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Security Council, Annan praise UN observer mission in Prevlaka as mandate nears end

Security Council, Annan praise UN observer mission in Prevlaka as mandate nears end

Council President Alfonso Valdivieso
As the mandate of the United Nations Mission of Observers in Prevlaka (UNMOP) draws to a close, both the Security Council and Secretary-General Kofi Annan today praised the work of the operation, which for 10 years has monitored the withdrawal of forces from the strategic peninsula.

In a statement read out at a formal meeting by its President, Ambassador Alfonso Valdivieso of Colombia, the Council welcomed the protocol signed on Tuesday by the Governments of Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia establishing a provisional cross-border regime on the peninsula, which has long been a subject of dispute between the two countries.

"The protocol represents a further step forward in the process of strengthening of confidence and good neighbourly relations between both countries," the statement said. "The Council welcomes the commitment of both governments to continue negotiations on Prevlaka with a view to amicably resolving all outstanding issues, and commends their diplomatic efforts to bolster peace and stability in the region."

Earlier Thursday, the Secretary-General told the Council that "by monitoring the demilitarization of the Prevlaka peninsula, [UNMOP] helped to shield this strategically important area from the fighting and tensions in the vicinity. In this way, it maintained a favourable situation for an eventual negotiated settlement."

UN observers have been deployed in Prevlaka since 1992, as part of the UN Protection Force (UNPROFOR) and later the UN Confidence Restoration Operation (UNCRO). By February 1996, UNMOP was established as an independent mission with the mandate to continue monitoring the demilitarization of the peninsula.

In a report on the Mission released today, the Secretary-General observes that "even a small UN presence, properly conceived and executed, can make a positive difference."

He added that he intends to keep a small core staff for the UN Mission for a few days beyond 15 December, when the mandate expires, to ensure the handover is conducted in a safe and orderly fashion, but that staff will not stay beyond the end of the month.