Wednesday, October 31, 2007


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (October 31,2007) – Complicated structure of the Bosnian Constitution which is a result of the Dayton Agreement was necessary because the war needed to be stopped. However, now is the time to start building functional, efficient and representative Bosnian state institutions which will meet the needs of all Bosnian citizens,the Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis’s stated yesterday, addressing the Bosnian Parliament.

Apart from the parliamentary delegates, the Bosnian Presidency members also attended the session, as well as the Bosnian Council of Ministers and the international community's representatives in Bosnia.

The Council of Europe Secretary emphasized that the Venetian Commission is probably the best team of constitutional experts in the world and that the Commission described the Bosnian Constitution as insufficient.

”Competences of the Bosnian state institutions are insufficient to enable the country’s normal functioning, both the sense of domestic and foreign policy”, Davis said.

He emphasized that all constitutional decrees related to the composition of the Bosnian Presidency and the House of Peoples are discriminatory and that that is the reason why they pose a breech of the European Human Rights Convention.Bosnia’s territorial organization is also far too complicated and needs to be reconstructed,the Council of Europe Secretary stated.

Davis said that the 2006 package met some of the demands and, in that sense, was the first step in the process.

”Sadly, the 2006 package was not adopted”, Davis said.

He added that the existing bosnian Constitution contains many lacks which give opportunity to obstruct the decision making processes and that obstructions of the kind were also made in the past.

For that reason, Davis said, the International community's High Representative in Bosnia Miroslav Lajcak passed huis decision on October 19. The ones who do not like the decision should pass the decisions of their own thus making the HR’s decisions invalid.

The Council of Europe Secretary greeted the police reform declaration signed on Sunday in Mostar by the leaders of 6 political parties. However, he demanded the implementation of the declaration. He fully supported the Lajcak’s efforts of making Bosnia move ahead. He however warned the domestic politicians that the country’s progress lies solely in their hands.

Davis told the Bosnian Parliament members that they are yet to fulfill their obligations towards the Council of Europe, especially keeping in mind that several important international documents need to be ratified.

Davis commented the issue of education in Bosnia and emphasized that domestic politicians need to fund a way of keeping the policy outside of the educational sector.

”The Council of Europe cannot and will not accept any form of ethnic segregation in schools”, Davis stated in his address.

The Bosnian Parliament’s House of Representatives’ Speaker Ilija Filipovic stated that the Bosnian Parliament will carefully analyze Davis’s expose. He expressed hope that the current political crisis in Bosnia will be overcome.

”We can reach a solution only through dialogue”, Filipovic said.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (October 31,2007) – A member of the Bosnian Presidency Haris Silajdzic told the press yesterday that the talks on the Bosnian constitutional changes will probably be characterized by the efforts of finding a commont ground between various opinions.

Silajdzic believes that the International community will also be engaged, especially in the period of changes in the time that comes.

”That is an important period. We need the International Community to make efforts so that we get a constitution which is really democratic and truly European”, he said.

Bosnia is not making a progress on that way. However, Silajdzic is optimistic regardless of all the obstacles and halts.

Commenting the Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis’s expose on the recent package of constitutional changes, in which he stated that it is a shame that the package had been rejected, Silajdzic said that the Council of Europe Report stated the same thing in the preamble.

”However, once the situation is analyzed a bit better, one will see that the so-called memorandum stated that the entity voting needs to be annulled. The European Parliament stated the same thing last month. Entity voting is not a normal phenomenon and is an obstacle to Bosnia’s progress”, Silajdzic said.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (October 31,2007) – For the first nine months this year Bosnia's exports have increased by 16% as compared with the same period last year and now amount to 4,5 billion Bosnian Marks (3,3 billion USD), but the imports have risen even more – by 23% totaling 9,8 billion Bosnian Marks (7,2 billion USD).

The anticipation is that by the end of the year the exports will reach 6 billion Bosnian Marks (), and the imports 13 billion Bosnian Marks (9,5 billion USD), so that the Bosnian foreign trade deficits will exceed 7 billion Bosnian Marks (5,1 billion USD), completely engulfing the imports.

The wholesale network in Bosnia greatly contributes to the negative foreign trade balance of the country.

“We incur the greatest deficit through Slovenian, Serbian and Austrian wholesales, because it is through them that we import the goods from the third countries” – the Vice-president of the FBiH Entity Chamber of Commerce, Jago Lasić explained and added that in the first nine months Bosnia mostly traded with Croatia, followed by Germany, Slovenia and Italy.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (October 31,2007) - The Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) is having a two-day meeting in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo with the leaders of the political parties that form the Bosnian Government.

During it’s discussions the PIC will consider the progress the parties in Bosnia are making towards implementing the Dayton Peace Agreement, in particular the functionality of the Bosnian state institutions, the lack of progress in specific areas, including the distribution of state property as well as more positive indicators that Bosnia’s coalition leaders are making efforts to find agreement.

