Proposed Plan for Bosnia Would End Multi-Ethnic State

THREE months after the Bosnian Serbs rejected the Vance-Owen plan for peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the co-chairmen of the Geneva peace talks have presented a new plan for the war-torn former Yugoslav republic.

Instead of a single country divided into 10 provinces, as proposed in Vance-Owen, the new plan envisions three largely autonomous ethnic republics in a loose confederal union. The plan was announced Friday by European Community mediator Lord David Owen and United Nations mediator Thorvald Stoltenberg, who replaced the retired Cyrus Vance.

"No one of the three negotiating parties is satisfied with the plan," admitted Lord Owen at a news conference. "However, we have worked into it enough protective measures for it to be feasible."

The talks have recessed until Aug. 30 so that the three delegations - Serbs, Croats, and Muslims - can present the plan to their constituencies.

According to the plan, the Bosnian Serbs would control 52 percent of Bosnia. The Croats would get 18 percent, and the Muslims would receive 30 percent.

In addition, the plan calls for another cease-fire - in theory an extension and reinforcement of the one already supposed to be in effect. The agreement ensures free passage for UN Protection Force personnel and aid convoys throughout Bosnia. Administration of Sarajevo

Sarajevo would be administered for two years by the United Nations in collaboration with local officials, while a permanent plan for its future is worked out. Mostar, the city that would become the capital of the Croat republic, would have a similar arrangement, under the aegis of the EC. The Muslim state would be guaranteed access to both the Sava River (a major tributary of the Danube) and the Adriatic Sea.

The Muslim enclaves of Srebrenica, Zepa, and Gorazde would be preserved, and access routes would be created to ensure communication among the separate areas of each republic.

A major point of contention for the Bosnian government all along has been the implementation of Security Council Resolution 836. This states, among other things, that "the primary objective remains to reverse the consequences of the use of force and to allow all persons displaced from their homes ... to return to their homes in peace."

Four ombudsmen are to be appointed "to reverse the consequences ... especially of 'ethnic cleansing.' "

The ombudsmen would enforce a bill of rights encompassing most major international rights conventions since the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They would coordinate with a human rights court set up by the Council of Europe. That tribunal, which would include members of the three ethnic communities, would be able to determine its own mode of operation, leaving the potential for procedural obstacles that could undermine the court's effectiveness.

Another complicated provision in the plan is dual citizenship. This would allow the Belgrade and Zagreb governments to grant citizenship to Serbs and Croats in Bosnia. But it could also allow Serbia and Croatia eventually to annex the Bosnian Serb and Bosnian Croat republics. Problems with confederacy

Perhaps the most glaring omission in the plan is the lack of any provision for a central bank and common currency, making improbable any sort of confederal budgetary legislation.

A major source of concern for the Muslims, according to Prof. Francis Boyle, the Bosnians' international legal counsel, is the wording of the draft constitution's first article, which he says could be interpreted to mean that Bosnia would cease to exist as an internationally legal state.

When asked about the contradictions between a plan with elaborate human rights protections and the fact that two of the signatories (Mate Boban for the Croats and Radovan Karadzic for the Serbs) are likely to be tried as war criminals, Lord Owen remained confident.

"Some of these people have signed on in the full belief that its impact will not take place," he answered. "The human rights mechanisms will have to take their course."

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.