SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE OF UNT"S AND OF MILITARY OBSERVERS IN PREVLAKA UNTIL 15 JANUARY 1998

14 July 1997
SC/6396

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE OF UNT"S AND OF MILITARY OBSERVERS IN PREVLAKA UNTIL 15 JANUARY 1998

  • Security Council
14 July 1997

Press ReleaseSC/6396

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE OF UNTAES AND OF MILITARY OBSERVERS IN PREVLAKA UNTIL 15 JANUARY 1998

19970714 Resolutions on Situation in Croatia, 1119 and 1120, Adopted Unanimously

Acting on the situation in Croatia, the Security Council this morning extended the mandate of the United Nations Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (UNTAES) until 15 January 1998, and authorized United Nations military observers to continue monitoring the demilitarization of the Prevlaka peninsula also until that date.

The Council took those actions by unanimously adopting its resolutions 1119 (1997) and 1120 (1997).

By the resolution on UNTAES, the Council endorsed the Secretary-General's plan for the gradual devolution of executive responsibility for civil administration in the region by the Transitional Administrator, as well as his plan for the restructuring of UNTAES, both of which were set out in his report of 23 June. The Council particularly endorsed his proposal for achieving a drawdown of the UNTAES military component by 15 October. The pace of devolution would be commensurate with Croatia's demonstrated ability to reassure the Serb population and to successfully complete reintegration.

Also by resolution 1120 (1997), the Council strongly urged the Government of Croatia to promptly eliminate administrative and legal obstacles to the return of refugees and displaced persons, in particular those posed by its Law on Temporary Takeover and Administration of Specified Property. The Council also urged the Croatian Government to eliminate ambiguities in implementation of its Amnesty Law.

Further by the text, the Council reaffirmed the right of all refugees and persons displaced from Croatia to return to their homes of origin throughout the country. It reminded the local Serb population in Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium of the importance of demonstrating a constructive attitude towards the reintegration of the region and a willingness to cooperate fully with the Croatian Government.

The Council also reiterated its calls for States in the region, including Croatia, to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Tribunal

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for the Former Yugoslavia. It further reiterated the decision in its resolution 1037 (1996) that Member States, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements may, at the request of UNTAES, take all necessary measures, including close air support, in defence of UNTAES.

By resolution 1119 (1997), the Council also requested the United Nations military observers, who form the United Nations Mission of Observers in Prevlaka (UNMOP), and the multinational Stabilization Force (SFOR) to cooperate fully with each other. It renewed its call on the parties to the Agreement on Normalization of Relations between the Republic of Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia of 23 August 1996 to implement it fully and adopt the practical options proposed by the observers for improving safety and security in the area. The Council called on the parties to cease all violations of the demilitarization regime, along with military and other activities which might increase tensions.

The Secretary-General was requested to report to the Council on UNTAES by 6 October, and on the Prevlaka issue by 5 January 1998.

The meeting began at 11:15 a.m. and adjourned at 11:21 a.m.

Resolutions Adopted

The resolution adopted by the Council on UNMOP reads as follows:

"The Security Council,

"Recalling its earlier relevant resolutions, and in particular its resolutions 779 (1992) of 6 October 1992, 981 (1995) of 31 March 1995, 1025 (1995) of 30 November 1995, 1038 (1996) of 15 January 1996, 1066 (1996) of 15 July 1996, and 1093 (1997) of 14 January 1997, as well as the statement of its President of 25 April 1997 (S/PRST/1997/23),

"Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 1 July 1997 (S/1997/506),

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

"Noting with concern that the parties have failed to make any progress in adopting the practical options proposed by the United Nations military observers in May 1996, as referred to in the report of the Secretary-General of 31 December 1996, to reduce tension and improve safety and security in the area, or in reaching a peaceful settlement of the Prevlaka issue,

"Noting also the observation contained in the report of the Secretary- General of 1 July 1997 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,

"Determining that the situation in Croatia continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security,

"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 January 1998;

"2. Renews its calls upon the parties to abide by their mutual commitments, implement fully the Agreement on Normalization of Relations between the Republic of Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia of 23 August 1996, adopt the practical options proposed by the United Nations military observers for the improvement of safety and security in the area, cease all violations of the demilitarization regime and military or other activities which may increase tension, cooperate fully with the United Nations

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military observers and ensure their safety and freedom of movement, including through the removal of landmines;

"3. Requests the Secretary-General to submit to the Council by 5 January 1998 a report on the situation in the Prevlaka peninsula as well as on progress made by the Republic of Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia towards a settlement to resolve peacefully their differences;

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

"5. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter."

