Civil aspects of the Dayton and Erdut Agreements

 

Doc. 7588

25 June 1996

 

REPORT[1]

Rapporteur: Mr IWINSKI, Poland, Socialist group


Summary

            This report, drawn up following a visit by a Parliamentary Assembly delegation to BosniaHerzegovina and Croatia from 4 to 9 June 1996, describes the progress made in implementing the civilian aspects of the Dayton Agreements on Peace in BosniaHerzegovina and the Erdut Agreements on the peaceful reintegration of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium.

            Regarding the Dayton Agreements, the report notes considerable delays in implementing the civilian provisions of the agreements in contrast to the successful implementation of the military provisions. The Assembly proposes a series of urgent measures which it considers vital to revive the peace process and ensure that the forthcoming elections are held in satisfactory circumstances.

            As regards the Erdut Agreement, a constructive dialogue between the Croatian Government and Serbian representatives has begun. However, some crucial problems still have to be resolved and the Assembly proposals contained in this report aim to contribute towards the success of this process which must lead to the re-establishment of a multiethnic society in the region.

I. Draft recommendation

1.         The Dayton and Erdut Agreements have laid the foundations for sustainable peace in BosniaHerzegovina and in Croatia as well as the stabilisation of the entire region. However, these aims can only be achieved by the full implementation of the agreements, covering the civilian aspects as much as the military ones.

2.         While welcoming the fact that the successful implementation of the military aspects of the Dayton Agreements brought an immediate end to the fighting and the massive violations of human rights in the region, the Assembly expresses its grave concern at the delays in implementing the civilian clauses of the agreements.

3.         The democratisation of BosniaHerzegovina is not progressing at the desired pace. Persons accused of war crimes are still in control of the "Republika Srpska" (RS) and this represents an insurmountable obstacle to the re-establishment of a pluralist, multiethnic society in the RS as well as ruling out any constructive dialogue with this entity.

4.         In spite of the deployment of the multinational Implementation Force (IFOR), freedom of movement between the two entities of BosniaHerzegovina does not exist in practice and this has a particularly serious impact on enclaves such as Gorazde.

5.         The Assembly is pleased to note that the 1996 objectives for pledges of finances from donor countries towards reconstruction in BosniaHerzegovina have been realised. However, it also notes that, in spite of the large numbers of projects being devised, implementation of these projects has been very slow.

6.         Refugees and displaced persons have not yet returned in any significant numbers owing to the lack of guarantees of physical and material safety. The Assembly especially deplores the complete stalemate as regards the return of refugees to areas which underwent "ethnic cleansing".

7.         Apart from political factors, the total lack of housing makes the return of refugees impossible, both for those still living in the country and those returning from abroad. Similarly, the disastrous state of the country's infrastructure and the unemployment level, which varies from 60% to 90% according to the region, are likely to deter those considering returning.

8.         The delays in implementing the civilian aspects of the Dayton Agreements are likely to have adverse effects on the proceedings during the elections in BosniaHerzegovina scheduled for September 1996. In addition to the factors mentioned above, the democratic nature of the elections may be compromised by shortcomings in the freedom of the press and the fact that it will be impossible for the various candidates to run their electoral campaigns on an equal footing.

9.         The Assembly believes that the elections are a key factor in the progress of the peace process and that everything should be done to ensure that they are held in the right conditions. Otherwise, there is a risk that they will reinforce the ethnic divisions in the country.

10.        Regarding implementation of the Erdut Agreement on the peaceful reintegration of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium, the Assembly welcomes the progress which has been made so far and in particular the constructive dialogue which has begun between the Croatian Government and Serbian representatives.

11.        Nonetheless, if this promising start is to lead to the restoration of a democratic, multiethnic society in the region, there are crucial obstacles which still have to be surmounted — the return of displaced persons, economic reconstruction, human rights guarantees and the setting up of democratically-elected institutions.

