Former world diplomats about Croatia's int'l recognition, UN admission
Izvor: Pixsell / Autor: Patrik Macek/PIXSELL
The former foreign ministers of France and Hungary, Roland Dumas and Geza Jeszenski, the Holy See Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, former Polish Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowietski and the then Slovenian President Milan Kucan gave their view of the events in the early 1990s at a round table debate organised in the Croatian Parliament on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Croatia's accession to the UN.
Dumas said the foreign ministers of the then European Community held meetings as often as three times a week to define joint positions towards the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, stressing that Germany was the one to push for the recognition of Croatia's independence.
Croatia was the only problem in diplomatic relations between France and Germany, Dumas remarked sarcastically, explaining that the then German Chancellor Helmut Kohl advocated Croatia's recognition by Christmas 1991, while France advocated that Croatia be recognised on 15 January 1992.
Because of that it was not easy for Minister (Hans Dietrich) Genscher, Dumas said and told a story from a lunch he had with Genscher who left the table ten times to have Kohl remind him of Berlin's position on earlier recognition.
The experienced French diplomat also spoke about his conversation with the then President of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev who, giving the Soviet Union's position on the break-up of Yugoslavia, said he was not against the independence of new states, but expressed certain reservations about NATO's possible expansion to Southeast Europe.
Jeszenski, who was Hungary's foreign minister between 1990 and 1994, said Budapest sympathised with Croatia which had been attacked by the former Yugoslav People's Army, but that it had to be cautious, at least publicly, because Serbia was its neighbour and the numerous Hungarian minority in its northern province of Vojvodina was a hostage to the situation at the time.
He said he had asked the then US Secretary of State James Baker, who refrained from taking a position on Croatia's recognition, if what Croatia was asking for was not the same thing that British colonies in North America had asked for when they sought independence from London. He did not answer me, said the then foreign minister of Hungary which as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council proposed to the General Assembly to recognise Croatia.
Cardinal Tauran said that in late 1991, the international community was passive so the Holy See was the first to start underlining the right of a people to self-determination and reminding about the former Yugoslavia's constitution from 1974 which provided for that possibility, but also about democratic obligations of the future independent states regarding respect for minority rights.
That period of Europe's history showed that it was difficult for some in Europe to accept a democratic and pluralist Europe, Tauran said, adding that the Vatican recognised Croatia on 13 January 1992, two days before the European Community, in an effort to help end conflicts and save human lives.
The first prime minister of post-Communist Poland, Tadeusz Mazowietski, spoke about the geo-strategic situation in the early 1990s and about how the West feared that Poland's independence would halt Gorbachev's Perestroika in the USSR.
Thomas Pickering, who was US permanent representative to the UN at the time Croatia was admitted to the organisation, said that from Croatia's point of view, the United States had not supported Croatia enough at the time.
It is common knowledge that State Secretary Baker was worried that the break-up of Yugoslavia could lead to serious conflicts, Pickering said, explaining the policy of the then US Administration which, he added, was disinclined to send US soldiers to the UNPROFOR peace mission. However, he underlined that the US strongly supported Croatia's membership of NATO and the EU.
Milan Kucan, who was Slovenia's head of state from 1992 to 2002, said that after they joined the UN, Slovenia and Croatia were able to tell their truth about the break-up of Yugoslavia, saying that after that, the two countries went their separate ways.
He stressed that Ljubljana and Zagreb failed the test in one of the UN principles - to bilaterally resolve disputes - so the issues hampering the two countries' relations, such as the border issue, Ljubljanska Banka debt and the Krsko nuclear power plant, remained unresolved.
Also speaking at today's event were former Croatian state officials, first Prime Minister Stjepan Mesic, first Parliament Speaker Zarko Domljan, etc.
- Milan Kučan
- Hans-Dietrich Genscher
- Croatia - UN
- Tadeusz Mazowiecki
- Geza Jeszenski
- Roland Dumas
- Jean-Louis Tauran