It was supposed to be a showcase for East-West harmony in the post-Cold War Europe. But the 52-nation summit instead harked back to old superpower rivalries and ended in deadlock over the war in Bosnia.
By its conclusion Tuesday, the two-day summit called by the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe notched modest successes, including agreement on sending peacekeepers to a former Soviet republic.But two themes permeated the conference: the Bosnian crisis and the world's inability to deal with it, and resurgent tensions between the West and a Russia fearful of being locked out of a leading role in Europe's future.
After Russia dug in its heels over proposed language condemning Serb attacks in Bosnia, the conference, which normally depends on consensus, wound up avoiding any mention of Europe's worst conflict since World War II in the summit's final document.
Instead, it issued a face-saving statement pointing no fingers that appealed for an end to fighting and resumption of aid to hundreds of thousands of desperate Bosnians.
Bosnia scornfully boycotted approval of the statement, its chief delegate, Mahir Hadziahmetovic, declaring: "My country is not facing a natural disaster. We are facing aggression."
Both he and Bosnia's president, Alija Izetbegovic, warned that the Muslim world would react poorly to Europe's failure to do more for their Muslim-led government.
Croatia's chief delegate, Darko Bekic, said action on the Bosnian crisis was falling victim to new tensions between Moscow and Washington.
"We are the first victims of the new superpower rivalry," Bekic said. "We are being ground up between the two superpowers."
Russian President Boris Yeltsin set the tone for the conference in a speech Monday that accused the United States and its NATO allies of trying to isolate his country. Russia has little chance of joining either the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or the European Union.