SECURITY COUNCIL URGES EARLY FORMATION OF NEWLY ELECTED GOVERNMENT

8 May 1997
SC/6367

SECURITY COUNCIL URGES EARLY FORMATION OF NEWLY ELECTED GOVERNMENT

Security Council                                                                                               SC/6367

3775th Meeting (PM)                                                                                         8 May 1997

SECURITY COUNCIL URGES EARLY FORMATION OF NEWLY ELECTED GOVERNMENT BODIES IN EASTERN SLAVONIA, BARANJA AND WESTERN SIRMIUM

                     Presidential Statement Urges Prompt Appointment of Local Serbs

          To Guaranteed Positions in Croatia's Parliamentary, Administrative Structures

            The Security Council this afternoon urged early formation of the newly elected local government bodies in Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium, as well as prompt and full implementation of the Basic Agreement of November 1995.  The Agreement, which provides for the region's peaceful integration into Croatia, also opened the way for the return of all Croatian displaced persons to their homes, if they so desired.

            Through a statement read out by its President, Park Soo Gil (Republic of Korea), the Council also urged prompt implementation of a 13 January letter from the Government of Croatia, including the formation of a Joint Council of Municipalities and the appointment of local Serbs to guaranteed positions in Croatia's parliamentary and administrative structures.

            The Council emphasized the importance of a two-way return of all displaced persons in Croatia and the right of a State's residents to choose freely where they wish to live.  It urged the Croatian Government strictly to implement the Agreement of the Joint Working Group on the Operational Procedures of Return, which provides mechanisms for the voluntary and safe return of Croatian citizens to their homes.

            In addition, both sides were called on to cooperate in good faith on the basis of the Basic Agreement.  The Council stressed the need to respect human rights throughout the country, including those of minorities, in order to ensure the success of the process of reintegration.

            The Council commended the United Nations Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (UNTAES) for resolving technical difficulties in the elections, thereby contributing significantly to their success.  It shared the assessment of the Transitional Administrator that the elections, which began on 13 April, had been essential for the region's reintegration and underlined his findings that no intimidation, violence or electoral improprieties had been observed or reported at any time.

            In the light of progress by the parties towards fulfilling the Basic Agreement, the Council looks forward to the Secretary-General's forthcoming recommendations on a further United Nations presence in the region, possibly through a restructured UNTAES for the six-month period beginning on 16 July.

            The meeting, which was called to order at 1 p.m., was adjourned at     1:08 p.m.

            Presidential Statement

            The full text of the statement, to be issued as document S/PRST/1997/26, reads as follows:

            "The Security Council welcomes the letter of the Secretary-General of   29 April 1997 (S/1997/343), which conveys the conclusions of the Transitional Administrator regarding the successful holding of the elections in the region of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium in the Republic of Croatia beginning on 13 April 1997, under the direction of the United Nations Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (UNTAES).

            "The Security Council shares the assessment of the Transitional Administrator that the holding of these elections has been an essential step for further progress in the peaceful reintegration of the region and marks an important milestone for the legitimate representation of the local population in the Croatian constitutional and legal system.  It urges early formation of the newly elected bodies of local government and prompt and full implementation of the undertakings contained in the Basic Agreement (S/1995/951, annex) and the letter from the Government of Croatia of          13 January 1997 (S/1997/27, annex), including the establishment of the Joint Council of Municipalities and the appointment of local Serbs to the guaranteed positions in the parliamentary and administrative structures of Croatia.

            "The Security Council underlines the Transitional Administrator's finding that no intimidation, violence or electoral improprieties were observed or reported before, during or after the elections.  The Council welcomes the good-will and sense of cooperation demonstrated by the parties to the process.

            "The Security Council emphasizes the importance of the two-way return of all displaced persons in Croatia, as well as the right of residents of a State to choose freely where they wish to live.  In this context, it welcomes the Agreement of the Joint Working Group on the Operational Procedures of Return (S/1997/341, Annex).  It urges the Government of Croatia strictly to implement this Agreement.  The Council calls upon both sides to cooperate in good faith on the basis of the Basic Agreement and stresses the need to respect human rights, including rights of persons belonging to minorities, throughout the country, in order to ensure the success of the process of reintegration.

            "The Security Council expresses its appreciation to UNTAES and to those elements of the international community, including observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Council of Europe and members of the diplomatic community, whose efforts made possible the successful holding of elections.  The Council commends UNTAES for resolving technical difficulties by taking decisive actions, which contributed significantly to the successful holding of the elections.

            "The Security Council looks forward to the recommendations of the Secretary-General, in the light of the parties' progress towards fulfilling the Basic Agreement, for the further United Nations presence in Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium, possibly a restructured UNTAES, consistent with the fulfilment of the Basic Agreement, for the six-month period beginning from 16 July 1997, in accordance with its resolution 1079 (1996)."

            Secretary-General's Letter

            In considering this matter, the Council had before it a letter from the Secretary-General to its President (document S/1997/343), in which he reports on the elections held on 13 and 14 April in the region administered by UNTAES.  Local elections for 25 municipal councils and three city councils were conducted simultaneously with elections throughout Croatia on 13 April.  Regional elections were also held for two county assemblies, as were national elections for the Upper House of the Croatian Parliament.  Owing to technical difficulties, particularly the late delivery of electoral materials, voting inside the region was extended to 14 April, and to 15 April in one polling location.

            Nearly 500 international observers were deployed throughout Croatia to observe the elections, the letter states.  Within the region covered by UNTAES, over 150 UNTAES observers were deployed to all polling stations as monitors.  In addition, 30 observer teams from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), as well as observers from the Council of Europe and representatives of the diplomatic community, visited numerous polling stations during the elections.

            According to UNTAES Transitional Administrator, no intimidation, violence or electoral improprieties were observed or reported before, during or after the elections, the letter states.  The 28 local electoral commissions, appointed on a multi-ethnic basis, conducted the elections in the region.  They were assisted by UNTAES electoral officers who had been appointed as electoral advisers.  Most complaints received were either corrected by the special measures adopted by the Transitional Administrator on election day or dismissed after due consideration.  Several infractions of the code of conduct governing the elections were corrected by informal intervention.  It was concluded that the free and fair character of the elections was not affected by those issues. 

            Preliminary results of the elections were announced by UNTAES on        19 April and subsequently certified by the Transitional Administrator on 22 April, the Secretary-General states.  A 48-hour period for political parties to appeal the results was to come into effect immediately after the final announcement.  Following those procedures, and provided that the results of the elections were finalized, the Transitional Administrator was to certify the final results, in accordance with the UNTAES mandate.

            The Transitional Administrator has indicated the successful holding of elections in the UNTAES-administered region has been an essential step for further progress in the peaceful reintegration of the region, the Secretary-General states.  It marks an important milestone for the legitimate representation of the local population in the Croatian constitutional and legal system.  It also opens the way for the two-way return of all displaced persons in Croatia.  Rapid progress has been made in that area with the adoption by the Croatian Government on 24 April of the Agreed Procedures on Return.

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