to enforce a no-fly zone against Serbian planes if there is a breakdown in the latest fragile move toward peace in Bosnia.

Just before yesterday's report that Bosnian Serbs had acquiesced to a proposed peace plan, U.S. Army Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, commander of NATO forces, said he expected enforcing the no-fly zone would be the next move if talks in Geneva broke down.

At breakfast with reporters, the general did not suggest that barring occasional Serbian planes from Bosnian air space would have military significance. The point, he said, was not to have impact on the "ferocity of ground fighting" but to "bolster the credibility of the United Nations."

He said: "It is really more of a political statement of resolve to enforce the will of the United Nations."

If the U.N. passed the task of enforcement to NATO, he said, "My feeling is NATO will do it."

But he said he did not know what options the NATO civilian leadership would authorize, if it ordered enforcement of a no-fly zone.

In Washington for a series of conferences, General Shalikashvili said, "A military solution is not possible at a price nations are willing to pay."

He said he knew no one in authority who had "seriously discussed . . . massive use of forces on the ground to stop the fighting."

His concern about enforcing a no-fly zone was that it could result in reprisals against forces in Bosnia to provide humanitarian help.

Could the crisis be resolved with a large air campaign?

General Shalikashvili said he was "very dubious" that the factions waging war in Bosnia could be made to stop with "punitive action from the air."

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