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Yugoslavia: Stop the War appeal crosses borders

Intellectuals from the warring republics of Yugoslavia have signed a joint Proposal to Stop the War. They see no possibility for the peace negotiations in the Hague to succeed until the question of reaching a ceasefire is separated from negotiations about a peace treaty and the ultimate borders in Yugoslavia. The urgent need is to stop the fighting and to create conditions of stability where a longer term agreement could be discussed. They propose six elements on which a ceasefire could be based. These include

  • withdrawal of Yugoslav Federal Army to the barracks and the beginning of the demilitarisation of all the republics
  • suspension of all federal institutions
  • an agreement to retain the borders laid down by 1974 Constitution for at least the next three years

This ceasefire should allow “for any of the possible ultimate solutions” and should contain “elements which each of the parties can regard as part of their own programme, so that all will be motivated to accept it without military intervention”.

The initiator of the proposal, Zarko Puhovski, a philosophy professor from Zagreb, commented on recent developments by saying that he had expected the war to quieten with the onset of winter, “but the current talks at the Hague again show that it is impossible to make a real and lasting ceasefire which depends on the republics believing they can find a final agreement. It is essential to separate the need for a ceasefire from the question of what will finally be agreed.”

At a time when communication between the republics is extremely difficult — for instance, it is rarely possible to make phone calls between Zagreb and Belgrade — and when people in every republic are beset by propaganda and disinformation from their government-controlled media, any joint statement is significant. Even among peace campaigners, the perceptions of the war and emphases about how to proceed now often come into conflict.

Signatories to this proposal to stop the war come from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia, and include members of both majority and minority communities (such as Croats and Serbs in Croatia, Slovenians and Italians in Slovenia). They include academics, lawyers, cultural figures, and some prominent members of peace organisations.

For further information:
London contact: Howard Clark on Tuesday, 17 December, on 071 703 7189,
Zagreb contact: Zarko Puhovski in Zagreb on Thursday afternoon or Friday, 18-19 December: home +38 41 426745; office: +38 41 613155.


We undersigned are intellectuals from all parts of Yugoslavia who recognise the most urgent task today is to stop the war and that necessitates a ceasefire proposal that keeps all options open for the future. It would be quite inappropriate for us to prescribe the future for millions of people. What we do have is a responsibility for each other as human beings that goes beyond the borders of our own regions. It is in this light that the proposal is made.

A proposal to stop the war in Yugoslavia

The peace negotiations in the Hague dominate current discussion throughout Yugoslavia, especially among the peace movement (however weak it may be). They are of the utmost importance for everybody in the country yet it has been clear for some weeks that no progress is being made. Unfortunately the reasons for this impasse are seldom discussed, even within the peace movement.

In fact there is no real possibility of these negotiations succeeding.

  • First, peace treaties have very seldom been formulated and signed while a war is going on.
  • Second, a peace treaty presupposes some form of enduring agreement about the political, social and legal context of the origins of the war. Such an agreement is almost certainly impossible to achieve when the most urgent priority is to stop the fighting.
  • Third, the parties to peace negotiations are not always the same as those involved in the war (eg the settlement after the First World War).
  • Fourth, the versions of a peace treaty devised in the Hague are too lengthy and too ambitious to allow any possibility of agreement by the parties involved. Every additional word multiplies the possibilities of misunderstanding and rejection among the seven parties at an almost exponential rate.
  • Fifth, and most apposite in the Yugoslav case: parties which have demonstrated a dozen times that they are unable to formulate the conditions for a ceasefire are almost certainly unable to reach the kind of agreements needed for even a moderately stable peace.

This is why the real goal for the present has to be the achievement of a ceasefire, but one which meets certain essential conditions.

  • First, it must be able to provide a more or less stable situation for some years. (This is necessary because the parties involved need a long period for serious negotiations to construct a lasting peace.)
  • Second, the ceasefire has to allow for any of the possible ultimate solutions.
  • Third, it must contain elements which each of the parties can regard as part of their own programmes, so that all will be motivated to accept it without military intervention.

