Croatia and Bosnia Attempt to Shore Up
Crumbling Coalition Government
(SARAJEVO, March 14Reuters) Top Croatian officials visited Sarajevo on Thursday for talks on shoring up Bosnia's Muslim-Croat Federation, the crumbling cornerstone of the Dayton peace plan.
Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic and Prime Minister Zlatko Matesa arrived amid rising political tensions reflected in disputes like one which has erupted over the color of uniforms Croat police will wear in the mixed Croat-Muslim force patrolling former Serb suburbs of Sarajevo.
Bosnia's Muslim acting President Ejup Ganic on Thursday played down the gravity of the rift. "I wouldn't call it a political crisis. What we have to do is have one kind of police, one kind of uniform, in each canton (of the federation)." NATO peacekeepers showed impatience with such apparently trivial disputes.
"The success of the peace agreement depends entirely on the cohesion of the federation and at the moment the parties appear to be making few substantive efforts to make it work," Major Simon Haselock, a spokesman for the NATO-led Implementation Force, said on Thursday.
Suburbs Reported Quiet, But Tense
The former Serb suburb of Ilidza, whose takeover by the federation on Tuesday triggered an anarchic spasm of looting and arson by departing Serbs followed by looting and intimidation by incoming Muslim gangs, was calmer but still tense on Thursday.
U.N. police were still receiving calls for help from the few Serbs left in the area, now being terrorised by the newcomers after earlier braving threats from Serb separatists to stay on in the first place, police spokesman Alexander Ivanko said.
In the inner-city district of Grbavica, the last area still in Serb hands and due to be handed over on March 19, there were fires overnight and IFOR troops had to defend a warehouse of the UN refugee agency UNHCR from looters.
Serbs ceremonially carried away the wooden cross and bell from a makeshift orthodox church, set up in a former fish shop in Grbavica, on Thursday, and took it towards territory due to stay in Serb hands under the Dayton agreement. "This is the end, the symbolic end, of Grbavica," said a Serb woman who said whe had lived there for 34 years and was about to flee, like most other Serbs.
Displaced Serbs Complicate Refugee Resettlement Plans
Tens of thousands of Serb refugees from Sarajevo have been directed by Serb authorities to areas of eastern Bosnia emptied of Muslims and Croats by Serb ethnic cleansing early in the 3½-year Bosnian war.
The Bosnian Serb news agency said on Thursday 3,900 Serbs had been resettled in Brcko, a town in a sensitive, still disputed corridor of Serb territory in northeast Bosnia, and more were expected from Grbavica.
International officials have warned that the resettling of Serbs in such towns, often in the former homes of Muslims and Croats, will make it impossible to fulfill the Dayton pact's goal of allowing refugees to return to their original homes.
Berserkistan is the world news service of
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