Croatia's request for membership of the Council of Europe

Doc. 7510

29 March 1996

REPORT[1]

Rapporteur: Mr VAN DER LINDEN, Netherlands, Group of the European People's Party


Summary

On 15 March 1996, the President of Croatia and the President of the Croatian Parliament signed a list of commitments proposed by the Political Affairs Committee. These include full and effective co-operation in the implementation of the Dayton Agreement, the agreement on Eastern Slavonia and active assistance of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

    On this basis it is proposed that Croatia be invited to join the Council of Europe. The monitoring procedure should start with immediate effect from the date of accession.

I. Draft opinion [link to adopted text]

1.    Croatia applied to join the Council of Europe on 11 September 1992. By Resolution (1992) 69 of 10 December 1992, the Committee of Ministers asked the Parliamentary Assembly to give an opinion, in accordance with Statutory Resolution 51 (30A).

2.    Special guest status with the Parliamentary Assembly was granted to the Croatian Parliament on 4 May 1992.

3.    Procedure for an opinion on Croatia's request for membership was delayed as a result of Croatian involvement in the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Events in Western Slavonia and former United Nations Sectors North and South further delayed the procedure.

4.    Parliamentary elections were held in October 1995. The Assembly's observer delegation considered them, with some reservation, to have been free and fair.

5.    Croatia has been taking part in various activities of the Council of Europe since 1992 through its participation in intergovernmental co-operation and assistance programmes and through the participation of its special guest delegation in the work of the Parliamentary Assembly and its committees.

6.    Political dialogue between Croatia and the Committee of Ministers has been established since April 1992.

7.    Croatia has also acceded to several Council of Europe conventions, including the European Cultural Convention.

8.    On 15 March 1996, the President of Croatia and the President of the Croatian Parliament signed a document stating that, in order to fulfil the requirements for admission to the Council of Europe, Croatia was formally undertaking the following commitments:

i.    to sign the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) at the moment of accession;

ii.    to ratify the ECHR and Protocol Nos. 1,2,4,7 and 11 within a year from the time of accession;

iii.    to recognise, pending the entry into force of Protocol No. 11, the right of individual application to the European Commission of Human Rights and the compulsory jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights (Articles 25 and 46 of the Convention);

iv.    to sign within one year and ratify within three years from the time of accession Protocol No. 6 of the ECHR on the abolition of the death penalty in time of peace;

v.    to sign and ratify within a year from the time of accession the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment;

vi.    to sign and ratify within a year from the time of accession the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, the European Charter on Local Self-Government, and the Charter for Regional and Minority Languages; to conduct its policy towards minorities on the principles set forth in Assembly Recommendation 1201 (1993), and to incorporate these principles into the legal and administrative system and practice of the country;

vii.    to implement the recommendations resulting from the opinion of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (the "Venice Commission") on the constitutional law on human rights and the freedoms and rights of national and ethnic communities and minorities and human rights protection mechanisms;

viii.    to take all necessary measures, including adequate police protection, to guarantee the safety and human rights of the Serb population in Croatia, in particular in the former UN Protected Areas, to facilitate the return of people who left these areas and to allow them, through a specific procedure established by law, effectively to exercise their rights to recover their property or receive compensation;

ix.    to study, with a view to ratification, the Council of Europe's Social Charter, and meanwhile to conduct its policy in accordance with the principles contained therein;

x.    to sign and ratify and meanwhile apply the basic principles of other Council of Europe conventions _ notably those on extradition, on mutual assistance in criminal matters, on the transfer of sentenced persons, and on the laundering, search, seizure and confiscation of proceeds from crime;

xi.    to settle international as well as internal disputes by peaceful means;

xii.    to comply strictly with its obligations under the Basic Agreement on the Region of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium, and to co-operate fully with the United Nations Transitional Administration for this region (UNTAES);

xiii.    to co-operate fully and effectively in the implementation of the Dayton/Paris Agreements for Peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina;

xiv.    to co-operate with, and actively assist, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, in bringing before the tribunal without delay persons indicted for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide;

xv.    to settle outstanding international border disputes according to the principles of international law;

xvi.    to implement the recommendations of Council of Europe experts on legislation relating to the media, such as the law on public information, the law on telecommunications and the law on protection of competition;

xvii.    to continue with the procedure of electing a mayor of Zagreb in accordance with the constitution and the laws of the Republic of Croatia and taking into account the recommendations of the Council of Europe;

xviii.    to pursue reforms with a view to bringing all legislation and practice in line with Council of Europe principles and standards;

xix.    to comply, well before the next elections, with the recommendations made by the election observers of the Council of Europe and other international organisations, in particular with regard to the special voting block for the diaspora, minority representation, voter registration lists, voter anonymity, as well as the need to increase the independence of the state broadcasting corporation (HRT) and to undertake a census of the population as soon as possible;

xx.    to sign and ratify within a year from the time of accession the General Agreement on Privileges and Immunities and its additional protocols;

xxi.    to co-operate fully in the implementation of Assembly Order No. 508 (1995) on the honouring of obligations and commitments by member states of the Council of Europe, as well as in the monitoring process established by virtue of the Committee of Ministers' declaration of 10 November 1994 (95th session).

9.    On the basis of these commitments the Assembly believes that Croatia, in the sense of Article 4 of the Statute of the Council of Europe, is clearly able and willing to fulfil the provisions for membership to the Council of Europe as set forth in Article 3: "Every member of the Council must accept the principles of the rule of law and of the enjoyment by all persons within its jurisdiction of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and collaborate sincerely and effectively in the realisation of the aim of the Council ...".

10.    With a view to ensuring respect for these commitments, the Assembly resolves to monitor closely, and with immediate effect from the day of accession, the situation in Croatia according to its procedure under Order No. 508 (1995).

11.    The Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers, on the basis of the commitments set out above,

i.    invite Croatia to become a member of the Council of Europe;

ii.    allocate five seats to Croatia in the Parliamentary Assembly.

II. Explanatory memorandum

by Mr VAN DER LINDEN

Contents

I.    Introduction

II.    Historical review

    A.    The break-up of the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY)

    B.    Independence and war

III.    The situation in the former UN Protected Areas

    A.    Former Sector West (Western Slavonia)

    B.    Former Sectors North and South (Krajina)

    C.    Former Sector East (Eastern Slavonia)

IV.    Bosnia-Herzegovina

V.    Local and regional democracy

    A.    Istria

    B.    Zagreb

VI.    Human rights issues

    A.    Freedom of the media

    B.    The independence of the judiciary

    C.    The provisional court of human rights

    D.    Co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

VII.    Conclusions

Appendices

I.    Resolution (92) 69 of the Committee of Ministers (10.12.1992)

II.    Conclusions of the report by the legal experts (8.12.1994)

III.    Conclusions of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Elections (30.11.1995)

IV.    List of Council of Europe conventions to which Croatia is a Contracting Party (16.2.1996)

V.    Conclusions of the report of the UN Secretary General (14.2.1996)

VI.    Basic Agreement on Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (12.12.95)

VII.    Joint Statement on the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina (Rome, 18.2.96)

VIII.    Statement by the President of the Security Council (23.2.1996)

IX.    Letter of Foreign Minister Granic and signed list of commitments (15.3.1996)

I. Introduction

  1. Special guest status was requested by the Croatian Parliament (Sabor) on 6 December 1991 and granted by the Bureau of the Assembly on 4 May 1992.

  2. Croatia applied to join the Council of Europe on 11 September 1992. On 10 December 1992 the Committee of Ministers adopted Resolution (92) 69 inviting the Parliamentary Assembly to state its opinion. The Committee of Ministers transmitted the request "in the light of the Croatian authorities' declarations according to which they respect the principle of the inviolability of frontiers, refuse the acquisition of territory by force, as well as any policy of ethnic cleansing, and commit themselves to protecting persons belonging to national minorities and ethnic groups living in Croatia and respecting their rights. Moreover, the Committee of Ministers considers that Croatia must assume responsibility for acts committed by its agents beyond the republic's frontiers" (see Appendix I).

  3. An observer delegation of the Conference (now Congress) of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE) found that the local and regional elections held on 7 February 1993 were generally free, pluralist and democratic.

  4. Croatian involvement in the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina resulted in a delay in the accession procedure. Several motions were tabled proposing that special guest status be withdrawn. The then Speaker of the Croatian Parliament, Mr Stjepan Mesic, admitted in his letter of 15 November 1993 that "the Croatian Sabor is aware of the fact that Croatia should be held responsible to some extent for the acts of Croats in Bosnia-Herzegovina....". It was only following the end of the fighting between Croats and Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the conclusion of the Washington Agreements that the Bureau agreed, in May 1994, to continue the procedure. At the Bureau's request two eminent lawyers, Mr Matscher of the European Court of Human Rights and Mrs Thune of the European Commission on Human Rights, visited Croatia in September 1994. (The conclusions of this report are set out in Appendix II.)

  5. Parliamentary elections were held in Croatia on 29 October 1995. The Assembly's ad hoc committee, which monitored these elections, concluded that "the elections followed democratic rules and, with some reservations, the voting as such can be considered to have been free and fair". However, the ad hoc committee also strongly recommended that certain adjustments be made well before the next elections. (The conclusions of the ad hoc committee are set out in Appendix III.)

  6. At intergovernmental level, Croatia has participated in a political dialogue with the Committee of Ministers, most recently in January 1996. Croatia has acceded to some twenty Council of Europe conventions (see Appendix IV). It continues to co-operate with Council of Europe experts in the preparation of draft legislation in various fields.

