A FRAGILE peace accord between federal authorities and the
breakaway republics of Slovenia and Croatia has brought multiethnic
Yugoslavia back from the brink of civil war.
But escalating Serb-Croat strife in Croatia threatens to mar the
agreement and deepen the federal Army's involvement in Yugoslavia's
The tentative peace accord was reached yesterday after more than
16 hours of tense negotiations on the island of Brioni, off
Croatia's coast, between Yugoslavia's eight-member collective
presidency and Slovenian and Croatian leaders. European Community
mediators also took part.
The agreement formalizes a four-day truce in Slovenia that has
held since lightly armed Slovenian forces repulsed Army tanks and
war planes seeking to reimpose Yugoslav sovereignty. At least 62
people were killed in heavy fighting between federal troops and
Slovenian defense forces for control of the republic's borders with
Italy, Austria, and Hungary.
Slovenia and Croatia declared independence June 25 after talks
with federal officials over Yugoslavia's future structure broke
down. The prosperous republics wanted to transform the nation into a
loose confederation of sovereign states. Serbia, Yugoslavia's
largest republic, and the pro-Serbian federal Army favor more
centralized rule from Belgrade, the Serbian and Yugoslav capital.
The new peace agreement suspends, but does not void, both
In addition, the accord calls for a cease-fire throughout
Yugoslavia and for a new round of talks on the Yugoslav crisis to
begin next month.
It sets a three-month cooling-off period on the Slovenian border
issue. Slovenian police will continue to control the republic's 27
border posts, but turn over revenue from customs duties to the
Control of Slovenia's border crossings, strong symbols of
sovereignty to both sides, was the main issue in the talks on
The agreement also calls for federal Army units to return to
barracks and for the deactivation of the Slovenian territorial
Federal President Stipe Mesic, a Croat, declared that peace was
at hand. But Dutch Foreign Minister Hans van den Broek, the leader
of the European Community mission to Brioni, said the accord rested
on "deep, dramatic complexities" and warned against overoptimism.
"It remains to be seen whether we have had any long-term success."
Croatian President Franjo Tudjman said, "Croatia has already had
a little war going on for a year. I hope that the Brioni declaration
will bring people to reason."
Yugoslav officials said the joint declaration was accepted only
"in principle" and that the Slovenian parliament, the federal
government, and the federal presidency must still formally approve