[ Home ] [ Library ] [ Links ] [ Search ] [ Email ]

Sarajevo update

An official report sent on July 14, 1992 by the then UNPROFOR commander in Sarajevo, Canadian general Lewis MacKenzie, to his superior, Indian general Satish Nambiar, and to ranking U.N. official Marrack Goulding.

Belgrade protect for New York

to: Nambiar, Belgrade, only
info: Goulding, New York, only
from: Unprofor, Sarajevo //comd/// most immediate
date: 14 july 1992
Subject: Sarajevo update

1. The situation in Sarajevo continues to deteriorate in spite of the arrival of humanitarian aid and its distribution to previously blockaded locations. We are only keeping the airport open by accepting an almost unacceptable degree of risk. It could all fall apart very quickly.

2. UNPROFOR is being subjected to a smear campaign by the presidency side /Muslim/ which is denied by their leadership, including the president /Izetbegovic/, but is extremely effective. The attitude of the people on the presidency side is very negative, and there has been a number of incidents with our personnel being threatened in the performance of their duties. Very, very little appreciation has been expressed for the delivery of humanitarian aid (270 tonnes yesterday), or for the acts of bravery witnessed over the recent days, when peacekeepers placed their lives on the line for the local population. On the contrary, the locals are convinced by the media that we are bringing in help of all kinds for the Serbs.

3. My conversation yesterday has convinced me once and for all that the president (Izetbegovic) will only accept intervention or death for 'his' people as final solution (his words). There have been many opportunities for negotiations over the past few days, which he has rejected, including an overture by his SDA party, who wanted to meet with the Serbs. They had it all arranged, however the president ultimately decided that the meeting would not be approved until a complete cease-fire in BiH. My attempts to talk him into meeting with the other side at the working level, in order to sort out the details of demilitarization of Dobrinja, for example, were met by a stonewall. He indicated that if the international community was not prepared to intervene, than he was prepared to 'die twice', rather than deal with the 'aggressor'.

Indications in Sarajevo point to a desire by the presidency to perpetuate the current crisis. Most of the Serb guns are silent. However, they themselves are not entirely free from blame. The presidency on the other hand continues to initiate exchanges as they attempt to improve their tactical positions. This is extremely difficult, if not impossible to prove. However, some such tendency is certainly noticeable. Serbs could well be fooling us by backing off in Sarajevo, and going on the offensive elsewhere in bih. This might be the case, but i do not have 'eyes' in the rest of bih, so that i am not sure.

The shelling has reduced considerably in Sarajevo, but the presidency continues to perpetuate the myth that the city is being bombarded. This is not the case, however, it is the version of a man who expects international military help.

On the other hand, the Serbs want us to put unprofor personnel on each and every one of their positions, down to the lowest level. It is a tempting idea, but I have neither the resources, nor the mandate. I hasten to add that it would need to be accompanied by an enormous increase in confidence since such an undertaking would be extremely dangerous.

This situation could and probably will get worse. If intervention does not appear, and I personally consider such a move militarily impractical, the presidency (Muslims) will continue to target UNPROFOR, in their misguided frustration. They could target us, and try to make it look like the Serbs did it. Last night's deliberate attack in front of the ptt, could repeat, could have been fired from a presidency position. My greatest concern is for the unmo's at the heavy weapons concentrations on the presidency side. They are isolated and sitting on targets. their hosts are reflecting an anti-unprofor campaign, and the UNMO's are in a very precarious position. It is useless to deal with the presidency on the matter as they have given assurances over and over again that they ensure objective reporting. Nothing has changed.

The president must be forced to the table with Karadzic, a high profile mediator who stays around for an extended period of time. If this is impossible to arrange than there is no imminent solution to the crisis. If, as a member of the UN, Bosnia refuses to accept the UN's opinion that direct talks should take place, then Bosnia does not deserve the presence of a UN peacekeeping force. God knows they do not appreciate it, nor do they know how to take advantage of its presence.

We cannot afford to just wait and see what happens. Our personnel are slowly moving along the spectrum and have just arrived at the point of unacceptable risk. We are now being forced to kill people in order to protect our personnel and the humanitarian aircraft. One side appears to have decided to perpetuate the conflict and refuses to talk to the other side.

It is my opinion that the time has come for some tough decisions. however, they cannot be made here, for the obvious reasons. regards.
(end of the report)

The report was obtained by "Tanjug" agency.

The truth belongs to us all.

Feel free to download, copy and redistribute.

Last revised: Feb. 11, 1997