  7. To enable a better appreciation of Croatia's situation, the first part of the report gives an historical overview since the break-up of the former Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia in 1991. An assessment of the situation in the former UN Protected Areas is set out next. The situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina _ questions relating to local and regional democracy and an overview of specific human rights issues complete this report. The latter part of the report will be completed by my colleagues, Mr Jansson for the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, and the Earl of Dundee for the Committee on Relations with European Non-Member Countries

  8. Much of the information presented in this report was gathered during my four visits to Croatia, from 15 to 18 January, 13 to 15 June and 7 to 10 December 1995 as well as from 28 February to 1 March 1996. I am grateful to the Croatian authorities for having organised these visits and for having provided me with all information and meetings I requested.

  9. I would also wish to thank the Czech Ambassador to Croatia, Mr Havlin who, as representative of the Bureau of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers, organised many highly useful meetings with his colleagues. I am also indebted to the United Nations representatives for their valuable contributions and logistical assistance.

II. Historical review

A.    The break-up of the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY)

  1. Croatia, with an area of 56 538 square kilometres, had about 4 700 000 inhabitants before the war in 1991. About 78% of them were Croat and 12% ethnic Serb (600 000). Many other minorities are also present, but in relatively small numbers.

  2. About half the Serb population lived in the border ("Krajina") area between Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, which had also been the border between the Habsburg and Ottoman empires. This because in the period following the Serb defeat by the Turks in 1389, many Serbs moved north and were recruited by the Habsburg rulers as border troops.

  3. Apart from in the original Krajina (the mountainous area of Lika and East-Dalmatia), Serbs settled in the Kordum and Banija regions (today also referred to Northern Krajina) as well as in Western and Eastern Slavonia.

  4. Croatia was the second richest and most developed area of the SFRY after Slovenia. It accounted of about one-quarter of the SFRY's GSP (gross social product), and industrial output.

  5. As elsewhere in central and eastern Europe developments in the 1980s led to a revival of _ sometimes extreme _ nationalism within the constituent parts of the SFRY.

  6. Mr Slobodan Milosevic came to power in Belgrade in September 1987 as leader of the Serbian Communist Party. Exploiting the political circumstances of the SFRY at the time, namely a deteriorating economy, an inefficient administration and a population which under Tito had not come to terms with the events of the second world war (because of highly biased historical accounts), he exploited Serb nationalist feelings and fears to put an end to the autonomy of Vojvodina and Kosovo and proclaimed their reunification with Serbia.

  7. In February 1989, Mr Franjo Tudjman, after having become a symbol of national resistance to communism (for which he spent two terms in prison) founded the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ). The party's nationalist platform, and use of old Croatian symbols kindled local Serb fears _ manipulated by Belgrade _ of a revival of the Croatian fascist (Ustasha) state, which had existed during the second world war.

  8. In June 1989, Mr Milosevic delivered a major speech at Kosovo Polje, so mark the 600th anniversary of the battle against the Turks, deliberately leaving open the possibility of armed struggle to achieve Serbian aims. Shortly afterwards, Serbs in Croatia demand their own autonomous province.

  9. These developments resulted in the end of the Yugoslav Communist Party in January 1990 when the Slovenian and Croatian delegations left its 14th Extraordinary Congress.

  10. In spring 1990, the first post-communist elections in Croatia saw the victory of the HDZ and Mr Franjo Tudjman was elected as President. Propaganda from Belgrade and the discriminatory policies as well as a general lack of understanding by the new Croatian authorities of the sensitivities of especially the rural Serb population resulted in violent incidents in the Krajina in August 1990. The Yugoslav National Army (JNA), under Mr Milosevic's control, prevented the Croatian authorities from restoring law and order.

  11. In May 1991, Serb leaders prevented that the Croatian Mr Stjepan Mesic, in accordance with the rotation procedure, became Yugoslav President and Commander-in-Chief of the Yugoslav national army.

B.    Independence and war

  1. The referendum held in Croatia on 19 May 1991 resulted in overwhelming support for independence. The outcome, however, was not accepted by leaders of the local Serb population, who proclaimed the independent "Republic of Serb Krajina" ("RSK) and asked for unification with Serbia.

  2. Croatia declared itself independent on 25 June 1991. Part of the Serb population began an armed rebellion, with the support of the JNA. Heavy fighting broke out in the region of Vukovar as well as in Pakrac. The Yugoslav navy shelled the Croatian coast, including medieval Dubrovnik. The newly-formed Croatian national guard was at an enormous disadvantage vis-ŕ-vis the professional JNA. The siege and the destruction of Vukovar in November 1991 proved to be a grim prelude of what was to follow in the coming years in Bosnia.

  3. Croatia was recognised by Germany on 19 December 1991 and by the other members of the European Union on 15 January 1992. The Union's efforts to obtain a ceasefire, however, proved fruitless. It was the special UN envoy, Mr Cyrus Vance, who obtained an agreement on 3 January 1992. It left about 23% of Croatian territory under control of the "RSK". A United Nations protection force (UNPROFOR) was established which divided the contested territories into four United Nations Protected Areas (UNPAs): Sector North (Northern Krajina); Sector South (Southern Krajina); Sector West (Western Slavonia) and Sector East (Eastern Slavonia).

  4. UNPROFOR was given the following mandate:

a.    supervise the ceasefire;

b.    ensure the demilitarisation of the UNPAs through the withdrawal of the JNA and the Croatian National Guard, as well as the disarmament of local Serb militia;

c.    create the circumstances under which the demographic composition could be returned to pre-war conditions (that is, enable the return of displaced persons);

d.    ensure the safety of the population by UN troops;

e.    supervise the local police;

f.    administer the UNPAs.

  1. Although UNPROFOR managed to obtain a ceasefire and prevent further escalation, it proved unable to carry out the other elements of its mandate as it was not given sufficient means to do so. Although Croatian and JNA forces left, the local Serb militia were not disarmed, and, instead of displaced persons being allowed to return, the remaining Croatian population was forced to leave.

  2. As a result of the fighting and subsequent ethnic cleansing, about 250 000 Croatian displaced persons had to seek refuge in areas under Croatian Government control. Nearly 3 000 persons were listed as missing.

  3. In March 1995, the UN Security Council created the United Nations Confidence Restoration Operation in Croatia (UNCRO) to replace UNPROFOR, at the insistence of the Croatian Government. Successive Croatian military operations, however, put an early end to its mandate.

III. The situation in the former UN Protected Areas

A.    Former Sector West (Western Slavonia)

  1. On 1 May 1995, Croatian forces began operation "Lightning" to retake UNPA Sector West which was concluded on 2 May at 2 p.m. with the surrender of about 600 armed Serbs. This sector was unique in that it contained both Croats and Serbs with a confrontation line running through the middle of the sector. In addition, the municipality of Pakrac was divided in two parts ("Pakrac pocket"). The Croatian army officially did not have forces in the area, although it must be noted that its special police are indistinguishable from regular army elite units. The Serbs did keep armed units in the UNPA. The Zagreb-Lipovac motorway was controlled by Serbs.

  2. On 2 and 3 May, the "RSK" forces fired several rockets carrying cluster bombs on Zagreb, killing nine people and wounding nearly 200. Other Croatian towns such as Sisak, Karlovac, Novska, Nova Gradiska, Zupanja and Dubrovnik were shelled. The Croatian Government showed great restraint by not taking any retaliatory action.

  3. About 11 000 civilians (according to ICRC data) left Western Slavonia in order to seek refuge in northern Bosnia and in Sector East. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) which helped with the transport of many of these people was criticised for having acted too soon and having in fact contributed to an _ unwanted _ ethnic cleansing of Western Slavonia. Mr Akashi, the then Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, stressed that the UN agencies had been under enormous pressure from the "RSK" authorities, which threatened further attacks on Zagreb, to assist the Serb population in leaving the area.

  4. Only about 1 400 Serbs now remain in the area, mostly elderly people. According to the UN, unemployment is close to 100%. The question of the return of those who left is discussed below.

B.    Former UN Sectors North and South (Krajina)

  1. Following operation "Storm" (4-7 August 1995), most of the Serb population left the area. While their exact number is disputed, it would appear that around 190 000 people are concerned. It has been alleged that they were driven out by Croat forces, while the Croatian Government contends that this mass exodus had been carefully planned by local Serb leaders, who also threatened to use force in case of non-compliance. Most refugees are now in the Former Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) (FRY) and in Sector East.

  2. Although it is impossible to determine the exact cause, a mix of the above factors is likely. When speaking to a Serb refugee who had returned to the area, the rapporteurs were told that she had initially left "because everyone else did so".

  3. While the exact responsibility of the Croatian authorities for the departure of the Serb population is thus unclear, the human rights situation in the area following the military action has been the object of strong international criticism. This criticism is, inter alia, contained in reports of the United Nations Secretary General (Doc. A/50/648 of October 1995), the report of the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the situation of human rights in the territory of the former Yugoslavia, Mrs Elisabeth Rehn (Doc. A/50/727 of 7 November 1995), as well as in the report on refugees, displaced persons and reconstruction in certain countries of the former Yugoslavia prepared by Mrs Robert and Mr Iwinski on behalf of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography (Doc. 7440 of 19 December 1995).

