Winner of 1998 European Union and United States of America «Civil Society Award»










































Zagreb, April 2004




Serbian Democratic Forum in 2003





In 2003 the SDF continued with the activities from the previous period – the return of refugees, revitalization of local communities in the war affected areas and the media production.


The refugee issues – their return and reintegration are certainly the area where we were maximally engaged. We developed numerous and extremely diverse programs of assistance – identification of, and communication with refugees (in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia/Monte Negro), «Go and See» programs of short visits to pre-war places of residence, permanent monitoring how their rights are exercised, and mediation in the relations with local and national authorities. We paid several informative visits to refugee communities, held round tables on various aspects of refugee topics. We also developed a complex program of pro bono legal assistance where the SDF legal advisors offered whole range of services to the clients – gave basic information on the terms of return, legal advising, wrote submissions (claims, complaints, appeals, requests). They inter alia, monitored and analyzed legislation and court practice in the relevant areas (ownership rights, status of tenancy right holders, reconstructions rights, pension and medical insurance rights and entitlements).


The work of SDF in 2003 was characterized by significant efforts on the development of local communities. In this matter we primarily wanted to exercise the potentials of the Law on Local Self-government and the Constitutional Law on the Ethnic Minorities. Consequently, in a number of localities in the areas of special state concern /war affected areas) we initiated the formation of community boards and national minority councils and attempted to empower those basic democratic forms with a series of capacity building workshops, links with local authorities and networking with similar initiatives. Simultaneously, via ECRA project we tried to initiate / strengthen the independent local initiatives of different forms – such as organizations and economic co-operatives in order to boost economic and social integration.


In the said period the media production of SDF experienced intense expansion. After being regularly published for nearly eight years, our monthly magazine the «Identity» proved to be fully established and the most professionally edited media of civil society in Croatia. Its pages brought not only classical press articles on the problems troubling Serb community (safety, return, property issues etc.) but also the texts highlighting the problems of interethnic communication, starting the cultural links between recently hostile ethnic groups, formation of civil society, promotion of civil and human rights.


The «Identity» published the texts of many journalists and prominent intellectuals from all over former Yugoslavia, who had totally different national or political background but all to the last one highly competent in the press sector.




We are extremely proud that we began publishing a joint magazine named «Pogledi» in association with the Union of the Organizations of Croat Settlers /ZUNH) and with it we managed to break, at least on limited scale, the common stereotypes on the inevitable conflict of returnees and settlers.



Finally, in 2003 we produced the series of four 30-minute TV programs called «Somebody's Land», broadcast by Croatian national TV house in March 2004. The programs portrayed social, political and economic aspects of return, assessed the enforcement of law / regulations in the war affected areas and examined the social climate and safety of the environment for return. We believe that the programs produced several exceptional steps forward on the Croatian media scene, but the most important achievement was to speak authentically and openly at Croatian TV on the problem of Serb flight and suffering in the war – the authenticity is reflected in the selection of topics, production and political profiling.


Serbian Democratic Forum is an active member of several domestic and international networks involved in the protection and promotion of human rights, especially the rights of refugees and ethnic minorities. We have worked with all key NGOs and international organizations active in this area but we would like to point out the continuation of our operation with UNHCR, ASB-EC and partnership with the Croatian Ministry of Public Works and Reconstruction.


SDF in 2003 had a staff of 96 full time employees, over 200 volunteers and about 1.000 activists; we operated through 17 offices in Croatia, one office in BiH (Banja Luka, RS) and two offices in Serbia / Monte Negro (Belgrade and Pazova).


The program was implemented via 20 projects – their list with the names of donors, grants and locations is given in the enclosed chart and the detailed description of each project is presented on the following pages.


