15 January 1999


Press Release
SC/6627



SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS PREVLAKA OBSERVER MISSION MANDATE UNTIL 15 JULY

19990115
The Security Council this morning authorized the United Nations Mission of Observers in Prevlaka (UNMOP) to continue monitoring the demilitarization of the Prevlaka peninsula until 15 July 1999, as it unanimously adopted resolution 1222 (1999).

Welcoming the improved cooperation between the Republic of Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the United Nations military observers, and the decrease in the number of serious incidents, the Council reiterated its call upon the two parties to:

-- cease violations of the demilitarization regime in the United Nations designated zones;

-- take steps to further reduce tension and improve safety and security in the area; and

-- cooperate fully with the United Nations military observers and ensure their safety and unrestricted freedom of movement.

The Council again urged the parties to abide by their mutual commitments and implement fully the Agreement on Normalization of Relations. It stressed the urgent need for them to fulfil rapidly and in good faith their commitment to reach a negotiated resolution of the disputed issue of Prevlaka.

In the light of the improved cooperation and reduction in tensions in Prevlaka, the Council asked the Secretary-General to consider possible reductions in the number of military observers to as few as 22, from the current strength of 28. The reduction should be without prejudice to UNMOP's operational activities, reconsideration of its concept of operations, the existing security regime and the desirability of closing the Mission when appropriate.

Furthermore, the Secretary-General was also requested to submit a report by 15 April 1999 on the progress of bilateral negotiations between the parties, as well as on possible ways to facilitate a negotiated settlement -- should the


parties require such assistance. To that end, the parties were asked to report at least bi-monthly to the Secretary-General on the status of the negotiations.

The meeting, which began at 10:59 a.m. was adjourned at 11:03 a.m.

Text of Resolution

The full text of resolution 1222 (1999) (document S/1999/39), which was sponsored by Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States, reads as follows:

"The Security Council

"Recalling all its earlier relevant resolutions, in particular its resolutions 779 (1992) of 6 October 1992, 981 (1995) of 31 March 1995, 1147 (1998) of 13 January 1998, and 1183 (1998) of 15 July 1998,

"Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 6 January 1999 (S/1999/16) on the United Nations Mission of Observers in Prevlaka (UNMOP),

"Recalling also the letters of the Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia of 24 December 1998 (S/1998/1225) and of the Permanent Representative of Croatia of 7 January 1999 (S/1999/19), concerning the disputed issue of Prevlaka,

"Reaffirming once again its commitment to the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Croatia within its internationally recognized borders,

"Noting once again the Joint Declaration signed at Geneva on 30 September 1992 by the Presidents of the Republic of Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, in particular Articles 1 and 3, the latter reaffirming their agreement concerning the demilitarization of the Prevlaka peninsula,

"Nothing with concern, however, that long-standing violations of the demilitarization regime by both parties continue, including the standing presence of Yugoslav military personnel and the occasional presence of Croatian military elements in the demilitarized zone, and limitations place on the free movement of United Nations military observers by both parties,

"Welcoming in this regard the recent lifting of certain restrictions on access for UNMOP by Croatia, as well as the recent steps taken by the Croatian authorities to improve communication and coordination with UNMOP to allow the mission to monitor more effectively the situation in its area of responsibility,


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"Welcoming also the Croatian willingness to open crossing points between Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Montenegro) in the demilitarized zone, which has led to considerable civilian traffic in both directions and which represents a significant confidence-building measure in the normalization of relations between the two parties, and expressing the hope that further such openings will help to increase such civilian traffic,

"Noting with approval the continuing bilateral negotiations between the parties pursuant to the Agreement on Normalization of Relations between the Republic of Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia of 23 August 1996 (S/1996/706, annex), but expressing serious concern that such negotiations have not yet resulted in any substantive progress towards a settlement of the disputed issue of Prevlaka.

