We may abandon suit against the FRY

Ivan Šimonović, Croatian Ambassador with the United Nations, is a new chairman of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Šimonović is a representative of the suit filed by Croatia a few years after Bosnia and Herzegovina for genocide. Which are the main tasks of the ECOSOC in this year? - This year, the priority in the work of the ECOSOC will be more intensive involvement in peace operations. I expect that the ECOSOC will, in partnership with the Security Council, embark on peace building operations in individual states. Peace operations are not reduced to merely separating the warring parties any more the so-called peace building includes assistance to states to come clear after a conflict, to organize plausible elections and develop at least a rudimentary administration and start economic reconstruction. The tragedy of 11 September was sobering for the developed countries the world has become aware of their interdependence. The solidarity expected in the struggle against terrorism needs to be expanded to solidarity in removing the causes of terrorism, and poverty is one of them. The measure of how developed this awareness is will be the next conference on financing development that is to begin in Mexico in March. The ECOSOC will be assigned greater tasks in cooperation with major financial institutions, the IMF and the World Bank. How can Croatia benefit specifically from the fact that you head one of the most important UN agencies? - I believe this is an opportunity to improve the status and reception of Croatia, because now we are perceived as a state that can take care of its own problems and contribute to resolving global issues as well. I expect direct benefits, too. I hope that in this period the cooperation between our ministries and the UN institutions, special agencies, funds and programs from within the jurisdiction of the ECOSOC will be enhanced. I particularly have the ministries of health and education in mind.

Unfounded objection of the FRY You are a representative of the suit filed to the International Court of Justice by Croatia against the FRY for the violation of the Convention on Genocide. Yugoslavia is contesting a similar suit filed against her by Bosnia and Herzegovina earlier? - FRY's motion for a review of the decision of the International Court of Justice declaring that the suit of Bosnia and Herzegovina was within the jurisdiction of this court is currently under consideration. Bosnia and Herzegovina submitted their response to FRY's motion, and it is expected that by the middle of this year the court will have a hearing to discuss the matter, and we will attend it as observers. It is the matter of jurisdiction, and if the decision of the Court turns out favorably, the main hearing on the merit will follow. Speaking in strictly formal legal terms, although the decision on the Bosnian suit does not bind the Court in the case of the Croatian suit, in reality such decision will quite certainly influence possible FRY's objection of non-jurisdiction with respect to the Croatian suit. I believe, however, that such objection of Yugoslavia in both the Bosnian and the Croatian cases is not founded.

Political agreement There is also the possibility of political agreement, though. What are the chances of a settlement between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the FRY, or our abandoning the suit? - If you asked me if there were conditions under which such suit were unnecessary, my answer would be positive. But they include meeting all the requirements that Croatia put forth in its suit. What I see as essential to both Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia is that the responsibility for aggression against Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia be clearly stated, that the responsibility for atrocities not only on the level of individuals but also on the level of the policy of Milošević's regime be confessed and practically reflected in the cooperation with the ICTY, and that, simultaneously, proceedings before the national courts of the FRY be instituted. A condition is also the full disclosure of facts concerning the fate of the imprisoned persons, the return of all imprisoned persons, the return of all looted goods, and setting up of an appropriate joint commission to discuss damages. If we can have these conditions fulfilled in any other way, we should not insist on the suit.

Last mandate at Prevlaka Is this really the last mandate of the UN observers at Prevlaka? - I believe this should be their last mandate. The discussion on the Security Council showed understanding for such Croatian position. In the last resolution the presence of the observers was characterized as «important», not «necessary» any more. UN peace operations are not implemented just anywhere where there are differing views between states, but only where such different views may turn into bloodbath. This is no longer the case with Prevlaka, and I believe that this operation does not justify its costs any more. I also believe that the new government in the FRY is up to it to do away with territorial pretensions to Prevlaka.