Bosnian assembly votes to reject U.N. peace plan Issue of territory at heart of objection

August 29, 1993|By New York Times News Service

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina -- Bosnia's Muslim-dominated Parliament voted last night to reject a United Nations peace plan and to return the Bosnian negotiating team to Geneva to seek territorial and constitutional adjustments to the proposal, which would reorganize this country into three ethnic republics.

The 65-to-0 vote portends a prolongation of the war in Bosnia because earlier last week Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic threatened new Serbian military action unless Parliament accepted the U.N. plan.

Parliament made its decision at a closed joint meeting with the Bosnian collective presidency and Cabinet.

The fighting has claimed more than 150,000 lives and driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes since nationalist Serbs, armed by the Yugoslav army, began driving poorly armed Muslims from their homes in April 1992.

The separate parliaments established by Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian Croats accepted the peace plan Saturday, but they too sought changes.

At the heart of every objection to the peace plan, Muslim, Serbian and Croatian, is the issue of territory.

The peace proposal, devised in Geneva this month provides for the creation of a "Union of Bosnia-Herzegovina" made up of a Serbian republic, a Croatian republic and a Muslim-dominated "Bosnian" republic.

Under the plan, the Serbian republic would have about 52 percent of Bosnia's territory, with 18 percent for the Croatian republic and 30 percent for the "Bosnian" republic, which would contain about half of the present country's population, including almost all of the Muslims.

Most Muslims consider the peace plan to be the Serbs' and Croats' laststeppingstone toward partitioning this country, creating a Greater Serbia and Greater Croatia, and leaving the Muslims with a sliver of landlocked territory and little chance of economic success.

But Serbian legislators have expressed extreme bitterness about the provisions of the plan requiring the Serbs to draw back from some of the 70 percent of Bosnia they seized during the war in the name of defending "holy Serbian land."

The U.N.-sponsored peace talks are to resume in Geneva tomorrow.

The decision to go back to negotiations was a defeat for Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic. He had told his Muslim-dominated assembly that it must set aside unrealistic objections and recognize that Bosnia was faced with superior force.

Mr. Izetbegovic said it was no good to only complain that the peace plan by international mediators Lord Owen and Thorvald Stoltenberg would dismember Bosnia.

"Do you think you can stop an army . . . with legal theory?" he asked, stabbing the air with his hands.

"They [the Serbs] still have 1,000 tanks against us, and if we don't find a solution, Bosnia will be destroyed," he said.

Mr. Izetbegovic warned them not to hold out for U.S. military intervention. "I have been told by the Americans, 'We are supporting you, but don't expect us to send a single man who would return in a box,' " he said.

Almost a year and a half ago, the United States opposed a partition of Bosnia-Herzegovina that had been agreed to by leaders of the republic's Serbs, Croats and Muslims.

The idea was to stave off a civil war.

Now, tens of thousands of deaths later, the United States had urged the three Bosnian factions to accept a partition agreement similar to the one Washington previously opposed.

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