12.        Accordingly, the Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers:

i.          urge the organs of the Social Development Fund of the Council of Europe to reinforce the Fund's potential to act in BosniaHerzegovina and in Croatia, including assistance in identifying and devising projects;

ii.          urge the member states:

            a.         to do everything in their power to ensure that the elections in BosniaHerzegovina are held in satisfactory circumstances, meaning among other things that persons accused of war crimes are excluded from politics and summoned before the International War Crimes Tribunal, refugees and displaced persons are allowed to return home, freedom of the media is guaranteed, and all candidates for the elections are enabled to run their campaigns on an equal footing;

            b.         to support the extension of IFOR's terms of reference until the civilian aspects of the Dayton Agreements have been implemented, creating a stable political and economic context and averting the danger of fighting breaking out again;

            c.         to support the extension of the terms of reference of the European Union Administration of Mostar, due to come to an end on 22 July 1996, until its tasks can be taken over by democratically elected and respected local organs;

            d.         to do everything possible to speed up the reconstruction process in BosniaHerzegovina and Eastern Slavonia as a matter of urgency;

            e.         to make generous contributions to the Selective Trust Account of the Social Development Fund of the Council of Europe and to guarantee and finance projects to assist BosniaHerzegovina and Croatia;

            f.          to support the creation of a co-ordinating body for reconstruction in BosniaHerzegovina whose authority would be acknowledged by donors and financial backers;

            g.         to see to it that a part of the aid for reconstruction is allocated directly to local authorities in the war-stricken areas of BosniaHerzegovina and Croatia as well as non-governmental organisations working in these areas;

            h.         to give absolute priority to reconstruction projects aimed at housing construction and rehabilitation;

            i.          to support the setting up of an insurance fund for private investors designed to encourage investment in what are considered high risk regions;

            j.          to provide urgent assistance in ensuring that the road through the corridor linking Sarajevo to Gorazde is built as quickly as possible;

            k.         to refrain from repatriating people from BosniaHerzegovina who have been granted "temporary protected status" until the appropriate conditions for their return are met;

iii.         ask the Croatian Government:

            a.         to amend the amnesty law so that it satisfactorily guarantees the safety of the Serbian population of Croatia;

            b.         to support the extension of the initial period of authority of the United Nations Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (UNTAES), set by the Erdut Agreement, by a further twelve months.

II. Explanatory memorandum

by Mr IWINSKI

Contents

I.          Introduction

II.        Bosnia-Herzegovina

            1.         Implementation of the Dayton Agreements

            2.         Freedom of movement

            3.         Return of refugees and displaced persons

            4.         Reconstruction

            5.         The Council of Europe Social Development Fund

            6.         Elections

            7.         Concluding remarks

III.       Croatia (Eastern Slavonia)

IV.       Conclusions

I. Introduction

1.         Recommendation 1297 (1996) on implementation of the Dayton Agreements for peace in BosniaHerzegovina, adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly on 25 April 1996, emphasised that rapid progress in reconstruction was a key factor in the peace process and, in particular, the return of refugees and displaced persons. Accordingly, by means of Order No. 521 (1996), the Assembly instructed its Committee on Economic Affairs and Development, its Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography and its Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development to carry out as soon as possible a joint fact-finding visit to some of the war-stricken regions in BosniaHerzegovina and Croatia (in particular Eastern Slavonia) with a view to making proposals to the Assembly on how to improve the economic, agricultural and refugee situation in those regions.

2.         Acting under these instructions, a parliamentary delegation comprising Mrs Josephine Verspaget (Netherlands, Socialist), Mr Pierre Lacour (France, LDR) and myself visited Sarajevo, Gorazde, and Tuzla (in BosniaHerzegovina) and Osijek, Vukovar and Erdut (in Croatia) from 4 to 9 June 1996. The delegation met members of the Parliament of the Republic of BosniaHerzegovina, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs responsible for reconstruction, the mayors of the municipalities we visited, and representatives of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the European Commission, the World Bank, the International Management Group, the Commission responsible for property claims from refugees and displaced persons, international humanitarian organisations and non-governmental organisations. In Eastern Slavonia, the delegation talked in particular with the Croatian Deputy Minister for reconstruction, the directors of the governmental office of the transitional government and representatives of local authorities, the United Nations Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (UNTAES), and the Refugees Association as well as Serbian representatives in Eastern Slavonia.