  4. In her report, Mrs Rehn noted cases of killing of (more than 120) Serb civilians, ill-treatment by Croatian soldiers, policemen as well as civilians, as well as massive burning and looting of houses belonging to the Serbian population which had fled. She also referred to the occupation of houses belonging to the Serbian population and, in some cases, eviction of Serbs residing there.

  5. These findings were confirmed by UN representatives in Zagreb, representatives of the Serb minority as well as by the Croatian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights.

  6. Most of the houses the rapporteur saw in the area were either totally destroyed (in the case of Croatian villages) or had been burnt and looted (in Serbian villages). Several Catholic churches and cemeteries damaged following events in 1991 were also observed.

  7. Although certain Orthodox churches (such as in Knin) were intact, UN observers have reported cases of destruction. The UN estimates that about 75% of all homes in the area have been destroyed. The whole area seemed deserted. The above impressions were confirmed by a fact-finding visit made on behalf of the Committee on Culture and Education (see AS/Cult/AA (1995) 13).

  8. President Tudjman and Foreign Minister Granic have admitted that criminal acts had taken place in the wake of operation "Storm". According to President Tudjman, many of these had been carried out by Serb terrorist groups while Foreign Minister Granic admitted that revenge acts by returning Croatian displaced persons had taken place, in addition to ordinary criminal acts. It was pointed out that the area, because of its geography and infrastructure, was difficult to control. However, the rapporteur considers that access to the region could have been blocked relatively easily.

  9. Assurances were given by the Croatian authorities that offenders were being brought to justice. However, despite repeated requests for details, only figures were given (for instance that 1 005 persons had been indicted). United Nations representatives in Zagreb stated that they were not given the possibility to verify any of these claims. In his report of 14 February 1996 (5/1996/109) (see Appendix V), the UN Secretary General noted that only figures had been produced, but no information on whether any convictions have resulted from criminal proceedings. Human rights organisations claim that in fact no prosecutions are taking place.

  10. The rapporteur considers it essential that in the light of the very serious human rights violations, which as such are not contested by the Croatian authorities, full clarification, including communication of the names of those charged, be provided on the prosecution of the suspected perpetrators. The Croatian Government was and is responsible for the safety of persons and property in the areas brought back under its control. Clearly, not enough was done to prevent criminal acts. Assurances that the situation is now under control should continue to be monitored.

  11. The UN estimate that about 9 000 Serbs remain in the area. The Croatian authorities stressed that their safety was now guaranteed and that they were being given proper assistance. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has registered these people individually. Their average age is over 70 and most are living in isolated homes. As the area is virtually empty, the social fabric has disappeared. People are totally dependent on assistance.

  12. The Croatian authorities stressed that Serbs are welcome to return, but only on an individual basis. From discussions with President Tudjman it became clear that the question of return of Serb refugees is being linked to the return of Croatian displaced persons to Eastern Slavonia. This position was criticised by members of the Croatian opposition parties, who consider the right to return to be a basic human right which should not be arbitrarily restricted. The rapporteur, too, finds it unacceptable that the return of people to their homes, as well as the exercise of their rights to property be in any way made dependent on other developments. On the contrary, conditions should be created for a return of the Serb population. Confidence-building measures also at grass-root level are indispensable.

  13. At the time of writing, about 2 000 Serbs had been allowed to return, while some 2 500 requests, according to the Croatian authorities, were pending. Particular reference should be made to the Kuplensko refugee camp (near the town of Vojnic) where, for many months, followers of Bosnian rebel leader, Fikret Abdic, have been living under inhuman conditions by the side of the road. Foreign Minister Granic assured the rapporteur on 1 March 1996 that a solution had been found in co-operation with the Bosnian authorities and UNHCR, and that the problem would be resolved within one month.

C.    Former Sector East (Eastern Slavonia)

  1. On 12 November 1995, at Erdut, an agreement was reached between the Croatian Government and a Serb negotiating delegation on the peaceful reintegration of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium. (The text of this agreement is contained in Appendix V). This is the only area which, for the time being, has not yet been brought back under Croatian Government control.

  2. It is clear that the local Serbs accepted the agreement to avoid an imminent Croatian military attack, and under pressure from Belgrade.

  3. The basic agreement invited the United Nations Security Council to establish a UN transitional administration, for a period of maximum twenty-four months, after which the region will be fully reintegrated into Croatia.

  4. The Security Council established the "United Nations Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (UNTAES)" on 15 January 1996 by Resolution 1037. The UN Secretary General subsequently appointed Mr Jacques Klein of the United States as Transitional Administrator.

  5. UNTAES has both a military and a civilian component. The military component for which a total of 5 000 troops (Jordanian, Pakistanian and Ukrainian battalions to join the Belgian and Russian troops already present) is foreseen, has the following mandate:

a.    to supervise and facilitate the voluntary demilitarisation;

b.    to monitor the voluntary and safe return of refugees and displaced persons;

c.    to maintain peace and security;

d.    otherwise to assist in the implementation of the agreement.

  1. Under Resolution 1037, demilitarisation shall be completed within thirty days from the date the Secretary General informs the Security Council that the military components of UNTAES has been deployed fully. Mr Klein expects that demilitarisation could begin early May. The military component is currently being deployed and will be under the command of Belgian General Schoups.

  2. Close co-operation with IFOR has already been established and Nato close air support will be available if necessary.

  3. The civilian component has the following mandate:

a.    to establish a temporary police force, including a training programme and to monitor treatment of offenders, and the prison system;

b.    to act as civil administration;

c.    to assure the functioning of public services;

d.    to facilitate the return of refugees;

e.    to organise elections, assist in their conduct and certify the results;

f.    to assist with regard to the developments and economic reconstruction of the region.

  1. This work is to be carried out through a number of functional implementation committees, some of which have already become operational:

a.    a joint committee on police, to consist of 150 Croatian Serb and 150 Croatian policemen, to be trained in Budapest and Vienna;

b.    a joint committee on agriculture;

c.    a joint committee on health.

  1. A committee on the return of refugees and a human rights committee will be established next. The human rights committee is to assume a human rights monitoring task and to ensure appropriate liaison with the Council of Europe's human rights bodies. The Transitional Administrator, Mr Klein, has expressed a keen interest in having Council of Europe representation on this committee, for instance through the secondment of an official by a member state.

  2. Elections will be scheduled for mid-1997. The modalities are still to be decided. The Council of Europe, and in particular the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, could be of assistance in this respect.

  3. There can be no doubt that UNTAES will ensure that the Erdut Agreement will be implemented fully.

    Local Serb authorities

  1. Following the end of the so-called "RSK", local Serb authority is exercised by an executive council consisting of the (elected) mayors of the five municipalities in the region. Their main representative is Mr Milan Milanovic, who signed the Basic Agreement of 12 November 1995. There can be little doubt however, as evidenced by the omnipresence of his portrait, that real authority lies with President Milosevic in Belgrade.

  2. The local Serb authorities claim that around 200 000 people live in the area, 80 000 of whom are refugees. Some 20 000 non-Serbs are said to remain. It should be noted that these figures are disputed by the Croatian authorities. In the absence of a census, it is impossible to verify any claims at present _ UNTAES intends to carry out a "population survey", for which the Council of Europe will provide assistance, in order to get a clearer picture.

  3. No difficulties were expected as regards demilitarisation itself, although this would result in a sharp increase in unemployment. Moreover, it was stressed that continuous international pressure needed to be exercised on both sides in order to enable both Serbs and Croats to return to their homes. Events in former UN Sectors North and South after the Croatian operations in August had increased the fears of the Serb population about their future after reintegration with Croatia.

  4. None of the Serb leaders were willing to answer the rapporteur's question whether they would accept to live again under Croatian law. However, they all insisted that their aim was to enable their people to stay.

  5. The rapporteur also met with local Serb representatives in Vukovar. A visit to the city will leave no-one untouched. It is utterly destroyed and apparently no effort has been made in the past four years to carry out any reconstruction or serious repairs. The UN are currently investigating reports on mass graves both in and near the city. The local Serb leaders portrayed the Serb side as the exclusive victims of the conflict and voiced, indirectly, misgivings about the basic agreement.

    Croatian authorities

  1. The Mayor of Osijek, a city on the frontline, which was heavily shelled in past years, resulting in some 1 000 casualities, indicated support for cultural autonomy of the Serb population in the region following reintegration. If this support were also given at governmental level, this would send a positive signal. He furthermore expressed his belief that not all Croatian displaced persons were likely to want to return to the area, since many of them have meanwhile settled elsewhere.

  2. According to Foreign Minister Granic, President Milosevic explicitly assured President Tudjman at the Rome meetings on 17 and 18 February 1996 of his support for the peaceful reintegration of Eastern Slavonia. The Croatian Government expects that after demilitarisation Bosnian Serbs and Serbs from Serbia will return to their countries of origin, while the majority of Croatian Serbs will want to stay in the area or return to their homes in other parts of Croatia.

  3. The situation in Eastern Slavonia is the acid test of relations between Zagreb and Belgrade. It is also a potential time-bomb under the Dayton Agreement. It will be extremely difficult to reassure the Serb population to remain in the area because of its deep mistrust and fear of the Croatian authorities. In order to restore such confidence, and create conditions enabling the return of the Croatian displaced persons to the area, the Croatian Government should take urgent measures to facilitate and accelerate the return of Croatian Serbs to their homes in other parts of Croatia. A general amnesty of former combatants, not suspected of war crimes, would also be a very positive sign. Council of Europe member states could make an immediate contribution by responding favourably to the wish of the Transitional Administrator to make staff available.

