Redrawing the Borders of the Yugoslav Republics

The editorial "Now Croatia?," July 11, remarks that one way out of the present Yugoslav crisis may be for Croatia to cede more land to Serbia. All of the parties involved have at one time thought that redrawing borders would be a good idea. But with the exception of the Serbian government, all have realized how intractable such an option would be. As thorny as the current situation in Croatia seems, the situation in Bosnia/Hercegovina promises to be much worse. And the problems of Macedonia would be worse still. The present stance of Croatia and Slovenia can be seen primarily as a redefinition of the role the republics play in Yugoslavia. Even the Serbian government made clear that some such redefinition would be necessary when it abolished the semiautonomous status of two of its provinces. Why is this injustice so rarely addressed? Redrawing borders would not address the fundamental problem of ensuring that minority rights in all the republics would be respected, which is the only real prospect for peace. Take the case of the so-called "autonomous region of Krajina," which some Serbs have called to have ceded to Serbia. It contains only a third of Croatia's Serbs, a mere 3 to 4 percent of the population. Moreover, what of the many Croatians who also live in Krajina, or outside of Croatia altogether? Are the Croats who live outside of Croatia going to be allowed the same rights to secede and merge with Croatia as Serbs are? Clearly, the issue of where to put the republics' borders is best resolved by leaving them alone. Any other course will plunge the country directly into civil war. R. D. Loncarec, Cambridge, Mass.

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