TFF helps Croatia get a US$ 40 million World Bank loan

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 41 – June 30, 1998

Originally published here.

The World Bank last week approved a DEM 74 million (US$40.6 million equivalent) Reconstruction Project for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srijem Loan for Croatia. The project area is one of the most fertile parts of the Balkans and prior to the war, was known as the “bread basket” of the region. Due to damage to the extensive flood control and drainage system, much of the agricultural land has become unusable. The project will:

1) Repair and rebuild the flood control and drainage facilities;

2) Clear the landmines left behind in the flood control network;

3) Provide for sound and sustainable environmental management of the adjoining nature reserve at Kopacki rit;

4) Rebuild a partially completed wastewater system in one of the major towns in the area.

The World Bank explains that the project is expected to make a major contribution in stimulating the local economy, thereby creating an incentive for people to return home. It is an important contribution to reconstruction [Read more…]

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Reconciliation through a history and school book commission – in Croatia and elsewhere

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 40 – June 1998

Originally published here.

“Postwar initiatives can help prevent future policies of revenge, violence and outbursts of repressed traumas. It is possible to develop policies of reconciliation and trust-building and take initiatives which encourage citizens to take steps toward forgiving. One such initiative could be the setting up of history and school book commissions. A truthful approach to history is a vital element in shaping a future together and help the next generations live peacefully in spite of what happened,” says TFF director Jan Oberg.

In societies which have gone through civil wars, one or more parties can choose to be triumphalistic, punishing or humiliating, an option often chosen by winners. They can also decide to be reconciliatory and tolerant and help innocent citizens irrespective of the side to which they belong and thus set an example for the young who will be future leaders. Reconciliation speech can replace hate speech.

This choice depends on the types of atrocities committed, on the configuration between winners and losers, if any. It depends on the personality of leaders and the character of their government. It also depends on their understanding of – and the availability of expertise in – what it takes to provide future generations with the minimum conditions for their living and prospering peacefully together in spite of what happened. And, naturally, on the culture, norms and traditions of the particular war-torn society.

In addition, the so-called international “community” can decide to reward reconciliatory policies with former adversaries or turn the blind eye to ongoing hate policies and triumphalism. [Read more…]

By Jan Oberg

June 1998

Originally published here


EASTERN SLAVONIA – GENERAL BACKGROUND

The mission of the UN in Eastern Slavonia, UNTAES, was the peaceful reintegration of the region of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium into the Republic of Croatia. Until January 15, 1998, UNTAES exercised authority over this region through a basic agreement of 12 November 1995 and through UN Security Council resolutions 1037 of 15 January 1996 and 1120 of 11 July 1997.

The follow-up consists of only a small group of UN Civil Police and Civil Affairs staff. OSCE has less than 200 personnel in place. There are also some European military monitors (ECMM, the white suited brigade) who continue to be in the region. All executive power has been handed over to the Croatian government; the international organisations only monitor.

According to the census of 1991, before the war 45 thousand people lived in Vukovar of whom 47% were Croat, 32% Serb and the rest were of other minorities; 35 thousand lived in Vinkovci, 80% Croat, 11% Serb; 105 thousand in Osijek, 70% Croat, 12% Serb.

At the end of the UN mission, about 80,000 Serbs lived in the region about a quarter of whom were DP’s mainly from Western Slavonia. Very few Croats are now there although they have the right to return to their former home places. Croatian police has taken over duties from UN personnel during spring 1998. An exodus of Serbs was considered a likely consequence of the UN leaving the region, but it seems that they are departing on a more slow, regular basis – many to Serbia and some to Norway and Canada. [Read more…]

https://yugoslavia-what-should-have-been-done.org/1998/06/15/516/

Good news from Western Slavonia, Croatia

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 37 – June 1998

Originally published here

“Most of what you hear from Croatia and the Balkans nowadays is negative. The good news is that it is possible to bring young Croats and Serbs together and help them develop an atmosphere of trust, tolerance and reconciliation. It gives us hope,” says Jan Oberg, head of TFF’s conflict-mitigation team, returning from the foundation’s 30th mission to what was once Yugoslavia.

Last month TFF conducted a series of reconciliation seminars in Eastern Slavonia with 120 Croat and Serb gymnasium students from Vukovar, Osijek and Vinkovci.

For most of them it was the first time they left “their” town and met “the other side.” Various techniques such as fish bowl, role play, groups discussions and brainstorming were used. The students got to know each other and exchanged views, made friends and sang songs. They cried when anyone who so wanted told about the hurt and pain and what he or she had experienced during the war; they did so with statements like “I experienced, in my family…” and not with statement like “you did this to us…”

They did a brainstorm and produced fascinating ideas and visions about a peaceful Croatia, Eastern Slavonia and Vukovar. They unanimously told us that many more ought to participate in seminars like this: parents, politicians, journalists as well as hardliners, war profiteers and people with little education, as some of them said.

“It took Croat and Serb students less than an hour to find out that they have a lot in common, [Read more…]