Belgrade's Leadership Pressing U.N. to Halt Civil War

From Associated Press

The Serbian-dominated remnants of Yugoslavia's presidency on Friday accused the European Community of backing the dismantling of the country and urged the United Nations to do more to halt the civil war.

But Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar said continuing fighting in the 6-month-old civil war prevents dispatch of U.N. peacekeepers to Yugoslavia.

The federal army launched an intense artillery barrage on Karlovac, 30 miles southwest of Zagreb, the Croatian capital. Croatian officials claim the Serbs want to make the industrial city of 70,000 the westernmost outpost of a future Serbia-dominated Yugoslavia.

Croatia says the army, which is mainly run by Serbs, intervened last summer on the side of Serbian rebels in Croatia as part of a plan to create a "Greater Serbia."

Fourteen cease-fires have failed to bring peace to Croatia. A third of the republic's territory has fallen to the Serbs since Croatia and its neighbor, Slovenia, declared independence June 25.

Serbia opposes their independence and attacked the 12-nation EC for its announcement Dec. 17 that it would recognize the two republics--and possibly others seeking independence--on Jan. 15.

Germany, which led the push for Croatian recognition, believes recognizing the secessionist republics will persuade the federal army to stop fighting.

But others are concerned that recognition will lead Serbs in other republics--including Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia--to take up arms as their brethren in Croatia have done.

Serbia's government holds that Serbs in Croatia and the other pro-independence republics must be allowed self-determination if those states quit the Yugoslav federation.

Thousands have died in the fighting that has ravaged Croatia since early July. EC-brokered peace talks have failed.

Bosnia-Herzegovina has urgently appealed for U.N. peacekeepers, but Perez de Cuellar told the Security Council in New York on Friday: "From all that I have heard, it remains my view that the conditions for establishing a peacekeeping operation in Yugoslavia still do not exist. . . . The commitment to an unconditional cease-fire remains unimplemented" by the warring parties.

He will send his envoy, Cyrus R. Vance, back here next week to see if blue-helmeted U.N. peacekeepers can safely be sent to Yugoslavia.

In a letter to Perez de Cuellar, the four pro-Serbia representatives on the federal presidency said the continuing EC-sponsored talks in The Hague had "lost the necessary credibility and trust in its objectivity in seeking a way out of the crisis."

"Broader efforts, particularly on the part of the United Nations organization, are essential," said the letter, reported by the Tanjug news agency.

Serbia believes its case for preserving Yugoslavia will have more support at the United Nations, where Yugoslavia traditionally has been allied with more than 100 other nations in the Non-Aligned Movement.

In effect, few believe Croatia and Slovenia will remain in Yugoslavia. Serbia is trying to retain such chunks of Croatia as it can capture on the battlefield while it seeks to dissuade pro-independence leaders of Bosnia and Macedonia.

Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic met Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov on Friday.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World