UN Expected to Strengthen Stand on Bosnia
UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. — THOUGH much of the world's attention is riveted on the conflict in Somalia these days, several global forums scheduled for this week are likely to shift some of that focus back to Europe. The talks will zero in on the continuing war in the former Yugoslavia and what can be done to end it.
The discussions - some open and some closed - will take place in New York, Stockholm, Geneva, and Brussels. All the European meetings will be at the foreign minister level.
Most nations agree that present efforts to stop the fighting in Bosnia-Herzegovina are not working. They also agree that the United Nations Security Council ban on military flights over Bosnia has been repeatedly violated.
Yet there is no consensus on whether and when to take what the United States and most others view as the next logical step: enforcement of the "no fly" zone. President Bush favors it. So does President-elect Clinton, who says any effort to "turn up the heat" on Serb forces is "worth a try."
Other nations - particularly Britain and France, which have troops in the UN peacekeeping contingent in Bosnia - are more cautious. They voice concern about possible retaliation against the troops and relief efforts. "You can't run a peacekeeping operation and a humanitarian airlift once you join the war against one side," an involved Western diplomat says.
Many nations, too, want to give more time to UN and European Community (EC) peacemaking efforts under way in Geneva. Some nations hope the Dec. 20 elections in Belgrade could remove a major roadblock. Serb-born Prime Minister Milan Panic, who has lived for many years in California, has been legally cleared to challenge hard-line nationalist incumbent Slobodan Milosevic for the Serb presidency. Some Serbs see Mr. Panic as a traitor. Others say he is the only one who could persuade the UN to lift sanctions . Pressure for stronger measures
Yet world pressure for stronger measures is sure to increase during this week's discussions. Fueling it is the continued Serb offensive against Sarajevo, concern that the Bosnian war could spread, and the activist example set by the UN's recent US-led humanitarian intervention in Somalia.
Some nations and individuals, including former US Secretary of State George Shultz and Egyptian Brig. Gen. Hussein Abdel Razek, commander of UN forces in Sarajevo, favor military intervention.
The strongest message likely to come out of any of this week's forums is the draft resolution that the UN General Assembly is expected to endorse at the close of its two-day debate that begins today. The ministerial meeting of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, which will discuss Bosnia and other topics, is taking place in Stockholm on the same days.
The General Assembly's draft resolution, sponsored by Bosnia, calls on the Security Council to enforce all existing resolutions. By Jan. 15, if Serbian and Montenegran forces still have not complied, the Security Council is urged under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter to authorize member states to "use all necessary means" to uphold Bosnia's independence and unity and to exempt Bosnia from the UN arms embargo in the region.
The resolution also urges the Council to set up safe havens within Bosnia and calls for a war crimes tribunal to take data from the commission of experts set up by the Council to try those accused. By Jan. 18 the Assembly wants a progress report on the resolution from UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and a similar report on peacemaking progress and further recommendations from Cyrus Vance and Lord Owen, co-chairmen of the UN and European Community's International Conference on the Former Yugosl avia in Geneva.
Asked about possible amendments before the vote tomorrow, a Bosnian diplomat insists: "We'd rather have no resolution at all than accept a watered-down one."
On Wednesday in Geneva the International Conference's steering committee will look into how peace efforts are going and the seeming contradiction between full-time talks and the nonstop war that rages in Bosnia. Some 33 nations and organizations, including the permanent members of the Security Council, the Group of Seven leading industrial nations, the EC, and many of Bosnia's neighbors will take part in the closed-door talks. NATO peacekeepers likely
Finally, a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) gathering of foreign ministers will be held this week in Brussels. Formal approval of a new role for the organization in peacekeeping missions for troubled regions of Europe is likely.
The Bush Administration still is far from eager to get involved in any ground action in Bosnia. US sources say their efforts to get Security Council approval to enforce the no-fly zone largely await an end to European reluctance.
"The difficulty is getting agreement in the international community," US Defense Secretary Richard Cheney says. US diplomats now say they see a few signs of a policy shift, particularly by France, but that this is only a small change. "If there were total unanimity, we'd have heard about it by now," a US diplomat says.