Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 72

Charging that "Croatia’smilitary actions in Serbian-populated regions brought the situationto the brink of a big Balkan war," Yeltsin said he regrettedCroatian president Franjo Tudjman’s refusal of his invitationto come to Moscow for negotiations with Milosevic. The Russianpresident renewed his invitation, blaming Tudjman’s initial negativeresponse on "pressure from certain big power leaders."

Yeltsin also proposed a general peace conference with the participationof the heads of "the leading states" and the Serbian,Croatian, and Bosnian presidents. The groundwork for such a conferencewould be laid at the proposed Milosevic-Tudjman-Izetbegovic directnegotiations under Russian mediation. The inclusion of Izetbegoviccorrected the fact that he had been omitted from Yeltsin’s initialproposal. But the Foreign Ministry promptly amended Yeltsin byannouncing through spokesman Mikhail Demurin that the basic frameworkwould be triangular, Yeltsin-Milosevic-Tudjman, and that Izetbegovicmight be invited at a follow-up stage.

Yeltsin’s invitation did not at this point include the BosnianSerb leaders. But in a Japanese press interview highlighted inthe August 10 Izvestiya, Yeltsin defended Radovan Karadzicand Ratko Mladic, refuting the international tribunal’s chargesagainst them. Yeltsin disclaimed any Pan-Slavic motivations toRussia’s policy in the Balkans, but appeared to imply that thisfactor could form a basis for Russian mediation: "All thesepeople, the Serbs, Croats, and [Bosnian] Muslims, are close relativesof the Russian people. We advocate an equal approach to all."

Rybkin Seconds Yeltsin.