IV. Bosnia-Herzegovina
  1. Although a formal alliance, and several agreements were concluded between Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina in July 1992, the situation on the ground between Bosnian Croats and Muslims rapidly deteriorated. A bitter war ensued, dramatically symbolised by the destruction of Mostar and its world famous Old Bridge. The Bosnian Croats proclaimed their own state of Herceg-Bosna. This entity was mainly supported by the Croats living in Herzegovina and to a much lesser extent by Croats living elsewhere in Bosnia, was favoured co-operation with the Muslims.

  2. These events gave rise to grave concern in our Assembly. The fear was voiced that a deal had been made between Croatia and Serbia to divide Bosnia. The Assembly joined most western governments to put pressure on both sides to end this conflict. The realisation by both parties that the Serbs were the main problem, as well as a desire not to alienate the West resulted in two separate agreements signed in March 1994 in Washington. One established a Confederation between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia. The second set up a Croatian-Muslim Federation within Bosnia-Herzegovina itself. Whereas the Confederation essentially envisaged closer co-operation between two independent states, the second created a complex federal system based on Swiss-style cantons.

  3. Difficulties in the implementation of the agreements were said by the Croatian Government to be the result of the existence of two entities, namely the republic and the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

  4. As a result of the combined offensive of "RSK" and Bosnian forces against the Bihac enclave in July 1995, an agreement was signed by President Tudjman of Croatia, President Izetbegovic of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Mr Zubac, President of the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina on 22 July 1995. Military assistance by Croatia and co-operation between the Croatian army, the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the (Bosnian-Croat) Croatian Defence Council (HVO) were established.

    The Dayton Agreement

  1. The Dayton Agreement were finally made possible by a reversal of Serb military successes on the ground. The Croatian army's operations, in particular around Bihac, played an important part in bringing these about. In addition, while the international community's mediation efforts were long unsuccessful, the sanctions against Belgrade did work. The United States, finally, was instrumental in seizing the opportunity and bringing about the actual agreement.

  2. The federation structure established by the Washington Agreement was substantially modified by the Dayton Agreement on Implementing the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was concluded on 10 November 1995. President Tudjman signed the agreement, which states that "the President of the Republic of Croatia endorses the provisions of this agreement and shall assist in its full implementation". The agreement provides, inter alia, that the existing civilian authorities and their organs in the federation controlled by the HVO (Bosnian-Croat Defence Council) must now transfer all their functions to the federation organs and be dissolved. An annex to the agreement sets out agreed principles for the interim statute for the city of Mostar.

  3. Considerable difficulties have resulted in the implementation of this agreement. These were most clearly demonstrated by the attack, in February, on Mr Koschnick, the European Union Administrator in Mostar.

  4. These problems led to a joint statement on the federation issued in Rome on 18 February 1996 (see Appendix VII), signed also by President Tudjman.

  5. According to the Croatian Government this agreement resolved the Mostar issue to the satisfaction of all parties concerned. There are, however, indications that various problems and tensions remain. The effective assistance of the Croatian Government, in implementing these agreements, should be part of the Assembly's monitoring procedure under Order No. 508.

V. Local and regional democracy

A.    Istria

  1. Istria is a peninsula, part of which is Slovenian territory, situated in north-western Croatia. It has a population of about 200 000 with around 27 000 ethnic Italians making up the largest minority.

  2. During the local and regional elections in February 1993, the local Istrian Democratic Alliance (IDS) took no less than 72% of votes.

  3. The IDS campaigns for greater autonomy thus is strongly opposed by President Tudjman's ruling HDZ Party, which has depicted the alliance as "enemies of the people".

  4. Apart from cultural and minority issues, finance seems to play a major role in the dispute between the Istrian authorities and central government. Under the former SFRY Istria, which is a major tourist region, kept 40% of its revenues. Today it is allowed only 9%. This is said to have caused a noticeable drop in living standards.

  5. In 1994, the Croatian Government introduced proceedings before the Constitutional Court to repeal thirty-six out of eighty provisions of the statute of the County of Istria. On 2 February 1995, the Constitutional Court repealed eighteen out of the thirty-six challenged provisions.

  6. The Istrian County Assembly claims that this decision considerably restricts the acquired rights of members of the Italian community, in particular the right to use their own language.

  7. The Croatian Government has denied that the rights of the Italian minority have in any way been narrowed. The Constitutional Court in its decision points out that the County is not a unit of local self-government and as such its Assembly could not regulate the use of languages. It added that its decision did not affect the existence, extent or exercise of the rights which the Italian minority enjoyed under the constitution and under the Osimo Treaty between Italy and the former SFRY, to which Croatia had committed itself as a legal successor to the former SFRY. However the court also noted that the use of minority language is yet to be regulated by law. In view of the Croatian Government's commitments as regards minorities, already cited above, and its commitment to study with a view to its future ratification the European Charter on Region or Minority Languages, this law should be drafted in conformity with Council of Europe standards.

  8. The debate between Istria and the Croatian Government is to a large degree about questions of centralisation and regional autonomy. However, it provides the Croatian Government with an opportunity to demonstrate in particular, also to the Serbs who left the country, its commitment to minority rights. As inter-ethnic relations in Istria itself are excellent, the area could thus be a very useful show-case.

B.    Zagreb

  1. Regional elections and municipal elections in Zagreb (held together with the national legislative election on 29 October 1995) were made necessary by the merger of the city region of Zagreb with another region around the city. A new, complex statute resulted with two assemblies, one for the municipality of Zagreb and one for the Greater Zagreb Region.

  2. At the same time, the Mayor of Zagreb is also the Prefect (Zupan) of the Zagreb Region. As such, his election was subject to confirmation by the President. The local elections resulted in a majority of (national) opposition parties. President Tudjman twice refused to confirm mayors elected by the Municipal Council and on 4 March appointed a member of his own party as mayor. As the President's appointee, however, has to be accepted by the Municipal Council, a stalemate has ensued which, apparently, can only be resolved by new elections.

  3. The Bureau of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe of the Council of Europe expressed profound concern about local democracy in Croatia during a meeting on 26 February 1996. It said that the Croatian President's actions were "a flagrant contradiction of the principles of pluralistic democracy and local autonomy upheld by the Council of Europe, especially as the only possible reason for the action was a political affiliation". This statement was based on a report, following a fact-finding visit to Croatia in January 1996, which also draws attention to other problems of local and regional democracy, in particular the inadequacy of legislation defining the respective competences of city mayors and government prefects.

  4. The problems relating to the appointment of the Zagreb Mayor, and the general concern for this by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, especially if taken in conjunction with the criticism voiced by the Council of Europe election observers show that new legislation, and change in practice, are necessary. However, these reforms are likely to be brought about more rapidly and more effectively if Croatia were a member of the Council of Europe and thus also subjected to monitoring by both the Assembly and the Committee of Ministers.

VI. Human rights issues

A.    Freedom of the media

  1. The Public Information Act was adopted in 1992. In accordance with its provisions, a council of the protection of the freedom of the mass media was established in January 1995. A new act on the freedom of public information is currently being prepared after the 1992 act was declared invalid by the Constitutional Court in late 1995. The government said that Council of Europe assistance would be appreciated, but apparently no formal request has so far been made. It is also unclear when the new act will be adopted, although this will have to be done by 1 July 1996.

  2. There has been much international criticism of the state-run Croatian television (HTV) which has a monopoly on nation-wide broadcasts. The law on telecommunications was adopted in July 1994, but it appears that advice of Council of Europe experts on certain essential points was not taken into account. Tenders were invited for establishing new radio and television stations both at national and at local levels. Due to numerous complaints, one round of invitations will have to be repeated. At the time of writing, questions remained as to the fair distribution of frequencies. A number of (illegal) radio and television stations, with pro-government tendency, have been tolerated, while independent stations were told to stop broadcasting.

  3. According to a report, prepared by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) _ International Federation of Newspaper Publishers (FIEJ) Co-ordinating Centre for Independent Media of the Balkan Region in 1995, there were over 1 100 newspapers and magazines on the Croatian market. They were considered relatively free. However, few are considered independent of the influence of the government or the ruling party. Moreover, complaints were received from the Alternative Information Network (AIM) which was accused by President Tudjman of being "yugo-nostalgic" and therefore "enemies of the people".

  4. In his special report on the media, the then special rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights, Mr Mazowiecki, in December 1994, criticised the tendency of the media in Croatia to distort reality. The state monopoly of Croatian television, and the virtual monopolies on the distribution of the printed media and or printing itself were also cited as serious problems.

  5. The rapporteur has received reliable information that there has been no marked improvement in the situation since. Cases of intimidation and harassment of journalists also continue to be reported.

  6. There thus remains cause for concern. The Croatian authorities should, also through the monitoring process, be urged to work sincerely with the Council of Europe in order to resolve existing difficulties and to effectively guarantee free and pluralistic media.

B.    The independence of the judiciary

  1. The Croatian Constitution, which guarantees the separation of powers, foresees the establishment of a state council of judges, to safeguard the independence and the appointment of judges (which are appointed for life-terms). The election procedure and specific competence of the State Council are regulated by a special law adopted in 1993. It is the application of this law which has been subject of much criticism.

  2. In 1994, the Upper House of Parliament (Chamber of Counties) proposed a list, which was subsequently adopted without changes by the House of Representatives. It would appear that the Upper House adopted the list of candidates proposed by an informal committee set up by the President, and ignored the proposals made by the Supreme Court, the Bar Association, the Association of Judges and of the Ministry of Justice.

