Wednesday, September 12, 2007


BRUSSELS, Belgium (September 12,2007) - “The political elite of Bosnia all say they want European integration, but there is an obvious lack of commitment to promote the EU agenda and to search for common ground”, the International Community's High Representative and EU Special Representative in Bosnia,Miroslav Lajčák told the EU Political and Security Committee, one of the EU's key foreign policy bodies, in Brussels yesterday.

Despite wide support for EU integration among the population, Bosnia's political leaders are still unable to cooperate to achieve progress on the road to Brussels,Lajcak said.

“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”, Lajčák said, citing police reform as the obvious example of the current stalemate.

“Police reform is important in its own right, but it is also vital as the door opener for the initialling and signing of the SAA.The good news is that the process is going on and that we have everyone on board. What is not clear is whether domestic leaders are committed to achieve a result,” Lajcak said.

The International Community's High Representative and EU Special Representative in Bosnia reiterated his commitment to reaching an agreement on police reform by the end of September, which would represent “a key confidence-building measure” and “reverse the current negative trend that has prevailed since April 2006”. It would also create the conditions in which constitutional reform could be discussed in a meaningful way,he stressed.

At the same time, Miroslav Lajcak emphasized that “there is no alternative to achieving progress. Not for Bosnia, and not for the EU. We cannot afford to look an as a key country in the Western Balkans goes backward. Stability in this region is crucial to our own security,” Lajcak concluded.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (September 12,2007) – The Bosnian Minister of Justice,Barisa Colak sent a protest letter yesterday to the Serbian Ministry of Justice, emphasizing that the latest actions of the Serbian authorities related to the so-called Tuzla convoy case are not in accordance with the international agreements that the two countries have signed.

The Contract on Legal Assistance signed between the two countries has been breeched in by the legal procedure against Bosnian citizen Ilija Jurisic; as well as the rules defined by the European Convention on Legal Assistance, because a Court from Serbia has sent letters to Bosnian citizens, calling them to testify at the Court, the Bosnian Minister of Justice Colak wrote.

The letter emphasized that that act is internationally treated as an attack against a country’s sovereignty.

The Bosnian Minister of Justice also urged Serbia to consider the Bosnian Ministry of Justice’s note to render criminal prosecution in the case of Bosnian citizen Ilija Jurisic to the Bosnian authorities.The note was sent July 3. and Serbian authorities have not yet answered.

Ilija Jurišić is a Bosnian patriot who participated in defending the Bosnian city of Tuzla from the Serbian aggressor,during the 1992-1995 Serbian aggresion against Bosnia.Jurišić has been arrested by the Serbian aggressor and has been in a prison in Belgrade since 11 May 2007.

In the past praxis of cooperation between the two ministries of justice, no such examples can be found, Minister Colak wrote and added that “respecting the agreements between the two countries would remove the unwanted situations that have been disturbing the Bosnian public lately”.

The Bosnian Ministry of Justice once again called the Serbian Ministry of Justice to contribute the future cooperation between the two countries by removing these obstacles.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (September 12,2007) - Dr Haris Silajdžić,a member of the Bosnian Presidency Dr Haris Silajdžić met yesterday with Mrs. Maryse Daviet, the European Union Observers’ Mission Regional Head, and Matti Lehtonen, the Director of the Sarajevo Office.

Bosnian Presidency Member Dr Haris Silajdžić discussed with Mrs. Daviet and Mr. Lehtonen the current situation in Bosnia, focusing on the process of integration of Bosnia into the European Union.

Dr Silajdžić emphasized that Bosnia’s priority was reform process acceleration that would allow Bosnia to sign the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union as soon as possible. To that end, Dr Silajdžić said that police reform was one of the highest priorities and that talks in that field must be intensified.

Mrs. Daviet stressed out that integration of Bosnia into the EU had no alternative and that it was a unified stance of all European Union members.

They agreed in the end that solving regional issues in any way could not reflect on the reform process in Bosnia.


