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Serbs Proposes Deal with New, Self-Proclaimed Croat State With PM-Battle for Sarajevo, Bjt,

July 7, 1992

Serbs Proposes Deal with New, Self-Proclaimed Croat State With PM-Battle for Sarajevo, Bjt, PM-Summit Rdp

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ The leader of Bosnia’s Serbs stepped up pressure on the republic’s Muslim- led government today by proposing a deal with a new, self-proclaimed Croat state.

The comments by Radovan Karadzic, reported by the Belgrade daily Politika, raised the possibility of a squeeze by Croatian forces in the west and Serb forces in the north and east.

Such a move could leave Slavic Muslims, who make up 44 percent of Bosnia’s 4.3 million people, caught in the middle with little territory to call their own.

Karadzic’s comments also came as the world’s seven leading industrial democracies in Munich called on both Croatia and Serbia to respect the territorial integrity of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

″The Serbs want 70 percent of the country and the Croats want 30 percent, so we Muslims will be left as the keepers of the border,″ said Sabina Berberovic, the daughter and spokeswoman of Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic.

Politika said Karadzic, whose forces encircle Sarajevo, proposed an immediate truce with Croats. He also called for formation of a confederation between a state they proclaimed in western Bosnia-Herzegovina over the weekend and a state the Serbs proclaimed April 7 on Bosnian territory they control.

″Founding of an independent state of Croats in the former Yugoslav republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina has actually only made official a situation which already exists,″ Karadzic said.

He called it the ″realization of the right to self-determination.″

It was not immediately clear whether Karadzic’s comments bore any relationship to previous negotiations sponsored by the European Community in which Bosnia’s Serbs, Croats and Muslims discussed forming autonomous communities within a united Bosnia.

Both Serbia and Croatia, which sandwich Bosnia, have denied persistent reports that they had reached a secret agreement to divide the republic between them.

Serbs and Croats last year fought a civil war on Croatian territory that killed at least 10,000 people. Croats have formed a military alliance with Muslims in the Bosnian war, but Serbs seized control of about two-thirds of the republic.

Fighting began after Croats, 17 percent of the Bosnian population, and Muslims voted for independence from Yugoslavia on Feb. 29. Serbs, one-third of the population, opposed it.

Official figures say more than 7,000 people have been killed in the fighting in Bosnia.

The Bosnian government on Monday said proclamation of a Croatian state of Herzeg-Bosnia in western Bosnia-Herzegovina, covering more than 20 percent of the former Yugoslav republic, was ″treason.″

If Croats and Serbs hold onto the territory they now control, it would leave the Bosnian government with Sarajevo and a few provincial towns.

Karadzic told Politika that Bosnia’s Muslims should also stake a claim to territory.

″It would be good if the Muslim side would also accept reality and declare its territorial demands and join the negotiations, so that the Muslim people are not denied their rights.″

In besieged Sarajevo, an exchange of Serb and Moslem civilian prisoners on a downtown bridge was disrupted by sniper and mortar fire, U.N. officials said today.

In Munich, the world’s seven biggest industrialized democracies threatened military action if Serbs endanger international relief operations in Sarajevo and elsewhere in Bosnia Herzegovina.

In a communique, the Group of Seven said that if the relief efforts are thwarted, ″the U.N. Security Council must in our opinion weigh other measures for the achievement of its humanitarian goals, whereby military measures will not be excluded.″

U.N. officials in Sarajevo said a plan raised at the G-7 to open a land corridor for relief to the Bosnian capital would be difficult to implement without assurances of safe passage from the warring sides.

Mik Magnussen, a spokesman for the U.N. peacekeeping force, said each side in the planned swap had brought 52 prisoners to the exchange site in central Sarajevo on Monday, many of them gaunt and showing signs of mistreatment.

The exchange began, and 21 people from each side were freed as sniper fire was heard nearby. Then mortar rounds began landing within 75 yards of the bridge, and officials decided to call off the rest of the exchange at least until this afternoon.

″It’s a shocking situation to be in,″Magnussen said. ″Here are these people on the brink of being freed, they come under fire, and they are back in captivity.″

Magnussen said both sides blamed each other for the shooting, which he attributed to leaders’ lack of control over forces in the field.

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