Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

UN-EC Map for Bosnia Plan Based on Disputed Figures No Official Statistics Tell Who Owned What before the War. BOSNIA CRISIS

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

UN-EC Map for Bosnia Plan Based on Disputed Figures No Official Statistics Tell Who Owned What before the War. BOSNIA CRISIS

Article excerpt

AS negotiators Cyrus Vance and Lord David Owen try to convince the United Nations Security Council to adopt their plan on Bosnia, they face a strong argument in Congress and the White House that it rewards the "ethnic cleansing" conducted in Bosnia by Serbs.

To counter this, the Vance-Owen team has argued that under their plan's partition of Bosnia, Serbs only get 43 percent of the country - whereas prior to the war, Serbs controlled 60 percent of Bosnia.

"The Serbs drop from 60 percent to 43 percent - a significant rollback" that will "begin to reverse ethnic cleansing," UN spokesman Fred Ekhard says.

Yet a number of Western diplomats, US officials, and Bosnian leaders question the way the 60 percent figure is being used by Mr. Vance and Lord Owen. They say it implies Serbs are giving back land they somehow deserved. Moreover, the 60 percent figure implies Serbs owned or controlled regions where in fact they may have been only a slight majority.

"We have not yet seen the basis for the assertion that 60 percent of the land prior to the war is Serbian," says Andrew Semmel, foreign policy adviser to Sen. Richard Lugar (R) of Indiana.

Serbs have rejected the proposed map of 10 cantons because their portion of land is too small, they say, and they would have to give up a key supply corridor to land captured in war with Croatia in 1991.

Several experts said the figure is imprecise, is not legal, is subject to distortion, and appears to be a more elaborate way to explain and accommodate a Serbian taking of land by force that has already left 50,000 to 100,000 dead in the former Yugoslav republic.

"It's ludicrous," one State Department Yugoslav expert says. "The ethnic map of Bosnia before the war was like a leopard skin. Everyone was scattered around. To claim a clean 60 percent, or even 40 percent, is ridiculous. …

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