MOSCOW, Russia (September 12,2007) - In November 1997 when the elections where to be held in Bosnia,the former leader of the Serbians living in Bosnia,Serbian war criminal,Radavan Karadzic,who is on the run from genocide charges, was taken on board the Russian plane to Belarus. There he lived for severalmonths,Florence Hartmann, former spokeswoman at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), recounts in her new book "Paix et chatiment" (Peace and Punishment).

According to Hartmann,French President Jacques Chirac told the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte that then Russian President Boris Yeltsin had warned he would send a plane to get Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic out of Bosnia if necessary. Yeltsin would never permit the arrest of Serbian war criminal Karadzic,the book claims.

According to Hartman Great Britain, USA and France purposefully left free former leaders of the Serbians living in Bosnia,Serbian war criminals Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic who are wanted for genocide committed during the 1992-1995 Serbian aggression against Bosnia.

According to Hartman, in May 1997 leaders of the USA and Great Britain seconded by Germany persuaded the French president Chirac not to influence upon the situation of a probable arrest of Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic.

The French leader was made to acknowledge the arguments of the other that such operation must not be conducted without informing Russia about it.

According to Hartmann's account, Chirac said that he believed the United States had signed a secret deal promising to shield Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic to facilitate the peace accords in Dayton, Ohio, that ended the 1992-1995 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia.

In March 2000, Hartmann says, Carla del Ponte asked Wesley Clark, former NATO supreme allied commander, whether the U.S. had a secret agreement with Serbian war criminal Karadzic. Clark in turn accused Chirac of cutting a pact with (Serbian war criminals) Karadzic and Mladic to win the release of two French pilots held by the genocidal Serbian formations for three months in 1995.

Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic was indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity and severe breaches of the Geneva Conventions committed during the 1992-1995 Serbian aggression against Bosnia.

It has to be mentioned that previously the world media also made hints at the might be hiding place of the former leader of the Serbians living in Croatia,Serbian war criminal Goran Hadzic - it was the same place - Belarus.


NEW YORK, USA (September 12,2007) - The Human Rights Watch asked the European Union to make the arrest of war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic a condition before Serbia is allowed to join the group.

Human Rights Watch in New York said yesterday that EU leaders should demand from the Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica the arrest and transfer Serbian war criminal Ratko Mladic to the U.N. tribunal in The Hague.

It remains a condition for Serbia for signing a stabilization and association agreement with the EU.

Serbian war criminal Ratko Mladic is sought on genocide and war crimes charges in the former Yugoslavia from 1991-95, including the massacre of 8,000 Bosnian men and boys committed by the genocidal Serbian aggressor in July 1995.

Charges against Serbian war criminal Mladic also include the 3-year-siege and shelling of Bosnian capitol Sarajevo.

In May 2006, the EU put off talks with Serbia after Kostunica failed to keep his promise to arrest Mladic.Brussels and Belgrade resumed negotiations in June when Serbian authorities arrested two other Serbian war crimes fugitives.

But,the European Union said Monday that it will only sign a new pre-membership aid and economic deal with Serbia when that country has demonstrated its cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

The ICTY chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte will submit a report in the next few weeks to the EU suggesting whether she believes Serbia is fully cooperating with the ICTY. Del Ponte has discouraged agreements between Serbia and the EU before based on Serbia's lack of progress in the capture and arrest of Serbian war criminal Ratko Mladic.

Previous negotiations were put on hold for more than 13 months after Carla del Ponte determined Belgrade was not actively pursuing wanted war crimes fugitives.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (September 12,2007) - The International Community's High Representative and EU Special Representative in Bosnia,Miroslav Lajcak, called the Bosnian political parties’ experts to meet today in Sarajevo to discuss the technical arrangements on Bosnian police reform.

Oleg Milisic, OHR Spokesman, stated yesterday that the talks will be based on the parties’ comments on the police reform protocol, presented by the International Community's High Representative and EU Special Representative in Bosnia to Bosnia's political leaders.

