Monday, December 31, 2007

LAJCAK SENDS NEW YEAR'S MESSAGE TO BOSNIAN CITIZENS

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 31,2007) - The International Community's High Representative and EU Special Representative in Bosnia Miroslav Lajcak sent yesterday the following New Year's message to the Bosnian citizens:

"Bosnia enters the year 2008 with a certain perspective. This time last year, not much could be foreseen, and, indeed, it was marked with a difficult atmosphere and attempts to postpone essential issues.

Facing up to the fundamental problems of this country was not pleasant at all, not least seeing citizens in panic, wondering rightly whether bad times could happen again.

Fortunately, at the very end of the year when the tensions subsided, common sense prevailed. Thanks to that, we were able to remove the obstacles which had been slowing down the development path of this country for years. Therefore, I believe that 2008 can be the year in which the citizens and peoples of Bosnia could start enjoying the fruits of further integration into the union of European states. When the ice was broken at the end of the year and the Stabilization and Association Agreement was initialed, many were relieved. And political leaders realized that it was only by agreement that they could lead this country forward.

The priority in 2008 is surely signing the Agreement, and further progress towards the European Union. But before that, as of 1st January many citizens will be able to obtain visas for EU countries more easily. It is important to continue at this pace, meet the remaining conditions and there will be fewer and fewer reasons for dissatisfaction. Of course, one should always remember that one can go faster, stronger, higher than before - just like the Olympic slogan dear to you all says – and it will echo in the forthcoming Olympic year, too.

So, we all will have to roll up our sleeves at the very beginning as the promises made during talks in Mostar, Sarajevo and Banja Luka need to be met. This will not be easy at all, because Bosnia is a complex country. However, knowing that tolerance has adorned the Bosnian society for centuries, all it takes is to turn it into reality in a creative and cool-headed way. I expect, therefore, that the spirit of tolerance, appreciation and understanding will also adorn the period before us, when we need to open, among others, the constitutional talks about creating a better and more efficient state, based on the principles of human rights and a modern democratic order.

It is this kind of spirit in which the recent agreements have be struck, and I expect a permanent dialogue to be established between decision-makers so that the country does not stay behind with reforms. The leaders promised this to you and they can do it in 2008. I am at their disposal to help them and expect you to exert the civic, decisive pressure when it comes to key progress.

Together, we can lead this country to where it belongs – a community of civilized, European and prosperous societies.

I wish you a happy and successful New Year."

BOSNIAN LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES CALL FOR CAUTION IN USE OF PYROTECHNIC

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 31,2007) - As during New Years’ celebrations the usage of explosive devices and pyrotechnic tend to increase, the Bosnian Law Enforcement Agencies appeal on citizens to respect the provisions laid down by law about selling and using of such devices in public places.

The police units are also warning that careless and incompetent explosive device and pyrotechnic usage can cause serious body injuries, beside the fact, that the usage of such dangerous materials without proper request from authority bodies can also have legal consequences.

“According to the law, the fine for using, selling or offering different kinds of explosive devices amounts from 300 to 900 Bosnian Marks, while the sentence for failing to fulfil the obligation in taking care of underage children costs 400 to 1.200 Bosnian Marks”, stated the Canton Sarajevo Ministry of Interior.

Firecrackers detonation causes up to 120 decibel laud bluster, which can cause permanent hearing damage. If a device explodes on a distance shorter than one meter, it can also cause burnings.

The police officers in whole country are undertaking several measures and activities in order to prevent health damaging and legal consequences for the citizens by:

- Intensifying the supervision of public places where huge gatherings are going to be organised, such as schools, market places etc.

- Staring common preventing actions with educational institution representatives

- Issuing restricting orders or requirements for initialling the violation procedure against persons who are using or selling explosive devices.

The activities will last from December 2007 until the end of January 2008. The Police Agencies will inform the Bosnian public about its results beforehand.

LOTHAR MATTHAUS AMONG CANDIDATES FOR NEW BOSNIAN NATIONAL FOTBALL TEAM COACH

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 31,2007) — German football legend Lothar Matthaus is among the candidates for the new Bosnian national fotball team coach, the Bosnian Football Association announced.

Apart from the German World Cup-winning captain the association is talking with two more candidates - former Croatia coach Zlatko Kranjcar and former Bosnian football star Meho Kodro - a spokeswoman said.

The new coach of the Bosnian national fotball team will be announced on January 5, spokeswoman Slavica Pecikoza said.The new coach is to replace Fuad Muzurovic who had been sacked on December 17 after Bosnia failed to qualify for Euro 2008.

BOSNIAN PARLIAMENT ADOPTS RESOLUTION ON FIGHT AGAINST FAMILY VIOLENCE

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 31,2007) – The Bosnian State Parliament's House of Representatives adopted in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo Resolution on Fight against family violence, proposed by delegate Vinko Zoric.

The Parliament urged the Bosnian state institutions and NGOs to adopt legal and calculus measures and plans aimed to stop the family violence.

Delegates also approved ratification of several international agreements, contracts and conventions

RADMANOVIC: SAA BETWEEN BOSNIA AND EUROPEAN UNION WILL BE SIGNED IN 2008

BANJA LUKA, Bosnia (December 31,2007) – A member of the Bosnian Presidency Nebojsa Radmanovic expects Bosnia to sign the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the European Union in the first four months of 2008.

”If that does not happen, that allegations that there is a number of powerful people in the EU who do not want to see Bosnia in the Union would prove to be true. It is not possible to have a country with authorities on an emperor in Europe, which is based on agreement, consensus and understanding”, Radmanovic said and added that he expects the police reform will be completed in the first two months of 2008.

Radmanovic, commenting police reform in Bosnia, stated that “it is completely unnecessary and imposed".

“I am of the opinion that political leaders who have significantly influenced creation of a positive atmosphere in late 2007, reached the key agreement aimed to complete the police reform and free us all in Bosnia, as well as the European Commission of the imposed attitude that the reform is of key importance for European integrations”, Radmanovic stated at a press conference in the northern Bosnian city of Banja Luka.

He added that the following year will be marked by local elections which are very important for Bosnia and the region.

He again emphasized the Bosnian Presidency’s attitude that Kosovo is an internal issue of Bosnia's neighbouring country and that it is extremely important for the situation in the region that an agreement is reached between Belgrade and Pristina, with the help of the International Community, without any imposed solutions.

He added that this is the only attitude unanimously agreed upon by all members of the Bosnian Presidency.

However,the Bosnian President Zeljko Komsic stated that if Kosovo is proclaimed independent, Bosnia will act the same as the other EU countries. Radmanovic reacted as saying that it is a personal opinion of President Komsic, which cannot be implemented in Bosnia, for majority of votes will lack.

He added that it is a matter of dispute if the EU countries will react unanimously in the case of proclamation of independence of Kosovo.

Radmanovic is of the opinion that this year was highly successful for Bosnia, especially in the sector of economy.

PROFESSOR ILIJAS TANOVIC WINS PUSHKIN MEDALLION AWARD

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 31,2007) – Prof. Dr Ilijas Tanovic, Head of Russian Department at Sarajevo University’s Faculty of Philosophy, received in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo the Pushkin Medallion award for contribution to spreading of Russian language and literature and development of international relations between Russia and Bosnia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the award to be presented to Tanovic.

The Sarajevo University Rector Prof. Dr. Faruk Caklovica, Faculty of Philosophy Dean Srebren Dizdar, Russian Ambassador to Bosnia Konstantin Suvalov and numerous academicians, senators, deans, professors and students of the University of Sarajevo attended.

Rector Caklovica thanked in his address Professor Ilijas Tanovic and emphasized the importance of development of cultural and scientific cooperation between Bosnia and Russia.

About 60 scientific and expert works characterize the engagement of Professor Tanovic. All of the works have been published at the domestic and foreign magazines. He is also the author of several important books, some of them including the “Bosnian Language Phraseology” and “Negative Influence of Foreign Languages on Mothers Tongue”.

He also has written two dictionaries and 17 school books of Russian, which is an extraordinary enterprise.

Ambassador Suvalov emphasized the importance of Tanovic’s scientific engagement in Sarajevo which paved way to possibilities of transferring of knowledge on Russian language and literature between the students. He added that Tanovic can be considered a part of the Bosnian national treasure.

He added that Russian is spoken today by about 500 million people worldwide and that it is language one of the UN’s official languages.

Tanovic emphasized that the award is dedicated to all members of Department of Slavistics at the Sarajevo Faculty of Philosophy, especially to the students and the ones who “have already succeeded in beating their professor in achievements”.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

SILAJDZIC CONDEMNS MURDER OF FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF PAKISTAN BENAZIR BHUTTO

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 29,2007) – Bosnian Presidency member Dr Haris Silajdzic condemned murder of Benazir Bhutto, former Prime Minister of Pakistan. In the assassination attack another 20 people were killed.He announced that the murder is an attack against democracy and all other human values, not only in Pakistan, but in the rest of the world as well.

Dr Silajdzic stated that Benazir Bhutto was one of the biggest and most truthful friends of Bosnia. She lead the Pakistani government during the 1992-1995 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia. Her personal engagement resulted in a wide aid action for the Bosnian defenders, in political, economic, humanitarian and military level.

”Benazir Bhutto will forever remain deep at the hearts of all Bosnian patriots. She visited the sourrounded Sarajevo in 1994, together with the former Prime Minister of Turkey Tansu Ciller.

I hereby use the opportunity to express condolences to the Bhutto family and the government and people of Pakistan, as well as to all the followers of democracy around the world. Pakistan, as well as the rest of the world, lost a person who dedicated her whole life to promotion of human rights and democratic values”, Bosnian Presidency member Haris Silajdzic’s announcement states.

