In UN Sector East, the kidnapping of sanitation workers and artillery exchanges are just some of the events to result from a dispute over garbage dumps. How do the conflicting sides view the dispute? What can the UN do?
On 14th of July TV viewers in Croatia saw pictures of Osijek sanitation workers dropping seventy tons of rubbish into the Drava River. Shots of rubbish being tipped into the river and floating downstream. This was the result of a break-down of an agreement with local Serb authorities that had allowed Osijek to use the main trash site within the Separation Zone. However after Serb forces seized three Croatian garbage workers, people in Osijek had no suitable place to deposit waste. Two days after the rubbish was dumped, there was shooting and a three hour exchange of mortar fire during which one person was killed.
Interview with Branimir Glavaš, Osijek-Baranja County Prefect, who says that this clash was not caused by rubbish but was the result of Serb rebels taking up arms against Croatia, trying to start up wide-scale warfare in eastern parts of Croatia. Corresponding interview with Milan Milanović, a representative of local Serb authorities, who says that the dumping of the trash is only the consequence of the problem and “the cause of the problem is the Croatian Army”. He blames their offensives in Western Slavonia and other parts of the RSK that have violated the buffer zone. He insists that the Croatian Army must pull out of the buffer zone.
Interview with General Wan De Weghe, UN Sector Commander, who agrees that the trash is not the real problem, instead the UN must try to encourage peaceful negotiations between the two sides so that they can reach comprehensive agreements. Interview with Gesudas Bell, UN Civil Affairs Coordinator, who says that both sides need to recognise that they have signed a ceasefire agreement in which the Separation Zone is sacrosanct.
Interview with Zlatko Kramarić, Mayor of Osijek, explains that rubbish remains an important issue for a city of Osijek’s size. Safe disposal of rubbish is essential to the health of the 10,000 residents. After talks brokered by the UN last week, both sides have agreed to respect the former plan, which allows Osijek to deposit garbage within the Separation Zone but only after detained Croat workers are exchanged for Serb prisoners. Shots of UN vehicle clearing ground in the Separation Zone.
Milan Milanović, a representative of local Serb authorities, says that they will temporarily allow the Croats to use the site in the Separation zone if they are monitored by the UN but ultimately they must solve the problem within their own territory. Branimir Glavaš, Osijek-Baranja County Prefect, asks UNCRO to secure the area so that the sanitation workers can work in safety and says that the current Separation Zone is Croatian territory that they will not be pushed from by local Serb authorities.
Shots of piles of garbage and the river that runs from Croatian to Serb-controlled land. In affairs like this, international mediators play an essential part in ensuring that peaceful solutions are reached to civic problems without resort to arms. General Wan De Weghe, UN Sector Commander, says that they are doing their best to resolve this dispute. He says that if the UN were to withdraw from this area, then there would be war.