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Balkan Report: October 15, 1997

15 October 1997, Volume 1, Number 12

More Calls for Keeping NATO Troops in Bosnia. Javier Solana, the Atlantic alliance's secretary general, has added his voice to the many that urge a continued NATO presence in Bosnia after SFOR's mandate runs out next June. He said in Bucharest on October 13 that it would be a "political, military and moral mistake" for the SFOR to leave the region. Solana added that NATO will have to stay on in Bosnia longer than it might want unless it is prepared to see its achievements come undone. The secretary general argued that experience has taught NATO that toughness and determination are needed to succeed in Bosnia.

Germany's Defense Minister Volker Ruhe also wants NATO to stay on. He said this week that NATO should set up a Deterrence Force, or DFOR, to prevent a "return to war and massacres" after June. DFOR, he argued, could be much smaller than SFOR, and elements of it could be based outside Bosnia itself. His colleague, Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel, added that any NATO force staying on in Bosnia after June must have a clear mandate to catch war criminals.

Gen. Jacques Klein, one of the international community's top representatives in Bosnia, called in his typically blunt style for a continued NATO presence: "What is the alternative? The alternative is chaos, which no one wants."

NATO to Keep Control of Pale's Transmitters. Meanwhile in Sarajevo, a spokesman for Carlos Westendorp said on October 13 that NATO will not return four television relay stations to TV Pale. The announcement came after the hard-liners refused to replace their media management team, as SFOR demanded. Klein underscored the international community's determination to keep Pale's propaganda off the air waves, saying that the hard-liners had repeatedly been caught with their hands in the cookie jar but that now the cookie jar has been taken away.

RFE/RL Tells Listeners about Hidden Bosnian Serb Political Currents. Television transmitters are not Pale's only problem, however. An independent Bosnian Serb political commentator told RFE/RL's listeners on October 13 that the hard-line leadership may have split into two factions. Serbian Democratic Party leader Aleksa Buha reportedly leads the group that rejects any compromise with President Biljana Plavsic or with the OSCE over the organization of the upcoming Bosnian Serb elections. The other faction is led by Momcilo Krajisnik and prefers to make at least some compromises lest Pale become even more isolated. The commentator added that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic may have arranged the October 13 Belgrade meeting between Krajisnik and Plavsic as a sign of support for Krajisnik.