OHR WELCOMED TIMELY APPROVAL OF MOSTAR CITY BUDGET

MOSTAR, Bosnia (December 29,2007) – The Office of the International Community's High Representative in Bosnia (OHR) commended the Mostar City Council and Mostar City Administration for yesterday's timely adoption of the 2008 Mostar City budget.

"Since the unification process began in 2004, in each succeeding year the budgeting process has been delayed for several months by political disputes and rivalries, even requiring the intervention of the High Representative in 2005 and 2006," OHR said.

"The timely adoption of next year's budget shows not only the maturity of the political parties in Mostar, but also the success of the unification process itself in overcoming many of the longstanding disputes.We encourage the authorities to continue to work in such an effective manner, to the benefit of all the citizens of Mostar," OHR stated in a press release yesterday.

BOSNIAN PRESIDENCY TO DISCUSS DRAFT BUDGET FOR 2008 IN JANUARY

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 29,2007) – The Bosnian Presidency did not discuss at the session on Thursday Bill on the Bosnian State Institutions’ Budget for 2008.

”Keeping in mind that the budget of the Bosnian State Institutions was in the hands of the Bosnian Council of Ministers for almost two months and that the document was submitted to the Bosnian Presidency only last week, we agreed that the Budget Draft for 2008 will be the first issue on the agenda of January 10 session of the Bosnian Presidency”, the Bosnian President Zeljko Komsic stated at a press conference.

President Komsic added that there are opposing attitudes of members of the Bosnian Presidency related to budget.

”The issue is primarily related to the amount of money concerned. Radmanovic’s objection is that the proposal is not realistic, but we will see what will happen with the budget at the following session”, Komsic said.

KEBO: 60 KILOMETRES OF ZENICA-MOSTAR HIGHWAY WILL BE COMPLETED IN 2008

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 29,2007) – The FBIH Entity Vice President Mirsad Kebo is of the opinion that 60 kilometres of the Zenica-Mostar highway will be completed in 2008.

“60 kilometres of the Zenica–Mostar highway need to be completed in 2008. contracts have already been signed. 50 million Bosnian Marks is the amount of incomes from the payments made on the field. The money will be used to repay loans and for other activities that are important for enabling the function of economic infrastructure and other systems – economic, trade and tourist”, Kebo said. .

As far as the year of 2007 is concerned,Kebo is of the opinion that it was the year in which realization of the FBIH entity government’s priority projects suffered.

Kebo emphasized that privatization projects are in the process of intensive preparations, and added that privatization should be made transparent, public and monitored.

About 4 billion Bosnian Marks is ensured for the privatization processes and the money will mostly be used for final solving of the issue of construction of the V – C Corridor, highway construction and construction of fast roads

FBIH ENTITY ADOPTED 2008 BUDGET

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 29,2007) - The lower house of the FBIH Entity Parliament approved yesterday a 2008 budget of 1.76 billion Bosnian Marks (1.32 billion US Dollars) amid protests by farmers and food producers.

The FBIH Entity Finance Minister Vjekoslav Bevanda said the budget was balanced and mostly social, with more than 700 million Bosnian Marks or 40 percent allocated for social categories, such as war veterans, invalids and civilian victims of war.

He said the budget for 2008 was increased 10 percent from this year and 53 percent from 2006, with most revenues or 1.2 billion Bosnian Marks expected to come from indirect taxes.

The FBIH Entity Parliament's upper house is expected to adopt the same budget today.

The farmers protested outside the parliament building at the government decision to allocate 53 million Bosnian Marks for agriculture, saying it would cover only half of their needs.

But this was the biggest budgetary support for the sector until now.
Some 170 million was allocated for wages in administration.

BOSNIAN STATE PROSECUTOR FILED CHARGES AGAINST SERBIAN WAR CRIMINALS NOVAK DJUKIC AND PREDRAG KUJUNDZIC

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 29,2007) - The Bosnian State Prosecutor charged two former leaders of the genocidal paramilitary formations of the Serbians living in Bosnia (VRS) with war crimes committed during the 1992-1995 Serbian aggression against Bosnia.

The Bosnian State Prosecutor's Office in Sarajevo filed charges yesterday against Serbian war criminal Novak Djukic for killing Bosnian civilians in the northern Bosnian town of Tuzla, which at the time was declared a U.N.-protected zone.

Under Djukic's order the genocidal Serbian aggressor bombarded Tuzla and a shell hit the town's center, killing 71 Bosnian civilians and injuring scores of others in May 1995, the charge said.

The Bosnian prosecutors also charged Serbian war criminal Predrag Kujundzic, former member of the genocidal paramilitary formations of the Serbians living in Bosnia (VRS) with committing war crimes against Bosnian civilians from spring 1992 to the fall 1993 during the Serbian aggression against Bosnia.

Serbian war criminal Predrag Kujundzic was charged with taking part in killings, detention,sexual slavery, rape and persecution of Bosnian civilians.

BOSNIAN STATE PARLIAMENT REAPPOINTED SPIRIC AS PRIME MINISTER

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 29,2007) - The Bosnian State Parliament reappointed Nikola Spiric as prime minister yesterday, two months after he resigned to protest a proposed reform.

Spiric said he hopes to assemble a cabinet by the end of January.Spiric resigned in October in protest over wide-ranging reforms to voting practices in the Bosnian Government and Parliament that were proposed by the International Community's High Representative in Bosnia, Slovak diplomat Miroslav Lajcak.

The changes were designed to end tactics of blocking reforms in Bosnia by boycotting sessions - tactics that were used by the political representatives of the Serbians living in Bosnia.

The changes will allow the Bosnian authorities to submit motions to the Bosnian Parliament without any participation of the politicial representatives of the Serbians living in Bosnia who were constantly blocking Bosnia's progress towards European integration by opposing the strengthening of the functionality of the Bosnian state.

The Bosnian Presidency proposed Spiric on Thursday and the Bosnian Parliament reappointed him yesterday.

Friday, December 28, 2007

ELVIR LAKOVIC LAKA TO REPRESENT BOSNIA AT 2008 EUROVISION SONG CONTEST

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 28,2007) – The Bosnian State Television (BHRT) has made its decision yesterday on who will represent Bosnia at the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest.

The decision was made earlier than expected. Out of 31 shortlisted songs, the seven-member Commission has opted for Elvir Lakovic Laka, and the song with the working title Pokusaj (Try).

This, however, is just a working title of the song that will first be presented to the Bosnian public in a live special TV show programme on the Bosnian State Television on Sunday, 2 March 2008.

Laka is the author of both the music and the lyrics. The singer is one of the most popular artists in Bosnia and in other southeastern European countries.

Bosnia will try to win a ticket to the grand final of the 53rd Eurovision Song Contest through one of the semi-finals. Since the introduction of the semi-finals in 2004, Bosnia has never failed to qualify for the final.

You can see some Laka's music videos below.





SPIRIC AND VILLALAIN TALKED ABOUT SECURITY SITUATION IN BOSNIA

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 28,2007) – Bosnia's Prime minister in resignation Nikola Spiric met in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo with the Commander of the European Union Force in Bosnia (EUFOR) Ignacio Villalain.

Spiric stated that the current security situation in Bosnia is good and emphasized the role of EUFOR in the process of preserving the security in the country.

”Presence of EUFOR in Bosnia is one of the stabilizing factors”, Spiric stated.

He informed general Villalain on the political situation in Bosnia, making a special emphasis on police reform and fulfilment of conditions for signing of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) between Bosnia and the European union.

He added that positive political climate in Bosnia has been created after initialling of a SAA with the EU.

General Villalain stated that the security situation in Bosnia is at a high level and expressed hope that it will remain so.He emphasized that signing of SAA is an important step for Bosnia on the way to the full EU membership.

COLLECTIVE AGREEMENT FOR TEXTILE INDUSTRY SIGNED

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 28,2007) – The Textile, Leather, Shoe Ware and Rubber Industry Union Main Board held a session on the occasion of marking the Textile Industry Employees Day. On that occasion, President of the Union Ferdija Kojcic and the FBIH Entity Minister of Energy, Mining and Industry Vahid Heco and Mehmed Corhodzic, representing the employers signed Collective Agreement on Rights and Obligations of employees in the sector in the FBIH entity.

President of the Union Ferdija Kojcic emphasized that the main importance of the Agreement is the price of hourly wage of 1,75 Bosnian Marks, which means that a minimal wage will be 308 Bosnian Marks.

Heco emphasized that the FBIH entity government will, apart from the obligations defined by the Collective Agreement, try to help this industrial sector through adoption of certain laws.

Signing ceremony was attended by President of the Bosnian Independent Union of workers Edhem Biber and presidents of department unions.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

BOSNIAN PRESIDENCY MEMBER HARIS SILAJDŽIĆ MET WITH REPRESENTATIVES OF MOTHERS OF SREBRENICA AND ŽEPA ASSOCIATION

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 27,2007) – A member of the Bosnian Presidency Dr Haris Silajdžić met with representatives of the Mothers of Srebrenica and Žepa Association.

During the meeting, the Association’s representatives informed Dr Silajdžić about their current activities, especially about the procedure concerning the lawsuit of the genocide survivors from Srebrenica against the government of the Netherlands and the United Nations.

They emphasized that 2008 is crucial for the lawsuit; what primarily should be determined is the responsibility of the accused side, and then to ensure compensation for the genocide survivors.

In July 1995, a Dutch battalion assigned to protect Srebrenica (a U.N.-declared "safe haven" in eastern Bosnia) did absolutely nothing and stood by as the genocidal Serbian aggressor mass murdered thousands of Bosnian civilians.

The genocide survivors have sued the Dutch government for a billion dollars in damages for participating in the genocide in Bosnia by failing to prevent it.

Also,a court in the Hague ruled recently the case against the United Nations could proceed, dismissing pleas by the Dutch prosecutors that it should be dropped after the United Nations invoked its legal immunity.

