THE Yugoslav civil war has entered a decisive phase with the end
of United Nations mediator Cyrus Vance's latest mission. The main
protagonists face the choice of embracing his plan for peacekeeping
forces or facing unabated violence.
"I think they all understand that the Vance mission is the last
chance they have, that a failure of the Vance mission could result
in a major escalation of the war" says a Western diplomat here.
Mr. Vance has for now ruled out the deployment of UN
peacekeepers because fighting between Serbs and Croats has
continued in disregard of a Nov. 23 cease-fire accord; the accord's
implementation is the main condition for UN Security Council
approval of the plan.
But the plan remains the only option for halting the savage
five-month-old conflict, and despite the failure of Vance's
exhaustive attempts to secure the cease-fire, the UN is expected to
pursue its peace efforts.
The fate of the cease-fire now rests firmly with separatist
Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, Communist President Slobodan
Milosevic of the rival Serbian Republic, and Yugoslav Defense
Minister Veljko Kadijevic, the most senior general of the
Serb-dominated federal Army.
Western diplomats and other analysts said all three have
indicated they might be willing to cooperate to solidify the
cease-fire, because of growing public weariness of the war and
worsening economic conditions wrought by international sanctions.
One indication is Vance's surprise disclosure on Sunday that he
had obtained the "substantial agreement of the principal parties"
to a "concept and underlying plan for a possible peacekeeping
Though the former US secretary of state declined to elaborate on
the scheme, his announcement indicated that he had persuaded Mr.
Milosevic and General Kadijevic to relent in their opposition to
stationing UN troops in Croatia's Serbian enclaves.
Both had insisted that UN troops be deployed only in buffer
positions on the boundaries of those enclaves, which would have de
facto accomplished their goal of ensuring that territories wrested
by force remain severed from Croatian authority.
Mr. Tudjman recognized that earlier this month when he agreed to
allow the stationing of international peacekeepers in all crisis
areas, dropping a demand that they be positioned only on Croatia's
borders with Serbia and the republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
A second bright spot was an accord that Vance's deputy, former
US Ambassador Herbert Okun, helped broker between Croatia and the
Yugoslav Army to complete the removal of blockades on three
military facilities in the republic's capital of Zagreb.
The Serbian military high command has been adamant that Croatia
lift all the sieges that it imposed in mid-September.
Western diplomats have blamed Croatia's foot-dragging for the
Army's violations of the Nov. 23 cease-fire, including bombardments
that claimed more than 100 casualties last Friday in the southern
Adriatic medieval city of Dubrovnik and the eastern town of Osijek. …