Veljko Džakula

President of the Management Board





















SDF Projects in 2003



Project title







Repatriation and Reintegration of Refugees







Triangl Repatriation Project

Danish Refugee Council




Western Slavonia


Comprehensive Advocacy Strategy for the Rights of Refugees

Danish Refugee Council






Somebodya Land - 4 TV Broadcasts







Identification of Beneficiaries and Coordination of Refugees





Croatia, S/MN


Provision of Free Legal Assistance to Vulnerable Groups







Free Legal Aid - Donji Lapac

Governmental Office for Human Rights




Donji Lapac


ECRA, Western Slavonia





Western Slavonia


ECRA, Banovina/Kordun

Mercy Corps




Bania and Kordun


Accelerated Processing of Reconstruction Applications

Canadian Embassy






Identitet - monthly magazine








Council for Ethnic Minorities, Government of Croatia







Norwegian Embassy






The NGOs and Local Government Cooperation

Canadian Embassy




Western Slavonia


Fieldwork Lawyer







Logistic Help in House Reconstruction





Bania and Kordun


Growing Lavender

Ministry for Crafts and SME, Government of Croatia






Enforcing the Capacity of Local Community Councils

Governmental Office for Associations




Western Slavonia


The Return and Reconstruction Assistance

Ministry for Public Works and Reconstructions






National Minority Councils Education















Average exchange rate, Croatian National Bank, on 31.12.2003.

1 EUR = 7,646909 HRK

1 USD =  6,118506 HRK





1 - Repatriation and Reintegration of Refugees in Areas of Special State Concern




SDF has realized its biggest projects during the year 2003 within its 18 legal advising officers in Croatia. SDF has helped refugees and others low income individuals (18.274 clients or 21.952 different legal cases). Expert lawyers have represented clients before court in the legally more complex cases (146 cases), while an established network of activists in the field provided information or monitored the return process.


SDF has organized help to the returnees, persons in cross-border visits, and refugees. SDF has acquired personal documents with a beneficiary authorization letter, paid administrative fees when acquiring citizenship, permanent residency, land registry papers, land ownership titles, and additional reconstruction request papers etc. (2.079 cases for 1.373 clients).


In order to help the return of the refugees, SDF has been collecting the host statements  (49 papers collected) and forwarding them to the Office for Refugees to accommodate potential returnees as soon as possible. Also, we organized regular visits to the refugee collective centers in Strmica near Knin, Tehnika in Sisak, Topolik in Lipik to help the organized return of the refugees.


In other to speed up the processing of reconstruction applications and the reconstruction, in cooperation with and for the Ministry of Public Works and Reconstruction and its local offices, SDF has organized and directed official papers delivery to the house reconstruction applicants, helped them with additional papers submission, found contact phones and addresses (11.324 letters were forwarded to the house reconstruction applicants; 1.804 new users addresses were found; 1.454 field cases were assisted in completing reconstruction applications; 629 signatures for house reconstruction instructions were collected; 1.064 beneficiaries were contacted in person or over phone for additional paper requests).






















2 - Triangle Repatriation Project


Within this project in Western Slavonia permanent legal counseling has been organized for the returnees, needy individuals, and participants in cross-border visits (170 legal assistance beneficiaries). People were also helped to acquire personal documents, court representation and other administrative fees (304 users, 455 court and other administrative fees and acquired documents).


During this project SDF legal counselor had two informative visits to the refugees and displaced people in collective centers in S/MN. At the time he held two panel discussions and 18 informative meetings with 700 displaced people from Republic of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.


A public meeting for Croatian refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina was organized in refugees camp Lipovljani with legal counselors from NGO Banja Luka and Tuzla.




3 - Comprehensive Advocacy Strategy for the Rights of Refugees and DPs


Members of the Legal Issues Group within South-East Europe for Refugee Assistance Network (SEE-RAN) and Balkan Human Rights Network (BHRN) have started this cooperation project in year 2000. SDF is coordinating Croatian part of the project; other network participants are Croatian Helsinki Committee, Civic Committee for Human Rights and Dalmatian Solidarity Committee.


The project main objectives:





Croatian legislative system in the period 1990 – 2000 certainly significantly influenced refugee issues. Based of an analysis of that period done in the previous phases of this project, we carried out the following actions:






Within the project National coordinators from the Group for Legal Issues and Coordination Committee SEE-Ran have met several times to work on Program document FRESTA or 2004, and Strategic plan for Group for Legal Issues till 2007.





