Bosnian Leader Charges Serb Threat Is a Ploy

A BOSNIAN Serb threat to demand the pullout of United Nations peacekeepers from Bosnia-Herzegovina is aimed at coercing international mediators into agreeing to negotiate changes to their peace plan, Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic charges.

In an interview Tuesday in the Belgrade-based Borba newspaper, Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic said his leadership was close to calling for withdrawal of the UN Protection Force. ``We are now even firmer in our conviction that UNPROFOR must leave. It has protected the Muslims from total defeat. NATO functions as a killer hired by the UN. That is why we do not complain about NATO. But the UN has hired the killer.''

Mr. Silajdzic warned in an interview with the Monitor Tuesday of serious consequences if the ``contact group'' of United States, Russian, British, French, and German mediators go along with the alleged ploy.

First, he said, his government would refuse to participate in any talks the contact group might seek to accommodate Bosnian Serb objections to dividing Bosnia roughly 50-50 between them and the Muslim-Croat federation. And, he added, an enraged Bosnian Parliament could force his pro-West government's resignation because he advocated the plan's acceptance based on the contact group's promise not to negotiate more.

``We had to spend, President [Alija] Izetbegovic and me, all our credit with our Parliament to accept a plan that was genocide. Now, that credit is spent,'' he said.

He said his moderate Muslim-dominated government could be replaced by hard-liners opposed to cooperating with the international community, which has consistently reneged on its promises and commitments throughout the 31-month war.

``They might find some other people [here] to talk to with [in] quite a different frame of mind,'' Silajdzic said. ``The government's position is already threatened. We have delivered contracts and promises of the international community that the international community did not live up to.''

The Bosnian Serb hierarchy was expected to meet Wednesday to consider whether to demand the withdrawal of the 24,000-strong UNPROFOR, but postponed the meeting. Self-styled speaker of the Bosnian Serb parliament Momcilo Krajisnik said yesterday that the Serbs would soon ``definitely decide on their attitude toward UNPROFOR.''

Mr. Karadzic has accused the UN of siding with the Muslim-Croat federation by calling NATO airstrikes on his forces. The last airstrike was launched Sept. 22 against a broken tank inside Sarajevo's heavy-weapons exclusion zone following Bosnian Serb attacks on UN troops.

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