Return of Posavina Croats
by Svjetlo rijeci
On 19 January 2007 a conference was held in the town of Odžak, organised by Odžak municipality, Posavina county and the Catholic Church of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and also involving representatives of the central and entity governments and several NGOs. The meeting concerned possibilities and perspectives for, and the experiences of, returning refugees to Bosnian Posavina, and especially to RS where few Croats have returned. Speakers included the bishop of Banja Luka, Franjo Komarica, the mayor of Odžak municipality, Luka Tunjić, a member of the Federal parliament, Marinko Božić, the deputy president of RS, Davor Čardaš, the deputy minister for the displaced and refugees in the central government, Mario Nenadić, and representatives from the Croatian embassy and consulates.
According to the organisers, the meeting adopted the following conclusions:
1. Return to Bosnia-Herzegovina, and especially to the Bosnian Posavina, is actual, possible and realistic.
2. Officials from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and the international community should make additional efforts to ensure the return of Croats, especially to RS, because few of them have been able to return.
3. Croat politicians and media should cooperate in articulating a strategy and atmosphere conducive to the return of Croats to areas from which they were expelled.
4. Past attempts to secure the return of Croats to RS have failed. It is necessary to return people in targeted groups, i.e. village by village, by creating basic living conditions such as infrastructure, employment, education, health, etc.
5. It is necessary to finalise voting lists and end the current practice according to which deportees and refugees have to register anew for each election.
6. It must be made clear that every citizen of Bosnia-Herzegovina has the right to return to their homes and live a decent life.
Meetings like these are useful and should continue, but it is necessary to set out binding tasks and obligations for the politicians and other officials, who bear the main responsibility for the return of the population.
This report has been translated from Svjetlo riječi (Sarajevo), February 2007