August 17, 1995
From Correspondent Christiane Amanpour
DUBROVNIK, Croatia (CNN) -- The United Nations reports that the Croatian army is active on several fronts and is closing in on Dvar in western Bosnian-Herzegovina. It's also moving reinforcements around Dubrovnik on Croatia's southern coast. Croatia is widely expected to try to free Dubrovnik, its major tourist resort, from Bosnian Serb guns.
Dubrovnik is the jewel of the Dalmatian Coast. It looks peaceful enough, but get a little closer and you can hear people preparing for war.
Protective scaffolding is being erected around a 15th century column in the center of the historic old town. A resident says he's seen this before. "Same like (in) 1991, why now is not a question for me (laughs)."
If that resident is pleased, others are petrified. They are already sleeping in shelters with the turtles, the octopus and the fish. That's because the shelter is in the aquarium, safe within the walls of a 16th century fortress built to keep out the fiercest foe. These days that means the Bosnian Serbs.
Croatia wants to push their artillery out of range, not a moment too soon for this town which has been sporadically shelled for the past four years. Mayor Nikola Obuljen says, "We could expect that the problem will finally be solved, that's our expectation."
During the 1991 war, the Serbs surrounded and pounded the Croatian city. Some shells fell within the walls. The mayor shows us the boarded up palaces and buildings that are now being repaired.
Like Venice, Athens or Fez, Dubrovnik is one of the world's historic monuments. It was also one of the world's hottest holiday spots.
The mayor says there are 150 tourists in Dubrovnik now, but this is the height of tourist season, there should be 40,000. Tourism isn't only Dubrovnik's main industry but that of the whole Dalmatian Coast.
For the past four years, beaches like the main streets have been practically empty. Croatia wants the dollars to come back to Dubrovnik and it's tired of waiting for its dispute to be resolved peacefully.
On a roll since taking Krajina and pushing back the Serbs in central Bosnia, and with little international outcry, the Croats are now determined to safeguard Dubrovnik.
The United Nations says the Croatian army is moving in thousands of troops. Border artillery duels with Serbs are setting fires in the hills overlooking the old town.
Perhaps Croatia sees this as the moment to finally douse the flames of a war that ended without real peace.
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