Bosnia and Herzegovina + 3 more

OSCE Mission supports Croatian President's initiative on refugee return

ZAGREB, 10 March 2003 - The Head of the OSCE Mission to Croatia, Peter Semneby, pledged on Monday to support a proposal by the Croatian President, Stjepan Mesic, to initiate a high-level meeting on the return of refugees between Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and Montenegro.
"This proposal is timely given Croatia's European Union membership application," Ambassador Semneby said after his meeting with the Croatian President.

"We strongly support this proposal and hope it will give an impetus for the Croatian Government to resolve longstanding problems related to refugee return. I was encouraged to hear about the President's commitment to the return issue," he added.

Ambassador Semneby also urged that key efforts should be made at the highest political level to create a positive climate for refugee return. "Strong political signals are required to enhance the public acceptance of refugee return. Essential aspects of that climate are also property restitution, reconstruction of destroyed houses and resolution of the occupancy/tenancy rights issue."

"It is clear that refugee return and regional co-operation are among Croatia's key challenge on its path to EU integration. The OSCE Mission will provide all the support it can to help Croatia tackle this challenge," Ambassador Semneby concluded.

For further information, please contact:

Alessandro Fracassetti
OSCE Mission to Croatia
Florijana Andraseca 14
10000, Zagreb
GMT +1
Tel.: +385 1 309 66 20
+385 91 1988 904 (mobile)
Fax: +385 1 309 62 97