13 January 2000


Press Release
SC/6782



SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS PREVLAKA PENINSULA MISSION UNTIL 15 JULY, WITH UNANIMOUS ADOPTION OF RESOLUTION 1285 (2000)

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The Security Council this morning authorized the United Nations Observer Mission in Prevlaka (UNMOP) to continue monitoring the demilitarization of the Prevlaka peninsula until 15 July.

The Council, unanimously adopting resolution 1285 (2000), also reiterated its call upon the parties – the Governments of Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia -- to: cease all violations of the demilitarization regime in the United Nations-designated zones; take further steps to reduce tension and to improve safety and security in the area; cooperate fully with the Organization’s military observers; and ensure their safety and full and unrestricted freedom of movement.

By other terms of the text, the Council once again urged the parties to abide by their mutual commitments and implement fully the 1996 Agreement on Normalization of Relations. It stressed, in particular, the urgent need for them to fulfil rapidly and in good faith their commitment to reach a negotiated settlement of the disputed issue of Prevlaka.

The Council also encouraged the parties to take concrete steps to further implement recommendations and options to develop confidence-building measures to further facilitate the freedom of movement of the civilian population. It asked the parties to continue to report at least bi-monthly to the Secretary-General, on the status of their bilateral negotiations. It also asked UNMOP and the Multinational Stabilization Force to cooperate fully with each other.

The meeting which began at 10:38 a.m. was adjourned at 10:43 a.m.

Resolution

The full text of the resolution 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, 1183 (1998) of 15 July 1998, 1222 (1999) of 15 January 1999 and 1252 (1999) of 15 July 1999,

“Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 31 December 1999 (S/1999/1302) on the United Nations Mission of Observers in Prevlaka (UNMOP), “Recalling also the letters to its President, from the Chargé d'Affaires of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia of 24 December 1999 (S/1999/1278) and from the Permanent Representative of Croatia of 10 January 2000 (S/2000/8), 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,

“Reiterating its concern about violations of the demilitarization regime, including limitations placed on the free movement of United Nations military observers, while noting some positive development in those fields as outlined in the report of the Secretary-General,

“Noting with satisfaction that the opening of crossing points between Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Montenegro) in the demilitarized zone continue to facilitate civilian and commercial traffic in both directions without security incidents and continue to represent a significant confidence- building measure in the normalization of relations between the two parties, and urging the parties to utilize these openings as a basis for further confidence- building measures to achieve the normalization of relations between them,

“Reiterating its serious concerns about the lack of substantive progress towards a settlement of the disputed issue of Prevlaka in 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), and calling for the resumption of discussions,

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

“Commending the role played by UNMOP, and noting also 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 (S/1995/1028*), until 15 July 2000;

“2. 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 to 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. Notes with satisfaction that, pursuant to its request in resolution 1252 (1999), the parties have been provided with recommendations and options to develop confidence-building measures, encourages the parties to take concrete steps to implement such recommendations and options with a view to, inter alia, further facilitating the freedom of movement of the civilian population, and requests the Secretary-General to report on the matter by 15 April 2000;

“4. 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;

“5. Requests the parties to continue to report at least bi-monthly to the Secretary-General on the status of their bilateral negotiations;

“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 1247 (1999) of 18 June 1999 to cooperate fully with each other;

“7. Decides to remain seized of the matter.”

Security-General’s Report

When the Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in Croatia, it had before it the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nation Mission of Observers in Prevlaka (UNMOP)(document S/1999/1302). The report covers developments since 12 October 1999 and recommends that the UNMOP mandate be extended for a further six months, until 15 July 2000, without change to the current concept of operations.

According to the report, the Mission currently consists of 27 United Nations military observers headed by a Chief Military Observer, Colonel Graeme Williams (New Zealand). Developments in the region have not allowed for further reduction of the number of military observers. However, UNMOP's strength is under continuous review.

