Kafka meets Machiavelli: post-war, post-transition Eastern Slavonia

As the agonising over `what next' for Kosovo and Serbia continues, Eastern Slavonia offers a transition experience and timescale from which we may learn. Each case is specific in historical and political terms, and in the nature of international intervention. But questions of transition and minority rights are inherent across the region. Though Eastern Slavonia was one of the areas of former Yugoslavia that saw some of the fiercest fighting in the 1991 Serb-Croat war, few international aid agencies now remain. The 1995 Dayton Agreement provided for a one-year transition period for its re-incorporation into Croatia, under the auspices of a special UN mission (UNTAES). Based on extensive fieldwork, this article details the constraints on the UN's input into integrated social and civil structures, and describes the Kafkaesque welter of legal and bureaucratic obstacles as well as economic and other forms of discrimination that now face minority groups living in, or returning to, Croatia. Without a firm government commitment to full equality and fair treatment of all citizens, the pattern of violent `ethnic cleansing' may yet repeat itself.