The resolution adopted by the Council on UNTAES reads as follows:

"The Security Council,

"Recalling all its relevant resolutions concerning the territories of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium of the Republic of Croatia, in particular its resolutions 1023 (1995) of 22 November 1995, 1025 (1995) of 30 November 1995, 1037 (1996) of 15 January 1996, 1043 (1996) of 31 January 1996, 1069 (1996) of 30 July 1996, and 1079 (1996) of 15 November 1996,

"Reaffirming once again its commitment to the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Croatia, and emphasizing in this regard that the territories of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium are integral parts of the Republic of Croatia,

"Expressing its appreciation for the substantial achievements of the United Nations Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (UNTAES) in facilitating progress towards the peaceful return of the Region to the control of the Republic of Croatia, and expressing further its deep appreciation to the dedicated military and civilian personnel of UNTAES for their outstanding contributions to the mission of UNTAES, and to the Transitional Administrator, Mr. Jacques Paul Klein, for his leadership and dedication,

"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,

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"Emphasizing the importance of the obligation 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 importance of the two-way return of all displaced persons in the Republic of Croatia,

"Welcoming the Agreement of the Joint Working Group on the Operational Procedures of Return (S/1997/341, annex), but noting with concern that the lack of conditions necessary for the return of displaced persons to the former United Nations Protected Areas from the Region of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium prevents the return in any substantial number of those displaced persons seeking to return to Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium from other parts of Croatia,

"Expressing its grave concern over the lack of improvement in respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities, in Croatia and in particular in the former United Nations Protected Areas, and strongly deploring recent incidents of ethnically motivated violence in Hrvatska Kostajnica and similar incidents,

"Reiterating its concerns about the failure of the Government of the Republic of Croatia to cooperate fully with the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, and in this context recalling the obligation of the States in the region to surrender all those indicted to the Tribunal,

"Reiterating also its concerns about continued uncertainty regarding implementation of the Amnesty Law, which has been detrimental to the building of confidence and trust among Croatia's ethnic communities,

"Welcoming the report of the Secretary-General of 23 June 1997 (S/1997/487), and noting in particular his recommendations for the continued presence of UNTAES after 15 July 1997 with an appropriate restructuring of the mission,

"Recalling that the Basic Agreement provides that the transitional period of 12 months may be extended at most to another period of the same duration if so requested by one of the parties, and noting that the local Serb community has requested such an extension, as indicated by the Secretary- General in his report of 28 August 1996 (S/1996/705),

"Determining that the situation in Croatia continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security,

"Determined to ensure the security and freedom of movement of the personnel of the United Nations peace-keeping operations in the Republic of

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Croatia, and, to these ends, acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,

"1. Expresses its full support for UNTAES, and calls upon the Government of the Republic of Croatia and the local Serb community to cooperate fully with UNTAES and other international bodies and to fulfil all obligations and commitments specified in the Basic Agreement and all relevant Security Council resolutions, as well as in the letter of the Government of the Republic of Croatia of 13 January 1997 (S/1997/27, annex);

"2. Reaffirms in particular the importance of full compliance by the parties, in particular by the Government of the Republic of Croatia, with their commitments, as specified in 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 their ethnic origin, and urges the Government of the Republic of Croatia to ensure respect for the rights of all persons of all national ethnic groups;

"3. 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;

"4. Strongly urges the Government of the Republic of Croatia to eliminate promptly the administrative and legal obstacles to the return of refugees and displaced persons, in particular those posed by the Law on Temporary Take Over and Administration of Specified Property; to create the necessary conditions of security, safety, and social and economic opportunity for those returning to their homes in Croatia, including the prompt payment of pensions; and to foster the successful implementation of the Agreement on the Operational Procedures of Return (S/1997/341) treating all returnees equally, regardless of ethnic origin;

"5. Reminds the local Serb population in Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium of the importance of continuing to demonstrate a constructive attitude towards the reintegration of the region and a willingness to cooperate fully with the Government of the Republic of Croatia in building a stable and positive future for the Region;

"6. Reiterates its previous calls on 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;

"7. Urges the Government of the Republic of Croatia to eliminate ambiguities in implementation of the Amnesty Law, and to implement it fairly and objectively in accordance with international standards, in particular by concluding all investigations of crimes covered by the amnesty and undertaking

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an immediate and comprehensive review with United Nations and local Serb participation of all charges outstanding against individuals for serious violations of international humanitarian law which are not covered by the amnesty in order to end proceedings against all individuals against whom there is insufficient evidence;

"8. Decides to extend the mandate of UNTAES until 15 January 1998, as envisaged in its resolution 1079 (1996) of 15 November 1996 as well as in the Basic Agreement;

