Washington, 9 April 1997 (RFE/RL) - The United States is encouraging all citizens of Croatia, including residents of Eastern Slavonia, to take part in Sunday's parliamentary and local elections.
The elections, especially in Eastern Slavonia, the last Serb-held part of Croatia, are viewed as a crucial step in reintegration of the region.
State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said yesterday the voting in Eastern Slavonia will be particularly important because, for the first time, Serbs and Croats will vote for officials who will represent them in a unified, integrated government.
Burns said the United States encourages all citizens of Croatia to participate in this democratic process. He said the United States will have 100 election observers present.
Yesterday, Serb media reported that ethnic Serbs in Eastern Slavonia overwhelmingly voted last Sunday for maintaining administrative control of Eastern Slavonia after the region reverts to government rule by January next year. The Croatian government and the United Nations, which administers the region, have already declared the referendum illegitimate.