  3. The Presidents of the Constitutional Court and of the Bar Association, without challenging the formal legality of the procedure, expressed doubts about qualifications of the candidates appointed by parliament.

  4. These concerns appear to have been justified in the light of subsequent events. On two occasions, namely on 15 February and 29 March 1995 the Constitutional Court had to intervene to annul a decision taken by the State Council of Judges for being unconstitutional.

  5. The conflict as the very top of the Croatian legal system is unlikely to generate much confidence in the functioning of judiciary. It also raises doubts about the separation of powers in Croatia. These doubts were confirmed by representatives of the opposition parties during meetings in December 1995.

  6. The rapporteur recalls that an independent judiciary is a cornerstone of the rule of law, and expects the Croatian authorities to take their commitments in this respect seriously.

C.    The constitutional law on human rights and freedoms and the rights of national and ethnic communities or minorities (1991)

    a.    The rights of national and ethnic communities or minorities

  1. As a result of the massive departure of Serbs from Croatia following the military operations last year, several provisions of the constitutional law have been suspended on the ground that the demographic criteria are no longer met. These concern in particular proportional participation in elected and other bodies, and districts with special self-governing status.

  2. As the law was intended as a confidence-building measure towards the Serb population, the question arises whether it could usefully be applied in Eastern Slavonia, the only area where the demographic criteria might still apply. The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights has asked the European Commission for Democracy through Law (the "Venice Commission") for an expert opinion on the application of the constitutional law. This opinion is expected before end of April 1996.

    b.    The provisional court of human rights

  1. The constitutional law, following European Community proposals, foresees the creation of a provisional court of human rights, with a president and two out of four members to be nominated by the European Community.

  2. The government decided only in April 1995 to initiate the establishment of the court. The reason given for the delay was that the law could not be implemented in the territories outside government control. However, no progress was made, and the Croatian authorities have now also requested the advice of the Venice Commission on this part of the law. It would appear, however, that the official position is that such a court will become superfluous once Croatia joins the Council of Europe.

D.    Co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

  1. Following the recent transfer of a Bosnian Croat (HVO) general, Timohir Blaskic, indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at The Hague, to a post within the Croatian army, the rapporteur strongly insisted during his meeting with President Tudjman that the Croatian authorities co-operate fully with The Hague Tribunal. Failure to do so would create a serious obstacle to Council of Europe accession. The Croatian Parliament is currently discussing a law which enables the extradition of Croat citizens to the ICTY. Once adopted, it should be implemented forthwith.

VII. Conclusions
  1. Croatia became the victim of armed aggression in 1991. The war led to a widespread destruction, symbolised by Vukovar, and hundreds of thousands of Croats became displaced persons in their own country.

  2. Although the international community recognised Croatia, and its international borders, it failed to provide UNPROFOR with the means to fulfil its mandate and enable the Croatian displaced persons to return to their homes.

  3. Croatia's involvement in the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina until early 1994, and then in 1995 the events in Western Slavonia and former UN Sectors North and South (the so-called Krajina) delayed the procedure for admission to the Council of Europe.

  4. Parliamentary and presidential elections were held in October 1995. Our Assembly's observers considered them, with some reservations, to have been free and fair.

  5. Criticism has been voiced, inter alia, as regards the freedom of the media, the treatment of minorities in general, and the position of the judiciary. However, it must be noted that all political parties, as well as representatives of NGOs and the independent media expressed themselves clearly in favour of Croatia's accession to the Council of Europe. Membership is widely considered to constitute the best guarantee against infringements of democratic rules and violations of human rights. It is also seen as a boost to the democratic forces in Croatia that favour integration into Europe.

  6. The rapporteur shares this position. Clearly, all is not yet perfect in Croatia but the same held true for a number of other countries which were recently admitted to our Organisation. As in these cases, a credit of confidence would be justified on the basis of clear commitments entered into and a number of positive steps to be taken. Commitments, and other obligations resulting from accession, should be intensively monitored and an extensive assistance and co-operation programme should be established.

  7. Eastern Slavonia is the only former UN Protected Area which has not yet been brought back under Croatian Government control. It is essential that Croatia fully respects the Erdut Agreement and refrains from any military operation in the area. Strict observance of the Dayton Agreement, and the recent Rome declarations, is of equal importance. The extent of Croatian control over the Bosnian-Croat leadership can hardly be overestimated. The Federation, the lynch-pin of the Dayton Agreement, must be made to work. Furthermore, there should be immediate and full co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague.

  8. Refugees and displaced persons must be allowed to their homes. This should apply to all Croatian citizens, irrespective of their ethnic origin. So far, the return of Serb refugees to their homes in Western Slavonia and former UN Sectors North and South is proceeding far too slowly. This is also stressed in the Statement by the President of the Security Council of 23 February 1996 (see Appendix VIII). The Croatian Government should accelerate this process, which must, necessarily, be accompanied by confidence-building measures, to include the following.

  9. An amnesty for all former combatants, not suspected of war crimes, would certainly reduce fears and be regarded as a positive step. The safety of the Serb population must be guaranteed and police protection is to be demonstably improved. Moreover, the names of those charged with crimes committed following the military operations in former Sectors North and South should be made public and international observers should be enabled to monitor the trials.

  10. The return of Serbs refugees to their homes is also in Croatia's interest in that it would restore the social fabric in areas which are presently virtually deserted, and also, and this applies in particular to Eastern Slavonia, enable Croatian displaced persons to return home.

  11. In the final analysis the key to peace and stability in the region lies in the normalisation of relations between Zagreb and Belgrade. Mutual recognition between Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) is a pre-condition of such normalisation. Any recognition of Belgrade by the international community should be made dependent on this.

  12. Integrating Croatia firmly into Europe would make a substantial contribution to the success of the Dayton Agreement and to peace and stability in the former Yugoslavia.

APPENDIX I

Request for an opinion from the Committee of Ministers to the Assembly on the accession of Croatia to the Council of Europe

Resolution (92) 69 on Croatia

(Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 10 December 1992 at the 484bis meeting of the Ministers' Deputies)

    The Committee of Ministers,

    Recalling its decision, taken at its 8th Session in May 1951, to consult the Parliamentary Assembly before inviting a state to become a member or associate member of the Council of Europe in accordance with the provisions of the Statute;

    Considering that the Government of the Republic of Croatia has expressed, in its letter of 11 September 1992 to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, the wish to be invited to join the Council of Europe, and has declared itself willing to respect the principles laid down in Article 3 of the Statute;

    Having taken note with satisfaction of the Republic of Croatia's interest in joining the Organisation,

    Invites the Parliamentary Assembly to state its opinion on this matter and brings the following considerations to the attention of the Assembly at this stage:

    First of all, the Committee of Ministers considers that Croatia may join the Organisation as soon as the conditions laid down in the Statute, that is implementation of the principles of pluralist parliamentary democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law, have been satisfied. This implies that the legislative and judicial systems of the country would have to conform to the principles of the rule of law.

    The Committee of Ministers transmits this request for accession to the Assembly, in the light of the Croatian authorities' declarations according to which they respect the principle of the inviolability of frontiers, refuse the acquisition of territory by force, as well as any policy of ethnic cleansing, and commit themselves to protecting persons belonging to national minorities and ethnic groups living in Croatia and respecting their rights. Moreover, the Committee of Ministers considers that Croatia must assume responsibility for acts committed by its agents beyond the republic's frontiers.

    In his letter dated 11 September 1992, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Croatia indicated that Croatia would be prepared, like any other member state, to become party to the European Convention on Human Rights. The Committee of Ministers took note

with satisfaction of this intention and expects of the Government of Croatia that it will express its intention to recognise the right of individual petition and the compulsory jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights. The Republic of Croatia would thus have to give practical effect to the obligations under the Convention at the various levels of the administration, and with respect to all constituent elements of its population.

    The Committee of Ministers accordingly affirms its willingness to deepen its dialogue with the Croatian authorities and intensify the support provided through its co-operation and assistance programmes, with a view to facilitating and accelerating Croatia's transition to democracy, and enabling it to join the Council of Europe as soon as possible.

APPENDIX II

VI. Conclusions

    The experts recognise the considerable efforts made by the Croatian authorities to establish a democratic legal order following the break-up of the former Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia.

    The legislation considered (constitution, other constitutional laws, ordinary laws) is essentially consistent with the principles of parliamentary democracy, protection of fundamental rights and rights of minorities and the rule of law.

    While such legislation is a necessary precondition, it is not in itself sufficient to conclude that the legal order complies with the "rule of law" principle.

    This pertains not only to legal texts, but equally to their effective implementation through institutions providing supervision and redress. The citizen must be given adequate and operational legal safeguards.

    It follows from the report that the experts have found that there still are a number of shortcomings as regards the implementation of basic human rights principles. They have, however, not been able to agree when it comes to assessing to what extent the rule of law is actually established in Croatia and the conclusions to be drawn from those shortcomings that have been identified.

    Mr Matscher recalls that these shortcomings are set out in detail in Chapters III/3/a, II/4/b, IV/2/b, IV/3/a, b, c, f, g and V/4 above. He does not find it necessary to repeat them in extenso in his conclusions. The shortcomings in question are more or less directly related to, and a consequence of, the previous war in Croatia and the still unresolved conflicts in the region (military occupation of part of Croatia, ongoing military operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina) and have to be seen in that light.

