The Security Council this afternoon decided to establish a support group of 180 civilian police monitors to continue monitoring the performance of the Croatian police in the Danube region, particularly with respect to the return of displaced persons, for a single nine-month period beginning on 16 January 1998. It will continue that aspect of the work of the United Nations Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (UNTAES), whose mandate expires on 15 January 1998.
Through its unanimous adoption of resolution 1145 (1997), the Council decided that the support group would assume responsibility for those former UNTAES personnel and United Nations-owned assets needed for the fulfilment of its mandate. It encouraged liaison between the support group and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), with a view to facilitating a smooth transition of responsibility to that organization, and welcomed the OSCE's key role in the region.
The Council reiterated its call to all regional States, including Croatia, to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. It also called on the Government of Croatia to implement fully and promptly all of its obligations and commitments, including those reached with UNTAES with regard to the region. It noted with approval the recent improved performance of that Government towards fulfilling its obligations and encouraged continued progress in that area.
Welcoming the fact that some progress had been made in the peaceful two- way return of displaced persons and the return of refugees in the region, the Council called on the Government of Croatia to remove legal obstacles and other impediments to two-way returns, including through such measures as the resolution of property issues, the establishment of straightforward procedures for returns, the adequate funding of the Joint Council and all relevant activities of municipalities, and the clarification and full implementation of the Amnesty Law.
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The Council reaffirmed the right of all refugees and persons displaced from Croatia to return to their homes of origin throughout the country. It stressed that achievement of the Council's long-term goals for the region depend upon the commitment of the Government to the permanent reintegration of its Serb citizens, and upon the vigilant and active role of the international community. It reminded the local Serb community of the continued importance of demonstrating a constructive attitude and participating actively in the process of reintegration and national reconciliation.
In addition, the Council stressed the need for the Government to pursue the economic revitalization of the region. It urged Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to further normalize their relations, especially in the areas of cross-border confidence-building, demilitarization and dual nationality. The Secretary-General was asked to report to the Council on the situation in Croatia as necessary, and no later than 15 June 1998.
Statements were made by the representatives of Croatia, the Russian Federation and the United States.
The meeting, which began at 12:33 p.m., was adjourned at 12:56 p.m.
Report of Secretary-General
In his report on the United Nations Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirium (UNTAES) (document S/1997/953), the Secretary-General recommends that UNTAES be terminated on 15 January 1998 and that it be replaced by a support group of 180 civilian police to continue monitoring the performance of the Croatian police in the Danube region, particularly in connection with the return of displaced persons. Until 15 January, the Transitional Administrator would progressively turn over operational control of all remaining functions of UNTAES in the region to the Croatian Government, while retaining his authority to intervene and overrule.
According to the Secretary-General's plan, this post-UNTAES civilian police support group would be stationed in the main Croatian police headquarters and at the 20 Croatian police stations throughout the Danube region. The group would be headquartered in Vukovar and, would operate under the overall responsibility of a small substantive unit based in Zagreb. Along with three mobile patrols, it would maintain 24-hour-a-day coverage of police activities. The support group's operations would be limited to nine months and there would be the option to terminate it sooner should circumstances so permit.
[Under the Basic Agreement reached in late 1995, the Governments of Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and the region's local Serb authority, accepted a plan for the peaceful reintegration of the ethnically mixed Danube region into Croatia. The Basic Agreement envisaged a transitional period of a maximum of two years during which this process could be achieved.
The parties requested that an international force be stationed in the region to maintain peace and security and to assist in the Agreement's implementation during the transitional period. In response, the Council formed UNTAES, with military and civilian components led by a Transitional Administrator. The two-year transitional period ends on 15 January 1998, the date that the current UNTAES mandate expires.]
In his report now before the Council, the Secretary-General states that the Government of Croatia has made major efforts to meet its obligations under the Basic Agreement and has recently demonstrated more political will to complete reintegration successfully. These efforts, if sustained, give hope that the termination of UNTAES on 15 January 1998 would not jeopardize the results of two years of intensive international investment and effort in the region. In the final analysis, it is the Croatian authorities who are responsible for the successful completion of the peaceful reintegration of the region and the true reconciliation of the people.
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The immediate priorities of the Government of Croatia for the coming winter must include the extension of national social welfare into the region to avert grave humanitarian difficulties for vulnerable groups; completion of the reintegration of health facilities and personnel; and resolution of the substantial difficulties in the education sector as a whole. The improvement of the conditions for return of all displaced persons in conditions of safety, economic security and personal dignity must be ensured. The establishment of a fully functioning local government must be completed, and the Croatian Government must stop backtracking on its commitment to deter conscription for two years for Serbs from the region.
