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Strict Border Checks End Free-Flowing Traffic on Yugoslav-Bosnia Border With AM-Yugoslavia,

May 9, 1993

Strict Border Checks End Free-Flowing Traffic on Yugoslav-Bosnia Border With AM-Yugoslavia, Bjt

ON THE YUGOSLAV-BOSNIAN BORDER (AP) _ Bosnia-Herzegovina is only 500 yards away, but the distance nowadays seems much greater.

Soldiers on Sunday guarded the bridges across the Drina River, which forms most of the border between Serbia - the dominant state in Yugoslavia - and Bosnia. They are apparently enforcing a pledge by Yugoslavia to halt all aid to Bosnia’s Serbs except food and medicine.

In another sign that Yugoslav leaders are distancing themselves from the Bosnian Serbs, a leading Bosnian Serb hard-liner told a Belgrade TV station late Sunday that she and a couple of other Bosnian Serb leaders had been stopped at the border and prevented from entering Yugoslavia on Sunday.

Biljana Plavsic, a vice president of the self-proclaimed Bosnian Serb government, told the TV station Politika in a trembling voice that she had been barred from returning to Belgrade, where she has lived since the Bosnian war began.

At the Drina crossing visited by an Associated Press reporter, police and customs officers thoroughly checked the few trucks and travelers who came through. Bridges that used to bustle with cross-border traffic and smugglers were unusually quiet.

″We must make a note of everybody who comes to the border,″ a police officer, who refused to give his name, said after demanding to see press identity cards at the bridge in Loznica, 80 miles southwest of Belgrade, the capital of Yugoslavia and Serbia.

Loznica used to be one of the busiest crossings between Bosnia and Yugoslavia.

Bosnian Serbs’ repeated refusal to accept an international peace plan led Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to announce last week he was cutting the supply line to Bosnia. The decision was seen as an attempt to persuade the international community to lift or ease economic sanctions which have crippled the Yugoslav economy, and stave off Western military intervention.

But it was Milosevic who encouraged ethnic Serbs throughout former Yugoslavia to grab territory to form a Greater Serbia, and many Bosnian Serbs are angry.

″We have been fighting for them, and they implemented sanctions against us. Why?″ said Ljubo Simic, a Bosnian Serb.

Throughout the war, Bosnian Serbs have depended almost entirely on arms, ammunition, fuel and food supplies from Yugoslavia.

In announcing they would cut that supply line, Yugoslav authorities also threatened to expel from Belgrade unidentified Bosnian Serb leaders who they said were provoking needless bloodshed. The warning was widely interpreted to refer to Plavsic, among others.

Plavsic travels frequently between Serbia and Bosnia, and had met Sunday with other Bosnian Serb leaders in Zvornik - on the Bosnian side of the Drina - to decide details of a referendum they have called on whether to accept the peace plan.

She said she was blocked at the border on her way back to Serbia.

In more than a year of fighting, which began when Bosnia’s Serbs rebelled against Bosnia’s secession from Yugoslavia, they have seized about 70 percent of Bosnia. The peace plan they have rejected would force them to give up about a third of that land.

The Belgrade daily Politika noted Sunday that ″people are confused and some even indignant″ about Belgrade’s decision to cut off aid to the Bosnian Serbs.

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