CNN Balkan Conflict News

European nations jockey for roles in Bosnia plan

November 22, 1995
Web posted at: 6:45 p.m. EST (2345 GMT)

From Correspondents Siobhan Darrow and Eileen O'Connor

crowdPARIS (CNN) -- As the warring factions in Bosnia prepare for peace, the peacemakers are fighting over the credit for this week's agreement. The U.S.-brokered deal has the French in a huff, the British resigned, and the Russians searching for a place in the process.

France has paid the highest price in blood: More French peacekeepers have been killed in Bosnia than any of the other contributing forces. And the French are anxious, lest the world ignore their contribution to the peace.


"We paid an important tribute in the death tolls," said French Foreign Ministry spokesman Yves Doutriaux. "Of course, I don't think it would be a pax Americana or pax Europeana. It would be a pax peace for everybody."

The French have accused the United States of obstructing European peace efforts, and are playing up the actual accord signing ceremony to be held next month in Paris.

The British, however, are resigned to taking a back seat to the U.S. diplomatic coup.

Malcolm Rifkind

"You have to accept the realities of the world in which we live," said British foreign secretary Malcolm Rifkind. "The U.S. is a superpower. It carries more weight than any other single country."

Rifkind also cautioned that the window of opportunity to implement the accord may be a short one.

"We have to move very quickly now," he said, " ... otherwise the gremlins go to work again, and that can be very sinister." (136K AIFF sound or 136K WAV sound)

That means getting some 60,000 NATO troops in place as quickly as possible to enforce the plan, and that's where the Russians come into play.

Effectively shut out of the negotiation process, the Russians held out for some control over the troops they add to the NATO forces. The agreement reached between U.S. and Russian officials last month called for Russian troops to answer to a U.S. general who happens to wear a NATO hat as well.


"Officially they will be under NATO command," said military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer. "But everyone understands that getting a NATO order ... they will immediately phone Moscow and figure out if they should obey this order or not."

After the extensive and expensive military campaign in the separatist region of Chechnya, the Russian military cannot really afford to send troops into Bosnia. But the Russian government feels they must go to retain some say in European security.

And there have been accusations that NATO forces are already biased against the Serbs. Russian troops could serve as a counter-balance.

And while most European capitals hail the agreement, there is a sober understanding of the work still ahead. The nuts and bolts of the operation must still be hammered out by NATO foreign ministers.

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