4 - Somebody's Land – The TV Serial


A while ago we realized The Croatian TV program scheme hadn't had any show on refugees, their return and reconciliation back to their homeland. In this rather confusing and somehow chaotic situation, would be smart and useful to offer some basic information about where we stand with property repossession, what is the security factor like, and what is the life like now in those areas that used to be «somebody's homeland». Along the line might be even more important to wake up general public to reopen for the coexistence in the post war situation, especially in the Areas of Special State Concern.

The initial idea was to give equal coverage of refugee's problems in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia, so all ethnic groups would equally benefit from those information. Yet, due to practical reasons Bosnia and Serbia coverage have shrunk down. Also, at the beginning we had an idea to have three 50 min. Informative shows. But right after the shooting had begun The Croatian TV had decided to give us 30 min documentary shows, instead. We have shown a great flexibility adjusting along the line and shuffling our concepts as needed. We shot material enough for five shows, but by the end we faces the situation that some parts were already outdated. All in all, we finalized four shows and the remaining material from the fifth one has been used to replace some outdated parts.

The serial shows a wide refugee return territory with separate coverage of: Donji Lapac, Pakrac and surrounding area, Vukovar, Knin and surrounding area, Ravni Kotari in Zadar background, Baranja, Udbina, Banja Luka, Petrinja, Karlovac, Krnjak. There are two parts from refugee centers in Serbia: Krnjaca near Belgrade and Temerin, and stories about public persons who were refugees themselves: Miljenko Jergović, writer, Edo Maajka, singer; Marijan Beneš, boxer. A special space is devoted to a woman athlete Vera Nikolić who was the top athlete in Croatia at the seventies and funnily enough had to leave Croatia at the beginning of the nineties.

The guiding criterion was to give equal coverage to all ethnic groups and balanced information with neither a false optimism nor useless criticism.


The material got green light from Croatian consulting team as it met all required professional and technical standards, and also didn't invoke racial, religious, or any other intolerance. What’s more its quality soars above the average TV offering.


TV presentation unfortunately happened with five-month delay. It finally went on air on March 26-29,2004. SDF is working out an agreement with independent TV stations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia and Monte Negro to re-broadcast Somebody's Land, there are plans to continue the production in 2004.



5 - Identification of Beneficiaries and Coordination of Return


The project has covered the whole territory of Croatia. Its main goal has been to increase the number of returnees from out of Croatia back to the Areas of Special State Concern through the following means:



The main goal of the project has been assisting County Offices for Reconstruction and Ministry for Reconstruction and Development in communication with potential returnees-users: locating users, handing in the documents regarding reconstruction requests, legal help in the documents completion.


The major interactions have place across the border, namely, contacting and connecting refugees in Serbia, Monte Negro, Bosnia and Herzegovina (potential reconstruction users) with Croatian officials. Certain number of especially complex cases (mostly property rights) was offered legal help (attorney at the court).


SDF has offered paper work help in the reconstruction requests in 4 289 cases. The help has been requested in 2 917 cases through the project itself. There is still work in progress on the previously collected cases.



6 - Provision of Legal Aid to Vulnerable Groups


The project has been initiated to offer a fee of charge legal provision in the area poorly covered with this kind of help. It covers districts Kistanje, Skradin and Ervenik. Its implementation saves the inhabitants long trips to bigger centers – Knin and Benkovac.


For that purpose in Kistanje an office space has been rented and equipped and has had regular daily working hours. In the year 2003 the office has served 548 clients with various legal concerns, mostly regarding their retirement and disability rights, property reconstruction and temporary occupied property return. Kistanje town area has dealt with the biggest problem as far as property returns goes, only 30 out 120 temporary occupied houses have been returned so far.


This project has shown significant results in helping the above mentioned and many other acute problems, especially property returns and reconstructions. In the coming period we expect this kind of free of charge legal office will justify its purpose as its help is necessary to the local inhabitants and many returnees in the area.



