Bosnia continues boycott of U.N.'s cease-fire talks

June 06, 1994|By New York Times News Service

GENEVA -- The Bosnian government appeared yesterday to be pressing for war rather than peace after once again rejecting the U.N.-sponsored cease-fire talks here.

After a fourth day of fruitless attempts to end the boycott by the Muslim-led government, Yasushi Akashi, the top U.N. official in the Balkans, first declared the talks canceled, then said he would make one last effort to convene them today.

Although Bosnian negotiators have justified their boycott by pointing to the Serbs' continuing violation of a NATO order to leave the Muslim enclave of Gorazde, their position is clearly linked to deeper, tactical considerations.

"We want maximum pressure in the political talks on a territorial settlement," Muhamed Sacirbey, the Bosnian representative at the United Nations and one of the 12 members of the Bosnian delegation here, said yesterday. "That is not achieved by a cease-fire freezing the Serbian advantage on the ground."

The Bosnian army, strengthened by a new alliance with the Croats and by what U.N. military officials say is an improved flow of weapons, ammunition and other supplies from the Croatian coast, has recently held its own against the Serbs and even won some minor victories.

Given this change in the military balance, Bosnia's political leaders have become markedly less enthusiastic about stopping what had been a one-sided war, with the Serbs holding 72 percent of the territory that once belonged to Bosnia.

"Hitler also offered a cease-fire while he occupied half of Europe," said Ejup Ganic, the vice president of the Muslim-Croat federation. "We don't want to legalize the Serbian position."

The failure to even begin the cease-fire talks is a major setback to the latest U.S.-backed diplomatic attempt to end the Bosnian war.

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