Friday, September 14, 2007


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (September 14,2007) - Amid warnings of "dire consequences" if no compromise is reached, the leaders of Bosnia's main political parties are attempting to hash out a deal on police reform.

New talks on police reform kicked off in Sarajevo on Wednesday (September 12th). They come amid warnings that Bosnia will see its progress towards EU accession derailed unless an agreement is reached by the end of the month.

The country wrapped up its talks on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU in December. However, Brussels has said the accord will only be signed once the current stalemate over police reform has been overcome.

If Bosnia's politicians fail to reach a compromise within the next three weeks, "the international community will have to react",the International Community's High Representative in Bosnia Miroslav Lajcak told the British daily The Guardian.

"There will be no business as usual. We won't beat around the bush. We'll name names," Lajcak said.

Lajcak recently floated a compromise proposal, but it was immediately rejected by leaders of key Bosniak and Serb parties. The new talks, involving representatives of the eight main political parties, focus on the technical aspects of Lajcak's plan.

A member of the Bosnian Presidency Haris Silajdzic, who also heads the SBIH party, argues that it does not go far enough and would reward the Serbians living in Bosnia. Silajdzic is a proponent of abolishing "th RS" (the genocidal Serbian creature in Bosnia) and unifying Bosnia under a strong central administration.

Others claim Lajcak's proposal, which has not been publicised yet, is not in line with principles set out by the European Commission (EC) for police restructuring in Bosnia.

Technical details related to the police reform proposal made by the International Community's High Representative in Bosnia Miroslav Lajcak were the central topic of the meeting held at the Office of the International Community's High Representative (OHR) building on Wednesday. OHR representatives and eight Bosnia's main political parties’ experts attended.

The only officials who addressed the press after the meeting were the representatives of the political parties of the Serbians living in Bosnia.

SNSD Party representative Stanislav Cadjo stated that the atmosphere at the meeting was fair and that the different opinions were presented. He added that the talks are to continue and that some concrete observations from the meeting will be submitted to all the participants.

”The following meeting has been planned for Tuesday. By that time, the parties involved are to state their opinions about the three concrete items that were discussed”, PDP Party representative Slobodan Nafradic said. Those items are the Bosnian State Border Police structure and the future database.

He added that the parties’ representatives had an opportunity to see other parties’ attitudes related to Lajcak’s proposal.

The EU wants all legislative and budgetary competencies for all police matters to be vested at the Bosnian state level. It says there should be no political interference in the operational work of police and that police zones must be established on the basis of professional criteria, rather than on ethnicity.

"Diametrically opposed and incompatible views of the main leaders are crowding out moderate positions, which makes it difficult to reach agreement on the key issues," Lajcak said.

Top EU officials have rallied behind Lajcak, dismissing comments that his plan violates the three EC principles.(?)

Failure to reach an agreement will not only mean a delay in signing the SAA, but will push Bosnia's European perspective "further down the road", EU security chief Javier Solana said recently after talks with Lajcak.

Lajcak, who also serves as the EU special representative in Bosnia, has broad authority under the so-called Bonn Powers, including the right to sack elected officials. He has warned that Bosnia's politicians will face dire consequences if the country's EU bid is derailed.

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