7 - Provision of Free Legal Aid in Donji Lapac Municipality


Project had five objectives:


  1. Promotion of Return Program prepared by Government of Republic of Croatia
  2. Provision of all kinds of free legal aid to endangered people
  3. Creation of conditions for reintegrating returnees and settlers into Croatian society
  4. Connecting to organizations in and out of the Republic of Croatia that support return from and to FRY and BiH
  5.  Provision of free legal aid related to:

-         Status rights

-         Repossession and protection of property, reconstruction right, housing care

-         Pensions, social welfare, health insurance


Our office in Donji Lapac has helped 764 persons with different legal and administrative problems (total of 1 272 cases – 227 status rights, 75 property and ownership rights, 242 reconstruction, 46 housing, 210 pensions, 143 health insurance and social welfare, 67 returnees status, 4 minor offences, and 2588 other cases).


Prevailing legal cases related to reconstruction, status rights, retirement insurance, health insurance and social welfare.


Legal aid provision has given with national or religious discrimination. According to the clients feedback this project has been very successful.



8 - ECRA – Western Slavonia



This Program has consisted of two components: social economic.


The social part objective has been: to promote  reintegration in the targeted communities (municipalities Đulovac, Okučani, Pakrac Town) through enforcing local community boards and local citizen associations, to connect civil groups, local government and private sector, and to provide legal help.

During the Program period all the above-mentioned factors, namely: local community councils, local associations, and local governments on the territory have held coordination meetings exchanging experience and information about needs and priority investments in the community (16 coordination meetings, 184 local community boards and local association participants).

Also, a series of workshop on community boards and local citizen associations reinforcement and capacity build up took place (6 different workshops attended 179 local community boards local association member). The main objective was to present models of participation in a local community activities, tolerant dialog, team work, proposal writing, communication with outside donors.

Beside the workshops, there were individual consultations with all three municipalities associations. The individual consultations were offered to those associations assessed as perpective ones in terms of the initial capacity, concrete activities, and high survival probability. The individual consultations were supposed to needs and enforce the initial promising start off (5 individual consultations for the same number of associations and 30 representatives).

The newly acquired knowledge has open up a door to some existing community problems and has offered olutions in financing some important programs. The education taught those local community boards and local associations how to apply for donations. However, the SDF and IRC members have given a valuable technical support and expertise in the application procedure itself. From the total number of 12 applicants, 8 got granted donations for the purposed projects.

Based on an agreement between IRC and SDF, in April 2003 there was an invitation for the second round of small grants available to all local community boards and local associations from all three ECRA municipalities. Each municipality had a share of 10 grants or $US 1.000.000 per project. From 40 proposals, the Local Community Council in cooperation with a team of experts for civil society development accepted 35 applications, based on elaborated criteria (sustainability, evident usefulness for the entire community, implementation possibility, real community need for the solution of that kind, level of volunteers contributions.

Those three municipalities got total of 203.997.78 kn, while local communities offices and local associations volunteers contributed 132.023.69 kn.

The ECRA municipalities local associations and local community boards held their II festival in Đulovac. A total number of 41 – local associations (23) and local community boards (18) from municipalities Okučani, Đulovac, Pakrac Town, Dvor na Uni and Obrovac took a chance to participate and present promotional leaflets with their past performance and future activities. The event has been a very good opportunity to meetings and experience exchange. Thanks to the lucky occasion of having guests from foreign embassies, AED, CARE, UNHCR, OSCE, Urban Institute, The Office for National Minorities. USAID, etc, and also the neighbor municipalities and counties representatives this certainly was a good opportunity to meet potential donors.

After ECRA program has ended in Okučani, Đulovac and Pakrac it left behind 3 new civil associations, 6 newly formed returned local community boards and activists have become quite inhabituated to having regular local community boards and local associations coordinations meetings in all three municipalities.


