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    Copyright: The following text is for personal information only. Any professional use or publication in written or electronic form is subject to an agreement with AIM, 17 rue Rebeval, F-75019 Paris, France

    MON, 11 APR 1994 19:18:25 GMT

    AIM, BEOGRAD, March 29, 94

    The Serbs and the Washington Plan

    WAITING FOR A CLEARER PICTURE

    It is almost unbelievable with what calm Belgrade accepted last week's decision of the Bosnian Serbs from Pale. The papers reported indifferently that "the Serbs refused to have any part in the Moslem - Croat Federation".

    Only two "democrats" were quick - Zoran Djindjic from the Democratic Party and Vojislav Kostunica from the Democratic Party of Serbia - to welcome this decision. Then Vuk Draskovic, as usual, took the opposite stand. His proposal was for the Republic of Srpska to join the Federation, but to link itself confederatively with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. "I hope that Slobodan Milosevic will be wise enough to force such a solution on the Bosnian Serbs". Draskovic advises the Moslems that their link "with Serbia, where 300 thousand of their brothers by faith, live" is more natural than their current linking with the Croats.

    The ruling party mostly keeps silent. President Milosevic keeps repeating principles, reiterating ideas he presented to Charles Redman a month ago in Belgrade. "Peace on the territory of former B&H can be achieved only if the interests of all three sides are observed". As well as that he is for "enabling the successful evolvement of the negotiating process on the road of arriving at a political solution".

    The Vice-President of the Socialist Party of Serbia the youngish Goran Percevic strictly follows the President's guidelines. "The decision of the Assembly of Bosnian Serbs is a flexible one and shows a lasting orientation towards finding a peaceful solution". In elaborating further these ideas Percevic recalled the European Union plan which "envisages the creation of a union of republics, thus opening up possibilities for some sort of a confederal status between the Muslim - Croat Federation and the Republic of Srpska, i.e. an asymmetrical federation of a kind, or something similar". Roughly speaking, this means that everything is possible, but nothing is known, it remains to be seen what will happen.

    The Belgrade public observed an almost identical generalization in the replies given by the American "operative" Charls Redman who answered journalists' questions via satellite TV contact. He gave assurances that there was a plan and that its main elements were: the termination of all combat operations, the establishment of communications and the reestablishment of borders, states and relations. It all sounds rather general for a concrete plan. Even the most persistent analysts could not outline the actions that should ensue from this.

    It is deemed that the Americans are hardly likely to have planned any moves ahead, let alone "calculated" all the moves to the end of the game. The whole thing is further complicated by the introduction of the European Union plan into the game. And all this is seasoned with the assurances that all this fits in with Russian ideas. Serbian experience tells that out of tune orchestras are usually behind all great plans.

    And again, the war reports from Bosnia - from Maglaj, Doboj, Tesanj to Gorazde - show that it seems the long announced spring offensive of the Moslem Army has started. Relieved of Croatian pressure and already well armed, the Moslems will be able to fully focus on the Serbs. Thus, the "spring of peace" announced by the Americans could easily turn into the bloodiest year of this war.

    In such a context the greatest attention was attached to the decision of Boutros Ghali to accept the offer of the Turkish Government to include the Turks in the ranks of "blue helmets" in Bosnia. Karadzic's statement that the true counterpart of Turkish engagement would be the participation of FRY troops, was not commented on. Generally, after much noise, everything boils down to the assessment of the well known Belgrade Orientalist Dr.Darko Tanaskovic: "The arrival of Turks to Bosnia should not be taken dramatically, but all this should be well thought out and the right conclusions drawn in due time".

    The vagueness of the "Washington initiative" does not inspire the Serbs. Even Tudjman's claim that the Croats will get Krajina for their cooperativeness in Bosnia had a rather weak echo.

    However, it is clear that Milosevic is carrying out some preparations for the coming days. The election of Milan Martic President of Krajina was forced, the majority in the Krajina Parliament has "tied hands" due to the resignation of Prime Minister Bjegojevic, which makes it possible for him to rule "as long as required", after which Mirko Marjanovic, of Knin descent, was inaugurated Serbian Prime Minister, and Veljko Knezevic, also of Knin origin, sent to Zagreb to represent FRY...

    In that general weighing of the situation, only the singers of newly composed folk music howl from the tops of their voices, music which as a vox populi of sorts, conveys the messages and anxieties of the masses. Thus, after Clinton's elevated and hollow speech, the hit song was "America, America do not Touch Serbia". The song goes on to say how the Serbs, as all the nations of the world, have the right to self-determination and, naturally, the refrain gives a generous offer: "Let's dance the Serbian folk dance, the most beautiful of all, America, America do not touch Serbia".

    At any rate, while waiting for more clear pictures from the world, Belgrade has turned to "Avramovic's programme" of the rehabilitation of the economy and its many troubles. And they are plentiful.

    Slobodan Reljic