The representatives of the Mothers of Srebrenica and Žepa Enclaves Association also stressed out the problem of helping the returnees to the eastern Bosnian region of Podrinje, considering that many returnees that live in this area do not have basic living conditions, or adequate access to resources such as schools, health care and social services, and they believe that the competent ministries and other institutions are not considering it enough.

Bosnian Presidency member Dr Haris Silajdžić supported the Association’s efforts to ensure help to the returnees primarily trough concrete projects for sustainable return to that area of Bosnia, as well as to help the families with the social need status and are unable to work.

PRESIDENT KOMŠIĆ CONGRATULATED CHRISTMAS TO BOSNIAN CATHOLICS

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 27,2007) – The Bosnian President Željko Komšić congratulated Christmas to Cardinal Vinko Puljić and to all Catholic citizens of Bosnia and the ones living in diaspora.

”I sincerely wish you a merry Christmas, Cardinal Puljić, as well as to all Bosnian Catholics. I also wish you a happy new year of 2008. May you celebrate this holiday in peace, joy and family happiness, together with your family, friends and neighbours”, President Komšić stated.

SUVALOV: RELATIONS BETWEEN BOSNIA AND RUSSIA HAVE IMPROVED THIS YEAR

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 27,2007) – The Russian Ambassador to Bosnia Konstantin Suvalov stated in an interview for FENA that the year 2007 was successful in the sense of building relations between BiH and Russia.

”Intensive political dialogue will continue at the state level. The first session of the Intergovernmental Commission for Economic Issues was held in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo. That was the first meeting of the kind in the history of our relations. Russia is the third biggest foreign investor in Bosnia”, Suvalov emphasized.

The Russian Ambassador hopes that relations between Russia and Bosnia will continue to develop gradually in other sectors in 2008. .

”We expect that investment projects with participation of Russian companies will continue”, Ambassador Suvalov stated.

ENERGOINVEST IN $52 MILLION DEAL WITH LIBYA

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 27,2007) - The largest Bosnian engineering group Energoinvest has clinched a new $52 million deal with Libya to build power transmission lines and a transformer station, General Manager Dzemail Vlahovljak said yesterday.

He said Energoinvest has now secured projects amounting to over 120 million euros ($172.7 million) in Libya and projects worth some 60 million euros in Algiers, its traditional markets from before the 1992-95 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia.

"These contracts provide security and stability to our operation, which was hurt this year by the global political situation, particularly in Algiers," Vlahovljak told an annual news conference in Sarajevo.

He said that Energoinvest results were influenced by U.S. Dollar weakness and rising oil prices.

Energoinvest's preliminary results for 2007 showed revenues of 319.5 million Bosnian Marks ($235.3 million) and profits of 2.7 million Bosnian Marks, compared with 2006 revenues of 306.1 million Bosnian Marks and profits of 2.5 million Bosnian Marks.

It aims to more than double profits next year and increase revenues to 384.1 million Bosnian Marks, said Finance Director Dzevad Ganic.

The company is among top five Bosnian exporters and exports account for half its revenues. Energoinvest had annual turnover of about $2.5 billion before the 1992-95 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia, during which it was heavily damaged.

It has recovered and stabilised in recent years, and regained its pre-war markets in Africa and Asia.

Energoinvest plans to expand to the Middle East next year by forming a joint venture with partners in Saudi Arabia, said Vlahovljak's deputy Abdulharis Seta.

Vlahovljak also said Energoinvest should now play a bigger role in the plans to construct hydro- and thermo-power plants in Bosnia over the next years.

"If we are building hydro-electric plants in Pakistan, Libya, Algiers, isn't it normal that we do such projects in our country," he said.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

TOPCAGIC: BOSNIA COULD SIGN STABILISATION AND ASSOCIATION AGREEMENT WITH EUROPEAN UNION IN SPRING 2008

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 26,2007) – The Head of the Bosnian Direction for European Integrations Osman Topcagic said in the Bosnian capital sarajevo that not much progress was achieved in 2007 in the sector of European association processes.

”We should have initialled and signed the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the European Union (EU) earlier. However, certain time was needed for achievement of agreements related to interior policy in the country”, Topcagic said.

He added that in 2007, most of the activities were focused on fulfilment of conditions for initialling and signing of SAA.

Bosnia negotiated about the agreement in 2006. Police reform agreement had been expected throughout the year. That agreement was achieved December 4,2007.

Topcagic stated that the EU offered Bosnia a new form of help – the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA). Preparations for use of the IPA fund was a part of the activities of the Bosnian Direction for European Integrations.

He is of the opinion that there are good chances to sign the SAA in spring 2008, provided that additional agreements are achieved on police reform, Police Reform action Plan and ways of its implementation.

”That will be a completely new situation. We would for the first time have an agreement with the EU. Dooor to progress in the sector would be open”, Topcagic said.

He is of the opinion that after signing of the SAA, Bosnia needs to show the ability of implementing the obligations from the Agreement.

”Being granted the status of a candidate means that we first need to submit the candidacy demand. If marked positively, than a study will be conducted. The European Commission will prepare opinion on the candidacy status”, Topcagic said.

Apart from that, intensive activities need to be undertaken together with other countries of the region, as well as with members of the EU.

”Now another situation comes forth. With signing of SAA, all the countries of the region,Bosnia included, would have a contract relationship with the EU. I think it could initiate certain activities of the EU for the purpose of accelerating the processes”, Topcagic said.

DAVIDSON: THERE ARE TOO MANY CASES OF WAR CRIMES IN BOSNIA THAT HAVE NOT BEEN SOLVED

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 26,2007) – The Head of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia Ambassador Douglas Davidson is of the opinion that 12 years past the end of the1992-1995 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia, there are too many unsolved war crimes cases.

”Justice demands processing of as many cases as possible. Truth can be determined this way; basis for reconciliation between peoples, who fought war some time ago, can be created this way, Ambassador Davidson said.

He stated that the OSCE Mission has offered some limited expert assistance to the Bosnian State Prosecutor’s Office in the process of development of a strategy and solving of the most important cases. Many of them are yet to be solved.

Davidson is of the opinion that an accelerated solving of the war crimes could help create conditions of sustainable return in Bosnia. He stated that most of the Bosnian citizens who wanted to return to their pre-war houses have done so. However, authorities have not created all the conditions necessary for sustainable return.

He added that the adequate social care without discrimination could contribute sustainable return.

In that sense, Ambassador Davidson emphasized a significant role of the local authorities in Bosnia, for towns are the first and the most frequent instance of contact between the citizens and authorities’ representatives.

Davidson started that the OSCE officials for democratic processes have contributed a lot in the sector. The number of municipalities has significantly increased, as well as the level of fiscal control and transparency.

Commenting the sector of the Bosnian education, Davidson said that schools have been divided on the ethnic basis and that they are still functioning, in spite of the obligations taken over five years ago. Davidson added that such system of schooling in Bosnia needs to end.

He warned that different curricula and division on ethnic basis decreases the level of understanding in the country.

On the other hand, Davidson stated that District of Brcko has found a way of dealing with these issues and that students there are able to attend schools in the way that they listen to lectures in their mother tongues without being separated from the students of other ethnic groups.

Ambassador Davidson is of the opinion that this could serve as a solution to illegal practices and ethnic divisions which marked education in other parts of the country.

Commenting the military stabilization, OSCE Head of Mission emphasized that Department for Security and Cooperation of the Mission continued with activities in 2007 in order to make Bosnia peaceful and safe.

Officials of this department assisted the Bosnian Army inspections in order to ensure all obligations related to weapons control defined by the Dayton Agreement are implemented. That resulted in decrease of the number of small-calibre weapons and ammunition.

Officials of the department also cooperated with domestic and international partners in the process of strengthening civil supervision of the army. That also means parliamentary monitoring, which is one of the bases of every developed democracy.

OSCE officials, Davidson stated, will continue with activities in 2008, especially in the human rights sector, democratization, education and regional military stability. Although the Mission will decrease in the number of personnel and locations, OSCE goals will remain more or less the same.

The overall goal of the OSCE Mission will be helping Bosnia strengthen democracy, rule of law and human rights for all citizens, who should be equal before the law, regardless of their ethnicity, Davidson stated.

FARMERS HELD PROTESTS IN SARAJEVO

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 26,2007) – The Bosnian Association of Farmers in cooperation with the FBIH Entity Association of Farmers, held protests in front of the FBIH entity government building. The protest was aimed to pressure the FBIH entity government to provide at least six per cent of the FBIH entity budget to initiate agricultural development in 2008. That means providing about 100 million Bosnian Marks.

The Bosnian farmers also expect the increase of prices of milk. They added, however, that the milk industry has already increased the prices of their products per 20 to 40 per cent, although they were not the ones affected by drought, but farmers.

The Deputy President of the Bosnian Association of Farmers Bisco Alibegovic told the press that they sent a note to the FBIH entity government December 13 defining their demands and asking for negotiations.

Alibegovic said that the FBIH Entity Prime Minister Nedzad Brankovic told farmers that he is on the way to Gorazde but that he has obliged the FBIH Entity Minister of Agriculture to meet with the farmers.

Alibegovic confirmed that the Associaiton representatives have met with Minister of Agfriculture and that some talks were held in order to reach a solution.

BISHOP OF BANJA LUKA IS NOT SATISFIED WITH RETURN PROCESSES IN 2007

BANJA LUKA, Bosnia (December 26,2007) – The Bishop of Banja Luka Franjo Komarica is not satisfied with the number of Catholics who returned to the area this year. Not much was done in the process of ensuring sustainable return.

”Although we are still urging the politicians, no strategy has been adopted this year. Some progress was made in Posavina and in the Mrkonjic Grad area”, Bishop Komarica stated at a press conference held in the northern Bosnian city of Banja Luka on the occasion of marking the 2007 Catholic Christmas.

Komarica hopes that a synchronized cooperation between the local politicians and international representatives will take place. Croatia has so far been the main donor in the process of construction of destroyed houses of Catholic refugees.

