Republic of Croatia and OSCE
The Republic of Croatia has been a full-fledged OSCE participant state since 24 March 1992 and has since been regularly and equally participating in its activities through its Permanent Mission to the OSCE, UN, and other international organisations in Vienna, as well as though regular direct participation of the representatives of Croatia’s relevant bodies and institutions in the political and expert meetings held within the OSCE. Furthermore, Croatia actively implements the OSCE norms and standards of military and political security (arms control and confidence-building measures), human security (protection of human and minority rights, media freedom, tolerance, non-discrimination, etc.), and economic-ecological security (sustainable development).
Adoption of highest standards
As a victim of aggression and war during the 90’s, Croatia was often on the OSCE “agenda” as a receiver of international aid and a participating country that used the Organisation’s services and expertise. But today Croatia is pointed out as an example of a country that has successfully taken advantage of the OSCE presence to benefit its citizens and institutions. During the 11-year-cooperation with the OSCE Mission, Croatia has built a legal, institutional and administrative framework that guarantees a full implementation of the OSCE principles and values in the everyday life of Croatian citizens. Especially high standards have been set up in the protection of human and minority rights, media freedom, and civil society activities.
All these achievements resulted with the decision of the OSCE Permanent Council (from 21 December 2007) on closing the OSCE Mission to Croatia, on 31 December 2007, and keeping only a small office in Zagreb.
The Permanent Council decision is based on the evaluation that Croatia has made significant progress in fulfilling its international obligations covered by the Mission’s mandate and successfully solved most of the issues included within it. This is primarily true for the rule of law and realising the minority rights guaranteed by the Constitutional Law on Minorities, as well as for the progress in refugee return and reintegration and implementation of the housing care program.
The OSCE Office in Zagreb will stay to monitor the war crime trials and to report to the OSCE Headquarters on the further implementation of the Government’s Housing Care Program. This practice of “gradual exit” is common for countries with the OSCE field presence as has been seen already in the Baltic countries, for instance.
Apart from the cooperation with the OSCE Mission/Office, Croatia is also especially open to gaining new experiences and knowledge by carrying out joint projects with the OSCE institutions. Among other things, Croatia was the first to join the OSCE/ODIHR Program of Police Officials Training for Combatining Hate Crime and is the only country in South Eastern Europe that has included hate crime into regular police training.
Croatia’s FSC presidency
The OSCE’s security dimension was of particular importance for Croatia during the last year because Croatia presided over the Forum for Security Co-operation from April to the end of July. The FSC is an important independent OSCE body dealing with military-political issues of security by setting the standards and drawing up normative documents. Croatia’s spring presidency took place during extremely sensitive times of mutual deterioration of the relations between Russia and NATO, and mostly dealt with the strategic dialogue on positioning the European missile shield and Russia’s suspension of the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty. Because of all that, the Croatian representatives’ had to demonstrate exceptional flexibility and additional efforts to establish dialogue. Croatia’s representatives also tried to promote dynamic activities on the sub-regional level and transfer experiences gained in presiding over SEECP and Croatian Armed Forces reform. They also sought to contribute to improving the dialogue on confidence-building and security measures through our specific sub-regional experience (years-long host to RACVIAC), as well as new experiences we are gaining as a responsible member of the international community by taking part in numerous UN peacekeeping operations and ISAF forces in Afghanistan.
Secondment and the contribution of the Croatian diplomacy
As a responsible member of the international community that is about to join NATO and EU, as well as a country that is, in accordance with its abilities, significantly contributing to international security, Croatia is actively participating in the OSCE field activities, seconding the state and civil sector staff to the OSCE activities in South Eastern Europe, and elsewhere if necessary. Furthermore, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration is regularly sending its diplomats, as well as representatives of specialised non-governmental organisations (eg. GONG - Citizens Organized to Monitor Voting), to monitor elections in countries within the OSCE area.
The appointment of former minister of foreign affairs Miomir Žužul as the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office for solving the Georgia incident represents a significant recognition for Croatia as well. Mr. Žužul’s work was valued in the OSCE even before – in 2005, as a member of the Panel of Eminent Persons, he took part in drawing up the OSCE reform guidelines.