Accord Brings Yugoslavia Back from Civil War Peace Accord Is Reached in Yugoslavia, but as Clashes Continue in Republic of Croatia, Questions Remain as to How Long Pact Will Hold

By Girard C. Steichen, Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, July 9, 1991 | Go to article overview

Accord Brings Yugoslavia Back from Civil War Peace Accord Is Reached in Yugoslavia, but as Clashes Continue in Republic of Croatia, Questions Remain as to How Long Pact Will Hold


Girard C. Steichen, Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


A FRAGILE peace accord between federal authorities and the breakaway republics of Slovenia and Croatia has brought multiethnic Yugoslavia back from the brink of civil war.

But escalating Serb-Croat strife in Croatia threatens to mar the agreement and deepen the federal Army's involvement in Yugoslavia's widening conflict.

The tentative peace accord was reached yesterday after more than 16 hours of tense negotiations on the island of Brioni, off Croatia's coast, between Yugoslavia's eight-member collective presidency and Slovenian and Croatian leaders. European Community mediators also took part.

The agreement formalizes a four-day truce in Slovenia that has held since lightly armed Slovenian forces repulsed Army tanks and war planes seeking to reimpose Yugoslav sovereignty. At least 62 people were killed in heavy fighting between federal troops and Slovenian defense forces for control of the republic's borders with Italy, Austria, and Hungary.

Slovenia and Croatia declared independence June 25 after talks with federal officials over Yugoslavia's future structure broke down. The prosperous republics wanted to transform the nation into a loose confederation of sovereign states. Serbia, Yugoslavia's largest republic, and the pro-Serbian federal Army favor more centralized rule from Belgrade, the Serbian and Yugoslav capital.

The new peace agreement suspends, but does not void, both independence declarations.

In addition, the accord calls for a cease-fire throughout Yugoslavia and for a new round of talks on the Yugoslav crisis to begin next month.

It sets a three-month cooling-off period on the Slovenian border issue. Slovenian police will continue to control the republic's 27 border posts, but turn over revenue from customs duties to the federal government.

Control of Slovenia's border crossings, strong symbols of sovereignty to both sides, was the main issue in the talks on Brioni.

The agreement also calls for federal Army units to return to barracks and for the deactivation of the Slovenian territorial defense force.

Federal President Stipe Mesic, a Croat, declared that peace was at hand. But Dutch Foreign Minister Hans van den Broek, the leader of the European Community mission to Brioni, said the accord rested on "deep, dramatic complexities" and warned against overoptimism. "It remains to be seen whether we have had any long-term success."

Croatian President Franjo Tudjman said, "Croatia has already had a little war going on for a year. I hope that the Brioni declaration will bring people to reason."

Yugoslav officials said the joint declaration was accepted only "in principle" and that the Slovenian parliament, the federal government, and the federal presidency must still formally approve it. …

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Accord Brings Yugoslavia Back from Civil War Peace Accord Is Reached in Yugoslavia, but as Clashes Continue in Republic of Croatia, Questions Remain as to How Long Pact Will Hold
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