Serbs Warn Germans on Recognition Issue
The Serbian-led Yugoslav government Sunday threatened unspecified retaliation if Germany recognizes the rebel republics of Croatia and Slovenia, but Bonn appeared determined not to be swayed.
Federal Vice President Branko Kostic said in Belgrade: “We hope there will be no unilateral acts of recognition of Croatia and Slovenia. If that happens, we will certainly take countermeasures.” He did not elaborate.
German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher said his country will press the European Community today to grant diplomatic recognition to the two secessionist republics before Christmas. Genscher told a German radio station Sunday: “The chancellor (Helmut Kohl) has said . . . that this decision will be made before Christmas. This intention has not changed.”
In New York, the U.N. Security Council unanimously agreed early Sunday to send an advance party of 12 civilian and six military observers to Yugoslavia in a resolution that backed off from trying to pressure Germany to postpone its diplomatic recognition of Croatia and Slovenia.
The modification was reportedly agreed to at the last minute by Britain and France in a effort to avert a clash among the EC foreign ministers in Brussels today.
The Security Council vote could pave the way for sending 10,000 U.N. peacekeepers if diplomats can get a cease-fire to take hold. Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar said he plans to have the monitors in Belgrade, the federal and Serbian capital, on Wednesday.
The United Nations had said that “premature” recognition of Croatia and Slovenia would widen the conflict because an independent Croatia would be able to legally rearm. A Security Council arms embargo prohibits weapons exports to Yugoslavia’s republics.
In Washington, President Bush said Sunday it would be a mistake for the West to move rapidly to recognize Croatia and Slovenia as independent states.
“We want to see a peaceful evolution. We’ve been strongly supportive of the EC (European Community and) what the U.N. has tried to do,” Bush told reporters upon his return to the White House from Camp David.
“Their advice has been to go slow on recognition, and I think they’re right,” Bush said. “We certainly believe in self-determination, but we think the situation is in so much consternation there, so fraught with danger, that we fully accept” their recommendations.
Serbs and Croats both claimed territorial gains after a weekend of heavy fighting in Croatia. Thousands of ethnic Serbs fled from areas where Croats reportedly captured several villages held by Serb-dominated forces in recent days.
Croatian Radio also said that Croats took the Serb stronghold of Miokovicevo, east of Daruvar near the Hungarian border in the Papuk mountain region.