1. Expert teams for Citizenship, Property, and Movement of Goods, People and Capital
Expert teams for the issues of citizenship, property, visa regime and the flow of people, goods and capital were established on the basis of the Zagreb conference’s conclusions. The expert teams finished their work in late April 2001 and made proposals in the field of national legislative systems and bilateral agreements, which were sent to the governments of all three countries. Some of the proposals were incorporated in bilateral agreements, adopted and soon afterwards, ratified. The experts’ views were presented at the second session of the Igman Initiative Council in Sarajevo.
The project was jointly implemented by the Center for Regionalism, the Forum of Democratic Alternative of BiH, and the Civic Committee for Human Rights.
The expert team also pointed out that all citizenship-related solutions must take into account the principle of protection of the unity of family and property, as well as the will of individuals who held an equal legal position in former Yugoslavia until the succession process. The solutions must also account for the fact that these individuals had at one time acquired and exercised many of their rights, which are now by and large endangered.
The experts called for the introduction and acceptance, whenever possible, of the practice of dual citizenship. They took into consideration the modern democratic practice of widespread acceptance of dual citizenship and the need to “bridge” the negative consequences in the aftermath of a collapsed state in which they once enjoyed equal legal rights, regardless of which particular republic citizenship the citizens held.
The expert team for property issues concluded that the change in circumstances required a change in the existing regulations and practices vis-a-vis protection of property rights and other interests of citizens of former Yugoslavia who had been damaged by the collapse of the state. The solution of certain property-related issues requires bilateral or multilateral state agreements and a change in internal regulations and practices.
1.3 Movement of goods, people and capital
Since the joining of countries in the region to the European Union is a long-term matter, the interim should be utilized for integrative developments in the region. The Igman Initiate believes that this integration should be focused on the idea of economic integration.
With regard to visas, the need to liberalize the visa regimes was emphasized, including the eventual abolition of visas. If the FRY implements its intention to unilaterally abolish visas for citizens of Croatia, a reciprocal move by the Croatian Governments may well follow.
Regarding free movement of goods, the experts’ contend that the first phase of economic integration must consist of a free-trade zone. A good example of this is the existing agreement between Croatia and BiH, which could easily be expanded into a trilateral agreement.
This project was implemented by the Center for Regionalism, the Forum of Democratic Alternative of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Civic Committee for Human Rights and included representatives of the relevant ministries of the three countries and experts from the three NGOs, an unprecedented implementation team. This specific combination of people increased the likelihood that the three governments would create free trade, not only on paper, but also in practice.
Parallel to calling for the introduction of a free movement of people, goods and ideas in the Dayton Triangle, the experts asserted that future agreements on the establishment of a free-trade zone and the abolition of all types of visas must reflect the political orientation of the states towards a comprehensive development of bilateral and regional relations in southern Europe. Concrete solutions made by the expert groups include: create and agree to bilateral agreements as soon as possible; develop these bilateral agreements into multilateral ones, thus establishing a free-trade zone within the Dayton Triangle; draft a bilateral agreement between the FRY and the Republic of Croatia on the mutual abolition of visas.
In March 2002 representatives of the Igman Initiative handed over the experts’ observations to Vojislav Kostunica, President of the FRY, Stjepan Mesic, President of Croatia, and Beriz Belkic, the chairman of the BiH Presidency. In Sarajevo, on March 18, 2002, Mr. Belkic said in talks with representatives of the Igman Initiative ”It is in the interest of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the FRY and Croatia to speed up their inclusion in European processes of integration through the establishment of a single economic area.” Shortly thereafter, the FRY unilaterally alleviated the visa regime for citizens of Croatia, and in mid- year the two states reciprocally abolished visas. In the first half of 2002, the Agreement on Free-Trade Zone was signed between the FRY and BiH and between Croatia and BiH. At the end of the year a similar agreement was signed by the FRY and Croatia. The experts of the Igman Initiative proposed that in the second phase these agreements come to fruition at multilateral level and that joint mechanisms for their implementation be devised. Efforts of this non-governmental Dayton Triangle movement are now directed at such initiatives.
2. Free-trade zone and the mini-Schengen in the Dayton Triangle
Events influencing, directly or indirectly, relations in southeastern Europe (SEE) and the EU, as well as international economic relations in a wider sense, only confirm the necessity of the Free Trade Zone project, adopted at the Igman Initiative plenary session upon the motion of experts.
In accordance with the plenary session decision adopted in Dubrovnik in October 2001, the experts worked out proposals that could lead to further development of trade in the SEE;
One of the starting points in drawing up those proposals is a conclusion that exchange between the SEE countries is far behind the actual needs of the region and its current and particularly potential capacities;
Measures to increase exchange between countries take very long to be introduced. Interests of the region require the entire process of creating favourable conditions for the development of trade and employing other instruments of region economic linking to be significantly accelerated, both with regard to the implementation of already introduced measures and the adoption of new ones. A Memorandum obligation that all countries of the region conclude bilateral treaties on free trade by the end of 2002, is to be implemented entirely and as soon as possible. That initiative, however, is only an important step in the process of establishing a Free Trade Zone in the entire SEE region and in further economic connecting the countries of the region. That is also in accordance with the latest intentions of the Stability Pact for SEE to initiate establishing a region-wide network upon the conclusion of bilateral treaties on free trade;
Meanwhile, a number of measures that would stimulate development of trade in the region, and particularly among the three countries in question (Croatia, BiH, the FRY) should be taken. For that reason, the following proposals are given to the governments of BiH, Republic of Croatia and FRY:
Three bilateral treaties on free trade should be harmonized and a mechanism for monitoring the realization of the bilateral treaties established in the triangle BiH, Croatia, and the FRY;
Possible non-tariff obstacles in trade should be eliminated;
Possible practical problems in trade are to be identified;
Special consulting mechanisms in the realization of a free trade treaties with other countries and for exchanging experience in the realization of the “Memorandum on Understanding and Trade Liberalization” of the SEE countries should be introduced;
Periodical consultations on experience in cooperation (trade) with the EU, and on WTO activities should be introduced;
Monitoring and constant upgrading of the work of mechanisms for technical cooperation among the competent bodies of the three countries are to be carried out in the following spheres: standards and technical regulations, quality regulations and accreditation systems, veterinary and sanitary regulations, customs cooperation and rules on origin, competition, intellectual property, cooperation of agencies for the promotion of export and foreign investments.
3. Expert Elaboration on Unresolved Issues among the Countries Signatories to the Dayton Agreement – Property and Status Issues of Citizens
The project was launched on October 14th 2011 in Belgrade on the occasion of 22nd session of the Igman Initiative, with the presence of the four heads of states as well as the Commissioner for Enlargement of the EU.
The expert team was formed on October 10th 2011, with the aim to provide feasible solutions for the citizens’ status and property issues Aside from the Igman Initiative experts, the government experts assisted in research and in providing data necessary for the assessment of the legislation, policies and practice in all four countries.
In the midst of the expert team research a thematic conference on citizens’ status and property issues was organized on November 29th 2011 for the purpose of gathering stakeholders from all four countries and initiating a discussion that would provide the expert team with accurate information about the practice in all four countries as well as priority issues and deficiencies related to it. In the course of the conference the Igman Initiative expert team received the assurance from the government officials who attended the event that in their further research they will be provided with all necessary information.
The expert team was assigned with a task to, in the period of five months, examines applicable national legislation as well as signed bilateral agreements in this area, and with the reference to the international legal norms, standards and obligations carry out the following:
- Determine possible deficiencies in the documents and give proposal for their elimination,
- Determine if any internal regulations or bilateral agreements are missing and propose for their introduction,
- Determine, through concrete examples, malpractice, i.e. inconsistencies in the enforcement of national legislature, local regulations and the implementation of the signed bilateral agreements;
- Draw up recommendations for the governments of the four countries and the EU with proposals how to overcome problems in the stated areas.
The expert team work resulted in White Paper on Citizens’ Status and Property Issues in Signatory Countries of the Dayton Agreement that Resulted from Disintegration of Yugoslavia, with recommendations for solutions included.
A large part of the expert team report focuses on the citizens’ status issues for the reason that finding durable solutions to the issues of citizenship in the successor states of the former Yugoslavia has a huge impact on the lives of citizens, especially refugees and other displaced persons, as well as their ability to access fundamental human rights.
As one of immediate recommendations of the expert team in the area of citizens’ status, the Igman Initiative calls on the governments of the four countries signatories of the Dayton Agreement to accordingly and accountably enforce the following international obligation of the former countries of the SFR Yugoslavia:
- Introduce the extenuating circumstances procedures to obtaining citizenship for the citizens of the former republics of SFR Yugoslavia, who held their residence on the day of succession.
- Introduce the extenuating circumstances procedures for naturalization of refugees.
The expert team deemed that the most challenging recommendations to be implemented and enforced by the governments of the four countries are related to the Annex G of the Agreement on Succession Issues. The Annex G, which is of great importance for protection of private property and citizens’ vested rights, stipulates only basic principles. In order to enforce those principles, successors states are obligated to take legislative and regulatory measures which will guarantee efficient application of those principles such as conclusion of bilateral agreements, issuing proper legal enactments and bylaws, dissemination of information to courts and other competent bodies, etc. For instance, the courts of competent jurisdiction in Serbia and Croatia recons the conclusion of bilateral agreements as a prerequisite for conducting investigated offenses in accordance with Annex G of the Agreement on Succession Issues. Since the Republic of Croatia ratified the Agreement on Succession Issues in 2004, as the last of the successor countries of the former SFRY that has done so, over 8 years has gone by without the successor countries taking necessary measures for its efficient enforcement.
Since succession, representatives of the successor states were mainly concerned with the division of diplomatic and consular offices, archives as well as other state property and the like. At the meeting of the Standing Joint Committee of Senior Representatives of Each Successor State,which was held in Belgrade on September 17th and 18th of 2009, the Committee adopted the recommendation number 5, with regards to the implementation of the Annex G, which recommends to the governments of the successor states to conclude bilateral agreements. It has been three years since the adoption of this recommendation and not a single bilateral agreement has been signed and ratified between the governments of any of the successor states.
The expert team assessed different political options at disposal to decision makers in the region and proposed over 40 recommendations for political activities that can improve the current situation in the field of the status and property rights of the citizens from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia and Serbia
4. Free Movement of Labor Force between the Countries Signatories of the Dayton Agreement using Experiences of the Nordic Council as Example
With support from the Danish Embassy, at the beginning of 2014, the Igman Initiative set off the implementation of the project Free Movement of Labor Force between the Countries Signatories of the Dayton Agreement Using the Experiences of the Nordic Model of Cooperation. A diverse expert team was established consisting of independent experts and the representatives of competent government institutions from the four countries, with the task to analyze legislative framework as well as bilateral agreements concluded between the four countries in order to find the most effective model for regulating free movement of labor force and establishing regulatory framework of labor market, using the experiences of the Nordic model. As the experts needed to gain more insight into the functioning of the Nordic model of cooperation in the area of free movement of labor force the Igman Initiative organized study visit to the Nordic Council Headquarters in Copenhagen at the end of May 2014. After the expert group concluded the first phase of their research a consultative session was organized on May 20th 2014 at the Parliamentary Assembly of B&H on the occasion of which the representatives of competent parliamentary committees and ministries from the four countries reviewed the expert team report.
During their research the expert group generated and cross-referenced data related to regulations and practice from several competent and relevant institutions such as ministries, parliamentary committees, unions, chambers of commerce, national employment agencies, etc.
After the research experts drafted conclusions and recommendations after which the Publication of their work was printed.
The following are main recommendations the Igman Initiative expert team outlined for the governments of the four countries:
- Governments of the four countries should consider establishing an inter-state body (council or similar) with the tasks of conducting the analysis of priority issues and developing regional cooperation in the area of labor force migration and employment, using the Nordic model of cooperation as example.
- The Council should work on the analyses of existing policies and practice in this area for the purpose of drafting a declaration which would integrate all basic elements necessary for outlining common guidelines for cooperation, development and employment policies.
- The Council should assess labor market demands and accordingly propose solutions related to cooperation between the four countries in the areas of education, science, innovation, energy, agriculture and so on.
- The Council should work on creating the conditions for adaptable and efficient labor market, enhanced commerce between business entities, improved position of workers as well as better accessibility to core labor and social security protection. As a result, competent government bodies would have a better overview of labor migrations in and among the countries that are the members of the Council. This would enable the establishment of an effective system of combating undeclared work, which is the common interest of all countries signatories to the Dayton Agreement, given the high rate of undeclared work.
- The measure that would significantly improve business cooperation and employment would be conclusion of bilateral agreements in the area of labor and employment between the countries signatories of the Dayton Agreement. The agreements should be based on objective and realistic assessment of demand and supply for certain profile of the workforce of the signatory countries and include specific measurable conditions under which labor migration will be performed, as well as precisely defined instruments for the protection of migrant workers.
5. Integrating Roma interests to the Sarajevo Housing
Within the framework of the project Integrating Roma interests to the Sarajevo Housing, which commenced in January 2014, the expert team worked on mapping and documenting Roma refugees, determining their housing needs as well as drafting recommendations for finding housing solutions within the RHP. After a comparative analysis of the documents obtained from government bodies and data obtained from Roma rights organizations, and after the outlining of independent expert reports on state of affairs in this area the Igman Initiative organized round-tables in all four countries with the aim to support the authorities in their efforts to permanently resolve housing issues of Roma refugee.
The report of the Igman Initiative expert team, has indicated that due to twofold disadvantage that derive from displacement/exile and belonging to minority community Roma refugees and IDPs have been recognized as a special disadvantaged category which encounters numerous obstacles in exercising its guaranteed rights and is in need of additional assistance regarding housing care.
For the purpose of improving their position in all four countries and ensuring their participation in the RHP the Igman Initiative expert team outlined the following key recommendations:
- Public calls announced within the RHP should be adjusted to meet genuine housing needs of the final beneficiaries, especially Roma refugees and IDPs
- Due to the fact that Roma refugees and IDPs are poorly informed about the RHP, as well as open calls announced within its framework, competent institutions should design comprehensive media campaigns adjusted to the specific living conditions of Roma population, giving advantage to direct communication in the localities of their placement as opposed to providing information via national and local media outlets and message boards at competent institutions.
- During the process of applying for housing within the framework of the RHP Roma refugees and IDPs should be provided with free legal aid and assistance in obtaining requested documents.
- The Government should take active measures aimed at preventing segregation and ghettoization of Roma refugees and IDPs within the RHP.
The representatives of competent government bodies and international community assessed the Igman Initiative expert report as highly valuable for the reason that it contains data on territorial density of Roma refugees and IDPs as opposed to official lists lacking data of final beneficiaries of the RHP based on their ethnicity. Moreover, the expert report provides a set of recommendations that could improve the implementation of the RHP in all four countries and prevent discrimination of Roma refugees and IDPs as the most vulnerable category within refugee population.
In the five last moths of the project implementation the expert team of the Igman Initiative, as well as organizations gathered around it, conducted campaign aimed at providing free legal aid and assistance in obtaining documents to Roma refugees and IDPs in all four countries. During the campaign about 200 persons were helped with regards to their housing issues and application process.
Project Integrating Roma Interests to the Sarajevo Housing Process is being implemented with support from the Foundation Open Society Institute (FOSI) from Budapest.