This round of technical agreements will be held in Sarajevo, at the OHR building.

Police reform is the last obstacle for Bosnia to initial the SAA with the European Union. Police reform is to be agreed by the end of September.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (September 12,2007) – 71 victims of human trafficking have been registered in Bosnia last year. This is the data of the Office of State Coordinator for fight against Human Trafficking and Illegal Migration presented on Monday at a project conference entitled “Fight against Human Trafficking”, in Sarajevo.

31 of the victims are Bosnian citizens, 22 are from Serbia and Montenegro, 6 are from Moldova, 4 from Ukraine, 3 from Croatia, 2 from Bulgaria and one victim from Switzerland, Russia and Romania each.

The one day conference dedicated to the growing problem of human trafficking was organized by the Bosnian Bishop Conference’s Caritas, in cooperation with the Bosnian state coordinator for fignt against human trafficking and illegal migration and the Bosnian Catholic Relief Services (CRS).

The organizers presented the new media campaign that has already been initiated. It is entitled “Are You Looking for a Job? Why not, but be Careful”. The initiative is implemented by the Caritas network, Bosnian State Border Service, Bosnian diplomatic offices and several malls.

The campaign is aimed to raise consciousness of young people in particular on all the dangers of the process of employment in foreign countries.

The victims of human trafficking are foreign women who are deported to the origin countries, unless under the circumstances that they need to testify. In such cases, the Bosnian state provides protection. Domestic victims stay in Bosnia and attend various programs. However, the problem is that many of the victims are members of the Roma people and often times lack money to attend courses.

The participants of the conference also emphasized that there are laws that need to be changed and amended. The Bosnian State Coordinator’s Office has already prepared new proposals to change and amend the laws concerned.

It has been emphasized that human trafficking is a growing problem which mostly arises in poorer countries and transitional countries. Bosnia became a transitional country in the mid-90s.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (September 12,2007) – Milorad Zivkovic will head the Bosnian House of Representatives for the next eight months. He has replaced Beriz Belkic at the position as part of the regular rotation process.

Zivkovic told a press conference in Sarajevo that he is fully aware of the gravity of the moment in which he is taking over this position, especially in light of the police reform process and constitutional reform. He expressed hope that all delegates and the Bosnian Parliament will respond to the challenge ahead.

“It is my wish to improve the work of the Bosnian Parliament in the next eight months. We can do this only by strengthening communication with other Bosnian state institutions, primarily the Bosnian Council of Ministers, the Bosnian Presidency, but also the Office of the International Community's High Representative (OHR) and other institutions in Bosnia”, Zivkovic said.

He said that the efficiency of the delegates also needs to be improved.

During the past eight months the Bosnian House of Representatives adopted 19 laws, as well as another 19 laws endorsed earlier by the International commnunit's High Representative in Bosnia.The Bosnian House of Representatives rejected 10 laws during that period.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (September 12,2007) - The Bosnian Minister of Defense Selmo Cikotic and the leader of the Bosnian Islamic Community Reisu-l-Ulema Mustafa Ef. Cerić signed yesterday in Sarajevo Agreement on establishing the Muslim Chaplain positions, which will function as an essential part of the Bosnian Ministry of Defense’s Military Service and the Bosnian Armed Forces.

The Agreement was made by a workgroup, specifically formed by the Bosnian religious communities’ representatives, the Bosnian Council of Ministers, the Bosnian Army and the the Bosnian Ministry of Defense. The Agreement foresees formation of the Chaplin service at the Bosnian Ministry of Defense and the Bosnian Armed Forces.

”The Agreement signed today with the Islamic Community will be succeeded by agreements that will be signed with the Catholic and Orthodox churches. These agreements have already been aligned and will be signed during September”, Ahmed Hadziomeroovic, President of the Workgroup announced.The Bosnian Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces’ Chaplain will enable the members of the Bosnian Army to practice their religious rights.

