Reuters, October 09, 2002
Yugoslavia, Croatia near accord on Prevlaka - UN
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Yugoslavia and Croatia are expected to resolve their longtime dispute over the strategic Prevlaka peninsula by mid-December, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan predicted on Tuesday.
"It is my assessment that the closure of another chapter in the tumultuous recent history of the Balkans is within reach," Annan said in a report to the 15-nation U.N. Security Council.
"Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia are about to take another step towards normal, good-neighborly relations," he said, asking the council to extend the U.N. observer mission in the area for just two more months.
The U.N. Mission of Observers in Prevlaka, known as UNMOP, has been in the area since 1992 and is currently the world's smallest peacekeeping mission, with just 27 soldiers.
It monitors a demilitarized zone on the peninsula, located on the Adriatic coast south of Dubrovnik, at Croatia's southern tip. Prevlaka juts into Kotor Bay and controls access to the Adriatic Sea from the main deep-water port of Yugoslavia's republic of Montenegro.
Both countries have agreed their dispute is a security matter rather than a fight over territory, although their shared border is at the heart of the dispute.
Annan said the negotiations to date had convinced him that UNMOP would soon no longer be needed, as both sides were determined to end the dispute and "share a common approach on key aspects" of an agreement.
The council is scheduled to discuss his report on Thursday. UNMOP's current mandate expires Oct. 15.