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1993: Round table talks on peace for Bosnia

VIDEO : Leaders meet to discuss Bosnian peace plan

Leaders of the three warring factions in Bosnia are meeting to discuss a peace plan aimed at ending nine months of fighting in the country.

It is the first time the heads of the Bosnian Serbs, Muslims and Croats have met face-to-face since war broke out last April. The meeting, in Geneva, was called by the United Nation's special envoys, Cyrus Vance and Lord Owen.

They have proposed splitting Bosnia into10 autonomous provinces, with a de-centralised government run by the three main factions. Sarajevo would become an open city with Muslims, Serbs and Croats, each having a say in how it is run.

Mr Vance said the leaders had to choose between peace and war, between life and death for thousands of people.

Optimum time for peace

Since the fighting began last April, the Serbs, under the leadership of Radovan Karadzic, have seized control of most of the country. They have been pursuing a policy of ethnic cleansing, forcing non-Serbs out of areas they consider are rightfully theirs.

Getting all three leaders together under one roof is considered a major achievement. The Muslim leader, President Alija Izetbegovic, said only a few months ago the idea of him sitting down with the Bosnian Serb leader was as unlikely as Churchill negotiating with Hitler in 1940.

Lord Owen said now would be the optimum time for reaching a settlement. He continued: "We would not hesitate to fix the blame on any parties that block progress here."

The talks are due to adjourn on Tuesday. If there is no agreement by then, the fighting is likely to intensify.

In Context
After several months of on-off negotiations, Lord Owen, was forced to admit on 17 June 1993 that his international peace efforts had failed. He said the plans had been "ripped up under our very eyes."

US mediator, Cyrus Vance, subsequently resigned from the mission.

A peace deal was eventually agreed in Dayton, Ohio, in December, 1995, after the loss of more than 100,000 lives.


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