U.N. votes to use force in Bosnia NATO aircraft to police no-fly ban

April 01, 1993|By Paul Lewis | Paul Lewis,New York Times News Service Sun staff writer Mark Matthews contributed to this article.

UNITED NATIONS -- The United Nations Security Council authorized the North Atlantic Treaty Organization yesterday to shoot down any planes violating a U.N. ban on flying over Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The move, aimed at pressuring Bosnia's Serbs to sign a peace accord, has little military significance, diplomats say. The United Nations says there has been only one verified combat violation of the ban since the council enacted it in October.

The enforcement decision yesterday was supported by all 15 council members except China, which abstained.

The action is seen as a warning to Bosnia's Serbs that the council is now determined to put increasing pressure on them to agree to the peace settlement already accepted by Bosnia's Croatian and Muslim leaders.

"The resolution should send a message that if the Bosnian Serbs want to rejoin the family of nations their behavior must conform to international norms," Edward S. Walker, the deputy U.S. representative here, told the council after yesterday's vote.

Sir David Hannay, Britain's representative, said the prospects of the Serbs would be "grim indeed" unless they make peace.

The enforcement will be led by NATO but may involve several of its members, including the U.S., Britain, France, the Netherlands and possibly Italy, diplomats said in Washington.

"We are certainly going to participate in enforcement," a State Department official said. The United States led the way in pushing for the resolution.

The next step in the campaign is expected to come early next week when the council plans to adopt a resolution giving the Serbs 15 days to accept the Vance-Owen plan.

If they still refuse, the new resolution would sharply tighten the trade embargo the council already has imposed on the Yugoslav federation, composed of Serbia and Montenegro.

The calculation is that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic is the only person capable of making Bosnia's Serbs capitulate by threatening to cut off the vital supplies of fuel, food and military equipment he sends them.

While the resolution clearly threatens the Serbs with new sanctions if their Bosnian allies refuse to make peace, France and Britain wanted its language to endorse the peace plan unambiguously.

But the United States objected and the resolution merely "commends" the plan drafted by Cyrus R. Vance and Lord Owen, respectively the U.N. and European Community mediators in the civil war.

France and Britain say this risks encouraging the Serbs to think the council is not fully committed to the plan.

U.S. officials say the Clinton administration does not want to get into a position where it is asked to enforce a Bosnian settlement that is being imposed on the parties to the dispute instead of being accepted by them voluntarily.

The Americans say they also want to give the mediators some flexibility in their dealings with the Serbs by making clear that the plan is not yet cast in concrete.

But Mr. Vance and Lord Owen made clear yesterday that they would have preferred a ringing endorsement of their proposals by the Security Council.

Some diplomats suspect that one reason the Clinton administration does not want the council to demand that the Serbs accept the Vance-Owen plan is because this might create a precedent that could be applied to Israel.

Mr. Vance will step down in the next few days as the special U.N. mediator. His replacement is expected to be Norwegian Foreign Minister Thorvald Stoltenberg. Mr. Vance, a former secretary of state, turned 76 Saturday. He told Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali in December that he could not continue indefinitely as the U.N. mediator on the Balkans.

In recent weeks he has indicated he would probably give up his post at the end of the round of peace talks that began here in February.

The draft resolution would ban transshipment of supplies through Yugoslavia to other countries without Security Council permission.

It would also ban all movements of goods along the Yugoslav part of the Danube River unless captains obtain Security Council permission and an observer is stationed on each vessel.

It would freeze Yugoslav financial assets overseas, and it would order countries to impound all Yugoslav ships, aircraft, trucks and rolling stock on their territory.

The new resolution comes at an awkward time for President Boris N. Yeltsin of Russia, who is locked in a power struggle with a strongly nationalistic parliament that sides with the Serbs and that has already asked him to use Russia's veto to stop the Security Council from punishing them any further.

But a senior U.S. official predicted that Moscow would go along with the resolution in return for some minor changes in the text making clear that the trade embargo will be relaxed as Bosnia's Serbs comply with the Vance-Owen peace proposal.

Radovan Karadzic, the leader of the Bosnian Serbs, is to convene his parliament today to discuss his rejection of the Vance-Owen plan in New York last week after the Muslim-dominated Bosnian government finally accepted it in its entirety.

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