    All possible support should be given to efforts towards a peaceful permanent solution of these conflicts. Until such a solution is obtained, the full enjoyment of fundamental rights will be permanently at risk.

    He concludes that, taking account of the general situation and even considering the various shortcomings mentioned above _ without ignoring them, but also without overrating them _ the legal order of the Republic of Croatia can be said to be in conformity with the standards of the Council of Europe.

    Mrs Thune recalls that the report refers to a number of shortcomings in the practical implementation of basic human rights principles which give rise to concern, and would in particular refer to the following:

1.    The continuing eviction by state authorities of persons from their flats without sufficient legal protection

    Forced evictions are still taking place. The legal situation of the parties involved is in dispute and the remedies available seem inadequate to provide sufficient legal protection and redress. The methods applied seem to be particularly harsh; persons concerned are reportedly being ill-treated and their furniture thrown into the street or confiscated. Even if the legal procedures are followed according to the domestic law of Croatia, there may still remain a question as to the conformity of the whole practice with the requirements of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, in particular, whether it is compatible with the very concept of respect for home and whether the principle of proportionality is observed. It seems to be an important task for the Croatian Government to clarify the factual and legal aspects of these evictions in order to bring the situation under control.

2.    Lack of freedom of expression and independence of the media

    This appears to be one of the most fundamental human rights problems still existing in Croatia. Substantial material is available disclosing serious allegations of intimidation and suspected manipulations by state authorities as well as extensive state control over the electronic media. As a democracy cannot flourish without free and independent media, the government should take active steps to secure compliance with the principles of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

3.    Lack of prosecution of acts committed against persons of Serbian nationality

    It is being reported through various sources that the judiciary does not provide effective protection of Serbs subjected to crime. Allegations of impunity include serious offences against life and limb as well as against property.

    In their efforts to establish respect for and compliance with the "rule of law" principle, the Croatian Government should investigate any shortcomings in the prosecution of crimes committed against persons of Serbian nationality and provide the necessary disciplinary or other measures against those responsible.

4.    Differential treatment of members of ethnic minorities

    Although the efforts to grant far-reaching rights to ethnic minorities should be appreciated, one may question the reasonableness of the preferential treatment given to Croatian nationals in the legislation concerning acquisition of citizenship and the methods adopted for the election of representatives of minorities to parliament and local self-governing bodies.

5.    Arbitrary detention is still being reported inter alia by international organisations. The Croatian authorities would be well advised to investigate any serious allegation of this kind and take the appropriate measures.

6.    Lack of effective protection of conscientious objectors

    This problem is most recently described in the last report by the UN Special Rapporteur who refers to allegations that Croatians born in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Bosnian refugees have been singled out for forced recruitment, that criminal prosecutions take place against such persons who refuse to be mobilised in particular for fear of being compelled to fight in Bosnia-Herzegovina, that there are some difficulties for conscientious objectors to meet the deadlines for alternative service, that applications for conscientious objection do not suspend mobilisation, and that there have been some cases of ill-treatment and humiliation of conscripts of Serbian nationality.

    Having regard to the number and seriousness of deficiencies in the implementation of basic human rights principles mentioned above, Mrs Thune finds it difficult to conclude that the "rule of law" has been fully established in Croatia.

    Of additional concern is the unresolved conflict in the area, notably within the Serbian occupied parts of Croatian territory. All possible support should be given to the efforts, on national and international level, aiming at a peaceful solution.

    As long as the present situation persists, however, the full enjoyment of fundamental rights will be constantly at risk. It would thus, in her opinion, be premature to conclude that the appropriate human rights standard is presently being met.

APPENDIX III

V. Conclusions

46.    Preliminary unofficial results of the elections can be found in Appendix III.

47.    As far as we could judge, the elections followed democratic rules and, with some reservations, the voting as such can be considered to have been free and fair (see also in Appendix IV the press release distributed on the day following the elections by the ad hoc committee).

48.    Moreover, the Central Electoral Commission and the Constitutional Court have played an important role as guarantors of fairness and impartiality during the electoral campaign, as admitted by opposition parties.

49.    However, there are grounds for concern in the following respects, concerning mainly the pre-electoral stage (electoral law and electoral campaign), as well as voter anonymity:

    _    In every democracy the laws deciding the rules and procedures of the elections are crucial elements of the democratic process. Even if the amendments of the electoral law were within the framework of the constitution, it cannot be considered to be in the true spirit of democracy to decide on major changes of the electoral law extremely hastily and without any real attempt to consult and seek consensus and compromises in parliament. It is vital to try to obtain confidence for the election process from all sectors of society. The speed with which the amendments of the electoral law were passed meant a regrettable loss of confidence-building opportunities.

    _    The creation of a special voting block for the diaspora was heavily criticised by the opposition as an improper way to favour the ruling party. Since the special character of the provisions also may be of great concern for Bosnia-Herzegovina, decisions on this issue should not have been made prior to national and international consultations. This applies also to the decision to reduce the seats reserved for the Serbian minority from thirteen to three.

    _    The impartiality of the state-controlled radio-TV company (HRT) was questioned during the campaign. In some cases the Central Electoral Commission and, at final instance, the Constitutional Court made rulings against HRT decisions regarding what to broadcast. In order to gain confidence, it is recommended to increase the independence of the HRT vis-ŕ-vis the government.

    _    The right of a citizen to a secret vote was not adequately guaranteed. Voter anonymity was threatened in various ways: in general, due to lack of acceptable arrangements in the polling stations to guarantee secrecy of the vote and, in particular, with regard to minority members as has been shown above. Taking all the observed problems with voter anonymity into consideration there was an obvious risk that many voters did not feel that they could vote freely since they were not quite sure of the guarantees for the secrecy of their vote.

    _    The war in the former Yugoslavia, including Croatia, affected the election in many ways. Thus, the Croatian authorities have been faced with considerable difficulties in their work to get a complete and adequate register of all persons with the right to vote. We expect that the 1996 census will bring about better conditions for making registers of voters in the coming election.

50.    In view of all the above, we strongly recommend that the comments made by election observers on the elections in Croatia and on the election procedures are immediately taken into due consideration by the Croatian authorities in order to bring about needed adjustments well in advance before the next elections in Croatia. It is our hope that there will be a systematic survey of all experiences from the 1995 elections in Croatia. Such a survey has to be made immediately in order to give time for consultations to reach a consensus on a revised election law.

APPENDIX IV

16.2.1996

List of Council of Europe conventions to which Croatia is a Contracting Party

Date        No.

27.1.93    15        European Convention on the Equivalence of Diplomas Leading to Admission to Universities

27.1.93    18        European Cultural Convention

27.1.93    21        European Convention on the Equivalence of Periods of University Study

27.1.93    32        European Convention on the Academic Recognition of University Qualifications

27.1.93    49        Protocol to the European Convention on the Equivalence of Diplomas Leading to Admission to Universities

27.1.93    66        European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage

27.1.93    69        European Agreement on Continued Payment of Scholarships to Students Studying Abroad

27.1.93    120        European Convention on Spectator Violence and Misbehaviour at Sports Events in particular at Football Matches

27.1.93    121        Convention for the Protection of the Architectural Heritage of Europe

14.9.94    41        Convention on the Liability of Hotel-Keepers concerning the Property of their Guests

14.9.94    50        Convention on the Elaboration of a European Pharmacopoeia

14.9.94    51        European Convention on the Supervision of Conditionally Sentenced or Conditionally Released Offenders

14.9.94    87        European Convention for the Protection of Animals kept for Farming Purposes

14.9.94    88        European Convention on the international effects of Deprivation of the Right to Drive a Motor Vehicle

14.9.94    102        European Convention for the Protection of Animals for Slaughter

14.9.94    134        Protocol to the Convention on the Elaboration of a European Pharmacopoeia

25.1.95    24        European Convention on Extradition

25.1.95    86        Additional Protocol to the European Convention on Extradition

25.1.95    98        Second Additional Protocol to the European Convention on Extradition

25.1.95    112        Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons

APPENDIX V

IX. Concluding observations

39.    The report by the government of 28 January 1996 constitutes a welcome, if incomplete, statement of intended policy and operational initiatives to improve Croatia's human rights record. It is clear that international concern and attention in this area will not dissipate until there is evidence that the various policy initiatives have been implemented. It is gratifying that the incidence of human rights violations noted in the past two months in the former sectors in Croatia has been greatly reduced from the levels recorded in the months immediately following last summer's military operations. The potential for recurrence, however, remains substantial, and in this regard the continuing absence of a strong and responsible local police presence remains a cause for concern. It is desirable that the Government of Croatia undertake all possible measures to ensure the security of the Serb population that remains in the former sectors.

40.    Information provided by the Government of Croatia indicates that a large number of judicial proceedings have been instituted with respect to crimes and human rights violations that were allegedly committed, mostly against Croatian Serbs, in the aftermath of the military operations. However, many reported cases of killings are unresolved, and there is scant evidence of trials concerning acts of arson or looting being brought to a conclusion. It will be important to continue to monitor the judicial process to ensure that the widespread criminality documented by international observers last year does not go unredressed.

41.    Continued vigilance in respect of the humanitarian needs of the elderly Croatian Serbs who remain in the former sectors is essential. The Government of Croatia is to be commended for the steps it has taken, albeit belatedly, in this regard. However, there continues to be cause for concern that resources, both human and financial, made available for this purpose are insufficient.