The economic part of ECRA project aims towards initiating various business activities enabling the young generation better employment opportunities and helping the local institutions in municipalities Pakrac. Okučani and Đulovac to gain ground. As it mostly a rural area significant agricultural resources, the emphasis is on helping organizing family farms. A team of experts formed to put the project in work has had interviewed and surveyed family farms, associations, cooperative farms and assessed their business potential, financial capabilities and the level of expertise in the field and development needs.

Based on that survey, 5 cooperative farms, 3 associations, and 1 citizen initiative have been granted a participation in the project. All the subjects are registered as Agricultural Cooperative Farms (with ECRA financial and expert assistance). The expert team has designed an adequate education program to the cooperatives (agricultural cooperative farms management, organizing products marketing, training in production technology).

In this Cooperative Farms Program has been invested $US 442.000. Out of it seven agricultural cooperation farms have reached the sustainability level.

The business ECRA project has had additional program components that encompass connections to and interactions with local schools, local offices for economy, and Croatian Institute for Agriculture – Counseling Department, also job training programs for the young population. In cooperation with The Employment Offices, management offices, and the employer's representatives have laid out the business needs upon which they invited applicants. Out of 96 candidates that have been through the job training, 38 succeeded in finding a job.

The ECRA project had very good media coverage. Articles were published and TV and radio shows presented: HTV, NET Kutina, NET PINK, Banja Luka, TV  B-92, Radio Daruvar, Radio Bljesak, Radio Quirinus, Radio Nova Gradiška, Radio Gradiška, Večernji list, Jutarnji List and Pakračko-Lipički list.



9 - ECRA – Banija and Kordun


The intention of the project was to increase the rate of return of refugees and displaced people from FRY, BiH and Croatia back to their pre-war permanent residence through providing adequate legal assistance in solving their status and housing problems. The project was implemented in 4 town of Banovina / Kordun – Gvozd, Vojnić, Dvor and Hrvatska Kostajnica.

The project included 2 types of activities:


1.      Cross-border return:


·        To hold information dissemination campaigns focused on the refugees and displaced people in FRY and BiH;

·        To notify the target population about the return process via different media) press, radio and TV programs);

·        To organize visits of local officials from Croatian areas of special state concern to the refugee camps in FRY and BiH;

·        To work together with local authorities and other NGOs while preparing the so called «Go and See» visits of refugees and displaced people to their pre-war homes and to provide logistic support;


2.      Reintegration of returnees in the communities:


·        To provide free of charge legal assistance to returnees, refugees, displaced persons and domicile population of Vojnic, Gvozd, Hrvatska Kostajnica and Dvor;

·        To keep contacts with local authorities, Housing Commissions, County Offices for Reconstructions and Development, branch offices of Croatian Institute for medical Insurance, social welfare offices and Croatian Institute for Pension Insurance with the aim of helping the returnees exercise their rights and entitlements and to speed up the procedure of repossession and reconstruction of returnee property.


The implementation of the project helped to achieve three objectives refugee and returnee population received high quality, free of charge legal assistance to help them exercise their human and social rights; positive examples in the return and reintegration encouraged other refugees to return to their pre-war domicile in Croatia; better media coverage of the return and reintegration process.

In the framework of the project, we:


1)      Held 15 information dissemination campaigns (10 in FRY + 5 in BiH). 650 potential returnees were directly acquainted with the chances of return and reintegration in their pre-war communities;

2)      Distributed 96.000 copies of the magazine «Identity» containing essential information for refugees accommodated in FRY, BiH and Croatia;

3)      In 6 TV programs for ethnic minorities called «Prism» broadcast by Croatian national TV house, we provided comprehensive information on the status and the life of Serb minority in Croatia. As this program is received not only in Croatia but also in large parts of BiH and Serbia/Monte Negro, we believe that it produced significant effect on the return process;

4)      Helped transporting 1.900 refugees during the «Go and See» visits to the birth/marriage/death registries in 4 a.m. municipalities;

5)      Offered legal advising and wrote various applications for estimated 10.000 beneficiaries.



