Britain, France Threaten to Pull Troops from Bosnia Decision Tied to Acceptance of Peace Plan by Warring Sides. EUROPEAN SECURITY

By Alexander MacLeod, Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, July 12, 1994 | Go to article overview

Britain, France Threaten to Pull Troops from Bosnia Decision Tied to Acceptance of Peace Plan by Warring Sides. EUROPEAN SECURITY


Alexander MacLeod, Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


BRITAIN and France have decided to pull their troops out of Bosnia-Herzegovina if parties to the fighting there shun the latest United Nations-backed peace plan.

Officials in London and Paris say the move is intended to drive home to Serbs, Croats, and Muslims alike the dangers of letting the fighting continue and running the risk of a wider Balkan war.

British Defense Ministry analysts say withdrawal of the British and French contingents - which together total more than 10,000 men - from the UN peace force in Bosnia would probably cause a total collapse of order in the former Yugoslavia.

And Senior British sources say Prime Minister John Major is now ready to support the removal of the embargo on the supply of arms to Bosnia if the Bosnian Serbs do not agree to the present plan.

A government source said Mr. Major was reluctant to do this, but if this latest effort does not produce a settlement, it was "clear that lifting the arms embargo will become part of our agenda."

Major in a radio interview on July 11 urged all the parties in Bosnia to accept the latest partition plan or "risk igniting a wider war.... For too long, the Bosnians on one side and the Serbs on the other have waited for what for them would be the perfect set of proposals. Well, the perfect set of proposals is not available," he said. "We do not want to see this slide back into the sort of war which existed in the past and then perhaps accelerate." Time is ticking

Deadline for acceptance or rejection of the latest plan has been set for July 19. The plan proposes giving the Serbs 49 percent of the country and a Croat-Muslim federation 51 percent. The Serbs currently hold 70 percent of Bosnia.

For many months, Britain has been urged by the Clinton administration to drop its resistance to lifting the arms embargo. Major reluctantly ordered a reversal of policy, his officials say, in the days before last weekend's Group of Seven (G-7) summit meeting in Naples, Italy.

Indications that London and Paris had finally run out of patience in the pursuit of peace in Bosnia preceded a two-day visit to the area by Douglas Hurd, Britain's foreign secretary, and his French counterpart Alain Juppe.

They begin their visit today to Sarajevo and move on to Belgrade tomorrow. Pale, the Bosnian Serb stronghold, may also be a stopping point on their agenda. British officials say the message they bear will be in the form of an ultimatum: Accept the peace plan, or face the consequences of a withdrawal of British and French forces. …

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