How the Bad Guys Came Good in Winds of Wrath; Letter from MOSTAR

Article excerpt

For more than two years the Serbs were the bad guys.

They failed to fulfil promises, ignored numerous agreements and obstructed every kind of effort at reunification in Bosnia.

But now, 27 months after a peace agreement was finally signed in Dayton, Ohio, ending nearly four years of war, the Serbs are shaping up to be the good guys and the cold wind of international wrath is beginning to blow on the Croats.

In the barren, rocky region of Herzegovina, which winds from north to south along Bosnia's border with Croatia, the Bosnian Croats are becoming the biggest obstacle to the international community's efforts to build a durable peace in Bosnia.

In Mostar, where Moslems and Croats fought a vicious war for ten months in 1993-94, there has been slow but sure progress towards reunification and a climate of tolerance has been created through growing cooperation between the two sides.

Yet Western diplomats say the progress may be unsettling to Croat hardliners who do not want the Bosnian Federation to succeed and who are posing a serious problem to real progress throughout the region.

Nearly four years after the European Union took over administration of Mostar and spent 270 million German marks on trying to reunify the town, there is still no functioning city administration because of protracted rows about its budget.

It is Bosnia's Moslem-Croat Federation in miniature, and represents many of the problems faced by the federation, created in 1994 through US diplomacy.

"It's one of the reasons it's so vitally important that things do succeed in Mostar," Sir Martin Garrod said. Garrod heads the regional office of the international community's high representative in Bosnia, Carlos Westendorp. …