Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Croatia
57th Session of the General Assembly
New York, 17 September 2002
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the outset, allow me to sincerely congratulate you, Mr. Jan Kavan, on
your election to the distinguished position of President of the General
Assembly. I am confident that under your able leadership the work of the
Assembly will be conducted in a most productive manner. I would also like
to use this opportunity to thank the outgoing President H.E. Mr. Han Seung
Soo for the successful completion of the work of the 56 session of the General
Assembly. I would also like to use this opportunity to warmly congratulate
Switzerland on becoming the full member of the UN family and to welcome
the return of the USA to UNESCO.
Following the horrific terrorist attacks of September 11 last year, a new
vigour and resolve has emerged to make our world a safer place for all,
not only in promises, but in deeds.
General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, especially 1373, serve
as a common platform for combating terrorism. However, their letter and
spirit must be fully and thoroughly implemented in order to rid ourselves
of global terrorist threats. In our endeavours the United Nations is proving
to be the best framework and unique pillar for the international community's
joint actions in maintaining international peace and security, as well as
in providing legitimacy to these actions.
The prompt and almost universal response of member states to the requests
by the Security Council's Counter-Terrorism Committee is a telling example
of how efficient the United Nations can be in mobilising the international
community in facing common challenges. It is our hope that member states
will respond with the same responsibility on another important dimension
of eradicating terrorism - namely, to finalise current negotiations on the
comprehensive convention on combating international terrorism.
Furthermore, Croatia believes that efforts should be intensified in order
to resolve regional conflicts that pose fertile ground for recruiting terrorists.
The cycle of violence in the Middle East must end. Parties to the conflict
must return to the negotiating table and make the vision of two peoples
living in peace within their secure and recognised state borders, happen.
We also call for Iraq's full compliance with its international obligations
regarding the possession and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
The violations of Security Council resolutions must not be tolerated and
we welcome the announcement of the President Bush to work with the UN Security
Council in this regard.
We must also recognise that Afghanistan is today on a difficult but hopeful
road to recovery, with the assistance of the international community.
We fully support the Secretary General in his efforts to move the United
Nations from a culture of reaction to one of prevention. We consider that
the timely dispatch of well structured peace-keeping operations, with a
clear and effective mandate, can prevent the recurrence of conflicts and
create a platform for re-building peace and shattered societies. It is exactly
here that new tasks and challenges lie before contemporary peacekeeping
operations, which we have witnessed born in East Timor and Kosovo. In this
regard, we welcome the new approach of the Security Council in having regular
meetings with. troop-contributing countries. As a contributor, with military
observers in peacekeeping missions in Sierra Leone, Ethiopia and Eritrea,
and recently in Kashmir, Croatia has found this exchange of information
and experience most fruitful and useful for all.
This brings me to the subject of Security Council reform, which, as all
of us agree, is necessary to address the new political environment of the
21st century. Unfortunately, we still have not achieved sufficient political
consensus for significant progress in this respect. The lack of progress
is certainly discouraging for many. Nevertheless, we must reform the Council
in order to be able to adequately address the security threats we are facing
As we revisit the historic promises made by our world leaders embraced in
the Millennium Declaration, we must now embark on a process of improving
the UN as an instrument of global co-operation for the benefit of all humankind.
In this regard, we commend the Secretary-General for his report on the integrated
and co-ordinated implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the
major United Nations conferences and summits, as a necessary prerequisite
to implementing the goals set in the Millennium Declaration. To this end,
full and constant co-operation of Member States and the Secretariat is essential.
The Economic and Social Council has continued the path of strengthening
its role within the UN system. A number of innovative precedents have been
set this year related to the improvement of co-operation and co-ordination
between the main bodies of the UN; between the ECOSOC and the IMF and World
Bank; and its co-operation with the NGOs and private sector. The resolution
on the ad hoc advisory group on African countries emerging from conflict,
has been adopted in order to help these countries in peace-building processes.
Guinea-Bissau has already submitted an official request for the establishment
'of such an ad hoc advisory group for its country. Croatia is pleased that
it can- through the person of the President of ECOSOC- contribute to the
revival and strengthening of this highly important body.
