SECURITY COUNCIL, IN PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT, WELCOMES AGREEMENT BETWEEN CROATIA, YUGOSLAVIA CONCERNING PREVLAKA PENINSULA

12 December 2002
SC/7596

SECURITY COUNCIL, IN PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT, WELCOMES AGREEMENT BETWEEN CROATIA, YUGOSLAVIA CONCERNING PREVLAKA PENINSULA

12/12/2002
Press Release
SC/7596


Security Council

4662nd Meeting (AM)


SECURITY COUNCIL, IN PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT, WELCOMES AGREEMENT


BETWEEN CROATIA, YUGOSLAVIA CONCERNING PREVLAKA PENINSULA


Thanks UN Mission on Peninsula, Which Concludes 15 December,

For Helping Create Conditions Leading to Negotiated Settlement


With the mandate of the United Nations Observer Mission in Prevlaka Peninsula (UNMOP) due to expire in three days, the Security Council this morning welcomed the signing of a protocol between Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia establishing a provisional cross-border regime on the peninsula.


Through a statement read out by its President, Alfonso Valdivieso of Colombia (document S/PRST/2002/34), the Council also welcomed the commitment of both governments to continue negotiations on Prevlaka with a view to amicably resolving all outstanding issues, and commended their diplomatic efforts to bolster peace and stability in the region.  The Council also expressed its appreciation to UNMOP and all those who helped create conditions conducive to a negotiated settlement of the dispute.


Before the reading of the presidential statement, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said the protocol was, without doubt, a full step forward on the way towards normalization of relations between the two countries.  UNMOP could now withdraw with the confidence that its task had been accomplished.


The signing of the protocol, he said, provided a smooth hand-over of UNMOP responsibility to local authorities.  He thanked all those that had worked on a Mission that had demonstrated that even a small United Nations presence, properly conceived and implemented, could make a difference.


The meeting, which began at 11:55 a.m., adjourned at 12:07 p.m.


Presidential Statement


The full text of the Presidential Statement, to be issued as S/PRST/2002/34, reads as follows:


“The Security Council welcomes the protocol signed by the Government of Croatia and the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on 10 December 2002, establishing a provisional cross-border regime on the Prevlaka peninsula, as referred to in the letter from their permanent representatives, dated 10 December 2002 (S/2002/1348).  The protocol represents a further step forward in the process


of strengthening of confidence and good-neighbourly relations between both countries.  The Council welcomes the commitment of both governments to continue negotiations on Prevlaka with a view to amicably resolving all outstanding issues, and commends their diplomatic efforts to bolster peace and stability in the region.


“The Council commends the important role, played by the United Nations Observer Mission in Prevlaka (UNMOP) in helping to create conditions conducive to a negotiated settlement of the dispute.  The Council takes this opportunity to express its appreciation for the efforts of all UNMOP personnel, past and present, and its gratitude to those countries that contributed personnel or other resources in the successful completion of its mandate.”


Background


When the Security Council met this morning, it had before it the final report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission of Observers in Prevlaka (document S/2002/1341), which provides an update of developments since the last report of 2 October (S/2002/1101) and a brief overview of United Nations involvement in Prevlaka since 1992.  The United Nations Observer Mission in the Prevlaka Peninsula (UNMOP) was extended for a final period of two months, until  15 December, on 11 October by resolution 1437 (2002).


According to the report, Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia have continued bilateral negotiations with a view to concluding an interim agreement providing for the normalization of the situation.  On 10 December, the sides signed the Protocol between the Federal Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Government of the Republic of Croatia on the Interim Regime along the Southern Border between the Two States.  In view of the prevailing peaceful conditions in the area and the scheduled withdrawal of UNMOP, the Mission closed the team sites at Gruda and Herceg Novi in November.  It continued to maintain its 24-hour presence at the team site on the Ostra peninsula and at headquarters at Cavtat.


Welcoming the Protocol, the Secretary-General concludes that the parties have advanced sufficiently in their bilateral relations so that an international monitoring mechanism is no longer required.  Given the presence of mines, unexploded ordnance and ammunition in the area of hand-over, it is his intention to keep a small core staff beyond 15 December, but not beyond 31 December, to ensure that the hand-over is conducted in a safe and orderly fashion.


The Secretary-General states that the responsibility for settling the dispute rests with Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.  The gradual restoration of normal life between the two formerly warring parties provides hope that stability and peaceful coexistence can and should be their common future.  Throughout a turbulent decade in the Balkans, UNMOP contributed to insulating Prevlaka from the surrounding conflicts and tensions.  It demonstrated that even a small United Nations presence, properly conceived and executed, can make a difference.


The military observers of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR), assigned to the Prevlaka peninsula on 20 October 1992 by resolution       779 (1992), carried out their mandate against the backdrop of the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992-1995).  Efforts during that time to draw the parties into negotiations were not successful.  During the period 1996-1998, the parties focused mainly on the situation in Eastern Slavonia (Croatia).  Despite the provision for a negotiated settlement of the Prevlaka dispute in the Agreement on Normalization of Relations signed by Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on 23 August 1996 (S/1996/744), no progress was made.  In 1996, UNMOP was established.


In 1998, parties began direct negotiations on Prevlaka.  The dialogue was suspended with the commencement of military action against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in March 1999 by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).  In October 1999, the Secretary-General presented a package of confidence-building

measures to the parties.  However, neither of the parties were willing to accept the package in its entirety.  The absence of a major conflict in the region and the change in Government in Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in  2000 created more favourable conditions for progress.  Consultations between the two sides led to the formation in December 2001 of a joint Interstate Diplomatic Commission to resolve the outstanding border disputes.  By April 2002, both sides reported to the Council that they were negotiating a comprehensive cross-border regime which "would eventually contribute to the successful ending of UNMOP" (S/2002/368).


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For information media. Not an official record.