Traffic Trickles Across Bosnian Border as U.N. Ponders Monitors With AM-Yugoslavia, Bjt
May. 22, 1993
SREMSKA RACA, Yugoslavia (AP) _ While the U.N. considers sending monitors to see whether Yugoslavia has stopped supplying Bosnian Serbs, truck stop owner Bozidar Jovic surveys an empty parking lot.
Hundreds of vehicles used to cram the improvised border police and customs station in this border town 50 miles northwest of Belgrade, the Yugoslav capital.
Now, ''business has gone down by at least two-thirds,'' Jovic said Friday, glancing at his sole customer - a Yugoslav soldier sprawled on a chair enjoying the warm sunshine and sipping a Turkish coffee.
Belgrade has pledged to cut off the arms and fuel deliveries that have enabled Bosnian Serbs to seize 70 percent of Bosnia-Herzogovina from the ill- equipped Muslim led-government.
The United Nations, skeptical it will do so, is weighing putting up to 1,500 monitors along the border.
Plans for the monitors were dealt a blow Friday, when Yugoslav President Dobrica Cosic said their presence would jeopardize Yugoslavia's ''national dignity,'' according to his spokesman Dragoslav Rancic.
But if they are posted on the Yugoslav border, monitors should also be placed along the Bosnian border with Croatia, which sends arms and Croatian troops to Bosnian Croats, Rancic told The Associated Press.
''I hope they do not expect us to surrender our independence because of their stupid U.N. border guards,'' said Ranko Mitrovic, a Bosnian Serb customs official. He said that no weapons or ammunition had passed through for months.
Even with U.N. monitors, it would be impossible to monitor the entire 350- mile border. Anyone who wants to smuggle arms or other goods would have little difficulty using obscure routes under cover of darkness.
During a six-hour period Friday, one truck crossed the rusting bridge across the Sava River border every 20 minutes. Most were taking timber to Krajina, a Serb-held region in Croatia not subject to the embargo.
Several trucks destined for Serb-dominated Yugoslavia were loaded with fertilizer and coal from a Serb-held part of Bosnia. Drivers said they were supposed to bring back glass and metal fixtures for windows.
Others carried empty beer and mineral water bottles for the bottling plant in Banja Luka, the largest Serb-held city in Bosnia.
''Even for that you now have to have written approval from the chamber of commerce in Belgrade,'' groused driver Milan Miljevic. He said some of his colleagues were turned back after waiting at the border for three days because they lacked the right papers.
Yugoslav authorities are angered by the refusal of the Bosnian Serbs to accept an international peace plan dividing Bosnia into 10 semi-autonomous provinces. Bosnian Serbs rejected the plan in a referendum last weekend
Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, the dominant Yugoslav politician and chief backer for sending arms and fuel to Bosnian Serbs, said he was turning off the spigot only days after the imposition of new U.N. sanctions April 26.
Yugoslavia's economy was already on its knees from earlier U.N. sanctions and two years of bankrolling Bosnia's and Croatia's insurgent Serbs. Monthly inflation is 300 percent and more than 1 million are unemployed.