Communication is Key Element in Peaceful Re-Integration of Eastern Slavonia
NUSTAR, Eastern Slavonia, May 10 (Berserkistan) Croatian and Serb authorities and civil service workers met for yet another historical first with the opening of postal communications between Croatia proper and the Serb-occupied area around Vukovar. At 10:30 local time Friday morning, two symbolic bags of mail were handed between the formerly warring parties under the appreciative eye of UNTAES administrator, Jacques Klein.
For the last five years, all communication between the two sides has been limited to UN sponsored negotiations and UN arranged "family meetings". Today marked the first day when civilian postage crossed the front lines unmolested. The ceremony was attended by Jacques Klein, local Croatian postal officials and workers, and Serbian regional president Goran Hadjic.
This, and the planned opening of rail communications and telephone service, has been the fruits of protracted UN brokered negotiations regarding the "Peaceful Re-integration" of Serbian occupied Eastern Slavonia into Croatia proper. Prior UN administrators had met with little success in the past, but with the virtual abandonment of the Vukovar based Serbian authority by their chief benefactor in neighboring Yugoslavia and the active involvement of the United States following the Dayton Agreement, progress has been made on many fronts.
"It hasn't been easy, but we see this as a positive step towards the peaceful re-integration of this area." Said Jacques Klein, chief UNTAES administrator. "We've been clearing mines and next we'll be working to open the railroad and telephone service. Today is another positive step towards these goals."
Earlier in the week the main highway from Zagreb to Belgrade opened to international travel between Croatia and Yugoslavia proper with much fanfare. Today's mail exchange is seen as one more step towards a peaceful solution to the occupied zone and it's return to Croatian administration. Reaction to these events in Vinkovci, where many refugees from the occupied area reside, has been positive but guarded. "We will see." Seems to be the standard reply when people are asked about "peaceful re-integration" of the region.
The area has been under de-facto Serb control since the vicious conflict that erupted in Eastern Slavonia in 1991.
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