Given the helpless international context as regards the tragic situation in the former Yugoslavia, France has taken a singular stand. Paris will not be accused of inactivity or indifference, as the French Casques Bleus are on the front line and 22 of them have already been killed in action (at the time of writing). Paris was the active instigator of humanitarian aid; and President Francois Mitterrand made a foray into Sarajevo in June 1992 and opened up the way to this aid in the besieged Bosnian capital. His active policy enabled him to draw attention to other less committed, European partners. Nevertheless, France’s attitude is not without ambiguity and ambivalence. As a man of his own generation, shaped by history, Mitterrand did not easily accept the break-up of the Yugoslavian Federation in June 1991, fearing above all a spread of instability to the eastern region of Europe, thus creating a dangerous precedent. It took him a whole year, until the European Summit in Lisbon in June 1992, to recognise the unmistakable responsibility of Serbia for the conflict, even though no Western country has come out of the crisis unscathed. Finally, having emphasised the humanitarian dimension, Paris put off all political decisions for a considerable time until the worsening situation in Bosnia compelled action of some sort.
KeywordsEurope Assure Crest Defend Dispatch
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