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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, 13 NOV 1995 22:49:02 GMT

    Replacement for Karadzic is Sought


    AIM, Beograd, November 5, 1995

    The leader of the Bosnian Serbs Radovan Karadzic has reached an internal agreement with Milosevic on his "quiet retreat" from power, but it seems that the Americans did not agree to such a possibility. After a message from Dayton, reiterating accusations of war crimes, Karadzic started drawing nervous moves.

    Judging by everything the leader of the Bosnian Serbs Radovan Karadzic and the military commander General Ratko Mladic will not be able to resist the strong pressures demanding their withdrawal from their positions much longer. Karadzic's departure from the political scene is no longer a question of months, but probably weeks, while the position of General Mladic, who apart from his influence in the army has credibility among the population, is somewhat better.

    Late last week the independent media in Belgrade reported that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic had, at the negotiations in Dayton, practically promised the American State Secretary Warren Christopher to relieve Karadzic and the military commander General Ratko Mladic of duty. Christopher previously stated, and the White House officially confirmed, that the Americans demanded the removal of Karadzic and Mladic and that they would not be willing to send their troops to Bosnia as long as the two of them were in power.

    Before leaving for the negotiations in Dayton, Milosevic held a number of consultations with the Bosnian Serb leadership on changes in both the military and political top ranks at Pale. Sources close to the Bosnian Serb authorities, which can be regarded as very reliable, said that an agreement has been reached in principle on the departure of Karadzic and Mladic. Karadzic and his associates asked for this change to be carried out as painlessly as possible and without much shock, which Milosevic agreed to.

    According to the scenario agreed upon in Belgrade, elections for the central authorities of the future Union of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the expected elections in the "Republic of Srpska" (RS), which would follow after the Dayton agreement, would be used for the "quiet" replacement. Karadzic and Mladic, as well as the President of the Parliament of the Bosnian Serbs Momcilo Krajisnik, promised Milosevic that they would not run for any position in the governmental organs of the Union of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but insisted on their demand that they be allowed to remain on some function within the RS. Thus, the public would perceive everything as a normal change on the top, and Karadzic would be able to retain at least a share of the power.

    According to the agreement the political and military top of the Bosnian Serbs reached with Milosevic, only Vice-President Nikola Koljevic and the Minister of Foreign Affairs Aleksa Buha, who are on the Serbian negotiating team in Dayton, would retain their present offices.

    Late Denials

    Immediately after Christopher demanded the removal of Karadzic and Mladic, the Bosnian Serb authorities reacted by the statement of the Minister of Information Miroslav Toholj, who told the Americans not to teach the Serbs democracy. Pale reacted with a two-day delay to the claims about an agreement between Milosevic and Pale on the "quiet departure" of Karadzic and Mladic, carried on November 2 by all the Yugoslav and world media.

    The Ministry of Information issued a statement on November 4 denying the claims on the agreed replacement but there was no explicit mention that Karadzic and Mladic would retain their positions. Empty phrases on the democratic right of the people to elect their leadership were used. The fact that neither Karadzic nor Mladic personally said anything is certainly not without significance.

    A day earlier, on November 3 Radovan Karadzic's press office had issued a statement claiming that "numerous telegrams of support" to Karadzic have been coming in. However, only one telegram is cited, sent from the Vojvodina branch of Karadzic's Serbian Democratic Party (SDS). In the last few days SRNA, the Press Agency of the Bosnian Serbs carried a number of statements of the communal presidents of several towns controlled by the Serbs, expressing their support to Karadzic. The press office release, as well as the not so numerous statements of support seem rather unconvincing, and are very unlikely to impress anyone. Rather, they are the first signs of panic which is slowly spreading among the present leadership of the Bosnian Serbs.

    The fact that Pale reacted to the claims on the agreement with Milosevic on replacements in the military and political top with a two-day delay points to the conclusion that, despite denials, such an agreement really exists. However, Karadzic subsequently realized that things had taken a different course in Dayton and that the agreement he had with Milosevice was not so firm any more. Apart from demanding his replacement, the Americans started intensely mentioning the International Tribunal for War Crimes in the Hague. This leads to the conclusion that the idea on the "quiet departure" of the leadership of Pale does not exist for Washington.

    Possibilities for Extradition

    According to the speculations of the media in Belgrade, Washington demanded of Milosevic in Dayton to hand Karadzic and Mladic over to the International Tribunal for War Crimes in the Hague, making that a precondition for lifting the sanctions on Serbia and Montenegro. On November 2 Christopher said that the Americans could not agree to send their troops to Bosnia within NATO, as long as Karadzic and Mladic, who are charged for war crimes, retain their positions. However, he did not mention extradition to the Hague Tribunal as a precondition for the realization of the agreement on Bosnia, so that this request is still only hypothetical.

    Sources close to the Bosnian Serb authorities said that there was no possibility for Karadzic and Mladic to be extradited to the International Tribunal for War Crimes and that Milosevic cannot make such a promise. Allegedly, before Milosevic's departure for Dayton such things were discussed, and as one of the precodnitions for his "voluntary" departure Karadzic demanded protection against his extradition.

    Observers in Belgrade believe that the latest decision on the withdrawal of police units from the front lines, which was announced on November 4, should also be linked to the internal turmoils and expected replacements. Namely, it is considered that Karadzic's main point of support is the police, while the decision on the withdrawal of the police from the front is interpreted as a wish to have the police forces concentrated in cities of vital importance for the control of power rather than "dispersed" along the lines. The military top strongly objected to such a decision, claiming that it essentially weakened the defence potentials. This warmed up the rivalry between the military and the civil authorities, and the uncertainty grew stronger.

    Replacement for Karadzic Sought

    The authorities which the Bosnian Serbs established, with the help of Belgrade, in 1992 by proclaiming the Republic of Srpska are monolithic and, in essence, one-party. Karadzic proved to be an extremely skilful politician who at the right time "cleared" the space around him so that there is no serious internal opposition that could oppose him. In reinforcing such authority, since his political parting with Belgrade, he relied on nationalistically oriented parties in Serbia and Montenegro, hoping that they would be able to depose Milosevic.

    In the past months Milosevic did not manage to topple Karadzic because he could not find a man in the political leadership who would be willing to be the new leader and his puppet. Changes in the situation on the ground and the decline of the Serbian military power during the October defeats in western Bosnia resulted first in the readiness of the President of the Bosnian Serb Parliament Momcilo Krajisnik and the Vice-President of the "Republic of Srpska" Nikola Koljevic silently to take the harsh attacks of Belgrade on Karadzic.

    Sources close to the authorities of the Bosnian Serbs say that Koljevic is Milosevic's choice and that the President of Serbia asked for him to be the leader of the Pale delegation at the Dayton negotiations. According to these same sources, Koljevic refused to directly ask for Karadzic's deposition, but has silently accepted the game and gradually started identifying himself with the role of the new first man with a strong backing from Belgrade.

    Karadzic himself is aware that it is all over, and that the most he can hope for is to retain some kind of influence and remain in the "shadow", with a possibility to influence political developments in the Bosnian Serb entity within the future Union of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Basically, he wishes the agreement on "voluntary departure" he reached with Milosevic to come true and hopes that the Serbian President will not be forced to change his mind in Dayton.

    (AIM) Dragan Janjic