10 - Accelerated Processing of Reconstruction Applications


In the project the SDF legal advisers have provided a legal and logistic support to the returnees and displaced people. The main help has been regarding the house reconstruction requests completion, and a «link service» between county offices for reconstruction and applicants who have still been in Serbian and Monte Negro or in Bosnia and Herzegovina, or those who returned to Croatia but reside out of their previous locations. The «link service» basically connects the official with users, forwards mail, locates people on their new addresses, passes on information, etc.


Four main areas of the activities:


  1. Communication link between county offices for reconstruction and the applicants out of Croatia (Serbia and Monte Negro, Bosnia and Herzegovina). Some mail has been handed in to the recipients in the Republic of Croatia who in meantime have returned from exile. The SDF team usually has had a legal counselor who would at the spot give an advice regarding the reconstruction requests. In many cases SDF activists would locate an applicant and invite him to come in person to Croatia to the county office for the paper work completion. Quite often the SDF office would help with collecting documents, inheritance proceedings, land registry certificates, officially recording houses, etc. For this purpose SDF would hire lawyers if needed in more complicated cases. During this project 9 411 written statements were forwarded to the users.
  2. The reconstruction requests to the county offices have to have the following info: address, name and ID of the house reconstruction applicant and household members (in many cases the ID's were missing). Based on the acquired information and addresses in exile in Serbia and Monte Negro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina the users were located either in person or over phone and their ID's were collected. In collaboration with Ministry of Public Works and Reconstruction, SDF collected more than 1500 identification numbers and forwarded them to the reconstruction offices.
  3. Every object for reconstruction has to be officially approved and has to obtain an expert reconstruction documentation. For that purpose Ministry of Public Works and Reconstruction have signed contracts with project bureaus assigned for that job. The SDF activists would be handy at the spot to show the officials an object and after that they would locate the users in other to have them sign the papers as necessary prerequisite for the reconstruction to start off. The SDF representatives helped 557 cases in year 2003.
  4. In collaboration with Ministry of Public Works and reconstruction the owners of the objects by the main tourist roads to the Adriatic Coast were located in other to arrange with them clearing the rubbles and start reconstruction.



11,12,13 - Newsmagazine «IDENTITET»


Las year «Identitet» had 10 issues. Croatian Government, through its Minority Committee, financed six of them and international donors – OSCE and Norwegian Embassy helped issue the remaining four.


The magazine, according to many domestic and foreign readers opinion, has held a significantly high quality of texts as well as graphic design. «Identitet» has continued its already established and recognizable editorial angle emphasizing cosmopolitan and a two-way dialog, yet not forgetting but even more improving some Serb national identity highlights. During this year besides common texts describing current problems in Serb community (security, refugees return, property rights, etc). «Identitet» has published various authors opinions on actual issues like: multiethnic communication, cultural connections among different ethnic groups not long ago set against each other, creating a civil society, civil and human rights promotion.


«Identitet» has taken pride in publishing journalists and intellectuals, all coming from different political streams and national backgrounds of the former Yugoslavia, yet well know and highly regarded. Among those are: Igor and Slavica Mandić, Miljenko Jergović, Marinko Čulić, Miloš Vasić, Čedimir Višnjić, Tatjana Tagirov, Ivo Žanić, Lino Veljak, Igor Lasić, Goran Borković, Ivica Đikić, Boris Rašeta, etc.


Much like the other minority publications, «Identitet» suffers from the same malady: lack of finances, no editorial office and no publishing equipment, no permanent staff, no selling opportunity. As, so to speak, has been predestined to be sustained and survive by pure enthusiasm. Not worth mentioning how difficult it has been to stay at the level and fulfill its informative, educational, humanistic and other high set purpose. However, according to the readers opinion «Identitet» has successfully accomplished its job most of the time. Concerning minority problems (every Serb paper in Croatia in that respect look alike), we left them just to be one of the themes in the paper. Our intention has been to create a compelling, intellectually respectable, relevant paper that covers a wide array of civil society concerns.



