Bosnian Serbs reject call for pan-Serbian meeting

May 12, 1993|By Dusko Doder | Dusko Doder,Contributing Writer

BELGRADE -- A plan by Yugoslav leaders for a pan-Serbian parliamentary session to consider the Bosnian peace plan was rejected by Bosnian Serbs yesterday hours after it was put forward.

The Yugoslav leaders proposed the unusual session as a substitute for a weekend referendum of Bosnian Serbs to decide whether to accept the plan.

The meeting was called for Friday in Belgrade and would have included include the parliaments of Serbia and Montenegro, which make up the rump state of Yugoslavia, and the parliaments of the self-styled Serbian republics in Bosnia and Krajina, a Serbian enclave in Croatia.

But the Yugoslav news agency Tanjug said the leadership of Radovan Karadzic's Serbian Democratic Party in Bosnia agreed unanimously late yesterday that such a meeting could be held only after the referendum and after a new session of the Bosnian Serb parliament. Twice recently the parliament had rejected the Vance-Owen peace plan.

The call was issued after talks in Belgrade attended by Yugoslav President Dobrica Cosic, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic and Goran Hadzic, president of Krajina.

Mr. Milosevic said the decision affected all Serbs and was too important for the Bosnian Serbs to make alone.

Analysts said Bosnian hard-liners almost certainly would be outvoted at such a meeting but are likely to win backing for their rejection of the plan in a referendum.

Mr. Milosevic, whose country has been ravaged by months of United Nations trade sanctions, has been pressing the Bosnian Serbs to accept the Vance-Owen plan, which calls for dividing Bosnia into 10 semi-autonomous provinces.

The attempt to find a way out of the impasse comes at a time of deep bitterness between the Bosnian Serbs and their erstwhile sponsors in Serbia.

Since the falling out between them following the Bosnian Serb rejection of the peace plan, the news media here have undertaken a relentless campaign to discredit the Bosnian Serb leadership. The Bosnian Serbs, once described as courageous and patriotic, now are termed an ungrateful people led by warped or dissolute politicians.

The leader of the Bosnian Serbs, Mr. Karadzic, is receiving the worst treatment. Once feted as a distinguished Serbian patriot, he is now described as a callous politician living in luxury in Belgrade while his people suffer. The Belgrade media described him last week as a compulsive gambler who is said to have lost $180,000 worth of German marks in one night of gambling at a Belgrade casino.

Mr. Karadzic's hard-line vice president, Dr. Biljana Plavsic, had already been singled out by Mr. Milosevic for a public attack as someone who should be confined to a lunatic asylum. This week, Mr. Milosevic's wife, Mirjana, joined in the fray. In her column in the journal Duga, Mrs. Milosevic compared Dr. Plavsic to the notorious Nazi war criminal Dr. Josef Mengele, who carried out experiments with human beings.

Dr. Plavsic has called for an all-out war for the unification of all Serbian lands, no matter how many casualties.

Mr. Milosevic is unquestionably behind the media campaign. The Bosnian Serbs' refusal to accept the peace plan after he had pleaded with them to vote for it was a great humiliation for the Serbian strongman. He apparently wants to convince the Bosnian Serbs that they cannot continue the war without Serbia's support and force them to accept the peace plan crafted by mediators Cyrus R. Vance and Lord Owen.

But his maneuvering has caused considerable confusion, because he inspired the Bosnian Serbs to fight for the dream of a Greater Serbia in the first place. Some Bosnian Serb politicians, including assembly president Momcilo Krajisnik, are even suggesting publicly that it is all a show, a maneuver designed to deflect Western denunciation.

However, all indications suggest that Mr. Krajisnik is wrong. He, Karadzic and all the other top officials of their government, as well as all members of the Bosnian Serb assembly, are now being barred from entering Serbia. The only exceptions are the ministers of defense and interior. Serbian police manning bridges into Bosnia have been ordered to stop all but humanitarian supplies.

One new signal that Mr. Milosevic is serious about cutting ties with the Bosnian Serbs -- with the hope that such action will eventually get U.N. sanctions on Serbia lifted -- is an unexpected purge this week of the Yugoslavian high command. The two men thought to have been deeply involved in the Bosnian war -- Gen. Ljubomir Domazetovic, deputy chief of staff, and Gen. Nedeljko Boskovic, chief of military intelligence -- are among the officers forced into retirement.

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