3.         This report will deal in particular with aspects concerning refugees and displaced persons as well as factors affecting their return. However, since these matters are all so closely linked, the report will also include general remarks on the overall progress made on implementing the Dayton Agreements and the Erdut Agreement (concerning Eastern Slavonia) and on the elections due to be held in BosniaHerzegovina in September 1996. The economic problems of reconstruction are dealt with in the contributions of the Committee on Economic Affairs and Development and the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.

II. Bosnia-Herzegovina

1.         Implementation of the Dayton Agreements

4.         Six months have passed since the entry into force of the Dayton Agreements and we are half way towards the expiry date of the terms of reference of the "Multinational Implementation Force" (IFOR) at the end of the year. The implementation of the military aspects of the Dayton Agreements has been a success — the massacres and the massive human rights violations have stopped, the fighting has come to an end, there are no more front lines, demobilisation is progressing, and sufficient quantities of humanitarian aid are reaching those who need it.

5.         However, the realisation of these objectives, though crucial, is only one of the prerequisites for a broad process of political, economic and social stabilisation to begin, leading eventually to free elections, the creation of democratic institutions and a unified, reconciled country. It has to be said that progress with these civilian aspects is very slow, to the point that the peace may be jeopardised once again.

6.         On the political front, the main obstacle is the reluctance of the "Republika Srpska" (RS) to co-operate, which is affecting practically all aspects of carrying the Dayton Agreements into effect — particularly the return of refugees, preparation for the elections, and economic co-operation. The obstinacy of the authorities in Pale is even standing in the way of links between municipal authorities in the two entities. What has to be done first of all before any genuine dialogue can be established is for everybody accused of war crimes to be brought before the International Tribunal in The Hague.

7.         In the absence of a democratic opposition in the RS, it is unlikely that this measure would lead to an immediate solution of the problems of implementing the peace agreements, but it would enable the current leaders to be replaced by more pragmatic leaders, who are more prepared to negotiate. This is an essential prerequisite to paving the way towards a steady improvement in relations between the two entities. Therefore, international pressure on the government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) should be stepped up, with a view to complete withdrawal of its support for the present leaders of the RS.

8.         Furthermore, according to the information we have received, tensions in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina between Croats and Muslims may represent a further serious threat to the peace process. Since the delegation did not visit the regions in question, this report will not go into detail on this situation, though it does demand a thorough examination and could be dealt with in another report.

2.         Freedom of movement

9.         The absence of freedom of movement between the two entities (the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the RS) is another serious shortcoming of the Dayton Agreements. Although the belligerents no longer control the crossing points on the roads, it is still inconceivable for people from one side to venture into the territories controlled by the other entity or even to cross them. The only "exchange visits" which take place are those with a specific purpose (to visit cemeteries for example) and only involve a very small number of people (very often just one family).

10.        This state of affairs has an especially telling effect on life in Gorazde, the enclave in the territory controlled by the RS. The town is still very isolated from the rest of the Federation; there are only two telephone lines to the outside and the only land links are the IFOR-protected convoys which run between Gorazde and Sarajevo three times a week. The only roads linking these two towns pass through RS territory.

11.        Apart from the damaging psychological affects it has on the population of the town, this situation also quite naturally deters investors. Therefore, it is essential that a road be built as quickly as possible along the corridor, as provided for in the Dayton Agreements, linking Sarajevo and Gorazde. According to the Mayor of Gorazde, at the signing of the Dayton Agreements, a promise was made to build a multiple-lane road to be financed out of international funds within six months. By the time the delegation visited Gorazde, these promises had been reduced to a mere "provisional" road and the work had not even begun yet.

3.         Return of refugees and displaced persons

12.        At the beginning of the year, it was predicted that a substantial number of refugees and displaced persons would return home before the elections. For example, the repatriation plan of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that 500 000 people living inside BosniaHerzegovina would return or move back to their homes in 1996, along with 370 000 returning from abroad.

13.        These objectives cannot be realised. Only a few thousand people, or a few tens of thousands according to the most optimistic estimates, have returned to regions where their ethnic group is in the majority. At the same time, more than 60 000 Serbs moved out of the suburbs of Sarajevo and, therefore, the overall number of displaced persons has not fallen.

