United Nations, New York
June 6, 2001


Mr. President,
Your Excellencies, distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure and privilege to address this special session of the General Assembly dedicated to the overall review and appraisal of progress made over the last five years since Istanbul.  Indeed, this special session comes at an appropriate time to carefully reflect on the current situation and further, to mobilise commitments to overcome existing obstacles in the implementation of the Habitat Agenda.

The Republic of Croatia welcomes the adoption of the Millenium Declaration and its values and principles, which strive towards sustainable development, as well as, to the eradication of poverty, and provision of appropriate shelter for all people.

Mr. President,

The general international trend, coupled with specific features existing in Croatia have resulted in the fact that two thirds of Croatia's population live in urban areas.  Consequently, construction demands to meet these needs are particularly pronounced in large cities along the Adriatic coast.  At the same time, our islands, mountainous, regions and rural areas in part, are fundamentally threatened by demographic depopulation.  By way of response, Croatia has been undertaking a number of activities in order to overcome inherent problems as a country in transition and to provide impetus for further economic growth.  The Croatian Government currently faces an immediate demand for reconstruction of war-torn areas devasted during the armed conflict, to be suported by the creation of viable conditions for their sustainable development.

One of the top priorities under Croatia's spatial planning policy, is the provision of equal opportunities for a healthy and safe life through the construction of sustainable human settlements within the existing infrastructures.  This policy has been devised through basic strategic development documents, such as, Spatial Planning Strategy and Programme of the Republic of Croatia, which includes the integral issue of sustainable development and management of settlements, as well as through spatial plans of the county, municipality and city level.  Pursuant to present legislation, local self-government units are entrusted with the management and protection of space, under which a legal and institutional framework has been established providing local authorities and the local population with preconditions for a high degree of independence and responsibility for the space in which they live.

In order to promote gender equality in the development of human settlements, the Government of the Republic of Croatia has established a Commission for Gender Equality Issues, in charge of promoting and monitoring all issues associated with gender equality.  In elaborating a new National Policy for the period 2001 to 2005, this Commission decided to include, as a separate issue, a chapter focusing on women and the environment.

With the aim of facilitating the resolution of housing procurement issues for its citizens, as well as advancing housing construction, a Welfare-Supported Housing Construction Programme is being implemented in Croatia. This Programme was created in order to elaborate, a new organised housing construction system independent to already existing governmental incentive measures.  This programme is open to those families financially unable to purchase apartments under current market conditions. The Draft Law on Welfare-Supported Housing Construction seeks to resolve housing procurement issues for socially vulnerable members of society, as well as those on medium and low-incomes.

Mr. President,

The Government of the Republic of Croatia has adopted the National Report for Habitat, which has been prepared in accordance with UNCHS guidelines. By elaborating the National Report, Croatia has met its commitments and is in the position now to assess its implementation of the Habitat Agenda and Istanbul Declaration. The Government expects that the Report shall speed up the Habitat Agenda implementation at the local level, and include increased participation by non-governmental organizations in the process. The Habitat Agenda shall form the basis for consideration of the settlement development strategy, and for elaborating the housing policy proposal as one of the elements of the Development Strategy of the Republic of Croatia in the 21st Century. Realisation of these planning measures will largely depend on the degree of success of economic revitalisation coupled with the related and indespensable increase of the living standards of Croatian citizens.

Croatia shall process statistical data in accordance with the Habitat methodology, while for the purpose of promoting the Habitat Agenda implementation at the local levels, the preparation of a pilot project for data monitoring under Habitat methodology has been agreed. The experiences to be gained shall provide a strong impetus for all future activities. War occurrences in Croatia have caused significant changes in the demographic picture and number of inhabitants in several counties, cities and settlements.  In comparison to an earier census taken in 1991, the recent census undertaken in March of this year, has shown a decrease of 2.9 % in the total number of inhabitants.  Once the final results are published, further monitoring of the situation will be necessary in order to properly evaluate future progress towards achieving quality housing and implementing development policies for sustainable human settlements.

Mr. President,

We strongly believe that this special session will act as a catalyst for future initiatives and actions to overcome obstacles which have been identified and hindered the implementation of the Habitat Agenda. International cooperation has played and will continue to play an important role in this regard.  Therefore, we welcome the setting up of the Thematic Committee, which provides an important forum for practical exchange and dissemination of ideas, knowledge, and best practices in various fields of human settlements. Also, part and parcel of this special session is a very interesting exhibition in which many countries, including my own, have presented various projects illustrating both achievements and challenges in the day-to-day implmentation of the Habitat Agenda. The partnership between governments, local authorities, non-governmental organizations and other groups of civil society play a vital role in this process as a whole.

We expect that the Declaration on cities and other human settlements in the 21st Century to be adopted at the end of the special session, will provide both impetus and a new blueprint to steer us towards the full realisation of the objectives of the Habitat Agenda in the new millenium.

Thank you Mr. President.