In accordance with its mandate, UNMOP continues to monitor the demilitarization of the Prevlaka peninsula and of the neighbouring areas in Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and holds regular meetings with the local authorities in order to strengthen liaison, reduce tensions, improve safety and security, and promote confidence between the parties. The Chief Military Observer also maintains contact with the authorities in Zagreb and Belgrade in order to address issues arising from the implementation of resolution 1252 (1999). Cooperation between UNMOP and the multinational stabilization force (SFOR) is maintained through regular meetings.

The report goes on to outline: the situation in the area of responsibility of the mission; progress towards a negotiated settlement; confidence-building measures; and financial aspects.

According to the Secretary-General, both the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Croatia have indicated a willingness to resolve their dispute over Prevlaka through bilateral negotiations pursuant to the Agreement on Normalization of Relations signed by them at Belgrade on 23 August 1996. As previously reported, four rounds of talks have been held, the latest of which took place in Belgrade on 9 March 1999. However, no talks have been held since that date, and Croatia has not extended an invitation to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to attend a further round.

In his observations, the Secretary-General notes that the confirmed withdrawal of Yugoslav military forces from the United Nations demilitarized zone, seen together with the continuing absence of Croatian troops, is a welcome development. It is hoped that this will facilitate the implementation of further practical steps aimed at strengthening respect for the security regime. This will include addressing the remaining violations in the United Nations- controlled zone and removing all remaining restrictions on the movement of United Nations military observers. The parties should start discussing and implementing such steps without delay.

As observed previously, continues the Secretary-General, the opening and continued operation of a crossing point at Cape Kobila, in the United Nations- controlled zone, as opposed to the opening of the crossing point at Debeli Brijeg in the demilitarized zone, is a violation of the United Nations-mandated security regime. In this regard, it is worth noting that the United Nations military observers continue to report that the level of traffic passing through this crossing point remains negligible in comparison with that through Debeli Brijeg.

The Secretary-General says that, to avoid the problems caused by the crossing point at Cape Kobila, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Croatia could, at their discretion, redefine the security regime that they previously agreed upon so that civilian traffic might use the road which passes through the United Nations-controlled zone at Cape Kobila without this being regarded as a violation of the security regime. Some suggestions in this regard were put to the parties in the package of options of October 1999.

The Secretary-General goes on to say that the United Nations stands ready to assist in the development of arrangements to give effect to any agreement on this issue which the parties might reach. However, until they can agree on a suitable arrangement, UNMOP will continue to record as violations all unauthorized entries into the United Nations-controlled zone, including those relating to the use of the crossing at Cape Kobila.

The Secretary-General states that, while it is gratifying that troops of the Yugoslav Army have withdrawn from the demilitarized zone, there ere elements of the options package presented to the parties in October which have not been taken up by them. These elements, if implemented, could create a climate conducive to the peaceful resolution of the disputed issue of Prevlaka.

The Secretary-General, therefore, urges the parties to study the options package further and to devise a means of implementing, as they see fit, a strategy to give effect to these other recommendations. These include, as mentioned above: the regularization of the crossing point at Debeli Brijeg; the introduction of a limited access regime for local civilians with legitimate business in the United Nations-controlled zone; and the replacement of the crossing point at Cape Kobila by means of this controlled access regime.

The Secretary-General says that Member States may wish to use their influence with the parties to assist them in the formulation of further steps. The UNMOP leadership stands ready to assist in working out and implementing any practical arrangements.

The Secretary-General goes on to say that, although progress has been made in stabilizing and demilitarizing the territory patrolled by UNMOP, it is disappointing that concurrent progress at the political level has not been made. Confidence-building measures and moves to increase stability on the ground can supplement, but not replace substantive negotiations, which alone can lead to a comprehensive settlement of the disputed issue of Prevlaka.

Ten months have elapsed since the holding of the last round of bilateral negotiations between the parties in Belgrade, continues the Secretary-General. Under the reciprocal arrangements used in the negotiations so far, Zagreb is expected to host the fifth round. In consideration of the recent positive developments on the ground and the fact that the package of options for confidence-building measures was broadly discussed with the parties, the talks should resume as soon as possible, at least at the expert level. As the present pre-election period in Croatia might not be conducive to substantive negotiations, it is hoped that the next round can be held as soon as the elections are over.

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