"Reiterating its call upon the parties urgently to put in place a comprehensive demining programme,

"Noting that the presence of the United Nations military observers continues to be essential to maintain conditions that are conducive to a negotiated settlement of the disputed issue of Prevlaka,

"1. Authorizes the United Nations military observers to continue monitoring the demilitarization of the Prevlaka peninsula, in accordance with resolutions 779 (1992) and 981 (1995) and paragraphs 19 and 20 of the report of the Secretary-General of 13 December 1995 (S/1995/1028*), until 15 July 1999;

"2. Welcomes thee improvement in cooperation between the Republic of Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the United Nations military observers and the decrease in the number of serious incidents, and reiterates its calls upon the parties to cease all violations of the demilitarization regime in the United Nations-designated zones, to take steps further to reduce tension and improve safety and security in the area, to cooperate fully with the United Nations military observers and to ensure their safety and full and unrestricted freedom of movement;

"3. Requests the Secretary-General, in the light of the improved cooperation and reduction in tensions in Prevlaka as described in his report, to consider possible reductions, without prejudice to the main operational activities of UNMOP, focusing on the possibility of reducing the number of military observers to as few as 22, in line with the reconsideration of the concept of operations of UNMOP and the existing security regime and the desirability of closing the mission when appropriate;

"4. Further request the Secretary-General to submit a report by 15 April 1999 on the progress of bilateral negotiations between the parties, as well as on possible ways to facilitate a negotiated settlement, should the parties require such assistance, and, to this end, requests the parties to


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report at least bi-monthly to the Secretary-General on the status of the negotiations;

"5. Urges once again that the parties abide by their mutual commitments and implement fully the Agreement on Normalization of Relations, and stresses in particular the urgent need for them to fulfil rapidly and in good faith their commitment to reach a negotiated resolution of the disputed issue of Prevlaka in accordance with article 4 of the Agreement;

"6. Requests the United Nations military observers and the multinational stabilization force authorized by the Council in resolution 1088 (1996) of 12 December 1996 and extended by resolution 1174 (1998) of 15 June 1998 to cooperate fully with each other;

"7. Decides to remain seized of the matter."

Report of Secretary-General

When the Security Council met this morning, it had before it a report of the Secretary-General (document S/1999/16) in which he recommends a further six-month extension, until 15 July, of the mandate of the United Nations Mission of Observers in Prevlaka (UNMOP).

In the report, the Secretary-General states that the continued stability of the area monitored by UNMOP has contributed to a constructive atmosphere in which discussions between the parties -- the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Croatia -- are continuing. Nonetheless, given the current stage of the negotiations, he asserts that it would be premature to conclude that a final agreement between the parties is close at hand.

The UNMOP has continued to fulfil its mandate of monitoring the demilitarization of the Prevlaka peninsula, located at the southern tip of Croatia, thereby helping to create the necessary conditions for the commencement of the bilateral talks, according to the report. Its area of operations remains stable and free of significant tension. The number of serious incidents has decreased, and cooperation between the parties and UNMOP has improved.

The parties have, to date, not yet made substantive progress after three rounds of meetings by their negotiating teams, the Secretary-General observes. They have expressed their intention to continue their discussions through further meetings of their expert teams and through other bilateral contacts.

The Secretary-General urges them to take full advantage of the currently favourable conditions and to constructively and expeditiously pursue their negotiations towards securing a mutually acceptable and lasting solution to


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their dispute. To keep the Council regularly informed of progress on the talks, he proposes that the Council request the parties to report to him, on a monthly or bi-monthly basis, their assessment of the status of the negotiations.

The Secretary-General reminds the parties that the whole set of instruments of the United Nations, including his good offices, is at their disposal. He would be prepared to arrange for a United Nations observer to attend the bilateral talks, should the parties so request.

In the event that they are unable to resolve their dispute or make substantial progress during the next six months, the Secretary-General suggests that the Security Council might wish to consider alternative mechanisms, such as international mediation or arbitration. He hopes at that time to be able to report on how UNMOP's concept of operations and the existing security regime might be adapted.

The area of responsibility of the 28-member UNMOP consists of two United Nations-designated zones: a demilitarized zone (the so-called "Yellow Zone") and a United Nations-controlled zone (the so-called "Blue Zone").

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