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Brioni Agreement
Slovenia Croatia and Yugoslavia location map.svg
Map of Slovenia (green), Croatia (pink) and the remainder of Yugoslavia (pale yellow) at the time of the Brioni Agreement
Drafted 5 July 1991
Signed 7 July 1991
Location Brijuni, Croatia
Mediators Hans van den Broek, João de Deus Pinheiro, Jacques Poos
Signatories Milan Kučan, Franjo Tuđman, Ante Marković, Budimir Lončar, Petar Gračanin, Stane Brovet, Bogić Bogićević, Janez Drnovšek, Branko Kostić, Stjepan Mesić and Vasil Tupurkovski
Parties  Croatia
 Slovenia
 Yugoslavia
hr:Brijunska deklaracija at Wikisource

The Brioni Agreement or Brioni Declaration (Croatian language: Brijunska deklaracija , Slovene language: Brionska deklaracija ) is a document signed by representatives of the Slovenia, Croatia and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia under the political sponsorship of the European Community (EC) on the Brijuni Islands on 7 July 1991. The agreement was aimed at creating an environment in which further negotiations could be made on future of Yugoslavia. However, it isolated the federal prime minister Ante Marković in his efforts to preserve Yugoslavia, effectively removed any form of federal influence over Slovenia, allowed the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) to focus on combat in Croatia, fulfilled a Serbian goal of removing Slovenia from Yugoslavia creating a precedent of redrawing international borders and staked the EC's interest in resolving the Yugoslav crisis.

The agreement facilitated cessation of hostilities between the JNA and Slovene forces in the Ten-Day War. Slovenia and Croatia agreed to suspend activities stemming from their declarations of independence, made on 25 June, for a period of three months. The document also resolved border control and customs inspection issues regarding borders of Slovenia, resolved air-traffic control responsibility and mandated an exchange of prisoners of war. The Brioni Agreement also formed the basis for an observer mission to monitor implementation of the agreement in Slovenia. Eleven days after the agreement was made, the federal government pulled out the JNA out of Slovenia completely. Conversely, the agreement made no mitigating impact on fighting in the Croatian War of Independence.

Background

On 23 June 1991, as Slovenia and Croatia prepared to declare their independence during the breakup of Yugoslavia, the European Community (EC) foreign ministers decided the EC member states will not extend diplomatic recognition of the two states. The EC viewed the declarations as unilateral moves and offered assistance in negotiations regarding the future of the SFR Yugoslavia instead. At the same time, the EC decided to suspend direct talks with Slovenia and Croatia. The move was welcomed by the Yugoslav federal government.[1] Slovenia and Croatia declared independence on 25 June,[2] and the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) units began to deploy from its bases in Slovenia the next day. On 27 June, the JNA and the Territorial Defence of Slovenia (TDS) started armed combat over control of Slovenia's border posts, in what became the Ten-Day War.[3]

A three-strong EC delegation made three visits to the region in late June and early July to negotiate a political agreement which would facilitate further negotiations. The delegation consisted of foreign ministers of current, preceding and following EC presidencies.[1] The delegation members were Jacques Poos (Luxembourg), Gianni de Michelis (Italy), and Hans van den Broek (Netherlands). Prior to the delegation's departure to Belgrade, Poos told reporters that the EC would take charge of the crisis. There, the delegation was met by Serbian president Slobodan Milošević who dismissed a prospect of Croatia leaving the Yugoslav federation because its population contained 600,000 Serbs.[2]

On 29 June, Croatia and Slovenia agreed to suspend their declarations of independence to allow time for a negotiated settlement. The EC delegation appeared to make progress when Serbia responded to the move—no longer blocking appointment of Croatian member of the federal presidency, Stjepan Mesić, as the body's chairman on 30 June. The appearance of a success was reinforced by JNA's order to its troops posted in Slovenia to return to their barracks.[2] On 1 July, de Michelis was replaced by João de Deus Pinheiro, Portuguese foreign minister, to maintain the formula of current, preceding and the following EC presidencies comprising the EC delegation as The Netherlands took over the presidency of the EC from Luxembourg, while Portugal was scheduled to assume the presidency after the Dutch.[4]

