Rebel Serbs agreed Sunday to submit the last of their holdings in Croatia to government authority, resolving a dispute that had threatened to derail U.S.-led talks in Ohio on peace for the Balkans.
“This is a historic signing,” U.S. Ambassador Peter Galbraith said. “For the first time in this conflict, an issue has been solved by a signature and not by a bullet.”
The agreement, signed in this Serb-held town in eastern Croatia and witnessed by Galbraith and chief U.N. envoy Thorvald Stoltenberg, also averted the imminent threat of more fighting.
In May and August, Croatian troops recaptured most Serb-held territory taken in a 1991 war, sending about 180,000 Croatian Serbs fleeing to Bosnia and Serbia.
Croatia threatened to attack the remaining bit of Serb-held territory, known as eastern Slavonia, if rebels refused to accept the plan for its reintegration.