”The Agreement signed is highly important for the process of forming the Bosnian Armed Forces and for the entire political ambience in Bosnia. It is a confirmation of the traditional combination of Islam, Orthodox and Catholic religions, as well as other religions’ existence in this country”, Cikotic said.

The leader of the Bosnian Islamic Community Reisu-l-Ulema Mustafa Ef. Cerić called the agreement a historical event and emphasized its importance in the segment of claiming the basic human rights.

”This day is especially important for the Bosnian Armed Forces, This is the day of victory of the Bosnian Armed Forces and implementation of normal relations between the people”, Ceric said.

The Agreement will be put in force immediately.


ZAGREB, Croatia (September 12,2007) - Haris Silajdžić,a member of the Bosnian Presidency met in Zagreb,Croatia,with the Croatian President Stjepan Mesić.

During the meeting, Bosnian Presidency Member Dr Haris Silajdžić informed Croatia's President Stjepan Mesić about the current political situation in Bosnia,emphasizing the initiatives and tendencies that could have a negative impact on stability in Bosnia and the region.

Croatian President Mesić especially underlined the need for a balanced implementation of the Dayton Agreement and an unconditional integrity and sovereignty of Bosnia.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (September 12,2007) - Fuad Muzurovic, coach of the Bosnian National Football Team, insists that Bosnia can still qualify for Euro 2008.However,Muzurovic admitted,"After losing in Hungary (on Saturday), our chances of finishing second in the group have decreased greatly".

But he added, "We've not given up up all hope. We have four more matches but first we need to beat Moldova."

"Malta showed that there are no favourites anymore in beating Hungary and drawing against Turkey on Saturday. Thus, we need to be very careful with Moldova," Muzurovic said.

The coach rued the Hungary result, deeming the game eminently winnable for the visitors.

"We didn't take our chances and the hosts took one of theirs.We made many mistakes in defence and the forwards didn't score," he said.

Nonetheless, he insists that everything is still left to play for.

"If we get a chance to get back into contention for Euro 2008, we will be sure to take it," Muzurovic concluded.

Muzurovic took over at Bosnia in December last year, taking charge of the national team for the second time, following his 1995 to 1998 tenure in Sarajevo.

The former FC Sarajevo title-winner has also coached Adanaspor of Turkey and Cerezo Osaka in Japan, as well as FC Sarajevo themselves.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (September 12,2007) - Boosting investment, creating more jobs and raising living standards in Bosnia all depend on persuading the country’s leaders to step back from the poisonous rhetoric of the recent past and return to normal politics, the International Community's Principal Deputy High Representative in Bosnia, Raffi Gregorian, told a meeting of Bosnian businessmen in Sarajevo yesterday.

“As long as the parliaments are unable to enact and implement the reform programme that has already been prepared, Bosnia will not be able to attract and retain the investment needed to create jobs and lift the country out of poverty,” Gregorian told a meeting of the Bosnian Foreign Trade Chamber.

“The bottom line is that deadlock over police reform and two or three other key reforms is keeping the people of this country poor. The absence of normal politics is driving away investment, destroying jobs, hindering trade, and keeping living standards low,” Gregorian added.

The International Community's Principal Deputy High Representative in Bosnia said there was “a misplaced belief among many politicians that economic reforms can be put on hold until other issues have been resolved.The present crisis of poverty and unemployment cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely. It must be tackled and tackled now.”

Gregorian called on the Bosnian business community to lobby the country’s leaders to focus on urgent economic issues.

Among economic priorities he cited consolidation of the single economic space, improvement of fiscal coordination by establishing the Bosnian National Fiscal Council; the setting up of the Bosnian Economic and Social Council; modernisation of banking supervision and the commercial code; and the rationalisation of public sector wages.

“All of the preparatory work has already been done on these issues, but everything has been held up because the politicians want to maintain the status quo as long as possible.” he said.

Gregorian concluded his remarks by pointing out that “We have to make progress on police reform and constitutional reform and other essentially political issues – but we cannot simply let the people stay poor while we do that.”


