• Share
  • Read Later
On the eve of the biggest NATO operation in history, the French general charged with U.N. peacekeeping in Sarajevo was ordered back to Paris today after having condemned the Dayton peace agreement. "I refuse to have my soldiers condemned to watch an exodus of Serbs who will burn their houses before leaving," a French newspaper quoted General Jean-Rene Bachelet as having said over the weekend. Bachelet reportedly added that the peace pact, which puts the divided city under control of the Muslim-Croat federation, would force the Serbs of Sarajevo to choose between "the suitcase or the coffin." The French Defense Minister, who ordered Bachelet home, said the general's opinions were not those of the French government. TIME's Bruce Crumley reports from Paris: "Despite the fact that the French have been basically pro-Serb during the fighting, the government has decided that there is not one comma of the Dayton agreement that is going to be changed. Period. And Bachelet was called back to get that message. By now he has so much carpet between his teeth he won't eat for a year." After his tongue-lashing, Bachelet will most likely be sent back to Sarajevo, where he will command a NATO force of about 13,000 troops.