14.        It is particularly alarming that there have been no returns to regions which underwent ethnic cleansing. Opposition to the return of victims of ethnic cleansing is particularly virulent in the RS. It is less obvious, but nonetheless present, in the regions of BosniaHerzegovina with a Croatian majority. The members of the Bosnian Parliament we met claimed that Serbians and Croatians were returning every day to the areas of the Federation in which Muslims formed the majority. International organisations do not rule out the possibility of these returns but claim that they are insignificant in numbers. In Gorazde, for example, where 10 000 Serbs lived before the war, there are only seventyone Serbs today. It should be pointed out that the Sarajevo authorities refuse to allow displaced persons from other parts of BosniaHerzegovina to move back into the areas it controls, thus flying in the face of the Dayton Agreements which give each individual the right to choose their place of residence freely.

15.        In addition to these political factors, the return of refugees and displaced persons is hindered by disastrous material conditions, the prime problem being the lack of housing. At the moment there is no available housing in BosniaHerzegovina. Houses which exist are already occupied — either by the original owners or tenants or by displaced persons. Under these circumstances, if the original occupier returns home, this means that the present occupier has to leave and there is no possibility of these people being able to find a replacement home. Individual arrangements can be made, but generally speaking, the lack of housing makes it impossible for people to return en masse.

16.        Donors and international organisations are perfectly well aware of the problem and a number of projects in the area are under way. However, so far, implementation has been slow and there have been no tangible results as yet.

17.        Given that it is impossible to meet more ambitious objectives for resettlement, the UNHCR is endeavouring to arrange returns to "target areas" in majority regions. With the help of financial backers it is attempting to set up schemes for the accelerated reconstruction of key sectors in target areas ("comprehensive packages") — such as housing, facilities, schools, hospitals — to ensure that people who return are able to live in acceptable conditions.

18.        The political and material situation on the ground is also a crucial factor in the repatriation of people from BosniaHerzegovina who are currently living under temporary protection in various European countries and whose numbers are estimated at somewhere between 800 000 and one million. A return programme has been devised by the UNHCR in consultation with the governments concerned, but its implementation is still subject to the capacity for absorption of BosniaHerzegovina.

19.        For the time being it would be unrealistic to plan for a large-scale return for the reasons evoked above. As is the case with displaced persons within the country, the return process is closely linked to progress in the process of reconstruction. In the absence of guarantees of physical and material safety, repatriation would only add another reason for conflict to an already difficult situation. Your rapporteur would like to express his utmost gratitude to the host countries who have once again extended temporary protection and would like to urge the other states concerned to do the same.

20.        As regards proposals for solutions, we should continue to act in a number of fields — in the area of politics and human rights and on an institutional and practical level — in order to break out of the current deadlock.

21.        The international community must bring increasing pressure to bear on the authorities of the RS with a view to enabling refugees and displaced persons to return. One means of exerting pressure would be to make assistance in reconstruction conditional on progress in this area. Aid could also possibly be supplied directly to municipalities so as not to alienate the population of the RS against the peace process. The Government of the FRY should also be put under pressure to use its influence with a view to helping refugees and displaced persons to return to the RS.

22.        It will also be necessary to increase substantially the number of international human rights observers, in particular the members of the International Police Task Force. So far only about half of this force of 1 721 officers has been used. In some exceptional cases, it may also be necessary to provide IFOR protection for those who are returning, at least in those locations where the risks are greatest.

23.        As regards the reconstruction of civil society, some emphasis should be placed on the vital role of the Council of Europe's Local Democracy Embassies, representatives of which the delegation met in Tuzla and Osijek. In these two towns, these bodies have considerable influence and make a substantial contribution, based on relatively meagre resources, to restoring confidence between the various communities. These are extremely useful structures which should be supported and developed.

24.        Your rapporteur would like to reiterate the appeal to member states to make financial contributions towards the activities of the Commission on Human Rights and the Commission responsible for property claims from refugees and displaced persons. The latter was set up under the Dayton Agreements as the main instrument to decide on whether to restore property or grant compensation to refugees and displaced persons. Though it has already been set up, the Commission will only begin dealing with the first claims in autumn 1996. Considering that the number of potential claims is estimated at somewhere between 600 000 and 2 million, it is obvious that the Commission will have to be given substantial resources to cope with the workload and achieve meaningful results. As to when the first decisions will be issued, not even the Secretariat of the Commission (which still only has a very small staff) is prepared to make any estimates in this respect.

