Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bosnian Serbs Sign on to 4-Month Cease-Fire Accord Could Lead to a Permanent Truce

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bosnian Serbs Sign on to 4-Month Cease-Fire Accord Could Lead to a Permanent Truce

Article excerpt

Serb leaders on Saturday joined the Bosnian government in signing a cease-fire agreement that could bring a four-month truce to Bosnia.

The accord comes after a week of intense shuttle diplomacy by Lt. Gen. Sir Michael Rose, the U.N. commander in Bosnia. It broadens the terms of a week-long cease-fire between Muslim-led government forces and Bosnian Serbs. It also opens the way for further negotiations to achieve a permanent peace.

"We have finally managed to agree on a comprehensive cessation of hostilities agreement," said Yasushi Akashi, the U.N. special envoy to the former Yugoslavia. "Life here is going to change a lot with this agreement," Akashi said.

Although the text of the agreement was not immediately released, the signing appeared to improve prospects for an end to the war that has been raging in Bosnia-Herzegovina for nearly three years. None of the dozens of cease-fires that have been reached during that time has committed the sides to stop fighting for such a long period.

The agreement was reached on the 1,000th day of the siege of Sarajevo. At least 200,000 people have been killed or are missing in the war, which began when Serbs rebelled after Bosnia's Muslim-led government declared independence from Yugoslavia.

The negotiations that led to Saturday's agreement were set in motion a week ago, when the two sides signed a cease-fire accord brokered by former President Jimmy Carter.

The agreement calls for:

Cessation of hostilities across Bosnia at noon Sunday (5 a.m. St. Louis time.)

Separation of forces.

Freedom of movement for all U.N. operations.

Restoration of utilities, especially in U.N.-designated "safe areas" where Serb forces have blocked convoys.

Withdrawal of "all foreign troops," especially Croatian Serb forces from the Knin region. They have been fighting with rebel Muslims against the Bosnian army in Bihac. …

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