They will also discuss Bosnia’s EU perspective, currently blocked, but for which a glimmer of hope emerged in Mostar on Sunday.

"We expect the Political Directors to have a serious discussion about the situation in Bosnia. The PIC will meet with the leaders of the political parties that form the governing coalition at the state level and with the Bosnian Council of Ministers," the Office of the International Community's High Representative in Bosnia (OHR) announced.

The International Community's High Representative in Bosnia Miroslav Lajcak will hold a press conference to summarise the conclusions of the Peace Implementation Council on 14.30 today at the OHR in Sarajevo.


BRUSSELS, Belgium (October 31,2007) – The EU welcomed the agreement between Bosnia's major political parties that return the stalled process of police reform to the right track.

Spokesperson for the EU Enlargement Commission Olli Rehn said that the European Commission has still not studied into detail the declaration signed in the southern Bosnian city of Mostar on Sunday.

However, she said that the “Commission welcomes the spirit of agreement and compromise demonstrated by the political leaders in Mostar. The strong political consensus is essentially in favour of the fulfilment of conditions for faster integration with the EU”, spokesperson Krisztina Nagy said.

The European Commission is to release its annual report on progress of Bosnia in the stabilisation and association process on November 6.

Nagy refused to comment on the wider aspect of the political crisis in Bosnia, “We are clearly monitoring all developments very closely”, she said.

The presidents of Bosnia's major political parties announced on Sunday that they have signed a declaration which meets the EU requirements for the police reform in Bosnia, which is now consisted of two separate forces, to be organised at the state level, financed from a single budget and to be fully separated from any political influence.

The agreement has come after failed attempts to reach an agreement on police reform during the past three years.

The European Union warned Bosnia that it would not sign the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, which represents the first step towards EU membership, without the police reform.

The International Community's High Representative in Bosnia Miroslav Lajcak described the Sunday’s agreement as a “positive impulse” from the political leaders on moving Bosnia closer to the membership in the European Union.


BRUSSELS, Belgium (October 31,2007) – Construction of the Peljesac bridge, as well as other open issues between Bosnia and Croatia, do not fall into the European Union’s jurisdiction. The EU will not finance the project, Olli Rehn, EU Commissioner for Expansion stated.

”The Peljesac bridge project, as well as some other open issues between Bosnia and Croatia are outside of the EU jurisdiction. Apart from that, the European Commission does not finance the project of bridge construction”, Rehn wrote in a letter to Wolfgang Buflon of the European Socialist Party. He said that for that reason Commission is not authorized to intervene in the issues that arise from the problem.

Bulfon had written Rehn a letter, asking the EC opinion on the issue of Land – Peljesac bridge construction and on determining the sea border between Bosnia and Croatia.

Rehn added that the Commission is of the opinion that the “neighboring relations are the base in the stabilization and association processes”.

In that sense, the Commission will keep encouraging both the countries to solve their open issues, Rehn said.

Croatian Prime Minister Sanader marked the beginning of bridge construction last week.Bosnia is against the construction because the bridge will block Bosnia's access to the open sea.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (October 31,2007) – The Bosnian Parliament accepted yesterday PDP Party Delegates’ initiative on holding a joint session of both the parliamentary houses, which would focus on the political and security situation in the country, Beriz Belkic, the House of Representatives Speaker told the press.

However, Belkic added, such initiatives are the topic of decisions of both the parliamentary houses and that is why the PDP Party representatives asked for the joint session. House of Peoples Collegiums need to agree to all the decisions as well.

”I expect the initiators to submit additional information on ways they expect the session will function. That means that I expect them to submit materials which will represent the base for the discussion, i.e. to explain what the whole point of the session is”, Belkic said.

It is a very serious topic demanding a very serious preparation. The initiative had been started some time before, but several meetings on the topic were held in the meantime, he added.

Belkic does not believe that the session will take place in November.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (October 31,2007) - The trial before the Bosnian state Court of Serbian war criminal Milorad Trbic, indicted for genocide committed against the Bosnian civilians in the Srebrenica region,during the 1992-1995 Serbian aggression against Bosnia, will begin on Thursday, November 8, 2007. At this hearing, the Bosnian State Prosecutor will read the indictment and present its introductory arguments.

"Before we start with examination of the first witnesses, another brief status conference will be held on November 26," Trial Chamber Chairman Davorin Jukic said.

The Bosnian State Prosecutor charges Serbian war criminal Milorad Trbic with having participated, as member of the genocidal paramilitary formations of the Serbians living in Bosnia (VRS), in genocide against Bosnians in the UN protected enclave of the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica in July 1995.