The United Nations should continue to keep the development agenda at the
forefront of all areas of the UN's substantive agenda. Among all of the
multilateral organisations, the UN is the only one with the institutional
capability to address and manage the challenges of globalisation. Croatian
delegation hopes that the outcome and follow-ups of Monterrey and Johannesburg
will keep our commitment on track, in particular with regard to mobilising
additional financial resources. We must work together to improve the lives
of people in poverty and to reverse the continuing degradation of the global
environment. A true global mobilisation of all relevant stakeholders will
be necessary to ensure the outcomes of these conferences are transformed
We note the broader acceptance of UN's norms by Member States, that will
ultimately lead to the "globalisation of human rights" and a universally
recognised international code of human rights. As Governments, we must provide
the environment for their universal acceptance and their full implementation.
Croatia is contributing to this goal through its membership in the UN Commission
on Human Rights.
Global contribution comprises of individual achievements. In order to contribute
to global peace, security and development, each country has to be stable,
secure and function on well founded economic system. My government is doing
exactly that. In October last year, Croatia signed the Stabilization and
Association Agreement with the EU. For the last two years we have introduced
a set of reforms aimed at bringing Croatian society closer to the European
Union and NATO. The commitment of the Croatian Government in this respect
was recognized by the European Commission. In its first report on the stabilization
and association process, issued in spring this year, Croatia was singled
out as the most advanced country in the process.
Another important element in this regard is regional cooperation where Croatia
plays very active role. The outstanding issues that may reflect on stability
of the region, such as return of the refugees, are high on the priority
list of my Government. Croatia has therefore, adopted the Action Plan for
the voluntary return of refugees till the end of the next year.
We have significantly improved bilateral relations with the Federal Republic
of Yugoslavia, and will continue to do so in the future. Just a few days
ago after the discussion two delegations had, I believe that remaining open
issues will be successfully resolved in the near future. One of these issues
is identification and delimitation of the land and sea border in the area
of Prevlaka. Intensive negotiations are in progress and we believe that
some form of temporary solution may be reached soon. Anyhow, the situation
on Prevlaka does not represent a threat to peace and security anymore, and
therefore we believe that the UN mission on Prevlaka has successfully accomplished
its mandate and consequently it should not be extended after the current
In regard to the question of the border issues I would further like to report
on an important success in reaching an agreement on the northern part of
the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. The agreement was reached through
the valuable efforts of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General
for Bosnia and Herzegovina, to whom we sincerely thank. At this point, and
shortly before the end of the UN presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina, I would
like to express my Government's appreciation for the UN's overall contribution
to the stability and development of the country.
On the other hand, we can not but express our deep frustration with the
continuos failure to apprehend two of the most notorious war criminals todate
- namely, Karadzic and Mladic. We strongly reiterate the view that lasting
stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina may only be achieved with the arrest
and extradition of Karadzic and Mladic to the appropriate authorities. Bringing
these two individuals to trial before the International Criminal Tribunal
for the Former Yugoslavia would serve as a closure for many victims that
suffered terribly. The same goes for Sljivancanin and Radic, indicted by
the Tribunal for the war crimes committed on the territory of Croatia.
Having faith in the maxim no peace without justice, my Government attaches
highest importance to bringing to justice all those guilty of war crimes.
We are committed to maintain the good and extensive cooperation, that this
Government has established with the International Criminal Tribunal for
the Former Yugoslavia and urge other countries in its mandate to do so.
However, that does not diminish the key role that domestic trials for war
crimes play in the process of healing and national reconciliation. The Croatian
judiciary is willing and capable to meet these challenges.
In this spirit, the Republic of Croatia welcomed the entry into force of
the Rome Statute and looks forward to the operationalization of the ICC.
The establishment of the first permanent international criminal court is
crucial in putting an end to the culture of impunity and selective justice.
By strengthening the universal rule of law, which in turn leads to the advancement
of universal peace and security, this new Court holds a promise of becoming
a true guarantor of the ideals enshrined in the UN Charter.
Fundamental and common interests for world peace, security and development
require our concerted and united efforts. This, 57th General Assembly Session,
I am confident will take us a step further in realising these common goals.
Thank you, Mr. President.