14 - The NGOs and Local Government Cooperation


This project's objectives were to solve the problem of permanent housing for the community members and for that purpose strengthening cooperation between civil initiatives and local government was necessary. The achieved results: 5 flats reconstructed for settlers families (17 people), 3 houses returned back to the original owners (3 Serb families – 9 family members), better cooperation between SDF and local government (Pakrac).


SDF has reconstructed 3 houses (4 flats) and turned it into permanent housing for endangered settlers from Bosia and Herzegovina; 4 returnees families will get back their property and will be able to return back to Croatia. In the project realization the following factors took part: APN (buying off), Ministry of Public Works, Reconstruction and Construction (donated building material), The Town Pakrac (designated sanitary objects users).


Another project objective has anticipated only 3 houses return to the 3 Serb returnees families (9 family members). Yet, thanks to the SDF and ODPR from Požega cooperation, 8 houses have been returned to the returnees in Pakrac, and additional 2 houses and 2 housing units are supposed to be returned to the project users. Also, cooperation with offices for displaced people and refugees have got better results in terms of actual return of the property to the lawful owners – 7 occupied houses have been returned back to the Serbs returnees (18 family members) and 1 housing unit has been returned to the Serb Orthodox Church.


SDF has also significantly improved communication with local self-government – regular meetings with a mayor, cooperation with Office for Public Affairs (joint development expert team has been organized for the local community committees and local associations needs), cooperation with Ministry for Communally Affairs. SDF has been lately considered as a non-governmental organization that serves need of all citizens, not only Serbs.



15 - Fieldwork Lawyer


A three-month pilot project that started out of necessity to assist people living in remote villages (Cetina, Ervenik and Vrlika) in Dalmatia area. Usually lack of finances or poor health condition won't allow them to easily visit towns to seek legal help when needed. The fieldwork lawyer office was open 3 times a week (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday), 10 a.m. – 1. P.m.


During this project 137 people visited the office and 161 different kinds of legal help was offered. The most common (68 cases) dealt with reconstruction rights, 56 cases were related to retirement rights. Than follows humanitarian aid, housing, property repossession, years of service convalidation (labor rights). This office has issued 53 written legal statements and the rest was just verbal legal advice.


The average age of the users was over 50, only 12 persons were under 50; this is so as the majority of the returnees are older people and also elderly people prefer at the spot service over long trips to the towns.



16 - Logistic Help in House Reconstruction – Banija


The project has been implemented in towns Petrinja and Glina, minicipalities Dvor, Gvozd and Vojnić. It has provided a technical, financial and executive help in the war damaged (I-III category) houses reconstruction. Within the project 754 housing units were surveyed, among which 306 have been approved for reconstruction. (Petrinja 75, Dvor 75, Gvozd 56 and Vojnić 25). For all designated objects contracts were signed with ASB, and in municipality Gvozd 50 owners have signed takeover technical documentation for reconstructed houses (in other municipalities the reconstruction is till in progress). In this project realization 11 people were engaged (bookkeeper, computer operator, the project manager, regional assistant, civil engineer, construction builder, sociologists demographer and 4 field assistants.


At the same time, along with the same project, it has been worked on locating returnees and helping them in completing and signing their house reconstruction agreements. Also, the Ids and addresses have been checked for 3600 property owners who applied for reconstructions while in Serbia and Monte Negro. It has been located 360 persons in returnee status, checked 110 addresses for the owners of the objects by the road D-1 Karlovac – Plitvice.

1374 notifications were distributed out to the reconstruction users in Republic of Croatia, Serbia and Monte Negro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina; 1134 notifications were handed in, 203 notifications were returnees (unknown address), 37 notifications are still in progress. In this project 18 took part – lawyer, the project executor and 16 volunteers.



17 - Growing Lavender


Women's Initiative Vojnić with Croatian Government Office for Associations assistance has initiated this project in other to improve quality of life in the area and to help local women self – employment.