According to the indictment, which was originally filed in The Hague and then admitted in Sarajevo, Serbian war criminal Milorad Trbic together with other members of the genocidal serbian aggressor's formations, "participated in the mass murder of more than 7,000 Bosnian civilians" at the stadium in the eastern Bosnian town of Bratunac on July 13, 1995 and in the courtyard of the school in Grbavci on July 14.

In addition, Serbian war criminal Milorad Trbic is charged with having enabled, coordinated and participated in the communication between the genocidal paramilitary forces of the Serbians living in Bosnia (VRS) who conducted the arrests, detention, transport, murder and burial of the Bosnian civilians from the Srebrenica region,during the 1992-1995 Serbian aggression against Bosnia.He also enabled monitoring of the re-burial of the remains of the genocide victims exhumed from the primary mass graves undertaken in the period from August 1 to November 1, 1995.

The Bosnian State Prosecutor has recommended that 127 witnesses, including some who have already testified in The Hague, be invited.

"We would like to examine a total of 54 witnesses. We have also got the statements that the remaining 76 witnesses gave before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). We intend to present 500 pieces of material evidence, or 1,000 pieces in the two languages,"
said the Bosnian State Prosecutor Kwai Hong Ip.

Ip reiterated that 20 Prosecution witnesses could be considered as the "key witnesses". It is planned that the direct examination of some witnesses may last for up to five hours.

"We may decide to give up the examination of some witnesses, if the Trial Chamber decides to admit their statements given before the ICTY and the facts determined in the course of some other trials," Ip said.

Defence attorney Milan Trbojevic was not able to comment on the prosecution's proposals because, as he said, he was in an "awkward position".

"I have not seen the documents. I ran through the indictment and, therefore, I cannot pronounce upon the Prosecution's suggestions," said Trbojevic, who replaced attorney Borislav Jamina.

At the status conference, the Trial Chamber itself was not able to pronounce upon the Prosecution's proposal to admit ICTY records and the facts determined by the tribunal's verdicts, because "the prosecution has still not submitted its proposals".

The public was excluded from the status conference during a discussion on the eventual introduction of protection measures for Prosecution witnesses.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (October 31,2007) - A Foca concentration camp survivor testified yesterday before the Bosnian State Court at the trial of Serbian war criminals Mitar Rasevic and Savo Todovic.Witness has asked that, as an additional protective measure, his face not be made visible to the public. The witness stated that, during his detention in the Foca concentration camp from April to August 1992, he noticed that between 80 and 100 detaind Bosnian civilians disappeared. They were all taken away by the genocidal Serbian aggressor's soldiers.

The Bosnian State Prosecutor charges Serbian war criminals Mitar Rasevic and Savo Todovic, on the basis of command and individual responsibility, with having committed the crimes against Bosnian civilians in the eastern Bosnian town of Foca,during the 1992-1995 Serbian aggression against Bosnia.

"I thought, if I was to be killed, I would rather see that happen immediately, instead of having to live through all those things. I heard painful screams echoing late at night. They (the genocidal Serbian aggressor's soldiers) used to beat and batter (the detained Bosnian civilians) and shoot," the witness recalled.

"It was like I could see all that through the walls – the sound of cars, shooting and then a splash of water," he said.

According to this witness, between 80 and 100 deteaind Bosnian civilians were executed by the genocidal Serbian aggressor in the Foca concentration camp in this way. Witness stated that, apart from the murders, severe beatings were also performed by the Serbian aggressor's soldiers. Although the witness was not exposed to such tortures, he said he was told about it by others who had been maltreated.

"Burilo was a headsman. He would beat people up so much that they could hardly regain consciousness. We also heard some bad things about Obrenovic, Maric, Vukovic and Pljevacic," the witness said, naming some concentration camp guards whose names he heard while he was detained in the Foca concentration camp.

Witness considers Serbian war criminals Mitar Rasevic and Savo Todovic to be responsible for the happenings in the Foca concentration camp, as they "coordinated all activities" during frequent absences of the Foca concentration camp commander - the convicted Serbian war criminal Milorad Krnojelac.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) sentenced Serbian war criminal Milorad Krnojelac to 15 years imprisonment for crimes committed in the eastern Bosnian town of Foca,during the 1992-1995 Serbian aggression against Bosnia.

The trial before the Bosnian State Court of Serbian war criminals Mitar Rasevic and Savo Todovic is due to continue on November 13.


JAJCE, Bosnia (October 31,2007) - Members of the Bosnian State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) detained yesterday three people of Serbian origin near Jajce in central Bosnia who committed war crimes, during the 1992-1995 Serbian aggression against Bosnia.

The three Serbian war criminals Mirko (Spiro) Pekez, Ljupko Savic and Mirko (Mile) Pekez were detained by order of the Bosnian State Court.

They are suspected of executing 23 Bosnian civilians and seriously injuring four others in the greater Jajce region in September 1992, according to the Bosnian State Prosecutor.