The parties to the Basic Agreement have agreed that UNTAES has successfully achieved the basic objectives for which it was established, the Secretary-General states. Reporting on aspects of reintegration within the UNTAES area of responsibility, he states that demilitarization was completed in June 1996; a Transitional Police Force was established in July 1996; and local and regional elections were conducted successfully in April. The political and institutional framework for the reintegration of civil administration and public services was finalized. During the later part of this year, some 6,000 Croats and 9,000 Serbs returned to their original homes in the region. Close cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia led to the exhumation of a mass grave site and the arrest of an indicted war criminal.
The UNTAES has negotiated many agreements with the Government of Croatia on the post-UNTAES implementation of its commitments and guarantees, the report states. Taken together with the Croatian Constitutions, those agreements provide a comprehensive political and institutional framework of guarantees, which, if fully implemented, will allow the people of the region to exercise freely their rights and obligations as equal citizens of Croatia. Their implementation will depend on the political will of the Government and the wisdom and energy of the Serb political leadership.
Also, UNTAES has provided the necessary stability to enable Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to normalize their relations and enter into increasingly cooperative bilateral agreements. A "soft border" regime is in place and normal commercial and traffic links have been re-established, developments which are essential to the full economic development of the Danube border area. Summarizing the work of UNTAES during the past two years, the Secretary-General states that the success of UNTAES in the entire reintegration process is a positive precedent for peace throughout the former Yugoslavia.
Amid those successes, there is also agreement among the parties that full implementation of Croatian commitments remains incomplete. In the vital area of local policing and the rule of law, the Government of Croatia
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acknowledges that the Transitional Police Force has not yet demonstrated the professional qualities or inter-ethnic cohesion necessary to police the multi- ethnic communities of the region effectively and impartially. The Croatian Government requested in November that the United Nations civilian police presence in the Danube region of Croatia be continued following the end of the UNTAES mandate. The Secretary-General describes that request as a positive indication that the Government of Croatia accepts its responsibilities for non-discriminatory policing in the post-UNTAES period. The UNTAES Civilian Police component will remain at its current strength of 400 officers until 15 January 1998, to continue monitoring all Transitional Police Force operations.
In the post-UNTAES period, many international organizations will support Croatia by comprehensively monitoring the implementation of commitments and providing reassurance to the population of the region. Local Serbs need reassurance and do not yet trust that central government instructions will be implemented by all local officials. The probability of incidents in the post- UNTAES period is recognized by all parties and cannot be discounted. Without continued international engagement, there is a clear risk that the termination of UNTAES might be seen in retrospect as having been premature. For those reasons, the Secretary-General says he welcomed the deployment throughout Croatia of the long-term mission of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the activities of other bodies, including both international and local non-governmental organizations. The continued presence and support of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will also be an essential aspect of the continued international involvement in the region.
According to the Secretary-General (document S/1997/953/Add.1), the estimated costs for the civilian police support group for a period of nine months would be approximately $17.6 million. This estimate provides for a strength of 180 civilian police, supported by a civilian establishment of 53 international and 165 local personnel.
Letter from Croatian Government
In a 20 November letter to the Secretary-General (document S/1007/913), the Foreign Minister of Croatia states that his Government accepts the activities of the civilian police support group, numbering 180 personnel, for a single nine-month period, to begin after 15 January 1998, with the provision that their presence in Croatia could be shortened in duration, in line with the positive development of the situation in the region.
He goes on to say that his Government confirms the agreement that the support group's area of activity will be strictly limited to the territory currently covered by the UNTAES mandate, known as the Danube region. It also
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accepts that the civilian police activities will include monitoring Croatian police activity in the Danube region and providing assistance to improve its professional capability. He considers the proposed organizational framework of the group, to be headquartered in Vukovar and under the overall responsibility of a small substantive unit in Zagreb, to be acceptable.
He emphasizes Croatia's readiness to provide the necessary protection, if needed, to the civilian police support group. He says that his Government remains determined to bring the process of peaceful reintegration of the Danube region to its successful conclusion, to the satisfaction and benefit of all its citizens, to demonstrate its commitment to continue acting as an agent of peace and a guarantor of stability in the region.
The Council has before it the following draft resolution, sponsored by Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Portugal, the Russian Federation, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.