"9. Endorses the plan for the gradual devolution of executive responsibility for civil administration in the Region by the Transitional Administrator, as set out in the report of the Secretary-General of 23 June 1997;

"10. Endorses the plan for restructuring UNTAES, as outlined in the report of the Secretary-General of 23 June 1997, and, in particular, the proposal for achieving the drawdown of the UNTAES military component by 15 October 1997;

"11. Stresses that the pace of the gradual devolution of executive responsibility would be commensurate with Croatia's demonstrated ability to reassure the Serb population and successfully complete peaceful reintegration;

"12. Reiterates its decision in its resolution 1037 (1996) that Member States, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, may, at the request of UNTAES and on the basis of procedures communicated to the United Nations, take all necessary measures, including close air support, in defence of UNTAES and, as appropriate, to assist in the withdrawal of UNTAES;

"13. Requests that UNTAES and the multinational stabilization force authorized by the Council in resolution 1088 (1996) of 12 December 1996 continue to cooperate, as appropriate, with each other, as well as with the High Representative;

"14. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to keep the Council regularly informed of the situation and to report in any case no later than 6 October 1997 on all aspects relevant to the peaceful reintegration of the Region;

"15. Stresses the importance of demilitarization of the area, and in that context stresses further the importance of achieving bilateral agreements on demilitarization and a liberal border regime in the Region of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium, accompanied by appropriate confidence-

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building measures as suggested in the report of the Secretary-General of 23 June 1997;

"16. Calls upon the Government of the Republic of Croatia, inter alia, to initiate a country-wide public programme of national reconciliation, to take all necessary steps for the official establishment and legal registration of the Joint Council of Municipalities, and to fulfil all its obligations as specified in the various agreements signed with UNTAES;

"17. Welcomes the renewed 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 particular focus on two-way return of all refugees and displaced persons, protection of their rights, and the protection of persons belonging to national minorities, welcomes also the decision of OSCE for the build-up starting July 1997 of its mission personnel with a view to full deployment by 15 January 1998, and urges the Government of the Republic of Croatia to cooperate fully with the OSCE mission to that end;

"18. Underlines the observation of the Secretary-General that the essential prerequisite for the successful completion of peaceful reintegration of the Region is the full cooperation of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, which bears the responsibility for convincing the local population that the reintegration of the people of the Region is sustainable and that the process of reconciliation and return is irreversible;

"19. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter."

Reports of Secretary-General

In one of two reports before the Council concerning the situation in Croatia, the Secretary-General recommends a further six-month extension of the mandate of the United Nations Mission of Observers in Prevlaka (UNMOP) until 15 January 1998 (document S/1997/506). The Mission, consisting of 28 United Nations military observes headed by a Chief Military Observer, monitors the demilitarization of the Prevlaka peninsula and of the neighbouring areas on Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

According to the report, the parties have continued to indicate that their bilateral negotiations pursuant to the Agreement on Normalization of Relations between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Croatia, signed on 23 August 1996, have not addressed the Prevlaka dispute directly and that there had been no progress towards a settlement. The unresolved dispute has obstructed progress towards opening the international border crossing at Debeli Brijeg, which lies within the demilitarized zone. At meetings in April

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and June, representatives of Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia were unable to reach agreement on the status of the crossing.

The Secretary-General observes that the parties still retain the differing interpretations of the Prevlaka dispute. Croatia regards the dispute as a security issue to be settled by an arrangement that would provide security for each State within existing borders. For the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the dispute centres upon territorial possession of the Prevlaka peninsula. Both parties, in their letters, confirm their positive assessment of the role of UNMOP in lessening tension and maintaining stability in the region.

Despite the divergent interpretations of the dispute by the parties and despite their continuing violations of some aspects of the demilitarization regime in the UNMOP area of responsibility, the Secretary-General remains convinced that the Governments of Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia can fulfil their commitment under the Agreement on Normalization of Relations to resolve peacefully the issue of Prevlaka. He, therefore, believes that the UNMOP's presence continues to be essential to maintain conditions that are conducive to a negotiated settlement of the dispute.

The Security Council has before it a report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Croatia (document S/1997/487) which terms as "effective and cost-efficient" a proposed two-phase exit strategy for the withdrawal of UNTAES and the transfer of executive responsibility for the major part of the region's civil administration to Croatian authorities. Adoption of that strategy would allow UNTAES personnel and resources to be reduced progressively as executive functions are assumed by Croatian authorities.