Commenting the process of return of the Catholic Church property, Bishop Komarica stated that the first step in the sector was made during this year after a building belonging to Catholic Church in Banja Luka was returned and a part of the real estates of the famous monastery of Marija Zvijezda in Banja Luka.

Bishop Komarica read the Catholic Christmas note and emphasized the importance of family, community, comradeship in faith, life and love.

Komarica congratulated Christmas to all the Catholics in Bosnia and in the rest of the world, especially to the refugees. He hopes that the following year will be the year of return.

FOREIGN CURRENCY SAVERS TO BLOCK FOUR BOSNIAN STATE BORDER CROSSINGS

BANJA LUKA, Bosnia (December 26,2007) – Old foreign currency savers association of the Bosnian citizens and diaspora will organize protests and blockade of four Bosnian state border crossings on December 28. The following border crossings will be blocked: Izacic, Pavlovica most, Bijeljina and Bosanska Gradiska. Purpose of those activities is to draw attention to their problems.

President of the Association Svetozar Nisic stated at a press conference in Banja Luka that the blockade will begin at 1 p.m. on December 28,2007. They will give up the blockade only if their demand is fulfilled.

That demand is, as stated, that decision passed by the Bosnian Parliament’s House of Representatives is accepted. The decision was passed December 18 2006 and states that the old foreign currency savings will be fully paid in five years’ time or will be paid with five per cent interest rate.

He added that the demand can be fulfilled that that there is enough of money to make that happen. Nisic also stated that the old foreign currency savers agreed to alternative ways of compensation in material goods.

Nisic added after the emergency session of the Association’s Managing Board that if their conditions are not accepted, the old foreign currency savers will not give up, but will, immediately after the New Year enter all the banks in Bosnia and block them.

He called all old foreign currency savers and other Bosnian citizens to come to the border crossings and in that way draw attention of domestic and foreign public to “injustice that was made over the old foreign exchange savings clients and other citizens”.

Svetozar Nisic, among other, stated that the old foreign currency savers tried to reach the final solution to their problems with the Bosnian authorities. However, those efforts failed and now they are forced to block the state border crossings.

He again stated that the verification of old foreign exchange savings is “just another trick of the authorities”.

”We all know that 30 billion Bosnian Marks (22 billion US Dollars) was exported from the country in the period from 1988 to 1991. We have all documents necessary to prove that. That money still lies in some banks. We found out that 5 billion Bosnian Marks (3,7 billion US Dollars) is at the accounts of certain politicians”, Nisic said.

He added to have “contacted the Interpol in Prague. We were told that the Bosnian authorities need to conduct an investigation in order to announce the accounts of the people who keep those billions in other European banks, while citizens are starving here”.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

BOSNIAN FORENSIC EXPERTS EXHUMED 1100 SKELETONS OF GENOCIDE VICTIMS IN 2007

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 25,2007) – Members of the Bosnian forensic teams exhumed 1.100 skeletons of genocide victims in 2007. The number of exhumations for this year was about 1.500; but the time spent in the process of exhumation of the remains from the Zeleni Jadar mass grave, as well as Budak and Kamenica 9 mass graves took a lot of time.At the Kamenica 9 mass grave (Zvornik municipality) skeletons of 616 Bosnian civilians,mass murdered by the genocidal Serbian aggressor in July 1995,were found.

”We were working for almost two months at the location. We managed to complete this enormous job. The Budak mass grave was also huge. We were conducting exhumations also on some other, smaller mass graves”, Murat Hurtic, Head of the Bosnian forensic team said.

Expert teams will not work in the field during the winter, but will plan exhumations for the following year. Tempo and the number of the bodies of genocide victims exhumed will stay the same as in the previous years – somewhere between 1.000 and 1.500 per year. There will be enough money for the job, Hurtic stated.

BOSNIAN STATE COURT CONFIRMED INDICTMENT AGAINST SERB WAR CRIMINAL GOJKO KLICKOVIC

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 25,2007) – The Bosnian State Court has confirmed the indictment against Serbian war criminal Gojko Klickovic, which charges him with having committed crimes against Bosnian civilians on the territory of the northwestern Bosnian town of Bosanska Krupa in 1992 during the early stages of the 1992-1995 Serbian aggression against Bosnia.

The indictment alleges that Klickovic "planned, initiated, ordered and perpetrated" the attack on the territory of Bosanska Krupa, Bosanska Otoka and Ostruznica, when a large number of Bosnian civilians were murdered by the genocidal Serbian aggressor, while their houses were pillaged and set on fire.

According to the indictment, Serbian war criminal Gojko Klickovic was also responsible for criminal offences committed by his subordinates, whose acts he "could control in reality", and for having failed to undertake the necessary measures in order to punish the perpetrators of those crimes.

He is also charged with the detention of many Bosnian civilians who were held, in inhumane conditions, in "Jasenica" elementary school, "Petar Kocic" school and the concentration camp in Kamenica, in Drvar municipality, from April to November 1992.

The Bosnian State Prosecutor has proposed that 46 witnesses be examined, and that about 250 pieces of material evidence be presented.

LAJCAK MET WITH SIGNATORIES OF "EUROPE NOW" INITIATIVE

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 25,2007) - The International Community's High Representative in Bosnia Miroslav Lajcak and the Principle Deputy High Representative Raffi Gregorian met in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo with prominent Bosnian film directors, signatories of the “Europe Now” initiative.

Lajcak described the meeting with Danis Tanovic,Jasmila Zbanic, Ademir Kenovic, Srdan Vuletic, Haris Pasovic and Faruk Loncarevic as important for a number of reasons.

“They are the cultural ambassador of Bosnia in the world and I am happy that they are supporting Bosnia on its road towards the EU membership”, Lajcak said and added that cooperation with the Bosnian film directors in the process of European integrations will be continued in the future.

During the meeting with Lajcak, the Bosnian film directors demanded the international community to arrest war criminals.

“Police reform and all other positive developments in Bosnia would carry even greater significance if the war criminals were brought to justice. Such an act would give back dignity to all Bosnian citizens and confidence in better future”, Jasmila Zbanic said.

The “Europe Now” initiative is based on the demand for Bosnia to be given privileged status for accelerated accession to the EU and NATO.

SLOVENIA TO PROMOTE INTERESTS OF BOSNIA IN BRUSSELS

BANJA LUKA, Bosnia (December 25,2007) – The Slovenian Ambassador to Bosnia Natasa Vodusek said in the northern Bosnian city of Banja Luka that her country will fully support Bosnia in the processes which will result in signing of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between Bosnia and the European Union during the presidency of Slovenia over the EU, which will begin January 1 2008.

”We are fully supportive of the European perspective of the West Balkan countries and we are willing to promote interests of Bosnia in Brussels”, the Slovenian Ambassador to Bosnia Natasa Vodusek stated.

Monday, December 24, 2007

LEADER OF GENOCIDAL SERBIAN CREATURE IN BOSNIA "RS" MILORAD DODIK MADE A SERIES OF INSULTS AND THREATS AGAINST A BOSNIAN JOURNALIST

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 24,2007) – Just as the latest Bosnian political crisis appeared to be receding over the horizon, the Prime Minister of the genocidal Serbian creature in Bosnia "the RS", Milorad Dodik, has generated new tensions across the country.

In a heated debate on the Croatian state television, HRT, program “Sunday at Two”, the political leader of the Serbians living in Bosnia made a series of uncompromising statements, spiced up with outright insults and threats against a Bosnian journalist, Bakir Hadziomerovic, who took part in a segment of the program by video-link from the Bosnian capital Sarajevo.

Among other things, Dodik claimed that Bosnians constituted a majority of victims of the 1992-1995 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia “because they are majority in Bosnia and they were fighting with everybody.”

A visibly angry Dodik clenched his fists and called Hadziomerovic “an idiot,” and warned him he would knock him out if he ever met him in person.

The following day in the northern Bosnian city of Banjaluka Dodik assailed other political representatives of the Serbians living in Bosnia who were trying to challenge a draft of the 2008 budget proposed by Dodik.

“You are all frustrated and that is not odd because you are not deputies,” he shouted during a 30-minute rant. “You are behaving like parrots and repeat the same thing over and over again.”

Addressing Milenko Mihaljica, a political representative of the Serbians living in Bosnia, Dodik said, “Look how big your head is, yet you are stupid and don’t understand anything.”

Dodik’s outbursts have been seen in a humorous light by some Bosnian citizens and some media.

“When Milorad Dodik plays Monopoly, it affects the real world economy,” said Eldin Karic, chief editor of the Sarajevo-based Start magazine, in his editorial last week, which gave a list of satirical facts about Dodik , alluding to his strong ego and tough attitudes.

“Milorad Dodik exterminated the dinosaurs; Milorad Dodik sleeps with the light on – not because he is afraid of the dark, but because the dark is afraid of him.”

Yet many in Bosnia have condemned Dodik’s outbursts and expressed concern over the fact that he seems to be out of control.

While appearing open to compromise, Dodik has always negotiated from a position of strength. His characteristic approach – never backing off and always ready to raise the ante – soon brought him into conflict with the Bosnian politicians and eventually with the international community.

It was this approach which, Dodik’s critics say, led to the recent political crisis in Bosnia, one of the most serious since the end of the 1992-1995 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia.

In addition, the Prime Minister of the genocidal Serbian creature in Bosnia "the RS" Milorad Dodik is coming under increasing criticism over alleged corruption and misuse of funds as well as the privatization of power sector assets and privatizations in the oil industry.

Increasingly, Dodik has simply issued blanket denials of wrong-doing, not bothering to answer criticisms from NGOs and the Bosnian media in detail.

Although reporters have often goaded Dodik into indiscretions his outbursts of the past few days have seemed wholly disproportionate and unbecoming to his position. As a result, more and more local politicians have expressed concern that he may be out of control.

