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Serb Leaders Try to Win Over Recalcitrant Sarajevo Serbs

November 24, 1995

PALE, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ The leader of the Bosnian Serbs promised Friday night to ``accept the peace,″ but residents of Serb-held Sarajevo suburbs vowed to fight on.

Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic appeared on Bosnian Serb television in an attempt to persuade diehard rebels that further armed resistance would be futile.

``The time has come to use political means to achieve our goals,″ he said.

But he faced a tough audience: Earlier in the day, the leaders of Serb-held suburbs of Sarajevo told Karadzic in a meeting that they could not accept the U.S.-brokered plan that obliged them to cede control of their territory.

``The people of Serb Sarajevo simply have nowhere to go unless America offers us a new city in Ohio where we all can move,″ Ratko Adzic, who heads the local ``war council″ of the Ilijas suburb, was quoted as saying by the Bosnian Serb news agency SRNA.

He said Sarajevo Serbs ``will have to militarily defend our city and property and to fight one for all and all for one.″

Under the peace agreement reached in Dayton, Ohio, Sarajevo becomes Bosnia’s reunited capital. Bosnia will be subdivided in half _ one part run by the Bosnian Serbs, the other by a Muslim-Croat federation.

Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, who represented the Bosnian Serbs at the talks, persuaded Bosnian Serb leaders to accept the plan. But it was clear in Friday night’s broadcast that their acceptance was reluctant.

Looking subdued and somber, Karadzic and his deputy, Momcilo Krajisnik, argued that their demands were ignored at the negotiations, both by the Americans who convened the talks and by Milosevic, who negotiated on their behalf.

Krajisnik was the senior Bosnian Serb at the talks, which ended with a Bosnian peace agreement on Tuesday. Karadzic, accused of war crimes by an international tribunal, did not attend the talks.

On Thursday, the two met with Milosevic, their former war ally who agreed to peace in order to achieve a lifting of punishing U.N. sanctions on Yugoslavia, which is dominated by Serbia.

Krajisnik repeatedly criticized Milosevic, who he said made decisions arbitrarily without consulting him.

``It seems that nobody conveyed our messages to the international negotiators,″ he said. He said ``Milosevic outvoted us″ on the issue of posting NATO troops in Serb-held territory, something the rebels opposed. The Serbian president also agreed to cede territory in western Bosnia that the rebels had wanted to keep, he said.

Karadzic said most painful to his leadership was the loss of towns in the west of Bosnia and of Sarajevo, where he claimed 150,000 Serbs loyal to him live in front-line suburbs.

``Sarajevo ... is a problem that has not been solved,″ Karadzic said.

He likened to city to Jerusalem, over which Jews and Arabs have clashed for decades.

``The international community will have to protect the Serbs in Sarajevo″ for at least five years, he said. ``It will be one of those test things (like) in the Middle East.″

Despite their reservations, the Serbs were clearly attempting Friday to sell the peace to their people.

Nikola Koljevic, a Bosnian Serb leader who participated in the peace talks in Dayton, appealed to recalcitrant Serbs to accept ``a historic task″ and finally reach a compromise which leads to peace.

Speaking on Montenegro television, Koljevic, a possible successor to Karadzic, conceded that NATO deployment in Bosnia to enforce the Dayton agreement would be the hardest nut to crack for the Serbs.

``Those who yesterday bombed our people now become peacemakers,″ he said. ``The wounds are still fresh and our main problem will be to persuade our people to accept NATO on our soil.″

In Belgrade, sources said Milosevic met Friday with Yugoslav President Zoran Lilic and Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic in the swank Dedinje district.

No details were announced. But the three were believed to have weighed their options in the event that defiant Serbs of Sarajevo do something to jeopardize the peace agreement _ and with it the suspension of economic sanctions on Yugoslavia, now consisting of Serbia and Montenegro.

SRNA reported that ``several hundred″ flag-waving students, joined by Bosnian Serb soldiers, demonstrated in the Sarajevo suburb of Ilidza against the peace agreement. SRNA said similar protests were planned in Vogosca and Grbavica on Saturday.

Many Sarajevo Serbs have said they’re ready to die if the Dayton agreement takes effect. Others told reporters they’d burn their homes in case they are forced to leave.

Rajko Koprivica, a Vogosca leader, said for ``no price″ would Serbs allow all of Sarajevo to be given to the Bosnian federation.

``Only those who have bled ... could decide our fate,″ he was quoted as saying by SRNA. ``The voice of 120,000 Serbs from Serbian Sarajevo has to be honored, especially because the bloodiest war was waged″ around the capital.

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