Prague, July 17 (RFE/RL) -- Recent events in Bosnia -- new war crimes indictments, continued intransigence of the Bosnian Serbs, defiance by Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and military chief Ratko Mladic, the urgent dispatch to Serbia and Bosnia of U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke -- command the attention of the Western press.
Raymond Bonner writes today in The New York Times: "Richard Holbrooke, the special American envoy to the Balkans, plans to tell President Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia (today) that economic sanctions will be reimposed on Serbia unless the Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, is both removed from power and leaves Bosnia, a senior Western official said. . . . Just how much leverage Holbrooke can bring to bear on Milosevic to achieve compliance with the demands is unclear. Although under the Dayton accord the senior military and civilian overseers in Bosnia can reimpose economic sanctions, for them to be effective, many countries would have to take quick implementing action. But major Western powers have shown little unity on the subject. . . . One looming question over Holbrooke's mission is whether the threat of sanctions would, in any case, be enough to turn around Milosevic."
The Suddeutsche Zeitung said yesterday in an editorial signed by Jens Schneider: "The man has become a legend. . . . In the space of a few months in 1995 Richard Holbrooke negotiated the Dayton peace accords for Bosnia. Some people nurture the myth that he pushed the agreement through all by himself and that no one but he could have achieved it. Holbrooke himself has done his best to encourage the legend. Once the peace agreement was signed and it came to the difficult implementation he said his farewells to go to Wall Street. Now the difficulties everyone has been expecting have cropped up. The toing and froing concerning Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic - both suspected of committing war crimes -- are placing a considerable strain on the peace process. In vain, normal diplomats have tried their best and so now the Schwarzenegger of mediators has been called in to help -- and Holbrooke is returning to the Balkans. This is going to be an interesting experiment. His mission will demonstrate how much an individual can actually achieve."
Roeerick Reifenrath provides this commentary today in the Frankfurter Rundschau: "People's hopes have been raised. And the goal they are fixed upon is not impossible to achieve. These hopes have two names: Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. These are two of the most sinister characters in the political and military core of the Bosnian Serbs. Since last year they have been wanted by the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. If someone only would act upon the will of the court, they would be arrested and dispatched to Holland. The idea of these two being brought before this international law court soon is one that elicits feelings of satisfaction not only in those who at the least wish to see atonement for the mass murder of Srebrenica. The thought also electrifies lawyers fixated on abstract legal matters.
Boston Globe writer Elizabeth Neuffer comments in todays International Herald Tribune: "International arrest warrants have been issued. The calls by European governments and the UN war crimes tribunal in the Hague for NATO troops to seize Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his top general, Ratko Mladic, finally have been made. . . . Only President Clinton, as the architect of the Dayton peace plan, can push the US-led NATO troops into making the arrests they have been so reluctant to make. And whether Clinton dares to do so is a critical test he faces in this election year. . . . But the administration is deeply divided over the value of arresting Karadzic. Some officials see it as a moral necessity, others, a dangerous political risk."
Diplomatic Editor Ian Black writes today in The London Guardian: "In the past few days, Serb authorities have threatened to hold UN police officers hostage if an attempt is made to arrest Mr. Karadzic or. . . General Mladic. . . . The Serb sabre-rattling is intended to counter growing international pressure to capture Mr. Karadzic to prevent his undermining free elections scheduled for September. Mr. Holbrooke's mission has become highly urgent because campaigning cannot begin until Mr. Karadzic has been deposed as leaderof the Serb Democratic Party."
In today's New York Times, Mike O'Connor writes from Bosnia: "Western officials have expressed strong concern about possible reprisals against NATO troops if Bosnian Serb leaders are arrested for war crimes, but some Bosnian Serb authorities are zeroing in on what could be the most vulnerable group in the country, the U.N. international police monitors. . . . Unlike NATO troops, who are well armed, usually patrol in armored vehicles, and are based in fortified camps, the U.N. monitors work on foot or in badly maintained pickup trucks. . . . The Bosnian Serbs have a history of tactics like these. During the war, they used U.N. forces as human shields to prevent NATO bombing of certain targets. Once again, the Bosnian Serbs are forcing foreign officials to balance the safety of their people against the value of the work they carry out."
Barbara Demick writes today in The Philadelphia Inquirer: "The U.S. military has quietly launched a search for survivors of last year's massacres near Srebrenica in response to persistent rumors that some of the men who disappeared at the time are alive and in hiding. . . . Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic says his government has information suggesting that between 1,000 and 2,000 people could still be alive. Besides those in hiding, the Bosnians say there might be some held captive by Bosnian Serbs, and some who have assumed Serb identities to protect themselves. . . . Though most Western officials dismiss Muratovic's estimate of the number of survivors as exaggerated, the issue is a sensitive one for the U.S. mission. . . . In Bosnia, the name Srebrenica has connotations similar to that of Auschwitz, and the massacres committed there are ranked the worst in Europe since World War II. Out of 14,000 people listed as missing in the aftermath of the Bosnian war, 8,000 of them are from this one town and its surrounding villages."