Resolution on the current situation in South-Eastern Europe and the Balkans

ROME COUNCIL, 21-22 January 1997

(original Italian)

The Council of the Socialist International, meeting in Rome on 21-22 January 1997,

In accordance with the action undertaken in the past few years by the Socialist International, and in full agreement with the positions and action which the SI Committee on Central and Eastern Europe, SICEE, has constantly pursued in order to support peace in Bosnia and democratic stability in South-Eastern Europe and the Balkans:

1. Noting with satisfaction that Bosnia-Herzegovina has not seen war for over a year and that the Dayton and Paris Accords are being gradually implemented:

Reaffirms its support of the implementation of the peace accords, and noting the difficulties they are encountering, confirms the need for the international community to continue to support this process, to finance the reconstruction of the various territories in Bosnia, and to enable Bosnia to exist as a unitary secular state, with respect for pluralist norms.

Welcomes the creation of the unitary Bosnian institutions elected on 14 September, and deems it necessary to set a date for the municipal elections with effective international supervision and guaranteed access to the media for all parties;

Shares the commitment of the international community to support the peace process - particularly with respect to the SFOR mission and the presence of international police contingents - and to speed up the implementation of reconstruction and economic aid programmes;

Believes that the return of refugees to their homes in all of the territories needs to be accelerated and is a vital condition to encourage the re-birth of peaceful coexistence and multi-ethnicity and to guarantee a unitary future for Bosnia;

Reaffirms its support for the International Claims Tribunal in The Hague and confirms that war criminals must be arrested and brought before the Tribunal and also believes that it is of urgent importance to provide mental and physical care facilities for those who have suffered from war crimes, in particular women and children;

Expresses its concern at the obstacles imposed on freedom of movement and requests the authorities to permit it in all the territories in Bosnia;

Hopes that a reciprocally satisfactory solution to the negotiations over the Brcko corridor can be reached;

Further hopes that the Untaes administration in eastern Slavonia is provided with all the means necessary to carry out its mandate, and that an accord among the parties is reached on a consensual basis in order to redefine that region's territorial set-up and to defend the rights of the Serbian minority.

2. Convinced that peace and stability require the full democratic development of all of the states born of the break-up of former Yugoslavia:

Expresses its concern at the serious political and institutional crisis unfolding in Belgrade;

Expresses its solidarity with the opposition forces and the student movement, which, through their action, have given Serbia a new, democratic image;

Urges the Belgrade authorities to accept the OSCE recommendations and fully recognise the results of the local elections of 17 November, and in particular the opposition victory in the cities mentioned in the González report;

Believes that once these results have been fully recognised, a dialogue between government and opposition must begin, with the aim of defining the rules and stages of a democratic transition - in particular new electoral laws - and guarantees for freedom of information, and transparent procedures for elections scheduled for 1997;

Believes furthermore that the recognition of the elections of 17 November and the opening of dialogue could encourage the swift re-introduction of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia into international institutions;

Requests a re-examination of the correctness of the elections also in Montenegro;

Stresses furthermore that democratic developments within the Yugoslav Federation will enable the Kosovo issue to be approached in new and negotiated terms acceptable to the Albanian majority and the Serbian minority in Kosovo;

Hopes that the municipal elections scheduled for next March in Croatia will be an opportunity to consolidate definitively its democratic institutions, independent media activity, and the recognition of the autonomy of local institutions;

Further hopes that the democratic opposition forces and the parties of social democratic inspiration - and in particular the Social Democratic Party, SDP, which obtained a significant result in the municipal elections of 1995 - can provide the voters with a credible alternative to the current system;

Asks that the Croatian government respect the will of the voters and permit the opposition to finally govern in Zagreb;

Asks the Croatian government to encourage the return home of citizens of Serbian origin;

Stresses the key role which the European Union can play - with a regional strategy of cooperation and association agreements - and which can make a crucial contribution to furthering economic growth and democratic stability in the countries of the region;

Further stresses that regional organisations such as the CEI, the SECI and the Black Sea Cooperation Council can contribute to re-enforcing cohesion, cooperation and integration among the countries of the region.

3. Observing the events unfolding in other Balkan countries:

Welcomes the positive progress in relations between Athens and Skopje, and expresses its hope that the negotiations taking place under the auspices of the UN result speedily in a normalisation of relations between the two countries;

Expresses its satisfaction at the victory of the democratic forces in the recent elections in Romania, and welcomes with particular warmth the success of the Social Democratic Union and of their leaders Petre Roman and Sergiu Cunescu;

Observes with particular concern the events unfolding in Bulgaria and hopes that dialogue between the parties will specify the timing and the manner of new elections, which will enable the Bulgarian citizens to decide who will govern the country in the coming years;

Believes that in Albania - following the serious crisis caused by the widespread electoral fraud which ensued after the general election of May 1996 - the local elections of 20-27 October 1996 constituted a first step which must now be followed by a dialogue between government and opposition, a new Constitution and eventually new elections.

In pursuing its political and organisational initiatives in the past few years, the Socialist International and its member parties have been committed to supporting in each country those political movements and parties of progressive and social democratic inspiration, in the knowledge that today more than ever the values, the policies and the programmes of democratic socialism are essential in order to further equitable economic growth and full democratic stability in South-Eastern Europe and in the Balkans.