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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

UN Warns Zagreb to Reform Or Risk Delaying Hand-Over

UNITED NATIONS -- The UN Security Council has urged Croatia to comply with all commitments in its Eastern Slavonia region so the territory can revert to Zagreb's control by Jan. 15.

The council, in a statement read at a formal meeting Monday, said the government needs to curb media attacks on ethnic groups, accelerate the return of refugees and curb its police force.

However, it also listed positive actions by the Croatian government on education, new laws, pensions and the hand-over of documents on 25 war criminals.

The once-volatile Danube region, dominated by Serbs and bordering the Yugoslav republic of Serbia, is the only Croatian area not totally under Zagreb's rule. Eastern Slavonia was put under UN administration during the 1995 Balkan peace accords in Dayton, Ohio, to prevent an outbreak of fighting and another mass exodus of refugees.

The United Nations has withdrawn almost all of its 5,000 troops and is leaving police monitors behind.

A peacekeeping battalion of Russian paratroopers will be pulled out gradually over the next two weeks, Interfax reported Tuesday. A force of 200 Russians will be the only UN troops remaining until the hand- over, expected Jan. 15.

The Security Council can delay that date, depending on a December report from the United Nations.

"The Security Council shares the assessment of the Secretary General that there is sufficient time for Croatia to comply fully with its organization and commitments before Jan. 15, 1998," the statement said.

International peace mediators are increasingly concerned about corruption in Bosnia and plan to take steps to warn the country's post-war government, Western officials said on Tuesday.

Foreign economic experts say customs, tax administration and budget expenditures are plagued by fraud and corruption which is hampering efforts to revive the economy.