7 February 2010

Eastern Slavonia

Eastern Slavonia is an 850 square mile piece of land that lies on Croatia's eastern border with Serbia. The area has considerable light industry, rich agricultural land, and is the largest oil producing region in the former Yugoslavia (it produced up to 5,200 barrels of oil a day during the 1980s). Before the outbreak of hostilities in 1991, the region contained about 150,000 ethnic Croats, Hungarians, Muslims, and 68,000 Serbs.

In 1991, Eastern Slavonia was the site of heavy Croat-Serb fighting. Serb paramilitaries, backed by Serb-dominated Yugoslav Army (JNA), fought hastily-assembled Croatian forces for control of the area. The capital of Eastern Slavonia, Vukovar, was shelled by the Yugoslav Army during a four month siege and reduced to rubble. Croatian Serb forces eventually took control of Eastern Slavonia and thousands of Croats fled the region to refugee camps inside Croatia or abroad. The international war crimes tribunal in Den Haag has issued indictments against, so far, three JNA officers who are accused of killing more than 200 Croatian prisoners outside of Vukovar.

During 1995, Croatian forces went on the offensive and recaptured all Serb-held territory except for Eastern Slavonia. The 12 November 1995 Basic Agreement on the Region of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja, and Western Sirmium (also called the Erdut Agreement after the town in which it was signed) provides for the peaceful integration of that region into Croatia. The Agreement requested the Security Council to establish a transitional administration to govern the region; to authorize an international force to maintain peace and security during that period; and to otherwise assist the implementation of the Agreement. Thus, the UN Transitional Administration for Eatern Slavonia, Baranja, and Western Sirmium (UNTAES) was created. UNTAE was set up on 15 January 1996 (UN Security Council Resolution 1037) for an initial period of 12 months, with both military and civilian compnents.

Peaceful Stabilization Force (SFOR). 1997. Bosnia Country Handbook. DIANE Publishing.

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