"The Security Council,
"Recalling all its relevant resolutions concerning the territories of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja, and Western Sirmium of the Republic of Croatia (the Region),
"Reaffirming its commitment to the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Croatia, and emphasizing in this regard that the territories of the Region are integral parts of the Republic of Croatia,
"Recalling the Basic Agreement on the Region of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (S/1995/951), signed on 12 November 1995 by the Government of the Republic of Croatia and the local Serb community (the Basic Agreement), which promotes the mutual confidence, safety and security of all inhabitants in the region,
"Noting the termination of the mandate of the United Nations Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (UNTAES) on 15 January 1998, as envisaged in its resolution 1079 (1996) of 15 November 1996 as well as in the Basic Agreement, and in accordance with its resolution 1120 (1997) of 14 July 1997, and expressing its deep appreciation to the Transitional Administrators for their leadership of the efforts of the United Nations in promoting peace, stability, and democracy in the UNTAES Region, and to the civilian and military personnel of UNTAES for their dedication and achievement in facilitating the peaceful reintegration of the Region into the Republic of Croatia,
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"Emphasizing the continuing obligation, under the Basic Agreement and international conventions, of the Government of the Republic of Croatia to allow all refugees and displaced persons to return in safety to their homes throughout the Republic of Croatia, and further emphasizing the urgency and importance of the two-way return of all displaced persons in the Republic of Croatia,
"Recalling the mandate of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) of 26 June 1997 (S/1997/522, annex) providing for a continued and reinforced OSCE presence in the Republic of Croatia, with a focus on the two-way return of all refugees and displaced persons, the protection of their rights, and the protection of persons belonging to national minorities,
"Welcoming the letter from the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Croatia to the Secretary-General of 6 November 1997 (S/1997/913), requesting a continued presence of United Nations civilian police monitors after the termination of the UNTAES mandate,
"Welcoming also the report of the Secretary-General of 4 December 1997 (S/1997/953 and Addendum 1) and the recommendations contained therein, including his recommendation for the establishment of a support group of civilian police monitors,
"Stressing that the Croatian authorities bear the main responsibility for the successful completion of the peaceful reintegration of the Region and the true reconciliation of the people,
"1. Notes the termination of UNTAES on 15 January 1998 and expresses its continued full support for UNTAES as it completes its mandate;
"2. Reiterates the continuing obligation of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, under the Basic Agreement, to respect the highest standards of human rights and fundamental freedoms and to promote an atmosphere of confidence among local residents regardless of ethnic origin, as well as its continuing obligations under international conventions and other agreements in this regard;
"3. Underlines that it is the Government of the Republic of Croatia and the Croatian police and judicial authorities who bear full responsibility for the security and safeguarding of the civil rights of all residents of Croatia, regardless of ethnicity;
"4. Calls upon the Government of the Republic of Croatia to implement fully and promptly all of its obligations and commitments, including those reached with UNTAES, with regard to the Region;
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"5. Stresses the need for the Government of the Republic of Croatia to pursue the economic revitalization of the Region and notes, in this respect, the importance of past and future involvement by the international community;
"6. Notes with approval the recent improved performance of the Government of the Republic of Croatia towards fulfilling its obligations, including the adoption of a comprehensive programme of national reconciliation, and encourages continued progress in this regard;
"7. Reaffirms the right of all refugees and displaced persons originating from the Republic of Croatia to return to their homes of origin throughout the Republic of Croatia, welcomes the fact that some progress has been made in the peaceful two-way return of displaced persons and the return of refugees in the Region, and calls upon the Government of the Republic of Croatia to remove legal obstacles and other impediments to two-way returns, including through the resolution of property issues, the establishment of straightforward procedures for returns, the adequate funding of the Joint Council and all relevant activities of municipalities, the clarification and full implementation of the Amnesty Law, and other measures, as set out in the report of the Secretary-General;
"8. Reminds the local Serb community of the continued importance of demonstrating a constructive attitude and participating actively in the process of reintegration and national reconciliation;
"9. Stresses that the achievement of the long-term goals for the Region established by the Security Council depend upon the commitment of the Government of the Republic of Croatia to the permanent reintegration of its Serb citizens and upon the vigilant and active role of the international community, and in this regard welcomes the key role of the OSCE;
"10. Emphasizes the role of other international organizations and the United Nations specialized agencies, in particular the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, in the Republic of Croatia;
"11. Reiterates its previous call to all the States in the region, including the Government of the Republic of Croatia, to cooperate fully with the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, and recalls its encouragement by the increased cooperation of the Government of the Republic of Croatia with the Tribunal;
"12. Urges the Republic of Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to pursue further normalization of their relations, especially in the areas of cross-border confidence-building measures, demilitarization and dual nationality;
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"13. Decides to establish, with effect from 16 January 1998, a support group of 180 civilian police monitors, for a single period of up to nine months as recommended by the Secretary-General, to continue to monitor the performance of the Croatian police in the Danube region, particularly in connection with the return of displaced persons, in accordance with the recommendations contained in paragraphs 38 and 39 of the report of the Secretary-General and in response to the request by the Government of the Republic of Croatia;
"14. Decides also that the support group will assume responsibility for those former UNTAES personnel and United Nations-owned assets needed for its use in fulfilment of its mandate;
"15. Requests the Secretary-General to keep it informed periodically and to report as necessary on the situation, and in any case no later than 15 June 1998;
"16. Reminds the Government of the Republic of Croatia of its responsibility for the security and freedom of movement of all civilian police monitors and other international personnel, and requests that it provide all necessary support and assistance to the civilian police monitors;
"17. Encourages liaison between the support group and the OSCE with a view to facilitating a smooth transition of responsibility to that organization;
"18. Decides to remain seized of the matter."