42.    Little progress has been made on the return of Croatian Serb refugees to Croatia. The government indicates that this matter will be addressed principally in the course of initiatives to be taken for the normalisation of relations between Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro). However, this should not delay the return of persons who satisfy the legal conditions necessary for immediate return. Disturbing reports continue to be received that government offices responsible for expediting this procedure are conducting their work in an unco-operative and obstructive manner.

43.    The decision of the Government of Croatia to grant amnesty to 451 Serbs alleged to have taken up arms in support of the "Republic of Serb Krajina" was an important step towards the creation of conditions in which former combatants will be able to live together in Croatia in peace. However, 389 persons remain in detention in Croatian prisons, charged with crimes allegedly committed during the conflict. It is to be hoped that Croatia will respond to international calls to ensure that these persons are granted fair judicial proceedings and, indeed, that due consideration will be given to granting them amnesty, in accordance with the principles of international law.

44.    With the termination of the UNCRO mandate on 15 January 1996, the number of international personnel in Croatia (outside the former Sector East) with a mandate to monitor human rights has been drastically reduced. As noted above, such personnel are now limited to a small team of officers from UNHCR and two human rights officers from the Centre for Human Rights working in support of the Special Rapporteur and the Expert on Missing Persons, as well as some representatives of international NGOs. The ability of the United Nations to assess further developments on the important issues raised in this report will accordingly be very limited.

Notes
1.    Although the decree named 455 persons to be released, the International Committee of the Red Cross concluded that four names were duplicated on the list.

APPENDIX VI

Basic Agreement on the region of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium

    The parties agree as follows:

1.    There shall be a transitional period of twelve months which may be extended at most to another period of the same duration if so requested by one of the parties.

2.    The UN Security Council is requested to establish a Transitional Administration, which shall govern the Region during the transitional period in the interest of all persons resident in or returning to the Region.

3.    The UN Security Council is requested to authorise an international force to deploy during the transitional period to maintain peace and security in the Region and otherwise to assist in implementation of this agreement. The Region shall be demilitarised according to the schedule and procedures determined by the international force. This international force and for police operating under the supervision of, or with the consent of, the Transitional Administration.

4.    The Transitional Administration shall ensure the possibility for the return of refugees and displaced persons to their homes of origin. All persons who have left the Region or who have come to the Region with previous permanent residence in Croatia shall enjoy the same rights as all other residents of the Region. The Transitional Administration shall also take the steps necessary to re-establish the normal functioning of all public services in the Region without delay.

5.    The Transitional Administration shall help to establish and train temporary police forces, to build professionalism among the police and confidence among all ethnic communities.

6.    The highest levels of internationally-recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms shall be respected in the Region.

7.    All persons have the right to return freely to their place of residence in the Region and to live there in conditions of security. All persons who have left the Region or who have come to the Region with previous permanent residence in Croatia have the right to live in the Region.

8.    All persons shall have the right to have restored to them any property that was taken from them by unlawful acts or that they were forced to abandon and to just compensation for property that cannot be restored to them.

9.    The right to recover property, to receive compensation for property that cannot be returned, and to receive assistance in reconstruction of damaged property shall be equally available to all persons without regard to ethnicity.

10.    Interested countries and organisations are requested to take appropriate steps to promote the accomplishment of the commitments in this agreement. After the expiration

of the transition period and consistent with established practice, the international community shall monitor and report on respect for human rights in the Region on a long-term basis.

11.    In addition, interested countries and organisations are requested to establish a commission, which will be authorised to monitor the implementation of this agreement, particularly its human rights and civil provisions, to investigate all allegations of violations of this agreement, and to make appropriate recommendations.

12.    Not later than thirty days before the end of the transitional period, elections for all local government bodies, including for municipalities, districts, and counties, as well as the right of the Serbian community to appoint a joint council of municipalities, shall be organised by the Transitional Administration. International organisations and institutions (for example the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the United Nations) and interested states are requested to oversee the elections.

13.    The Government of the Republic of Croatia shall co-operate fully with the Transitional Administration and the international force. During the transitional period the Croatian Government authorises the presence of international monitors along the international border of the Region in order to facilitate free movement of persons across existing border crossings.

14.    This agreement shall enter into force upon the adoption by the UN Security Council of a resolution responding affirmatively to the requests made in this agreement.

Done this twelfth day of November 1995

Signed:

Milan Milanovic

Hrvoje Sarinic

Head, Serb Negotiating Delegation

Head, Croatian Government Delegation

Witnessed:

Peter W. Galbraith

Thorvald Stoltenberg

United States Ambassador

United Nations Mediator

APPENDIX VII

Joint statement on the Federation

    On 18 February in Rome, President Izetbegovic, President Tudjman, President Zubak and Vice-President Ganic discussed the present status of the implementation of the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and of the Dayton Federation Agreement at the invitation of the Italian European Union presidency. Representatives of the Contact Group and of the Office of the High Representative assisted in these discussions. They came to the following conclusions:

    The Presidents reaffirm their strong commitment to the speedy implementation and full functioning of all institutions of the Federation. They welcome the establishment at the end of January of separate governments of the Federation and of Bosnia-Herzegovina as a major step. The Presidents reiterate the importance which they attribute to non-interference by either government in the competencies of the other government. The Federation and central government shall operate strictly within their respective constitutional and statutory mandates.

    They agree that further steps are required to achieve the full political, economic and social integration of the Federation. The authority of the Federation Government and other Federation institutions shall be established throughout the whole Federation territory. Political structures competing with the Federation shall be dissolved promptly and their authority transferred to the Federation.

1.    Mostar

    All participants in today's talks express their firm support for the work of European Union Administrator Koschnick and condemn the recent attacks against him. They welcome the signature today of an agreement unifying the City of Mostar and pledge immediate and continuing support for its implementation.

2.    Customs authority and tax administration

    They agree to fully support and implement unified customs and tax systems in the Federation. Specifically they agree to establish the Federation Customs Administration by 1 March. They pledge to eliminate internal customs checkpoints and establish Federation border posts by that date. The Head of the Federation Customs Administration shall be appointed by 20 February and the appropriate Federation accounts for customs revenue shall be established by 22 February. The director and deputy director of a unified federation tax administration will be appointed by the end of February and a tax board established one month later.

    They endorse the request of the Federation Government to have an international observer mission for monitoring and assisting the unified customs system.

3.    Cantonal borders and municipalities

    Presidents Tudjman and Izetbegovic endorse the settlement of cantonal boundaries as agreed in a map signed by the President and Vice President of the Federation today.

    Posusje, Grude, Ljubuski, and Siroki Brijeg shall form a new canton by 5 March, or remain in the Western Herzegovina Canton with the new Federation municipalities Glamoc, Bosansko, Grahovo and Dryar. The law on Federation cantons, which will regulate the boundaries in detail, shall be adopted by the Federation Assembly by 10 March. If there is no agreement by that date, the issue will be submitted to the Federation arbitrator.

    Cantons and municipalities are the building blocks of the Federation and must be established without further delay.

5.    Refugees and freedom of movement

    They note that full implementation of the earlier agreement to return refugees and displaced persons to four specific cities within the Federation has not yet occurred and pledge to move forward on this question expeditiously. They are satisfied that there is full compliance in Travnik and progress in Jajce and Stolac. Return of Croat families to Bugojno shall start immediately, with the full commitment of the Bosniac side.

    They agree that the return of these 600 families is just a first step leading to a general return of refugees and displaced persons in a voluntary, orderly and phased manner, as agreed at Dayton.

    They agree that the Federation Government shall immediately assure full freedom of movement and remove all checkpoints. It shall furthermore establish full political and religious freedom, and thus ensure a safe return of all refugees and displaced persons throughout the Federation territory.

    They call on the international police and IFOR to assist in assuring freedom of movement within their capabilities.

6.    Pensions and civil service salaries

    They call on the Federation Government to keep, in co-ordination with the IMF, the present average level of pensions and civil service salaries in the territory under control of the HVO, with the aim of providing this level throughout the Federation territory.

7.    Defence

    They recognise that the lack of a basic defence law creates uncertainties that are undesirable. An agreed, joint text will be submitted to the Federation Parliament at its next session.

8.    Monitoring progress

    They call on high level representatives of the Federation partners, who hold regular, informal meetings under the auspices of the Office of the High Representative, to monitor progress on the implementation of the Federation in all its aspects, and to keep interested friends of the Federation informed.

9.    Federation anniversary

    They noted the upcoming second anniversary of the founding of the Federation and welcome a meeting to commemorate that date and take further steps to strengthen the Federation.

APPENDIX VIII

Statement by the President of the Security Council

    At the 3633rd meeting of the Security Council, held on 23 February 1996 in connection with the Council's consideration of the item entitled "The situation in Croatia", the President of the Security Council made the following statement on behalf of the Council:

    "The Security Council has considered the further report of the Secretary General of 14 February 1996 (S/1996/109) submitted pursuant to its Resolution 1019 (1995) on Croatia.

    The Security Council recalls the statement of its President of 8 January 1996 (S/PRST/1996/2). The Council acknowledges that the incidence of human rights violations has been greatly reduced. However, it expresses concern that isolated incidents of killings and other violations of human rights have been reported. The Council also acknowledges the significant progress made by the Croatian Government in alleviating the humanitarian plight of the mostly elderly Serb population who remain in the former sectors in the Republic of Croatia. The Council looks to the Croatian Government to ensure the security and well-being of that population and to ensure the provision of basic humanitarian assistance, including access to medical facilities, pension allowances and property. The Council also looks to the Croatian Government to pursue vigorously prosecutions against those suspected of past violations of international humanitarian law and human rights against the local Serb minority.