25.        For the decisions of the Commission to be carried out, certain political and material preconditions will have to be met. At the moment it is difficult to imagine a Muslim property owner being able to recover his or her house in the RS, even on the strength of a decision by the Commission. Replacement housing will have to be built for those who have to leave their current homes in favour of the legitimate owner. Regarding compensation, the question of who is going to provide the funds and assess the amounts to be paid has yet to be resolved.

4.         Reconstruction

26.        Progress on reconstruction has a direct effect on the return of refugees and displaced persons — factors such as housing, the state of infrastructure, the availability of medical treatment and the education system are crucial. There are other less direct but no less important relationships — economic recovery is essential to reduce the alarming unemployment rate (90% in some regions), which is worsening as demobilisation continues apace.

27.        The reconstruction process has been successfully launched. The donors met in Brussels on 12 and 13 April 1996 and pledged investments of some US$ 1,8 thousand million. A series of practical projects have already been devised and at least part of the funding has been found for them. The donors co-ordinate their activities by means of task forces for the various areas of reconstruction which meet regularly in Sarajevo. However, this process is too slow and the funds which have been pledged are insufficient.

28.        With very few exceptions such as the emergency aid supplied by the Netherlands, and disregarding the humanitarian aid and funds provided by various international authorities, very few funds have been used on the ground. The huge gap between the preparation of projects and their implementation was mentioned on numerous occasions by the Bosnians we spoke to. Neither any repairs nor any building had begun yet. Therefore, the reconstruction process would have to be speeded up considerably. The people of BosniaHerzegovina will have to draw the dividends of peace in order to believe that it will last. In the view of the people we spoke to, US$ 1 spent in 1996 was worth ten spent the following year.

29.        As well as appealing for an acceleration in the reconstruction process and increased assistance in implementing it, I would like to propose the following measures (the economic aspects of reconstruction will be dealt with in the contributions of the relevant committees):

            —        a co-ordinating body for the various donors and financial backers should be set up. In order for it to operate successfully there will have to be a firm commitment to respect the authority of this body, otherwise it will simply be another institution added to all those which exist already, contributing to confusion and "diverting" a part of the donations to pay its staff;

            —        funds should be allocated directly to the municipalities in the form of lump sums for investment in certain areas, whilst allowing local authorities to use the funds as they wish and in particular to decide on how they are to be distributed among various projects according to their own priorities;

            —        more funds should be given to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in the field of reconstruction. Owing to their very nature and their clear awareness of the local situation, NGOs can respond much more rapidly to emergency needs;

            —        a special insurance fund should be set up for private investors to encourage investment in areas regarded as representing a high risk (such as, for example, Gorazde);

            —        certain donors have to accept the greater risks inherent in the situation on the ground, at least for some of their investment. It has to be acknowledged that investments in former Yugoslavia are not just commercial instruments but also serve a political purpose.

5.         Council of Europe Social Development Fund

30.        The primary purpose of the Fund, ie to help European countries in resolving the social problems resulting from the presence of refugees and displaced persons, makes it a specialised instrument for intervention in the war-stricken regions.

31.        The approval given by the Fund bodies, on 23 April 1996, to a project granting BosniaHerzegovina US$ 5 million in order to finance a rehabilitation programme for war victims and refugees is most welcome. Special procedures, in addition to great imagination and professionalism, were required in order for the loan to be granted.

32.        However, apart from this commendable effort, it should be observed that member states, in particular large states, are reluctant to participate in the projects for BosniaHerzegovina, and to provide guarantees and assist with funding. Since BosniaHerzegovina is not a member of the Fund, other states are obliged to submit and guarantee the projects which concern it.

33.        Furthermore, the preparation of serious projects requires, in particular under the conditions prevailing in BosniaHerzegovina, the presence of experts in the country, at least on a temporary basis. The World Bank, European Community and so on are operating on this basis. No one will provide ready made projects free of charge complete with funding. Consequently, the Fund bodies are urged to consider the best way in which to enhance its participation in the preparation of projects in BosniaHerzegovina. In this context, attention should be drawn to the projects relating to the renovation of roofs which have been destroyed or damaged in Sarajevo and participation in a water supply programme for Tuzla which have already been transmitted to the Fund's Secretariat.