GRUDE, Bosnia (September 12,2007) - During a large-scale operation in the area of the southern Bosnian town of Grude, officers of the Bosnian State Indirect Taxation Office (ITA), the Bosnian State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) and the Herzegovina-Neretva Ministry of Interior busted an organised criminal group which was producing and selling fake Marlboro cigarettes.

The operation was conducted at three locations in the Grude area. An illegal cigarette production factory was uncovered in Drinovci.

ITA Spokesperson Ratko Kovacevic confirmed that reports will be filed with the Bosnian Prosecution against several persons.

Investigators also found more than 15,000 boxes of fake cigarettes on a truck hidden along Ljubuski-Grude road.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (September 12,2007) - In an effort to improve school budget planning, the OSCE Mission to Bosnia is launching the campaign “Better Planning - Better Budget - Better Schools” today at 11:30, UNITIC business centre, OSCE, Tower A, in Sarajevo.

According to all standards sufficient funds are spent on education at all levels, but the planning and distribution of the funds is irrational and impractical,the OSCE stated.

Claude Kieffer, Director of OSCE Education Department, and Sladjana Curak, OSCE Finance and Management Adviser, will present the goals of the campaign, supported by the OSCE’s findings and research conducted in the last year,the OSCE announced.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (September 12,2007) - The trial before the Bosnian State Court of Croatian war criminal Pasko Ljubicic heard testimony of a British commander whose units visited a Bosnian village Ahmici village after the massacre of its residents.

British military commander,Geoffrey Thomas,recalled the scenes that greeted his unit upon arrival in the central Bosnian village of Ahmici, 24 hours after its Bosnian residents were massacred by the Croatian aggressor in April 1993.

Thomas, who was a squad commander with the British UNPROFOR testified at the trial of Croatian war criminal Pasko Ljubicic, charged with crimes committed against Bosnian civilians in Vitez area of central Bosnia.

"I arrived in Ahmici on 17 April," said Thomas. "When we entered the village some houses were still on fire."

"One or two residents were searching the ruins of their houses. I did not see any corpses," Thomas added.

He recalled meeting a group of about 50 villagers.They claimed to have been attacked by the Croatian aggressor and said that they were on their way to a refugee centre in Travnik, Thomas said.

Croatian war criminal Pasko Ljubicic is charged with having planned and participated in the attacks on the villages and towns in central Bosnia which resulted in deportation and murder of Bosnian civilians and destruction of their property.

Croatian war criminal is charged with persecutions, murder, violence to life and person, devastation not justified by military necessity, destruction or wilful damage to institutions dedicated to religion or education, plunder of public or private property and cruel treatment.

The indictment alleges that on 16 April 1993,members of the Croatian aggressor's forces, including members of the "Jokers" squad, attacked Ahmici, Pirici, Nadioke and Santici villages.

During the attack on Ahmici, about 100 Bosnian civilians were killed by the Croatian aggressor, while their houses were destroyed and two mosques were mined.

Thomas said that after the British UNPROFOR left Ahmici they saw an "alpine house or a bunker" and 20-30 soldiers in black uniforms standing next to it.

Asked by prosecutor Philip Alcock to explain which military formation they belonged to, the witness said he called them HOS (Croatian Armed Forces).

Thomas added that HOS was general term used for forces that were considered more extreme and violent than the "regular" Croatian troops.

Asked if there was a link between the "Jokers" and HOS, the witness replied that he "cannot see a difference between the two formations".

The witness said that UNPROFOR had tried to talk to Croatians in order to halt the conflict between the Croatians living in Bosnia and Bosnians in 1993 and 1994, "but they were not interested".

Thomas had previously testified before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) at the trial of Croatian war criminal Tihomir Blaskic, former commander of the Croatian aggressor's formations in central Bosnia, who was sentenced to nine years in prison and has since been released.

The trial of Croatian war criminal Pasko Ljubicic will continue on September 21.