Bosnian Serb parliament probably will declare 'state of war,' president says

August 07, 1994|By Dusko Doder | Dusko Doder,Special to The Sun

BELGRADE -- The president of the self-styled Bosnian Serb parliament, Momcilo Krajisnik, said yesterday that the assembly would meet again within the next two days, probably to declare "a state of war."

His statement left little doubt that the Bosnian Serbs would attempt to fight on despite their isolation.

It was amplified by Slavisa Rakovic, a senior adviser to Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic. Mr. Rakovic said in a telephone interview from Pale yesterday that the mood among the Bosnian Serbs was one of determination to "stick it out."

"We have no other option," he said. "We can't accept the plan. And we have resources, we are not an enclave that can collapse at any time. We have good quantities of military equipment and have oil reserves, though we may have to institute savings."

Mr. Krajisnik reiterated that the Serbs had not definitively rejected the international peace plan. However, the conditions he laid down for acceptance were those that have already been rejected by the five-member Contact Group of Britain, America, France, Germany and Russia.

The main Bosnian Serb demand is an adjustment in the map that gives them 49 percent of Bosnia -- a reduction from the 70 percent they now occupy. They also want their rebel republic to be recognized as a separate and sovereign entity.

At the assembly last week that rejected the international peace plan, the deputies made angry speeches condemning the plan and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and supporting Mr. Karadzic, who vowed they would continue their fight for freedom even if it meant going "hungry, naked and barefoot."

The Bosnian Serb leadership was meeting today to draft emergency measures to deal with the situation after Mr. Milosevic's decision to break off all political and economic links. The borders remained closed and phone lines severed, although the latter was now attributed to "technical reasons."

Bosnian Serbs say they were surprised by Belgrade's harsh measures. The greatest problem, Mr. Rakovic said, was "psychological, a feeling of uncertainty. But there is no defeatism." Another problem was that Yugoslavia had now excluded them from the monetary system. The Yugoslav dinar was now worthless, and discussions were under way to introduce coupons along with rationing.

Diplomats in Belgrade interpreted the Bosnian Serb action in taking weapons from the United Nations compound near Sarajevo, then returning them, as both a testing of the resolve of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and an attempt to provoke sympathy among people within Serbia.

Apparently recognizing this, the official Serbian media went out of its way to play down the bombing raid.

But propaganda pressures on the Bosnian Serb leaders continued with commentators openly saying that the objective was to depose the Karadzic group and replace them with men ready to sign the peace plan.

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