6.         Elections

34.        The delays in the implementation of the civilian aspects of the Dayton Agreements may have repercussions on the conditions in which the elections, scheduled for September 1996, are actually held. As far as voting by displaced persons is concerned, it is estimated that most of them will vote in their place of current residence. It is also estimated that a small minority of the people in "temporary protected residence" in western Europe will participate in the vote, also owing to the difficulties inherent in organising the vote in the host countries. Under these conditions, and taking account of the small number of people who have returned to regions which have been ethnically "cleansed", one of the consequences of the election could be the confirmation of ethnic cleansing. In that case, the elections would not be a step towards a multiethnic BosniaHerzegovina, but rather a step towards the separation of the entities concerned.

35.        Similarly, the democratic nature of the elections is threatened by infringements of the freedom of the media and the limited possibilities for the opposition to conduct an electoral campaign on an equal footing with the parties currently in power.

36.        Holding elections is an essential element of the peace process and everything must be done to ensure that they are held within the projected deadlines and under satisfactory conditions. However, if in spite of all the efforts deployed, the elections are held without these conditions being met, quite ironically their results could become a further problem in terms of the stability of BosniaHerzegovina.

7.         Concluding remarks

37.        For the peace process to have a chance of succeeding, more time is needed to complete the timetable set for the implementation of the civilian aspects of the Dayton Agreements. It is difficult, or even impossible, to overcome the traumas caused by war in the space of a few months. Similarly, it is difficult to achieve tangible results from the reconstruction process in just a few weeks.

38.        Consequently, two sets of measures should be adopted. Firstly, the implementation of the civilian aspects of the Dayton Agreements should be accelerated in accordance with the outline given above. Secondly, if significant progress is not made, IFOR's mandate, the only guarantee of stability in BosniaHerzegovina given the current state of affairs, should be extended beyond the deadline set by the Dayton Agreements. If IFOR were to withdraw, without the essential aspects of the agreements having been realised, peace would once again be in jeopardy.

III. Croatia (Eastern Slavonia)

39.        The Agreement on the Peaceful Reintegration of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium, concluded between the Croatian Government and Serbian representatives on 12 November 1995 at Erdut (Erdut Agreement) established a framework for the gradual transfer of control over the region to the Croatian Government. A transitional United Nations administration (UNTAES) has been put in place for a period of twelve months, with a possible extension of a further twelve months. At the end of this period, the region will be completely reintegrated into Croatia.

40.        The territory in question includes between 130 000 and 150 000 inhabitants, the vast majority of whom are of Serbian ethnic origin. About 10% of them are of Croatian ethnic origin. In addition to the original population, there are Serbian refugees from Western Slavonia and Krajina who came to the region following the Croatian army offensives in 1995; their numbers are estimated at several tens of thousands. Many dwellings were destroyed during the war, in particular in Vukovar, a town which was martyred in 1991. Sixty per cent of the population is unemployed, and their numbers are increasing with the progressive demobilisation under way.

41.        It is to be noted that the first stages of the implementation of the Erdut Agreement are going ahead as scheduled. Working parties in different sectors bringing together Croatian authorities and Serbian representatives have been set up, demilitarisation which began on 1 May is going well, the Zagreb-Belgrade motorway has been opened, the postal service re-established and Croatian customs officials have been deployed at the border between Eastern Slavonia and Serbia proper.

42.        Although the promising start should lead to the restoration of stability and a multiethnic society, crucial stages are still to be completed — the return of displaced persons, economic reconstruction, human rights guarantees and the introduction of democratically elected local authorities. In simple terms, the challenges to be met are as follows: ensuring the return of displaced persons of Croatian origin, reassuring the Serbian population in the region and providing prospects of a normal life for all concerned.

43.        As far as the return of displaced persons is concerned, in the same way as in BosniaHerzegovina two decisive aspects come into play: physical and material security. With regard to the first of the two, the Croatian Parliament has adopted a law on amnesty which is undoubtedly a step in the right direction. However, the representatives of international organisations, as well as those from Serbia, have emphasised that if the text is to have the results intended, it must be more explicit and its scope broadened in order to apply to everyone, with the exception of those who have committed war crimes.