This project engaged directly about 25 people (project manager and executor, 15 volunteers and their family members). They have worked together on preparing land and planting 1400 seedlings. Within the project two panel discussions on growing lavender have been held (the plant property, cultivation, processing, marketing). To help this project the following experts have been contacted: Irex-Aroma, the local agricultural department and local agricultural association and Croatian Agricultural Institute - Counseling Department.


The lavender project is in progress in 2004 when we are also looking forward to some financial profit.



18 - Enforcing the Capacity of Local Community Councils and Associations


This project's objective has been to motivate and initiate citizens in the area of municipality Sirač to participated more in local councils and associations’ activities. Within the project activities two rounds of life workshop took place. They dealt with the following themes:



In this workshop 98 representatives from 10 local communities councils and associations from the area of Sirač participated; there were 4 coordinating meetings with local government. Under a mentorship 6 local communities councils and 1 association have written mini projects (within given conditions) for solving infrastructure problems in local community councils (association equipment). All proposals count on 50% community contribution to the required finances. That project will be s basis documentation for requesting funding from municipality Sirač budget for 2004.


Achieved results: thanks to the workshops local communities councils and associations from Sirač municipality area have widen their horizons regarding civil society build up and democratization process, the local communities boards and local government have improved their cooperation, citizens in local community boards and association members are better informed about civil society traits. The better knowledge will be applied towards better regular funding, 20 people are trained and local communities boards and associations are now capable of confidently contacting domestic and foreign donors are fund raising for their activities.



19 - The Return and Reconstruction Assistance


This project has been realized in cooperation with Ministry for Public Works and reconstructions for betterment and more efficient solution to the refugee problems – property repossession, housing, and reconstruction.


All 18 SDF offices (in Croatia, Serbia and Monte Negro and Bosnia and Herzegovina) have been engaged in providing various kinds of legal help to the returnees and refugees, like free of charge legal counseling to expellees, refugees, and returnees (rights and obligations, conditions and possibilities for property repossession, housing, reconstruction).




-         Received 11 326 cases

-         Delivered to the clients 11 325 cases

-         Undeliverable mail (unknown recipient) 973 cases

-         Delivering still in progress 2 368 cases


So, dealing with reconstruction cases in the filed, SDF has worked on 15 159 cases.


The SDF field cooperators have been busy visiting refugees locations and updating the refugees on the situation in their place of return, legal and security conditions and at the same time they would collect data necessary for reconstruction request. Also, 5 panel discussions have been organized in Bosnia and Herzegovina and 6 in Serbian and Monte Negro.


Through the SDF monthly magazine «Identitet», that has been distributed in Croatia, Serbia and Monte Negro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, SDF informed refugees about property repossession, housing and reconstruction problems.


In cooperation with Croatian Settlers Communities Associations (ZUNH) SDF has initiated publishing paper «Pogledi» which also has had themes and information essential to the expellees, returnees and refugees and has exchanged texts dealing with refugee problems.



20 - National Minority Councils Education (workshops)


In cooperation with National Minorities Council and OSCE, SDF has organized workshops for council members and national minorities representatives. The workshops took place in Sisak and Šibenik in 2003, with participation of representatives from 11 national minorities: Albanian, Bosnian, Czech, Hungarian, Italian, Ukrainian, Macedonian, Slovenian, Serbian and a Roma.


The workshops themes:


a)      National Minorities Board competence and activities, and its cooperation with national minorities councils

b)      Constitutional Law on national minorities rights, its implementation, lawful protection national minorities special rights 8with similar laws)

c)      Establishing National Minorities Council on the level of municipality, city, county, their work and coordination, and their practical problems.


























SDF Management Board


Sead Berberović

Veljko Džakula, Board President

Dušan Ećimović

Drenko Gaćeša

Ankica Gorkič

Borjanka Metikoš

Mihail Petrov

Marina Prodanović

Miomir Vesković

Nikola Vujnović

Daniel Žderić



















Serbian Democratic Forum

Gundulićeva 55

10 000 Zagreb, Hrvatska

T: + 385 1 49 21 862

F: + 385 1 49 21 827