Journalists have complained that Dodik has simply severed communication with any media that criticize him.

“Dodik has actually lost his compass and every time somebody mentions his criminal activities, he reacts uncontrollably,” a political representative of the Serbians living in Bosnia Milenko Mihaljica told the Bosnian daily, Dnevni Avaz.

At the opposite end of the political spectrum, Muharem Murselovic of the SBIH Party, had similar thoughts.

“It is hard to teach a man of 46-47 years of age how to behave decently, but I think that somebody – even doctors – should try to teach him how to control himself during public appearances,” Murselovic said, adding that Dodik is “the biggest threat to himself.”

Whether caused by an intoxication with power, or by frequent provocations and constant political pressure, recent developments could have serious consequences for Dodik himself.

Finally, as long as Dodik sticks to his bulldozer approach, there will be a corresponding reaction among Bosnian politicians, adding to a cycle of tension and preventing the normalization of the country.

This represents a challenge for the international community, which failed to react to Dodik’s radical rhetoric during the 2006 election campaign.

So far, the International Community’s High Representative and EU Special Representative in Bosnia, Miroslav Lajcak, appears to have kept his cool and refused to rise to the bait of Dodik provocations. Lajcak’s flexible approach is credited with ending the recent political crisis and clearing the way for Bosnia to initial a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU.

However continued bullying of other politicians and the media by Dodik could easily place Lajcak in position where he has to bring him under control.

GREGORIAN SUPPORTS DISCIPLINARY COMMISSION'S DECISION ON TWO BRCKO DISTRICT POLICE OFFICERS

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 24,2007) – The Brcko District Supervisor Raffi Gregorian fully supports the Brcko Police Disciplinary Commission's recent decisions to terminate the employment contracts of two members of the Brcko District Police - Slobodan Katanic and Djordje Popovic,the Office of the International Community's High Representative in Bosnia (OHR) said.

For more than a year, Supervisor Gregorian has received substantiated reports of Katanic’s and Popovic’s official misconduct, serious breaches of duty, lack of professionalism, inadequate professional performance, attempted political intimidation, and other actions that undermine the effectiveness of the Brcko District Police.

Because of these reports, Supervisor Gregorian was prepared to remove Katanic and Popovic from their positions in the Brcko District Police. He refrained from issuing a removal orders because the Brcko Chief of Police said he would try to get both officers to improve their behavior or, failing that, to subject them to the established disciplinary procedure.

The Supervisor stressed that the Arbitral Tribunal for Brcko placed critical importance on the establishment of a professional, multi-ethnic, democratically oriented, and accountable police force in the Brcko District. Upholding the highest standards of professionalism and impartiality, in particular amongst its senior managers, is essential to promote public confidence in the Brcko District police.

The Supervisor welcomed the fact that the Brcko Police Disciplinary Commission, as the responsible local body, can perform its duties effectively and hold police officials accountable for their misconduct.

GROSS INCOME PER CAPITA IN FBIH ENTITY HIGHER PER 8,1 PER CENT IN 2007

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 24,2007) – The increase of gross income per capita in the FBiH Entity was 8,1 per cent.This was stated by the FBiH Entity Prime Minister Nedzad Brankovic at a traditional holiday reception in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo.

According to the data presented by Brankovic, production has also increased from 10,2 per cent and export from 19,8 per cent. Export/import balance was 45 per cent.

Brankovic added that the number of the persons employed in the FBiH Entity reached 475.875. That means that the number increased per 21 per cent. The average salary now reached 655 Bosnian Marks, which means that it is per 9,4 pre cent higher. The average pension is now per 18,69 per cent higher. The number of registered companies increased per 4,8 per cent.

Inflation rate was 1,9 per cent. Living expenses grew per 1,2 per cent.

Brankovic added that the FBiH Entity Government passed 57 drafts and bills of laws, 45 decrees, 27 decisions, 23 reports and information and 13 opinions, six nomination proposals, two programs and one policy of activities, two budgets and two budget rebalances, as well as one working program.

He also said that in 2007, construction of section of highway, 8 kilometres long, will be completed. The Visoko – Kresevo gas network is in the process of construction. Direct taxation reform in the war veterans’ sector started. 250 schools were r3econstructed, 600 PhDs have been funded. Collective agreement for health sector was passed. Law on Development Bank was passed and 300 million Bosnian Marks was ensured for construction of the Tuzla – Sarajevo highway. The Neum Marine Construction Project is in development.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

REISU-L-ULEMA MUSTAFA EF. CERIC CONGRATULATES EID UL-ADHA (KURBAN BAJRAM) TO ALL MUSLIMS

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 22,2007) - The Muslim holiday of Eid Ul-Adha (Kurban Bajram) started on Thursday, December 20. The central ceremony in Bosnia was held in the Gazi Husrev Beg’s Mosque in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo. Head of the Bosnian Islamic community Reisu-l-ulema Mustafa ef. Ceric led prayers and the religious services.He congratulated Eid Ul-Adha (Kurban Bajram) to all Muslims in Bosnia and in the rest of the world. In Reisu-l-ulema’s greetings,he said:

"Dear brothers and sisters,

Hajj is a sacrifice, within which man comprehends what his place in the universal world, Arefat, where the first man realized his place upon Earth, is. That is a homeland journey of man who, through his own witnessing, finds the universal reason of life, and who, in the God’s message Qur’an, finds hope for own redemption.

Sacrifice is the man’s journey in getting closer to the Creator, as is a prayer the sacrifice of every religious person, or, in other words, every religious person wants to get closer to his Lord through prayer. For he, who is close to God, is close to man who needs human love and help.

Therefore, wish upon your brother what you wish upon yourself!

Be a support to your brother and he will be a support to you!

The dearest deed, to God, is that man gifts happiness to his brother!

The best of the virtues of observance is to renew the ties to family and friends, to give gift to the one who angered you, to forgive the one who did injustice to you!

Therefore, Eid Ul-Adha (Kurban Bajram) is the festivity of an individual, a family, and the universal being of Muslims. The essential message is for man to get closer to Allah, dz.s., by way of sacrifice of kurban, which has, as its goal, to help mankind. Therefore, faith is, in essence, that people get closer in love and good deeds. So it is important that in this Eid Mubarak, again, we be together, we forgive one another, we help each other, especially those among us who are elderly, weak and ill. Let trust be among us and let there be the rule of peace and goodwill in all of the world.

To all Muslims, those who today walk in prayer around the Kaba, and to those who are at their homes gathered around the sacrificial lamb, I wish, from my heart, a happy Eid Ul-Adha (Kurban Bajram), all the while praying to dear Allah for their health and success in life and work. I extend special greetings to the refugees, the sick and powerless, with submission to the Creator Almighty to help them! Personal greetings to our brothers in Croatia, Slovenia, Sanjak, Kosova, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and the Bosnian Diaspora and all of the Muslims in the world."



Eid Ul-Adha,or Eid-e Qurban (Kurban Bajram) occurs on the tenth day of the Islamic month of Dhul Hijja. It is one of two Eid festivals that Muslims celebrate. Eid Ul-Adha is celebrated by Muslims worldwide as a commemoration of Prophet Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son Ismael for God. Others celebrate Eid Ul-Adha as it marks the end of the Pilgrimage or Hajj for the millions of Muslims who make the trip to Mecca each year. Like Eid Ul-Fitr, Eid ul-Adha also begins with a short prayer followed by a khutba. In Mecca, the khutba is delivered at Mount Arafat.

Men, women, and children are expected to dress in their finest clothing and perform prayer (Salat) in any Masjid or mosque. Muslims who can afford to do so sacrifice their best domestic animals (usually sheep, but also camels, cows, and goats) as a symbol of Ibrahim's sacrifice. The sacrificed animals, called "Qurban", have to meet certain age and quality standards, or else the animal is considered an unacceptable sacrifice. At the time of sacrifice, Allah's name is recited along with the offering statement and a supplication as Muhammad said. The meat then is equally distributed among the sacrificer's family, friends, relatives, and the poor and hungry.

The regular charitable practices of the Muslim community are demonstrated during Eid Ul-Adha by the concerted effort to see that no impoverished Muslim is left without sacrificial food during this day. Coming immediately after the annual Hajj ends with the celebration of the Day of Mount Arafat, Eid Ul-Adha is a concrete affirmation of what the Muslim community ethic means in practice. People in these days are expected to visit their relations, starting with their parents, then their families and friends.Eating and sharing the meat is considered an element of worship during this period, as well as saying Takbir.

Friday, December 21, 2007

BOSNIAN CONSTITUTION TAKEN TO COURT

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 21,2007) - The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg is hearing three cases brought by the Bosnian citizens on the grounds that the Bosnian Constitution discriminates against them because of their ethnic background.

The first case was brought by Dervo Sejdic in June 2006. Sejdic belongs to Bosnia's Roma community. In January 2007 Jakob Finci, who is Jewish, brought a case before the court, and in September this year a third case was brought by Ilijaz Pilav, a Bosniak.

“We are simply deprived of the right to take part in elections, we are unable to exercise our passive civil right, the right to be elected,” Finci, who is head of the Bosnian Jewish Community and Director of the Bosnian Civil Service Agency,said.

A number of leading legal experts in Bosnia believe these appeals stand a good chance of success, in which case the country will have to remove relevant provisions from the state and entity constitutions. But to do so would mean rejecting one of the key principles on which the Dayton Peace Agreement and the current Bosnian Constitution are based.

Dervo Sejdic and Jakob Finci are Bosnian citizens but they cannot stand for high office,at the state or entity level, because they belong to an ethnic minority. Ilijaz Pilav belongs to one of the constituent peoples, but he lives in an entity in Bosnia from where his ethnic group cannot be represented in the Bosnian Presidency.

Yet the Constitution commits Bosnia to adherence to the European Convention on Human Rights – which these provisions on ethnic representation clearly breach. Bosnia ratified Protocol 12 of the Convention, which plainly states that electoral procedures for official posts must ensure equal treatment for all citizens, allowing all citizens to vote and all citizens to stand for election.

As Professor Kasim Trnka, a leading expert on constitutional law, sums up: “The Dayton constitution placed ethnicity in the foreground, at the expenses of the individual, and resulted in the dominance of collective rights over civil rights.”

Finci explained that his object in bringing the case was not to have a member of the Bosnian Jewish community sitting in the Bosnian Presidency but rather to uphold the basic civic rights of all Bosnian citizens.

“This is an act of a citizen of Bosnia,” Finci said. “Only the voters can decide who will become a member of the Bosnian Presidency. You cannot have a constitutional provision saying that someone who is not a Bosniak, a Croat or a Serb will not be entitled to take this post.”

Ilijaz Pilav from Srebrenica brought his case after his candidacy to become a member of the Bosnian Presidency was rejected ahead of the October 2006 elections on the grounds that only Bosniaks living in the FBIH Entity could run for this position.

“With this action I hope to draw attention to discriminatory provisions of the electoral laws in Bosnia – which is just one element in an insane constitutional structure,” said Pilav, adding that he is confident the Court will find in his favour.

The President of the Bosnian Czech Community, Vladimir Blaha, also agrees that minorities are exposed to constitutional discrimination compared to constitutive groups : Bosniaks,Croats or Serbs.

“This kind of constitutional provision deprives individuals of the right to proclaim their identity and nationality in accordance with how they feel,” said Vanja Ibrahimbegović of the Association Alumni of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Postgraduate Studies at Sarajevo University.

The Bosnian Constitution currently regards citizens as Serbs, Croats, Bosniaks and Others, precluding any direct affiliation with the Bosnian nation.

“An exclusively ethnic approach, which among other things determines the right to participate in political life, is contrary to the concept of inclusivity,” legal expert and leading human rights activist Srdjan Dizdarevic points out in a pamphlet titled Citizenship, Law and Rights. “The overall organization and functioning of the key state institutions are based exclusively on ethnic principle.”

According to Trnka and other experts, if the Strasbourg court finds in favour of the plaintiffs, Bosnia will have no option but to amend its constitution accordingly.

“These cases are justified. It is obviously an instance of discrimination and I believe that the Court will hand down verdicts in favour of Finci, Pilav and Sejdic,“ Trnka said.

LAJCAK EXTENDED STATE PROPERTY DISPOSAL PROHIBITION

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 21,2007) – The International Community's High Representative in Bosnia, Miroslav Lajčák,issued a Decision extending the State and Entity laws that temporarily prohibit disposals of state property until 30 June 2008.

Although this is the fifth extension of the temporary ban, Bosnia's Prime Minister in resignation Nikola spiric asked the High Representative to allow for additional time for the State, Entities, and the District of Brcko to reach an inter-governmental agreement and to enact appropriate legislation.

Lajcak in a letter urged the political leaders in Bosnia to take this last opportunity to bring this issue to a sustainable conclusion by finalizing an intergovernmental agreement before March 2008 and to enact appropriate laws before the decision expires.

The International Community's High Representative in Bosnia also underlined that both the Intergovernmental Agreement on the principles for allocating State Property ownership, and the legislation that will be based on the agreement, must be guided by a functionality principle whereby each level of government in Bosnia owns the assets necessary to fulfill their respective competencies under the Bosnian Constitution.

BOSNIAN FARMERS TO HOLD PROTEST IN SARAJEVO ON DECEMBER 24

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 21,2007) - The Bosnian Association of Agricultural Workers announced that they will organize in cooperation with the FBIH Entity Association of Agricultural workers protests in front of the the FBIH Entity Government’s building, on December 24 at 10 a.m.

The protest is aimed to pressure the FBIH Entity Government to fulfil obligations proscribed by the Agricultural Sector Development Strategy adopted. The Strategy states that six per cent of the FBIH Entity Budget for 2008 is to be ensured for the agricultural sector development. That means the amount of about 100 million Bosnian Marks. The associations’ representatives also stated that the FBIH Entity Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture are to blame for the damage caused by drought and growth of prices of production materials.

The associations of agricultural workers also want to force the FBIH Entity Government to pass Law on Agriculture which will enable the government to influence the prices and icrease the price of milk purchase per 20 to 90 per cent, adding that it is not diary products’ prices that have grown but agricultural.

The Bosnian Association of Agricultural Workers announced that they will block all the state borders, authority institutions at various levels and entities. They also announced that they will block traffic in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo December 28 if their demands are not fulfilled

Thursday, December 20, 2007

BOSNIAN PRESIDENT ZELJKO KOMSIC MET WITH FRENCH PRESIDENT NICOLAS SARKOZY

PARIS, France (December 20,2007) - The Bosnian President Zeljko Komsic met yesterday in Paris with the French President Nicolas Sarkozy.They discussed bilateral ties and developments in the region, including tensions in Serbia's breakaway province of Kosovo.

Bosnia will recognize the independence of Kosovo if a majority of the countries of the EU so decides,even if that means instability in the region," said the Bosnian President Zeljko Komsic.

"In the event of unilateral action, Bosnia will take the same position as that of the European Union and NATO," President Komsic said.

"We want to discuss the future, the accession to the European Union and not the ghosts of the past. That is what Bosnia needs," said President Komsic.

The French President Nicolas Sarkozy assured the Bosnian President Zeljko Komsic that France supports "the EU perspective of Bosnia".

Komsic invited Sarkozy to visit Bosnia, which could be done in 2009. "At that time, I hope we will be much further in our journey towards accession to the European Union," said the Bosnian President Zeljko Komsic.

The Bosnian and French leaders also addressed the political situation in Bosnia as well as the country's potential for membership in the European Union.

The visit is part of a broader series of bilateral talks between the French President Nicolas Sarkozy and other Southeastern European leaders. On Monday Monday Sarkozy received the Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa and on Tuesday the Croatian President Stjepan Mesic.

EUROPEAN COMMISSION'S DELEGATION TO BOSNIA WELCOMED FORMATION OF POLICE REFORM IMPLEMENTATION WORKGROUP

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 20,2007) – Head of the European Commission’s Delegation to Bosnia Dimitris Kourkoulas welcomed in the bosnian capital sarajevo constitution of the Police Reform Implementation Workgroup which is the next decisive step in the process of implementation of the Mostar Declaration and the Police Reform Implementatiojn Action Plan.

Emphasizing that it is a positive signal on the way to signing the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the European Union, Ambassador Kourkoulas expressed expectations that the Workgroup will complete all the tasks necessary in due time.

He added that Bosnia has more police experts than any other country and that it should be a guarantee of completing the task in due time.

EU is willing to sign the SAA with Bosnia as soon as Bosnia fulfils all the conditions necessary, Ambassador Kourkoulas said.

The Police Reform Implementation Workgroup held the first meeting on Tuesday. The workgroup was formed by the Bosnian government on December 13.

The Workgroup is in charge of developing laws on the basis of which certain police institutions will be formed. The workgroup should complete their tasks by mid-February.

AUSTRIAN EMBASSY PRESENTED "REVEALING EU TOGETHER" BROCHURE

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 20,2007) – The Austrian Embassy in Bosnia presented in Sarajevo a booklet entitled “Revealing the EU Together”, aimed to serve as a handbook at Bosnian schools and universities.

The handbook is designed to be used at the German language lessons and has been developed at the initiative of the German lThe anguage lecturers. The brochure contains texts which enable a better understanding of the EU. It also answers many questions related to the issue.

The Austrian Ambassador to Bosnia Werner Almhofer stated at the presentation that the brochure is yet another contribution for Bosnia on its road to the EU. He added that the younger generations are the ones who will profit the most from associating to the EU.

Almhofer emphasized that all the countries striving to become the EU member countries need to know all that there is to know about the EU. The association processes bring rise to many other new challenges for educational systems of every country.

”EU is not solely concerned with the high policy. It is a part of our daily lives and should be treated as such at schools”, Ambassador stated.

Head of the Delegation of the European Commission to Bosnia Dimitris Kourkoulas, who attended the presentation, expects that the brochure will provide a better understanding of the European Union.

He expressed gratitude to Austria which helped support Bosnia’s European integrations.

Gratitude for realization of this initiative was also expressed by the Bosnian Advisor to Director for European Integrations Amela Alihodzic. She is of the opinion that this handbook will be of use not only for young people, but also for all Bosnian citizens so that they know mutual benefits of Bosnia’s full membership in the EU.

It has also been emphasized that the presentation of the brochure fits into the context of the recent initialling of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) between Bosnia and the EU.

The brochure was published with support of Austrian Cultural association from Vienna.

BOSNIA RECEIVED NEW STATE SIGN FOR RADIO COMMUNICATIONS

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 20,2007) – Bosnia has received a unique state sign E-7 adopted at the World Radio-communications Conference WRC-2007 in Geneva in November.The Bosnian Traffic and Telecommunications Minister Bozo Ljubic told a press conference in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo that based on an initiative launched by this ministry in June/July, the former international symbol for Bosnia T-9 has been changed into E-7, which has ensured the identical marking of radio frequencies in the entire Bosnia, river and seafaring vessels and aircraft.

This guarantees Bosnia the right to using a radio spectrum in accordance with its needs and interests without violating the frequency resources of other countries.

Minister Ljubic underlined the importance of the adoption of a single state symbol and the establishment of a common association of radio amateurs, which should ensure a reserve radio connection for the event of natural disasters. This is one of the conditions for joining the European Security Reporting System (System 112).

“The Ministry of Communication and Traffic will ensure donations in order to ensure the establishment of main radio relay routes in the entire country which will be made available to the roof organisation of radio amateurs in Bosnia”, Ljubic said.

He also said that the adoption of the new state sign contributes to integration at the state level and a further step towards joining European structures.

BOSNIA AND SLOVAKIA TO INTENSIFY RELATIONS

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 20,2007) – Bosnia's Prime Minister in resignation Nikola Spiric and Slovakian Ambassador to Bosnia Miroslav Mojzita had a meeting yesterday in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo and concluded that cooperation between the two countries is developing and that it should be further intensified.

Spiric stated that there is a positive atmosphere now present in Bosnia, which makes creating of preconditions for signing the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between Bosnia and the EU easier.

Ambassador Mojzita expressed readiness of Slovakia to support Bosna on its way to Euro-Atlantic Integration.

POLICE TRADE UNIONS ABOUT TO REACH COLLECTIVE AGREEMENT

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 20,2007) - The Coordinating Body and the two Working Groups tasked with drafting a framework Collective Agreement for police officers and civil servants working in the various law enforcement agencies in Bosnia had a meeting at the the European Union Police Mission (EUPM) Headquarters in Sarajevo.

The document was discussed in detail and minor amendments were made to some articles. The document is currently in the process of being edited and refined.

A meeting of the Coordinating Body is scheduled for mid-January, when it is expected that the document will be ratified by all police trade unions in Bosnia.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

BOSNIAN PRESIDENCY MEMBERS HELD RECEPTION IN HONOR OF UPCOMING HOLIDAYS

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 19,2007) – Members of the Bosnian Presidency hosted a reception yesterday in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo in honor of the upcoming religious holidays.Many prominent personalities from the Bosnian public, religious, cultural and political life, as well as the diplomatic chorus attended.A member of the Bosnian Presidency Dr Haris Silajdžić delivered the following speech on this occasion:

"Ladies and gentelmen, Excellencies,

Dear friends,

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the Bosnian Presidency reception in honor of the upcoming religious holidays and the New Year.

These holidays present an opportunity to remember where we come from and what preceded the times in which we live. Bosnia, a country of the „good Bosnians,“ as our neighbors would call us, was mostly a good example of coexistence for hundreds of years. Mutual respect, tolerance for another and for the differences, openness and good neighborly relations were the rule, not an exception. It was not easy to accomplish all that in this region. We were destined to live at a fault-line that more often than not was a meeting point of different peoples, ideologies, religions, interests and everything else that is common to all people, but slightly different between them.

This means that our predecessors invested in coexistence, that they not only tolerated each other, that, under trying times and different regimes, they found a way to provide to themselves and their ancestors a normal life to the extent that, as we sometimes say, the circumstances allowed it.They accomplished this without the aid of the communication mechanisms that we today have at our disposals, without the human rights conventions, without the United Nations and the civil society. They did not dispute the harmony that flows out of the multitudes, the unity of the differences, nor the quality that is produced by pluralism.They did not theorize about the enrichment of the different cultures that meet here in the upward spiral. They did not organize round tables about the expansion of horizons and the benefits of a pluralistic society.They simply lived together and mostly attempted to make their lives easier.

In our times which are the times of uniting, exchange, cooperation, communications, and meetings, this task appears far easier and simpler. Led by the example of those who came before us, we must find a way to turn some defeats into victories and to leave a society and a state that is comfortable to live in to the generations that will come after us.

The human and material resources allow us to do that. If we unite our strengths, our country can become prosperous for all its people in a relatively short time. This means that we can provide everyone with modern education, good health care, employment, and that we can generally have a good living standard.

We finally came to a time that we can be free in our country regardless of the difficulties that we face. But freedom, above all, means responsibility and duty to respect the freedom and the rights of another. That obliges us to continue to work on establishing the rule of law in the full sense.

The curing of the society as a whole, its security and stability, cannot be accomplished as long as those who are responsible for the crimes in our country are not brought to justice. Unfortunately, some of them today enjoy complete freedom, and even the privileges of working in the security structures, in local and other government bodies.

We owe this primarily to the victims of the crimes, to those who defended the freedom and independence of our country and to the generations that are still to come.

Ladies and gentlemen, Excellencies, dear friends,

It is a promising fact that we were able to meet the requirements for the initialing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union despite our political differences. We will do everything in our power to continue the on the path of integration of our country into the European Union and the NATO alliance. I am certain that our partners in the international community will help us in those aspirations.Our success is their success as well.

Finally, I wish to all of you, as well as all of the people of Bosnia, to spend the upcoming religious holidays and the New Year in peace and surrounded by your loved ones, neighbors and friends.

Thank you!"

LAW ON FORMATION OF BOSNIAN POLICE INSTITUTIONS TO BE DEVELOPED BY FEBRUARY 15,2008

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 19,2007) – The Bosnian Council of Ministers agreed the frame plan for police reform implementation. A workgroup of nine members has also been formed which should, by February 15, develop law or laws which are to form new police institutions at the state level," the Bosnian Minister of Security Tarik Sadovic announced at a press conference in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo.

”That is primarily related to the police training and education of police personnel, as well as to formation of a center or institute of forensic investigation, police support agency, independent board for election of police director and supervision, citizens’ complaints board and police officers’ complaints board”, Sadovic said.

The Bosnian Minister of Security expressed conviction that the workgroup will reach certain agreements and find solutions by February 15 and that the EU standards and principles will be implemented.

”That will enable us to sign the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the European Union”, Sadovic said.

WORKGROUP FOR BOSNIAN POLICE REFORM IMPLEMENTATION FORMED

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 19,2007) – On the basis of the decision made by the Bosnian Government on December 13, Workgroup for the Bosnian Police Reform Implementation was formed yesterday. The group is obliged to develop law or laws on the basis of which direction for police coordination, institute for forensic investigation, institute for schooling and training of the personnel, police support agency, independent board, citizens’ complaint board and police officers’ complaint board will be formed.

This was stated yesterday at a press conference by Bosnia's Prime Minister in resignation Nikola Spiric. He emphasized that the workgroup will, by February 15, porpose a draft or drafts of law(s) which will define all the agreements made between the politicians during the meetings which resulted in passing of the Mostar Declaration and Police Reform Implementation Action Plan.

Spiric stated that the workgroup will be made up of the following officials: personal representative of Bosnia's Prime Minister Sredoje Novic, personal representatives of The Bosnian State Ministers of Security and Justice Sead Lisak and Bariša Colak, personal representatives of the Entity Ministries of Interior Taib Spahic and Uros Pena, personal representative of the Brcko District Mayor Goran Lujic and Vinko Dumancic, Head of the Bosnian State Border Police.

Spiric emphasized that all the activities need to be taken for the purpose of completing the task by mid-February. That would create preconditions for signing of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between Bosnia and the EU.

He added that the workgroup will meet once a week and that the decisions will be passed through a consensus. Representatives of the Office of the International Community's High Representative in Bosnia (OHR), the EU Police Mission in Bosnia (EUPM) and the U.S. Embassy will monitor the meetings.

GREGORIAN WELCOMES ADOPTION OF LAW ON BRCKO DISTRICT'S POLICE OFFICIALS

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 19,2007) – The Supervisor of the Brcko District, Raffi Gregorian, welcomed the adoption of the Law on Police Officials of the Brcko District by the Brcko District Assembly.

This new piece of legislation will regulate the working relations of Brcko District police officials. Furthermore, the Law will facilitate the upcoming process of police restructuring in Bosnia.

This Law, adopted by the District Assembly, conforms to the requirements of the United Nations Security Council in relation to persons denied certification.

60 WITNESSES TO BE EXAMINED IN ONE MONTH AT TRIAL OF FOUR SERBIAN WAR CRIMINALS

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 19,2007) – At the trial of Serbian war criminals Zeljko Mejakic, Momcilo Gruban, Dusan Fustar and Dusko Knezevic, the Trial Chamber of the Bosnian State Court has agreed to let the defence teams to examine 60 of 121 earlier announced witnesses during the evidence presentation process.

The Chamber considered that statements of some witnesses "are not relevant" and that "it is not necessary to examine all of them".

The Trial Chamber of the Bosnian State Court has asked the Defence teams to suggest additional attorneys for Serbian war criminals Momcilo Gruban and Dusan Fustar "as soon as possible".

"It is necessary to appoint additional attorneys for Gruban and Fustar as soon as possible, because the custody order for attorney Vinko Kondic has been confirmed, while attorney Jovo Djukanovic has been appointed as judge with the Municipal Court in Prijedor," said Trial Chamber chairman Saban Maksumic.

Kondic was arrested on a warrant issued by the Bosnian State Prosecutor on December 7, and is currently being held in custody on suspicion of having committed war crimes in the Bosnian town of Kljuc during the 1992-1995 Serbian aggression against Bosnia.

The Bosnian State Prosecutor charges Serbian war criminals Zeljko Mejakic, Momcilo Gruban, Dusan Fustar and Dusko Knezevic with the murder, rape ans torture of Bosnian and Croatian civilians detaind by the genocidal Serbian aggressor in the Omarska and Keraterm concentration camps in 1992.

Mejakic's defence team has proposed a list of 44 witnesses, including former guards and investigators in the Omarska concentration camp, but the Trial Chamber of the Bosnian State Court has approved the examination of only 27, including the indictee.

Of 19 witnesses proposed by Serbian war criminal Momcilo Gruban's team, the Trial Chamber has admitted ten. Twenty witnesses, including two court experts, will testify in Serbian war criminal Dusan Fustar's defence. Originally his team proposed a list of 55 witnesses.

The Bosnian State Court approved examination of three planned witnesses by the Defence team of Serbian war criminal Dusko Knezevic. The Defence teams have been given fewer than 30 day to present their evidence.

As requested by the Bosnian State Prosecutor David Schwendiman, Trial Chamber chairman Saban Maksumic ordered the Defence teams to provide the statements of the first witnesses, who will be examined in January, "as early as possible".

TWO BOSNIAN SOLDIERS,SUSPECTED OF WAR CRIMES,RELEASED FROM CUSTODY

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 19,2007) – After a motion filed by the Bosnian State {Prosecutor, former Bosnian Army soldiers Ahmed Sadikovic and Ademir Kalem, who are suspected of war crimes, have been released from custody ten days after an extension motion was filed for them.

The Bosnian State Prosecutor has submitted the custody termination motion because "the existence of the grounded suspicion that they committed the crime has been brought into question".

Justifying the arrest warrant and its earlier custody order motions, the Bosnian State Prosecutor alleged that Ahmed and Azemin Sadikovic and Ademir Kalem, former Bosnian Army soldiers, were considered to have killed six civilians of Serbian origin in the Bosnian village of Kasetici in 1992,during the Serbian aggression against Bosnia.

BOSNIAN GDP AMOUNTED TO 26% OF EUROPEAN AVERAGE IN 2006

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 19,2007) – In 2006 Bosnia's gross domestic product (GDP) measured by the buying power parity, amounted to 26% of the European average – the Statistic Office of the European Commission EUROSTAT published on Monday.

Only Albania had a lower GDP (21% of the European average). Macedonia had 28%, Turkey 31%, while Montenegro had 33% of the European average.Bulgaria had 37, and Romania 39% of the European average.

A total of 13 EU countries have a GDP above the European average. With 280% Luxemburg has the highest GDP, followed by Ireland with 146%,
The Netherlands 131% and Austria 128%.

BOSNIAN PARLIAMENT ADOPTED REPORT ON FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT OF BOSNIAN STATE INSTITUTIONS FOR 2006

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 19,2007) – The Bosnian Parliament's House of Representatives has adopted collective report on financial management of the Bosnian state institutions for 2006 with proposal of conclusions and recommendations.

All state institutions are to implement the recommendations made by audit inspections from the previous period. If not, they will be held responsible for all the lacks of implementation of audit of the state institutions which is related to the possibility of decrease of budget execution for the budget users.

In that sense, all the institutions marked as “negative” twice will live to see cuts of salaries per 10 per cent.

The conclusions also add that the Bosnian Parliament's House of Representatives will submit the audits’ reports to the department investigative and judiciary organs for the purpose of taking over the actions related to the issue.

House of Representatives collegiums are suggested to consider possibility of taking measures in the sense of forming the two joint commissions for audit and joint commission for finances and budget.

Delegates also adopted Report of the Bosnian Office for Audit on revision executed in 2006 at 13 state institutions).

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON YOUTH POLICY HELD IN SARAJEVO

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 19,2007) – For the purpose of presenting the issues in youth policy at the local level and for the purpose of exchanging the experience of the best experts in the sector, an international conference on youth policy has been organized yesterday in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, focusing on youth policy in Bosnia. The conference was organized by the Temporary Association of the Five Italian NGOs, which have implemented the project “Improvement of Position of Children and Youth in Bosnia”.

The program is financed by Italian Foreign Affairs Ministry through Italian Cooperation and is active in youth policy of 30 municipalities of Bosnia.

As stated yesterday prior to the conference, activities which focus on the increase of capacity in youth policy have been initiated and training courses for local institutions, youth organizations, schools and centers for social care have been organized.

For the purpose of solving the issues of unemployment of young people in Bosnia, the program has, in cooperation with the partner companies, conducted an expert analysis on the position of youth at the labor market. Results of the analysis have been presented to the relevant Bosnian institutions.

Trainings for 150 young people have been organized, so that they are made able to start their own business. A fund has also been formed, making the access to loans easier. About 400.000 Euros have been provided for the purpose.

Apart from the presentation of results of youth policy at the local level, yesterday’s conference also focused on concrete results related to Strategy and Action Plan adopted by municipalities which participate in the program.

Zlatko Horvat, the Bosnian Ministry of Civil Affairs Secretary expressed gratitude to the Italian Government which enabled the implementation of the project.

Representatives of Italian NGOs stated that implementation of the program of improving the position of children and youth in Bosnia will end in April and that its goals will not be realized by this date. In that sense, various activities will continue.

OSCE: EDUCATIONAL REFORM IN BOSNIA HAS HAD UPS AND DOWNS IN 2007

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 19,2007) - Two important laws have been adopted in the educational sector this year at the state level. Both of these laws opened the way to institutional changes in the sector, OSCE Mission to Bosnia officials stated, commenting the educational reform in Bosnia in 2007.

The two laws concerned are Law on Agency for Pre-School, Primary and Secondary Education and the Higher Education Frame Law.

Deputy Head of OSCE Department for Education Valerie Perry stated in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo that passing of these laws is only the first step, for implementation of these laws is necessary.

She added that one of the challenges in the following year is determining the issue of role, actions and constitution of the school boards. OSCE conducted a research on the topic which showed that the greatest concern is political interference in the issue of election of members of the school boards and their functioning.

Perry stated that one of the main goals of the OSCE mission is to keep talking to the Bosnian authorities for the purpose of creating a clear image on what the board members are to do. Training of the school boards members is of the essence.

OSCE will also keep dealing with the issue of enrolment areas.

She added that there is a positive example in the Brcko district where pupils of different nationalities spend time together in classrooms. Nobody loses identity in the process.

OSCE will, in the following year, bring teachers, professors, pedagogical employees and other experts to the Brcko district in order for them to see the ways of functioning of schools. Although the Brcko District is a positive example, it also clearly shows that one nationality schools cannot be the only way of solving the issues in the country.

OSCE warns of the problem of lack of education in certain categories of population like Roma people, girls from poor families, children living in remote areas and children with special needs.

As announced, OSCE will continue working with educational inspectors in the following year, as well as with pedagogical institutes and agency for education that is to be formed for the purpose of improving the Bosnian educational system.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

BILL CHANGING BOSNIAN ELECTORAL LAW SENT TO PARLIAMENTARY PROCEDURE

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 18,2007) – The Bill changing the Bosnian Electoral Law prepared by Inter-Department Workgroup has been sent to the parliamentary procedure.

A member of the Bosnian Central Elections Commission and Inter-Department Workgroup Suad Arnautovic called all the ruling parties to adopt this law as soon as possible, keeping in mind that “rules of the game for the upcoming local elections need to be known as soon as possible”.

Arnautovic stated that the biggest changes have been made in the sense of enabling the national minorities’ representatives to participate in the local parliaments.

An initiative has also been submitted to the FBIH Entity Parliament asking for a simpler election procedures at the FBIH Entity Parliament’s House of Peoples’ caucuses.

”We have also started an initiative of annulling the law which prescribes that the Bosnian Presidency members are elected the way they are now”, Arnautovic said.

BOSNIAN DEFENCE MINISTER SELMO CIKOTIC TO DISCUSS SECURITY ISSUES WITH U.S. OFFICIALS

WASHINGTON, USA (December 18,2007)– The Bosnian Defence Minister Selmo Cikotic is leading the Bosnian Ministry of Defence delegation which is participating at the multilateral defense consultations in Washington,USA.

Cikotic will meet with the U.S. State Department representatives and the U.S. National Security Council officials.

The Bosnian Defence Minister will also hold a lecture in organization of the US Atlantic Union College, the Bosnian Defence Ministry announced.

BOSNIAN MINISTER OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND REFUGEES SAFET HALILOVIC VISITED NOVI TRAVNIK

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 18,2007) - The Bosnian Minister of Human Rights and Refugees Safet Halilovic and his Deputy Slavko Marin visited Novi Travnik and participated in a ceremony organized for the occasion of handing over the keys to eight reconstructed apartments.

Halilovic expressed pleasure over the successful completion of the project of reconstruction of houses in the Novi Travnik Municipality area.

”About 3.000 families returned to this municipality. A large number of apartment units have been reconstructed but there are 800 more houses to go through the same project”, Minister Halilovic stated.

Halilovic and his deputy Marin visited the new house belonging to Ante Lesic. The house was reconstructed in accordance with the criteria adopted by the Bosnian Minsitry of Human Rights and Refugees.

The house of Ante Lesic, located in Hadzici, was completely destroyed during the 1992-1995 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia.

WORLD BANK PRESENTED NEW STRATEGY FOR BOSNIA

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 18,2007) - The World Bank mission in Bosnia presented yesterday its new strategy for the country, launching a new four-year lending cycle and announcing loans of 200 million US Dollars for development projects.

New loans come in addition to 200 million USD in loans that the World Bank had already approved earlier.

'We are talking about 400 million USD over the next four years of development projects with assistance from the World Bank,' World Bank Country Manager for Bosnia Marco Mantovanelli told reporters in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo.

The World Bank would support investments in infrastructure, municipal development, transport and energy sectors, business environment, public sector reform, and social sectors reform through this programme.

More funds would be available with the progress of reforms in Bosnia,Mantovanelli said.

He also said that Bosnia would move in the next four years from borrowing under soft conditions, including interest-free loans with repayment over 35 years and a 10-year grace period, to more commercial, but still relatively cheap borrowing under conditions of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD).

'The transition to IBRD indicates that we have confidence the country is moving in the right direction,' said Mantovanelli.

The World Bank has committed about 1.2 billion US Dollars in favorable loans to Bosnia since the end of the Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia ended in late 1995.

POLAND SUPPORTS BOSNIA FOR EU,NATO ENTRY

WARSAW, Poland (December 18,2007) - Bosnia should have green light on joining the European Union (EU) and NATO, Polish president Lech Kaczynski said yesterday.

Kaczynski made the remarks after meeting the Bosnian President Zeljko Komsic, who is on an official visit to Poland.

"Bosnia is clearly interested in joining both NATO and the EU and Poland supports these plans," Kaczynski said.

Komsic invited Kaczynski to visit Bosnia and Kaczynski said he would gladly visit Bosnia next year.

Both politicians discussed ways of promoting friendly relations between Bosnia and Poland and stepping up mutual economic cooperation.