Winter is the best period of the year to stop the fighting, because the climate will minimise the intensity of operations in any case. This is why discussion about such a ceasefire must begin (which they have not yet) and be completed as soon as possible.

The ceasefire agreement could contain the following clauses:

a) Withdrawal of Yugoslav Federal Army troops (JNA) to the barracks from which they launched their current intervention; beginning of the demilitarisation of all the republics, including the gradual dissolution of the JNA and of all paramilitary forces, and international control and monitoring of the disarmament process; financial aid to provide pensions and requalification for ex-JNA professionals.
b) Suspension of all federal institutions. This would give freedom of action, both domestically and internationally, to the republics constituted within Yugoslavia, while preserving the possibility of re-activating at least some of the federal institutions following a final agreement.
c) Agreement that the borders as acknowledged by the Constitution of 1974 are not to be touched or formally discussed for three years. This would permit any one party to claim the right to negotiate border changes in the future, while providing a temporary guarantee of security for the other party. Any eventual border changes will require the consent of both republics, in agreement with a referendum among the affected population.
d) International guarantees to all the Yugoslav republics that they can represent, and protect by legal means, their minorities in other republics; as was provided by Article 7 of the Austrian State Contract of 1955, which stated that Yugoslavia had the right to protect legally the Slovenian and Croatian minorities in Austria upon their request. Such guarantees are not required for Bosnia-Hercegovina, which according to its constitution, is the state of all three nations which inhabit it.
e) International observers (initially, perhaps, UN or CSCE peace-keeping forces) in the areas of Croatia with a Serbian majority or a mixed population where the fighting has been concentrated; and in areas where is an immediate danger of conflict, such as Bosnia-Hercegovina, Sandzak and Kosovo. They would also monitor the immediate return of refugees to their own areas.
f) Constitution of a temporary committee to continue peace negotiations. This would consist of representative from all the republics and from the two “autonomous provinces” (as defined in the 1974 Constitution) after free elections in those regions. The committee’s tasks would include activating those federal structures necessary to administer inter-republican communications on economic and political matters, and to deal with the federal legacy. 

Signatories of the Proposal to Stop the War in Yugoslavia

Bosnia:

Seid Huković president, Academy of Arts and Sciences of Bosnia-Herzegovina; president, Citizens Forum
Marko Oršolić president, Commission for Justice, Peace and Ecology
Sejdalija Mustafić director, Bosnia-Herzegovina Institute for Preservation of Cultural and Historical Heritage
Slobodan Svrzo Editor and director, Good Vibrations
Ivica Pjanić editor, Spektar
Mirko Škrbić professor of engineering
Nebojša Milidrag engineer
Edin Šarčević assistant lecturer in law
Šefko Kadrić professor, junior college
Nebojša Bosnić lawyer
Sandra Djurbuzović student, graphic design
Slavko Erić photographic artist
Franjo Likar artist
Anis Bajraktarević lawyer
Duško Tomić secretary, Peace Association
Ibrahim Spahić president, Centre for Peace

Sarajevo contact: Ibro Spahić,
tel: +38 71 214884, fax: +38 71 216238

Croatia:

Branko Horvat university professor, economist, co-founder of the first Yugoslav civic movement
Milorad Pupovac founder of the Serbian Democratic Forum in Croatia
Ivan Zvonimir Čičak leader of Croat Peasant Party
Ivan Prpić dean of the Faculty of Political Sciences
Milan Košuta psychiatrist
Danijel Ivin publicist
Suzana Kulović psychiatrist
Lino Veljak university professor, philosopher
Božidar Knežević journalist
Aleksandra Lazarević anthropologist
Zarko Puhovski university professor, philosopher

Zagreb contact: Zarko Puhovski,
tel: home +38 41 426745, work: +38 41 613155, fax: +38 41 513834

Montenegro:

Miodrag Vlahović lawyer
Vujica Lazović university assistant
Branka Lješković economist
Rade Bojović lawyer
Miodrag Perović university professor
Danilo Burzan journalist
Željko Ivanović journalist
Mihailo Radojičić journalist
Dino Ramović journalist
Veselin Pavićević scientific researcher
Božidar Šišević scientific researcher
Nebojša Redžić journalist

Titograd contact: Civic Forum for Peace,
tel/fax: +38 81 41914

Serbia:

Miladin Životić professor of philosophy, Belgrade University
Vesna Pešić professor of sociology, Belgrade University
Sonja Biserko adviser of Foreign Office
Sonja Prodanović architect
Primož Bebler theatre director
Miodrag Zupanc film director
Žarko Dragojević film director
Aida Rodić producer
Julie Mostov professor of political theory, Belgrade-Philadelphia
Obrad Savić philosopher, Belgrade University
Nenad Daković philosopher (House of Youth)
Milorad Belančić philosopher, scientific programme Radio Belgrade
Žarko Korać professor of psychology, Belgrade University
Miodrag Milićwriter
Ljubinka Trgovčević writer
Nataša Kandić sociologist
Tanja Petovar attorney at law
Stojan Cerović journalist
Goran Cvetković theatre director
Sonja Licht sociologist

Belgrade contact: Tanja Petovar, h +38 11 663 227, +38 11 657 562, fax +38 11 681 989;
Vesna Pešić, wk +38 11 646 242, h +38 11 337 097, fax +38 11 342 646

Slovenia:

Škrjanc Patelli Women for Peace, Koper
Roberto Patelli MP, Koper
Franco Juri MP, Koper
Rastko Močnik University of Ljubljana
Tomaž Mastnak Slovenian Academy of Science and Arts
Tonči Kuzmanić Peace Institute of Ljubljana
Vlasta Jalušic Peace Institute of Ljubljana
Marko Hren Peace Institute of Ljubljana
Sašo Gazdić Peace Institute of Ljubljana
Gregor Tomc Peace Institute of Ljubljana
Miroslav Stanojević Institute of Sociology, Ljubljana
Darko Štrajn Pedagogical Institute, Ljubljana
Svetlana Slapšak University of Ljubljana
Janko Rožič Peace Movement Ljubljana
Polona Rozman Peace Movement Ljubljana

Ljubljana contact: Marko Hren tel/fax: +38 61 224666, Tonči Kuzmanić +38 61 109741

CONTACTS FOR PEACE GROUPS IN THE REPUBLICS OF YUGOSLAVIA

Bosnia-Herzegovina:

Centar za mir Sarajevo (Centre for Peace)
Dobroboljačka 11
Yu-71000 Sarajevo
tel: +38 71 214884, fax: +38 71 216238

Croatia:

Odbor anti-ratne kampanje Zagreb (Committee of Anti-War Campaign)
Radnička c22, PP 876
Yu-41000 Zagreb
tel/fax: +38 41 610951

Macedonia:

Jovan Nanasijevski (Green Action, fax +38 91 201 753, phone +38 91 213 966).

Montenegro:

Gradjanski odbor za mir Titograd (Citizens Committee for Peace)
Hercegovačka 15
Yu-81000 Titograd
tel/fax: +38 81 41914

Serbia:

Centar za antiratnu akciju Beograd (Centre for Anti-War Action)
Prote Mateje 6
Yu-11000 Belgrade
tel: +38 11 431298, fax: +38 11 681989

Slovenia:

Center za kulturo miru in Nenasilja (Centre for the Culture of Peace and Nonviolence)
Mestni trg 13
Yu-61000 Ljubljana
tel/fax: +38 61 224666

Vojvodina:

Centar za antiratnu akciju Novi Sad (Centre for Anti-War Action Novi Sad)
c/o Slavenko Ljubić, Maksima Gorkog 10
Yu-21000 Novi Sad
tel: +38 21 27887
tel/fax c/o Svetlana Berisavljević: +38 21 57797

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