UNITED Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and his Yugoslav crisis mediator, Cyrus Vance, urged major powers yesterday to resist the mounting public pressure for military action against Bosnia's rebel Serbs.
In a message to a meeting of 29 countries to discuss the war in Bosnia, Mr. Boutros-Ghali said any outside intervention could escalate the conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The message from Mr. Vance, a former United States secretary of state, said countries would be heading for disaster if they approved any form of military action now.
The US and France have already begun drafting a UN Security Council resolution enforcing a military "no fly" zone over Bosnia-Herzegovina repeatedly breached by the Serbs. Diplomats say a resolution could be adopted later this week.
But Vance made clear that he opposed military action to keep Bosnian Serb aircraft on the ground, arguing any violations of the no-fly resolution had little or no military significance.
Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, who arrived early and uninvited to the Geneva talks, said any such action would be regarded as "an act of aggression against the Serbian people."
Apart from enforcing the no-fly zone, the US is pushing for the establishment of a Nuremberg-style war crimes tribunal to punish perpetrators of human rights abuses. This call has won widespread support and yesterday was endorsed by Yugoslav mediators Vance and Lord Owen.
US Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger said yesterday that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and Bosnian Serb chiefs should be forced to explain and defend their roles in war crimes in Bosnia. In a speech to the conference, Mr. Eagleburger named a list of people he said had committed crimes against humanity in Bosnia-Herzegovina. But he said their political masters could not evade responsibility as well.
The Geneva meeting, held in the framework of the International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia, has been billed as a chance to review international progress toward resolving the conflict more than three months after ministers first met in London.
At least two major European powers, Britain and Germany, are expected to call for a tightening of sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro.