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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bosnia Peace Now Relies On Milosevic

aThe overwhelming rejection by the Bosnian Serbs of the latest international peace plan for their unhappy country was predictable but no less depressing for that. For the Bosnian Serb leadership, the weekend referendum was a mandate for continued obduracy; for their misguided supporters it can only spell a prolongation of the war and more suffering for hundreds of thousands of people.

The only hint of any improvement in the situation is provided by growing evidence that Serbia itself is losing patience with the Pale leadership and that President Slobodan Milosevic may be prepared to exert pressure on his Bosnian compatriots by imposing a genuine blockade against them.

Much depends on the outcome of Milosevic's talks in Belgrade at the weekend with the Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, who has been trying to persuade the rump Yugoslavia to accept the presence of UN monitors along its border with Bosnia.

It goes without saying that the blockade could not possibly work without the monitors. Whatever the intentions of Milosevic, the sympathies of local Serb leaders along the border remain firmly behind Pale and it would take more than a simple directive from Belgrade to stop the constant movement of men and supplies across what is an extremely porous frontier.

An effective blockade, however, would surely mean the beginning of the end for the Bosnian-Serbs, who have depended on Serbia for their survival up to now. Even if they already have enough arms to allow them to fight on for years, they still rely on Serbia for much of their food and fuel. And many of their fighters are also from Serbia-proper.

Russian foreign policy has already played a large part this year in efforts to scale down the Bosnian war. Without Russia's support for the latest peace plan, it is unlikely that it would have received compliance from Milosevic or anyone else in the Serbian leadership, many of whom have counted on Russian anti-Western sentiment and co-Orthodox support for their Greater Serbian aspirations.

The trick now is for Kozyrev to play this last card successfully and persuade Milosevic to enforce a real blockade on the Bosnian Serbs. This would hold out a last realistic hope of forcing them into accepting the peace plan.

Otherwise, the field will be ceded to hotter heads in the West -- most notably in the U.S. Senate -- who are clamoring to arm the Moslem government as soon as the peace plan has failed. The consequences of such a move would be disastrous and, whatever the eventual outcome, would only serve to intensify the war and cause the deaths of countless people on both sides.