IVAN SIMONOVIC (Croatia) said the joint success of UNTAES and the Government of Croatia in fully completing almost all of its objectives could serve as an example for other present and future peacekeeping endeavours. The conflict in Eastern Slavonia was resolved peacefully, and the control of previously occupied territory had reverted to the legitimate authorities. The reintegration process included administrative aspects and the all-important human element which were reflected in the Government's reconciliation programme.
One important reason for the success of the mission was the appearance of a credible threat of force in the peace process in 1995, he said. Croatia's conscious decision to avoid the direct use of that force in the case of Eastern Slavonia, opting instead for a peaceful method of reintegration with the assistance and support of the international community, had followed. Another equally important reason for the success of the mission was the
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commitment of the international community to work in cooperation with the Government, providing resources and knowledge in the area of conflict resolution and giving UNTAES an active and dynamic mandate. In addition, the Security Council appointed Transitional Administrators with skills in assertive leadership.
Croatia welcomed the draft resolution before the Council, which was clear in stating that the mandate of UNTAES and the Transitional Administration would terminate on 15 January 1998, he said. That clarity could only help the reintegration process. The draft also provided for assistance in the area of police monitoring, as requested by the Croatian Government. However, despite the many positive elements contained in it, the draft resolution overlooked two important issues. First, it did not give proper focus to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. The text only specifically called on Croatia to cooperate with the Tribunal, even though it dealt with a region which was occupied by Serbia and Montenegro for a period of time. In addition, the draft failed to reflect that the former rebels were reintegrating, not only into Croatia, but also into the Serb community of Croatia.
Croatia would continue to count on the international community for support as it entered a period of development, where quality of life for all its citizens was the priority, he said. His Government also hoped that such cooperation could take new forms. For example, in the area of human rights, policy monitoring could be replaced with concrete technical assistance.
SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said the ultimate success of the United Nations mission in Croatia required clear efforts by the Croatian Government towards the complete reconciliation and reintegration of its citizens of all ethnic groups. There were still quite a few issues which required attention during the transition period. Those included the return of refugees, the settlement of property ownership questions, the functioning of public bodies, issues relating to violation of the rights of the Serbian population, and trust in police and authorities.
Additional measures should be taken along with the continued active involvement of the international community, especially by such regional organizations like the OSCE, to strengthen the dynamics of the reintegration process, he said. The United Nations and OSCE missions should maintain close cooperation and interaction. The United Nations specialized agencies, including the High Commissioner for Refugees, should also continue their work in Croatia. Furthermore, the continued presence in Eastern Slavonia after 15 January 1998 of United Nations civilian police monitors would strengthen the trust of the local populations, especially at a time when large numbers of refugees were returning.
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The basic agreements regarding the region formed a legal basis for the reintegration process in the long term, he said. The compliance by the Croatian Government was a major requirement to ensure the irreversibility of the process of reintegration and the re-establishment of trust.
BILL RICHARDSON (United States) said his Government supported the establishment of a civilian police group to continue monitoring the performance of the Croatian police in the Danube region after the termination of the UNTAES mandate. The extended presence of United Nations civilian police monitors would provide reassurance and help confirm the continuing commitment of the international community to assist Croatia in implementing its comprehensive programme of national reconciliation. The new civilian police mission would work with the OSCE in Croatia to promote the return of all refugees and displaced persons to their homes and the goal of full reintegration.
The dedication and skill of United Nations personnel in helping the parties meet their obligations made UNTAES a model for United Nations peacekeeping, he said. However, a large measure of the responsibility for UNTAES' success belonged to the leadership of the Croatian Government, which had taken difficult steps to follow the path of national reconciliation. The United States strongly supported those efforts of the Croatian Government and looked forward to its continued commitment to peace and reconciliation in the region and throughout Croatia. More than four years of war and conflict in the region had inflicted wounds that could fully heal only with time. All the commitments made on both sides -- by the Government and the local Serb population -- must be made good.
The draft was adopted unanimously as Security Council resolution 1145 (1997).
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