ICG Latest Municipality Study Press Release

Chris Bennett (CMBennett@compuserve.com)
Sat, 20 Jun 1998 09:10:18 -0400


ICG Publishes Report Examining Minority Return to Konjic,
the Model Open City

19 June 1998

The International Crisis Group (ICG) publishes today a report examining
minority return to the municipality of Konjic.

The 21-page report, entitled The Konjic Conundrum: Why Minorities have
Failed to Return to Model Open City, is the latest in a series of ICG
municipality studies. Earlier studies have included Drvar, Grahovo and
Glamoc, Brcko, the Sarajevo Canton and Jajce and Travnik.

Konjic became on 1 July 1997 the first municipality in Bosnia and
Herzegovina to be officially recognised as an Open City by the Office of
the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). To obtain this
status Konjic had to demonstrate a willingness to accept the return of
minority displaced persons. In return the UNHCR endeavoured to reward the
municipality with additional funding.

Despite large-scale financial assistance and although UNHCR considers
Konjic the most successful Open City, reliable sources estimate that fewer
than 300 minority returnees have made their way home to Konjic since the
Dayton Peace Agreement brought the Bosnian war to a halt.

The report assesses Konjic’s record as an Open City during the past year.
It examines the current demographic position, the municipal administration,
the police and the overall receptivity to minority returns.

It assesses obstacles to return: the difficulties returnees face reclaiming
their property; obstructionism by the municipal authorities; security
concerns and the lack of basic services; the pressure of Serb and Croat
authorities on displaced persons of their own ethnic group not to return;
and the unfavourable economic environment.

The report also considers problems with implementing the Open Cities
Initiative. And it ends with three pages of considered recommendations
many of which are also relevant in other municipalities and which, if
implemented, could help ease reintegration of minority communities and
facilitate further returns.

For further information and copies of the report, contact ICG in Sarajevo
on (+387 71) 447 845, 447 846 or 200 447, in Washington on (+1 202) 986
9750, or in Brussels on (+32 2) 502 9038. The report can also be accessed
via the internet on ICG’s web site - http://www.intl-crisis-group.org.