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Croatia's Resistance To Plans For Mostar

By Alessandro Marzo Magno

Trieste, Italy, Feb. 16 (RFE/RL) - For the moment, Croatia will not send 100 policemen to Mostar, as Zagreb had pledged last month.

When the proposal was first made, the European Union's (EU) administrator of Mostar, Hans Koschnick, had welcomed the initiative. So had Muslim officials. And, the idea was for Croatian policemen to patrol both Croat and Muslim sections of the Bosnian city.

This week, Zagreb announced it was suspending plans to send police.

This is one of the latest incidents in efforts to pacify warring Croat and Muslim sections of the city.

Over a period of weeks, Western envoys have called on Croatia's President Franjo Tudjman to try to influence him to abide by the Dayton Accords' provisions on Mostar. Under the Accords, Croatia must held re-unify the city.

Italy's Foreign Minister Susanna Agnelli, Germany's Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel, and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke have made stops in Zagreb. After these visits, Croatia's Foreign Minister Mate Granic has used consistent language, calling for an "honorable compromise" to safeguard the interests of Croats and Muslims.

Our correspondent in the region reports Croatia's officials prefer to deal with America's Holbrooke, concerned European envoys are too closely linked to the EU policy that put administrator Koschnick in Mostar in the first place.

During a visit to Zagreb this week, Holbrooke was quoted as saying the situation in Mostar is "quite serious," and warning: "we need to make the (Muslim-Croat) Federation work, or there is going to be a disaster in Bosnia."

Koschnick's view is that what happens in Mostar will have immense influence on Sarajevo. He says that if Croats can challenge the peace plan in Mostar - Serbs will have the same right in Sarajevo.

On the issue of the policemen Croatia was to provide for Mostar, Koschnick says he has their response in writing. He cites Zagreb as saying: "agreements are one thing - life is another."

Koschnick, the former Mayor of Bremen, Germany - says Mostar faces the fate of Berlin. No, there is no Wall, he says, but, Croat police restrict the movement of Muslims, and the Muslims have no access to the sea. And Koschnick says: "I will certainly not agree to cementing ghettos."

For the moment, Koschnick says he will not resign - as long as the EU wants him to stay in Mostar.

And Western influence might be working.

The Croat Mayor of west Mostar, Mijo Brajkovic, had said Koschnick's plan for dividing Mostar into Croat, Muslim and a mixed district violates the Dayton Accords, and the constitution of the Muslim-Croat Federation. This week, Mayor Brajkovic said he was prepared to negotiate a new solution - but not on the basic of the Koschnick plan.

Analysts say they believe the Mostar episode could be repeated across Bosnia among Croats, Muslims and Serbs. In this case, it is Croats insisting that lines of division between the Croat and Muslim sections of a city be identicial to the military lines of separation.