by Timothy Elphick ONLY a show of military muscle by the nations of the European Community will stop blood being spilled in the former Yugoslav republic of Bosnia-Herzogovina, a Franciscan friar from the Marian shrine of Medjugorge warned in London this week.
Fr Jozo Zovko, the parish priest to whom the visionaries of Medjugorje first reported their alleged apparitions of Our Lady in 1981, said the communist authorities in Serbia were bent on destruction in the newly independent republic of BosniaHerzogovina.
The 51-year-old priest. who is now the guardian of the Siroki Brijeg Monastery near Mostar, the nearest sizeable town to Medjugorje, visited Cardinal Basil Hume at Westminster and Lord Carrington, chairman of the EC peace conference on Yugoslavia, during his "peace mission" to London.
He later flew to the United States, where meetings with President George Bush and US Secretary of State James Baker had been arranged.
The Serbian-dominated Yugoslav army would annihilate the cultural identity of the
Croatian and Moslem communities living in the ethnically-mixed republic unless stopped by force. Fr Joao said. Serbian President Milosevic's dream of a "greater Serbia" was a recipe for genocide, he said.
"Since the aggression started so many churches and monasteries have been destroyed. The bishop's palace in Mostar, the Franciscan monastery and its irreplaceable library have all been burned and lost," Fr Jozo said.
"People of all religions are in jeopardy. Nothing is sacred to the aggressor. Their forces do not hesitate to fire at hospitals and shrines, and even on the vehicles of the Red Cross," lie said.
Fr Jozo asked for the immediate condemnation of Serbia by the international community and a display of force off Yugoslavia's Dalmatian coast. He said all Serbian forces on Bosnian territory should be ordered to leave the republic, which gained EC recognition as an independent state last month.
"Some of the visionaries in Medjugorge are still in the town, sharing in the suffering of the people in the shelters," Fr Jozo said. Medjugorje has been in the front line of the war in recent weeks.
He said he feared he would be unable to go back to his monastery on his return to BosniaHerzogovina. And the Franciscan monastery where his sister was a nun had been razed to the ground and nothing was known of her whereabouts, Fr Jozo said.