Serbs and Croats agree on concessions;
Milosevic and Tudjman comment
Serbian Radio, Belgrade, in Serbian 1800 gmt 21 Dec 93
Text of "exclusive" recorded interview with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic; Croatian President Franjo Tudjman; leader of the Bosnian Serbs Radovan Karadzic; and leader of the Bosnian Croats Mate Boban, by correspondent Zoran Jevdjovic in Geneva on 21st December
[Milosevic] There is no doubt that today the complete delegations of the Serbian and Croatian sides have achieved, I would say, the biggest step towards peace so far. Namely, together we have established our joint proposal for the Muslims, which will affirm our earlier joint approach to equally protect the interests of the warring sides in Bosnia-Hercegovina. I would like to remind you that during these entire talks which we have conducted at the Geneva conference, the biggest progress was made precisely whenever the Serbian and the Croatian side came out with joint proposals. Today we held long negotiations, and in many ways very painful negotiations, bearing in mind the need to find a solution that demands certain concessions by both the Serbian and the Croatian sides in order to come up with a realistic, acceptable and totally rounded proposal for the Muslim side. However, finally, at the end of the day, as a result of the talks - not only today's talks but also the many that preceded them - we have achieved this result. I believe that this is the best result that could be achieved at today's meeting of the delegations of the Serbian and the Croatian side.
I believe that now all the conditions for securing acceptance of the peace plan have really been created and that the Muslim side simply does not have, actually loses every reason, for not accepting such an agreement. I also believe that the international community is losing all need to support any sort of additional demands by the Muslim side . I hope that this will be very significant for the final solution.
[Tudjman] I would also add that I held very long talks with President Izetbegovic last night in which we also discussed all issues of interest - not only for the Croat and Muslim sides but, it goes without saying, also for the Serbian side. The agreement that we reached today about the principled issues and the territorial division has created prerequisites for a general normalization of relations, as I said, among all three sides, among all three peoples within Bosnia-Hercegovina, but also beyond, the normalization of relations between Serbia and Croatia on the whole. This is of interest not only for the Croatian and Serbian peoples, but also for the international community and its expectations concerning peace in this part of the world.
[Jevdjovic] Have the Serbian and Croatian sides done everything they could, and done so perhaps to their own detriment, in order to meet the Muslim demands and the demands by the European Union?
[Milosevic] There is no doubt that both the Serbian and Croatian sides have made an effort and given the maximum in the interest of peace, and not in the interest of anybody's demands. It was in the interest of peace and the interest of finding a comprehensive solution, of a general need, the greatest interest being for this war finally to end. I would like to agree with President Tudjman's assessment that this result of today's talks is also another major step in a better understanding and the normalization of relations between Serbia and Croatia. I hope that our relations will continue to develop in this direction.
[Jevdjovic] Mr Boban, can you confirm these words by the two presidents?
[Boban] Well, I think that the aim is to stop the war and establish a just peace. Greater courage and resolution are needed for ending a war than for declaring or waging a war. The Croatian delegation led by President Tudjman today showed great courage and accepted peace. It is up to others now.
[Jevdjovic] What is your comment, Mr Karadzic?
[Karadzic] Well, I think that this complete agreement between the Serbian and the Croatian sides, and their agreement about the solution to this crisis is of great value. Nobody can ignore this value. For instance, we agreed not to place Sarajevo and Mostar under the protection of the international community. We understand that the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna really needs Mostar, with its airport, and we accept that. There is also no need not to find a final solution for Sarajevo, and the Croatian delegation supported our stand there.
Therefore, there is agreement on a large number of issues, and it is certain that Serbs and Croats certainly still have to work persistently on solving all disputed questions between Serbs and Croats. However, now, that will be much easier because experience tells us that whenever two sides had a dispute or negotiations, everything went much easier than when there was a third side as well.
Conditions are now reached for the Muslim side to be satisfied. All the conditions are there - that can no longer be ignored - and the Serbs and the Croats will then find it much easier to stabilize their territories, solve all disputes, and become good neighbours once and for all.
[Jevdjovic] What are you in fact going to tell the European Twelve in Brussels tomorrow?
[Milosevic] Since we have reached such an agreement on a joint proposal there are fewer reasons to speak, but many more to put this proposal on the table and hear the response by the third side and the reply by the international community to what we finally managed to coordinate together. I hope that, considering the statements and approaches the international community has made so far, that our joint proposal will be met with a positive reply and that our joint proposal may be a final basis for establishing a lasting peace and signing a peace plan.
[Jevdjovic] The same question to you: What will you say to the Twelve in Brussels tomorrow?
[Tudjman] What we have accomplished and discussed today is actually an answer to what the international community, the European Union, and the observers - the United States and Russia - who are taking part in the work of tomorrow's Brussels conference, expect from the participants of today's Geneva conference.
I believe that we have essentially satisfied the international community's demand that the Muslims be granted 33.3% of the territory, and that they gain access to the sea as we had proposed it earlier, that is, with a free zone in Ploce and with tourist facilities in Neum, or with a new proposal that we have been considering and that could be included in the plan of the final solution, namely, that they be given an outlet in Prevlaka. However, this is something that is still being examined and it is precisely the Muslim side, so it seems, that will not accept it. Therefore, what is left is the solution with a free zone in Ploce.
This is the answer to important issues that the European Union and the international community in general expect in order to end the war on this territory. The end to the war would truly be the best Christmas gift to all the nations whom this concerns and who have been bleeding unnecessarily in this evil.
[Jevdjovic] Are there conditions pointing to peace?
[Milosevic] As regards the Serbian and the Croatian side, unquestionably.
[Jevdjovic] Thank you, gentlemen, and best of luck in the further talks.
Copyright 1993 The British
BBC Summary of World Broadcasts
SECTION: Part 2 Central Europe and the Balkans; FORMER YUGOSLAVIA; GENEVA PEACE TALKS; EE/1879/C;
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