44.        With regard to material security, there is an urgent need to repair and build houses and, in general terms, to get the local economy back on its feet. It should be emphasised that prior to the conflict, Slavonia was one of the richest regions in the former Yugoslavia.

45.        About fifteen projects have been prepared and forwarded to potential donors. Thus far, certain promises of funding have been made; however, successful reconstruction requires greater funding at a more rapid pace. In this respect, the proposals made above in relation to the reconstruction of BosniaHerzegovina, in particular those concerned with the action of the Council of Europe Social Development Fund, are fully relevant.

46.        Similarly, if confidence is to be restored, the increased presence of international and NGO observers is necessary. The arrival of the joint committee on police, made up of 150 Croat police officers of Serbian nationality and 150 Croats, trained abroad, is eagerly awaited.

47.        The elections scheduled for 1997 represent a decisive step towards a successful transition. The first stage of their preparation will be a population census, for which the Council of Europe may provide assistance (see report on Croatia's request for membership of the Council of Europe — Doc. 7510).

48.        Even if the situation in Eastern Slavonia seems less complex than that in BosniaHerzegovina, the challenges are similar and also quite considerable. The rapporteur is in no doubt that the transitional period should be extended by a further twelve months, as provided for by the Erdut Agreement. It is vital to guarantee the freedom of the media and the emergence of a pluralist political system; these are essential conditions if leaders are to be elected to work in the interests of citizens. In fact, just as in BosniaHerzegovina, the normalisation process is often delayed by virtue of the fact that the people who are in power have a personal interest in maintaining instability and the absence of the rule of law.

49.        Neither should progress towards peace be hampered by unrealistic requests from certain Serbian representatives aiming to achieve autonomy which includes having their own currency and different passports.

IV. Conclusions

50.        The Dayton and Erdut Agreements have laid the foundations for a return to peace in BosniaHerzegovina and Croatia and for the stabilisation of the entire region. However, it is necessary to point out that, following the successful implementation phases of the military aspects of the peace agreements, the enforcement of the civilian aspects is not proceeding at the speed it was hoped for, to such an extent that in BosniaHerzegovina the peace process might be jeopardised as a result.

51.        There is still time to reverse the negative trend, provided we act quickly and resolutely. The sums necessary for maintaining the international forces and for reconstruction are, of course, considerable, but they represent only a fraction of the cost of a further outbreak of war. Most important of all is the question of who would dare to assess the costs, in terms of human life and suffering, of another conflict. Consequently, we must not be lulled into a false sense of security by the fact that the images of horror have disappeared from our television screens — we must act so that they never return!


            Reporting committee: Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography.

            Committees for opinion: Committee on Economic Affairs and Development, Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.

            Budgetary implications for the Assembly: none.

            Origin: Order No. 521 (1996), 25 April 1996.

            Draft recommendation adopted by the committee on 25 June 1996 by 26 votes to 2.

Members of the committee: Mrs Aguiar (Chairperson), MM. Iwi_ski, Junghanns (Vice-Chairmen), Mr Açba, Mrs Aguilar (Alternate: Ms Guirado), MM. Akselsen, Andres, Árnason, Mrs Arnold, MM. Attard Montalto, Beaufays (Alternate: Ghesquičre), Billing, Bogomolov (Alternate: Volodin), van den Bos, Branger, Mrs Brasseur, MM. Brennan, Caceres (Alternate: Diaz de Mera), Chyzh, Clerfayt, Dinçer, Ehrmann (Alternate: Schreiner), Mrs Fehr, MM. Feric, Filimonov, Fuhrmann, Mrs Garajová, MM. Golu, Gotzev, Gross, Sir John Hunt, Mrs Johansson, MM. Kalus, Kara_ Roman, Lord Kirkhill, Mr Kukk, Mrs Kušnere, MM. Kyprianou, Laakso, Lauricella, Leitner, Liapis, Loutfi, Luís, Makariadhi, Mészáros, Micheloyiannis, Rakhansky, Raškinis, Škol_, Solonari, Mrs Soutendijk-van Appeldoorn, MM. Trojan, Vangelov.

            N.B.     The names of those members present at the meeting are printed in italics.

            Secretaries to the committee: Mr Newman, Mr Sich and Mrs Nachilo.


[1]. By the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography.