U.N. peacekeepers take down the U.N. flag for the last time during the handover ceremony at southern Adriatic peninsula of Prevlaka, near ancient city of Dubrovnik, December 15, 2002. After the ceremony Croatia assumed its sovereignty over Prevlaka for the first time in the past 12 years. REUTERS/Nikola Solic
AP World Politics
U.N. monitors leave strategic Prevlaka peninsula on Croatia's south
Sun Dec 15, 8:20 AM ET
By DARKO BANDIC, Associated Press Writer
PREVLAKA, Croatia - Croatia on Sunday regained control of all of its borders when the United Nations ended its mission on the southern peninsula of Prevlaka.
The U.N. flag was lowered 10 years after U.N. military observers were deployed on the tiny but strategically important peninsula to secure a de-facto buffer zone between the wartime enemies: Croatia and the smaller Yugoslav republic ofMontenegro. (Op-ed : de-jure, not de-facto, BufferZone? Please, someone should answer this with the letter)
Last week, Croatia and Yugoslavia agreed on the future of Prevlaka, solving one of the key disputes stemming from the 1991 war which erupted when Croatian Serbs, backed by the Yugoslav army, rebelled against Croatia's independence from the former Yugoslavia.
For years, Yugoslavia disputed Croatia's right to control Prevlaka because it forms the tip of Yugoslavia's commercially and militarily important Boka Kotorska Bay.
The U.N. recognized Prevlaka as a part of Croatia, but kept its monitors there before the two countries reached an agreement.
The U.N. Security Council decided in October to disband the mission by Dec. 15, and the two countries subsequently agreed that Prevlaka remain Croatian territory, while Montenegro got control of the waters.
Due to remaining security concerns, both sides of the border will remain demilitarized.
The accord was an interim solution pending a comprehensive settlement between the countries also dealing with other issues left unresolved since the war.
The area is still mined, and police on Sunday prevented some 150 people from nearby villages, some of whom waved Croatian flags, from reaching the peninsula. Several local families lay claim to the land there.