Conference at Brijuni

File:Hans van den Broek.jpg

Hans van den Broek headed the EC delegation

A further result of the EC delegation's mission were talks attended by representatives of the EC, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia and the Yugoslav government. The talks were held at Brijuni Islands on 7 July.[2] Besides the EC delegation, headed by van den Broek,[5] there were five out of eight members of the federal presidency at the talks—Mesić, Bogić Bogićević, Janez Drnovšek, Branko Kostić and Vasil Tupurkovski. Furthermore, the conference was attended by federal prime minister Ante Marković, federal foreign minister Budimir Lončar, interior minister Petar Gračanin and deputy defence minister Vice Admiral Stane Brovet.[6] Croatia was represented by President Franjo Tuđman and Slovenia was represented by President Milan Kučan. Serbia was represented by Borisav Jović, former Serbian member of the federal presidency (resigned from the position on 15 June), instead of Milošević who refused to attend.[7] Starting at 8 am, the EC delegation held separate talks with Kučan and his assistants, then with Tuđman and his assistants, and finally with Jović. In the afternoon, a plenary meeting was held with the federal, Slovene and Croatian delegations in attendance, while Jović left reportedly dissatisfied with the talks.[8]

The agreement was prepared at the EC council of ministers in The Hague on 5 July.[9] It consisted of a Joint Declaration and two annexes—on creation of an environment suitable to further political negotiations and on guidelines for an observer mission to Yugoslavia.[10] The agreement, which became known as the Brioni Declaration or the Brioni Agreement,[11] required the JNA and the TDS to return to their bases, Slovene officials were to control borders of Slovenia alone and both Slovenia and Croatia were to suspend all activities stemming from their declarations of independence for three months.[12] The observer mission set out by the Brioni Agreement materialised as the European Community Monitor Mission (ECMM) tasked with monitoring of disengagement of the JNA and the TDS in Slovenia,[11] and ultimately withdrawal of the JNA from Slovenia.[13]

Aftermath

Even though little was agreed and the agreement was later interpreted differently by its signatories, the Brioni Agreement established EC's interest in the region and the first EC Ministerial Conference on Yugoslavia was held in The Hague on 10 July.[13] The ECMM helped calm several instances of standoffs around military barracks in Slovenia and facilitated negotiations between Slovene authorities and the JNA regarding withdrawal of the JNA from Slovenia.[11] In Croatia, armed combat continued and the JNA shelled the city of Osijek the same evening the agreement was signed.[13] The federal presidency ordered complete withdrawal of the JNA from Slovenia on 18 July in response to Slovene actions in breach of the Brioni Agreement.[14] The ECMM scope of work was expanded to include Croatia on 1 September.[15] By mid-September, the war escalated as the Croatian National Guard and police blockaded the JNA barracks and the JNA embarked on a campaign against Croatian forces.[16]

The Brioni Agreement isolated Marković who tried to preserve the federation, but was ignored by van den Broek who appeared not to comprehend issues presented before him and the EC delegation tacitly encouraged dissolution of Yugoslavia.[5] The agreement diminished authority of a part of JNA leadership who fought for preservation of Yugoslav federation.[17] The agreement was also unfavourable for Croatia because it left it to defend against the JNA and Serb forces.[12] By effectively removing Slovenia from influence of the federal authorities, especially the JNA, the agreement fulfilled a Serbian nationalists' goal, allowing redrawing of international borders.[17] Sabrina Ramet noted that Kučan and Milošević reached an agreement in January 1991 in which Milošević gave his assurances that Slovenia's independence bid would not be opposed by Serbia. In return, Kučan expressed his understanding for Milošević's interest to create a Greater Serbia.[5]

At the time, the EC viewed the agreement as a method of defusing the crisis and failed to attribute the lull which coincided with the Brioni Agreement to a shift in Serbian strategy instead. EC delegation's failure to respond to Jović's departure before the plenary meeting and EC foreign ministers' declaration of 10 July indicating the EC may withdraw from mediation if the Brioni Agreement is not implemented only encouraged Serbia which, unlike Yugoslav federation, Slovenia or Croatia, had nothing to lose if the EC pulled out.[18] In the end, the EC took credit for a rapid resolution of the armed conflict in Slovenia without realising that its diplomatic efforts had little to do with the situation on the ground.[5]

Footnotes

  1. 1.0 1.1 Ahrens 2007, p. 42
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 O'Shea 2005, p. 15
  3. CIA 2002, pp. 59–60
  4. Mesić 2004, p. 129
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Stokes 2009, p. 98
  6. Mesić 2004, pp. 130–131
  7. Valentić 2010, p. 144
  8. Mesić 2004, p. 131
  9. Mesić 2004, pp. 129–131
  10. UCDP, pp. 1–4
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Ahrens 2007, p. 43
  12. 12.0 12.1 Sharp 1997, p. 10
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 O'Shea 2005, p. 16
  14. Woodward 1995, p. 171
  15. Miškulin 2010, p. 310
  16. CIA 2002, pp. 95–97
  17. 17.0 17.1 Woodward 1995, p. 169
  18. Libal 1997, p. 20

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