In the first phase of the plan, the Transitional Administrator would maintain his authority and ability to intervene and overrule decisions should the situation deteriorate and the achievements of UNTAES be threatened. The pace of devolution would be commensurate with Croatia's demonstrated ability to reassure the Serb population and to successfully complete peaceful reintegration. Two battalions and one company could be repatriated by 15 August, reducing troop strength from 5,000 to 2,530, including 720 military support personnel.

Further UNTAES troop reductions are planned for the period after September in order to reach a level of 720 by mid-October, according to the report. The number of military observers would remain unchanged at 100. The authorized strength of 600 civilian police can be reduced to the present actual strength of 450 until the full integration of the Transitional Police Force into the Croatian police force, which is expected to occur in October. Subsequently, the civilian police strength could be reduced further to 250, the minimum number necessary. By October, the strength of the civilian

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component would be reduced from 485 to 315 international staff and from 746 to 399 local staff, in addition to 70 United Nations volunteers.

In the second phase, and subject to satisfactory Croatian performance, remaining executive functions would be devolved, with Croatia assuming responsibility for the continued demilitarization of the region and the gradual integration of the Transitional Police Force into the Croatian police force.

Since its full deployment in the region in May 1996, UNTAES has made significant achievements in demilitarization, reintegration of institutions and the creation of conditions which allowed the successful elections held in April, the Secretary-General states. The people of the region appear to have accepted Croatian citizenship and statehood.

In a 30 April letter to the Transitional Administrator, Croatian President Franjo Tudjman reaffirmed his country's intention to fulfil its various obligations and guarantees, but no specific programmes or timetables were provided to indicate how Croatia intends to provide reassurance to the local population and successfully complete reintegration, according to the report. Of particular concern was Croatia's stated intention to introduce a regime of unrestricted access to the region without taking adequate steps to prevent harassment and intimidation of local residents by extremist Croat elements.

Since April, the report states, there have been outbursts of ethnic violence against Serbs in Kostajnica and elsewhere in Croatia, increased harassment and intimidation of Serbs inside the region by Croat extremists who abuse the transit procedures and more liberal access regime, continued hostile propaganda in the Croatian media, an increase in the number of abusive and threatening telephone calls telling Serbs to leave and serious delays in the introduction in the region of Croatian institutions -- most notably the Croatian social welfare system.

The Secretary-General draws attention to the Basic Agreement on the Region of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium of 12 November 1995. He recalls that it lists among its objectives the restoration of the multi-ethnic character of the region by ensuring the possibility for the return of refugees and displaced persons in conditions of security, the establishment of confidence among all ethnic communities and respect for the highest levels of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the region.

Croatia's position, according to the report, is that with the successful holding of elections, UNTAES completed the executive part of its mandate. Thus, authority over the region should be transferred to Croatia, the UNTAES military component should be withdrawn and the remaining United Nations

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civilian presence should be restricted to a monitoring and observation mission pending its replacement by a long-term observation mission of the OSCE. President Tudjman has warned of negative consequences for Croat-Serb relations and reconciliation if the executive mandate of UNTAES is extended.

The position of local Serbs and of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia -- which would be the primary recipient of Serb refugees from the region if reintegration fails -- is that UNTAES should remain with its existing mandate for the full extended transition period up to 15 January 1998, the report states.

The Secretary-General states that UNTAES will carefully monitor Croatian performance in meeting a series of "benchmarks", aimed at permitting a smooth downsizing of the Mission. These include full implementation of the rights and guarantees mentioned in the Basic Agreement, a Croatian letter of 13 January 1997 and subsequent signed agreements by the Government of Croatia on civil matters; demonstrable equal treatment for Serbs in the provision of government services and benefits; substantial progress in the two-way return of displaced persons, including vigorous enforcement of Croatian criminal law for acts of inter-ethnic violence and harassment; establishment of a purposeful programme of national reconciliation; and serious efforts to achieve bilateral agreements on demilitarization and a "soft border" regime.

The Secretary-General also expresses concern that a precipitate transfer of authority to Croatia and the withdrawal of UNTAES could lead to a mass exodus of Serbs, creating a major humanitarian crisis in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. That would have negative repercussions for Bosnia and Herzegovina, particularly the Republika Srpska. That would gravely set back the process of bilateral normalization of relations, imperil wider regional security and create an unwelcome precedent for collective international peace efforts in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The essential prerequisite for the proposed exit strategy is the full cooperation of the Government of Croatia, which bears the responsibility of convincing the local population that the reintegration of the people of the region is sustainable and that the process of reconciliation and return is irreversible, the Secretary-General states. If confidence is not achieved, the Security Council would have to reassess the situation by 15 October. He also urges the Croatian Government to extend its full cooperation to the OSCE.

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For information media. Not an official record.