    The Security Council calls upon the Croatian Government to give due consideration to granting amnesty to local Serbs remaining in detention on charges arising from their alleged participation in the conflict.

    The Security Council reiterates that all states must co-operate fully with the International Tribunal and its organs established pursuant to its Resolution 827 (1993). It notes that Croatian legislation providing for full co-operation with the International Tribunal is reported to be imminent. The Council urges the Government of the Republic of Croatia to uphold its obligations with respect to the International Tribunal unreservedly and without delay.

    The Security Council remains deeply concerned at the situation of those refugees from the Republic of Croatia who wish to return. It condemns the fact that effective measures have not so far been taken in that respect. It calls upon the Croatian Government to ensure the expeditious processing of all requests from refugees. It underlines that the exercise by members of the local Serb population of their rights, including their right to remain, leave or return to their homes in safety and dignity, and reclaim possession of their property, cannot be made conditional upon an agreement on the normalisation of relations between the Republic of Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The Council demands that the Croatian Government take measures forthwith to ensure that those concerned may fully exercise these rights. The Council also calls upon the Croatian Government to rescind its earlier decision to suspend articles of the constitutional law relating to rights of national minorities, and to proceed with the establishment of a provisional human rights court. It reminds the Croatian Government once again that the promotion of strict respect for the rights of persons belonging to the Serb minority is relevant to the successful implementation of the Basic Agreement of 12 November 1995 on the Region of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (S/1995/951, annex).

    The Security Council welcomes and supports the Croatian Government's agreement to the establishment by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe of a long-term mission with a view to monitoring respect for human rights throughout the Republic of Croatia. The Council pays tribute to the valuable work carried out by UNCRO and the European Community Monitoring Mission in this field over the past year.

    The Security Council requests the Secretary General to keep the Council regularly informed and to report in any case no later than 20 June 1996, drawing inter alia on information available from other relevant United Nations bodies, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and the European Community Monitoring Mission, on the progress of measures undertaken by the Government of the Republic of Croatia in the light of this statement.

    The Security Council will remain seized of the matter."

APPENDIX IX

Zagreb, 15 March 1996

Dear Mr Van der Linden,

    Referring to your letter of 6 March 1996 in which you addressed several issues considered of the utmost importance in facilitating Croatia's membership in the Council of Europe, as well as our previous exchanges, I have the honour to inform you that the proposed commitments of the Council of Europe have been carefully considered by our government as well as by the members of the parliament. Having in mind the existing consensus on the utmost importance of Croatia's earliest possible accession to the Council of Europe, Croatia is ready to meet the criteria of the commitments proposed by the Council of Europe, to the highest possible degree. I have the honour to forward to you the list of commitments signed by the President of the Republic of Croatia, Dr. Franjo Tudman, and the President of the Parliament of the Republic of Croatia.

    Let me also inform you that the adoption of the constitutional law on co-operation with the war tribunal in The Hague is now a matter of days, as it is just now undergoing the parliamentary procedure. The law has already passed the first reading and within a month, the parliament, will take the final vote.

    Vice-President of Sabor, Dr Zarko Domljan will be bringing with him to Strasbourg, on Monday, the list of persons charged with violations and criminal acts committed in the former UN designated Sectors North and South. He is also bringing more specific data on reconstruction projects in the war-torn areas of Croatia, including those in the area of Western Slavonia, which would facilitate the return of all Croatian citizens, including those of Serb nationality, to their homes.

    Finally, let me stress the fact that my government committed itself in good faith to endorse beforehand and implement the recommendations of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (the "Venice Commission"), whose mission to my country is taking place at the very time I am writing this letter. This demonstrates clearly how firmly Croatia is dedicated to the values and standards of the Council of Europe.

    Sincerely,

    (Signed) Dr Mate Granic

Mr René Van der Linden

Political Affairs Committee

Parliamentary Assembly

Council of Europe

Strasbourg

    The Republic of Croatia in order to fulfil the criteria for accession to the Council of Europe, herewith formally undertakes the following commitments:

    _    to sign the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) at the moment of accession;

    _    to ratify the ECHR and Protocol Nos. 1, 2, 4, 7 and 11 within a year from the time of accession;

    _    to recognise, pending the entry into force of Protocol No. 11, the right of individual application to the European Commission of Human Rights and the compulsory jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights (Articles 25 and 46 of the Convention);

    _    to sign within one year and ratify within three years from the time of accession Protocol No. 6 of the ECHR on the abolition of the death penalty in time of peace;

    _    to sign and ratify within a year from the time of accession the European Convention for Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment;

    _    to sign and ratify within a year from the time of accession the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter on Local Self-Government and the Charter for Regional and Minority Languages; to conduct its policy towards minorities on the principles set forth in Assembly Recommendation 1201 (1993), and to incorporate these principles into the legal and administrative system and practice of the country;

    _    to implement the recommendation resulting from the opinion of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (the "Venice Commission") on the constitutional law on human rights and the freedoms and rights of national and ethnic communities and minorities, as well as human rights protection-mechanisms;

    _    to take all necessary measures, including adequate police protection, to guarantee the safety and human rights of the Serb population in Croatia, in particular in the former UN Protected Areas, to facilitate the return of people who left these areas and to allow them, through a specific procedure established by law, to effectively exercise their rights to recover their property or receive compensation;

    _    to study, with a view to ratification, the Council of Europe's Social Charter, and meanwhile to conduct its policy in accordance with the principles contained therein;

    _    to sign and ratify and meanwhile apply the basic principles of other Council of Europe conventions, notably those on extradition, on mutual assistance in criminal matters, on the transfer of sentenced persons, laundering, search, seizure and confiscation of proceeds from crime;

    _    to settle international as well as internal disputes by peaceful means;

    _    to comply strictly with its obligations under the Basic Agreement on the Region of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium and to co-operate fully with the United Nations Transitional Administration for this region (UNTAES);

    _    to co-operate fully and effectively in the implementation of the Dayton/Paris Agreements for Peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina;

    _    to co-operate with, and actively assist, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, in bringing before the Tribunal without delay persons indicted for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide;

    _    to settle outstanding international border disputes according to the principles of international law;

    _    to implement the recommendations of Council of Europe experts on legislation relating to the media, such as the law on public information, the law on telecommunications and the law on protection of competition;

    _    to continue with the procedure of electing a Mayor of Zagreb in accordance with the constitution and the laws of the Republic of Croatia and taking into account the recommendations of the Council of Europe;

    _    to pursue reform with a view to bringing all legislation and practice in line with Council of Europe principles and standards;

    _    to comply, well before the next elections, with the recommendations made by the election observers of the Council of Europe and other international organisations, in particular with regard to the special voting block for the diaspora, minority representation, voting registration lists, voter anonymity, as well as the need to increase the independence of the state broadcasting corporation (HRT) and to undertake a census of the population as soon as possible;

    _    to sign and ratify within a year from the time of accession the General Agreement on Privileges and Immunities and its additional protocols;

    _    to co-operate fully in the implementation of Assembly Order No. 508 (1995) on the honouring of obligations and commitments by member states of the Council of Europe, as well as in monitoring process established by virtue of the Committee of Ministers' declaration of 10 November 1994 (95th session).

The President of the Sabor                        The President

of the Republic of Croatia                        of the Republic of Croatia

Dr Vlatko Pavletic                            Dr Franjo Tudman

Zagreb, 15 March 1996


Reporting Committee: Political Affairs Committee.

Committees for opinion: Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights and Committee on Relations with European Non-Member Countries.

Budgetary implications for the Assembly: none.

Reference to committee: Doc. 6726 and Reference No. 1836 of 1 February 1993.

Draft opinion adopted by the committee on 19 March 1996 by 25 votes to 3 with 4 abstentions.

Members of the committee: Mr Bársony (Chairman), Lord Finsberg (Vice-Chairman), MM. Van der Linden (Vice-Chairman), Álvarez-Cascos, Antretter, Baumel, Mrs Belohorská, MM. Bergqvist, Bernardini, Björck (Alternate: Hagĺrd), Blœtzer, Bokov, Büchel, Bühler, Cerqueda Pascuet (Alternate: Torres Alis), Chornovil, Deasy, Diacov, Eörsi, Fassino (Alternate: Benvenuti), Galanos (Alternate: Christodoulides), Gjellerod, Gotzev, Gricius, Hardy, Irmer (Alternate: Feldmann), Iwinski, Kalus, Kaspereit, La Loggia, Mrs Lentz-Cornette, MM. Martínez, Masseret, Muehlemann, Nothomb, Mrs Ojuland (Alternate: Mrs Veidemann), MM. Oliynik, Paasilinna (Alternate: Laakso), Pahor, Mrs Papandreou, MM. Pavlidis, Popovski, Pozzo, Radulescu Botica, Mrs Ragnarsdóttir, MM. Schieder, Schwimmer, Severin, Sinka, Sir Dudley Smith, MM. Spacek, Spahia, Mrs Suchocka, MM. Thoresen, Urbain, Vella, Woltjer.

N.B.    The names of those members who took part in the meeting are printed in italics.

Secretaries to the committee: MM. Hartland, Kleijssen and Mrs Ruotanen.


[1] By the Political Affairs Committee.