Return of Refugees to Sarajevo
On the initiative of the chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina Alija
Izetbegovic, on 1 February 1998 a meeting was held in Sarajevo of the presidents
of all the main political organizations which defended Bosnia-Herzegovina during
the war - SDA, SzBiH, SDP, UBSD, LS, GS, LBO, MBO, HSS, Serb Civic Council and
Croat National Council þ in preparation for the international conference on the
problems relating to return of refugees to Sarajevo Canton to be held on 3
February in Sarajevo. The representatives of the organizations present agreed
that they would accept any document from the international conference containing
the following principles:
1. No one can be thrown into the street. If the apartment of a would-be returnee
to Sarajevo has living in it a refugee family from the territory of RS, this
family must be guaranteed either return to its own home or another apartment
adequate for its needs.
2. Would-be returnees must make a declaration that they are asking for their
apartment back because they wish to live in Sarajevo. So they will not be able
to rent out the apartment, or following privatization to sell it for at least
five years after regaining possession of it. Otherwise the 'year of return'
could become transformed into a year of speculation, or dealing, in apartments.
3. Returns must be two-way. To that end, the international community will with
all urgency, and if possible by the beginning of March 1998, organize a conference of the same kind for the purpose of establishing a similar programme of return of displaced persons to Banja Luka, Mostar and Drvar. Sarajevo Canton is
ready to be an example and to take the first step in this direction.
4. At the level of Bosnia-Herzegovina, it is necessary to bring in a special law
on the return of displaced persons, in accordance with Annex 7 of the Dayton Accords.
5. Sarajevo must once again become the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which
means being the seat of all the common institutions of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
6. We expect the governor of Sarajevo Canton to place before the coming conference a concrete proposal relating to return of refugees, with particular emphasis on the measures that he intends to take to this end immediately and in the
course of February and March 1998, including identifying any surplus of living
accommodation and assessing the financial resources required for repair and reconstruction.