Sunday, December 2, 2007


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 2,2007) – The joint collegium of both houses of the Bosnian State Parliament agreed at a meeting with the International Community's High Representative in Bosnia Miroslav Lajcak in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo changes and amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Bosnian Parliament’s House of Representatives.The details of the changes were not officially presented after the meeting.

The Bosnian Parliament’s House of Representatives Speaker Milorad Zivkovic said after the meeting that changes to the Rules of Procedure are in accordance with the Bosnian Constitution and that they provide for the more efficient work of the Bosnian State Parliament.

He said that Bosnia's political leaders have shown that they are able to reach an agreement between themselves and with representatives of the international community.

The Bosnian Parliament’s House of Representatives Speaker thinks that this does not represent a mere adoption of the Rules of Procedure, but that it also lays the ground for initialling the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between Bosnia and the European Union.

The Bosnian Parliament’s House of Peoples Speaker Sulejman Tihic said that the agreed text of changes is in accordance with the High Representative’s proposal, but also that certain other changes have been made in order to make the work of the Bosnian Parliament more efficient and to prevent any form of blockade.

Tihic also agreed that the adoption of these changes resolves a host of other important issues concerning the present political situation in Bosnia, including the issue of the Council of Ministers and the initialling of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU.

“This is a good day for Bosnia , because we have good news for the Bosnian citizens”, the International Community's High Representative in Bosnia Miroslav Lajcak said after the meeting.

He confirmed that the text of the changes is in accordance with the Bosnian Constitution and that it has the support of representatives of all parties from the ruling coalition.

He also said that the changes meet his demands for the new Rules of Procedure to ensure a more efficient work of the Parliament and prevent obstruction.

Lajcak expressed satisfaction with the fact that the text of changes and amendments to the Rules of Procedure has been adopted by legally elected representatives which represents a strong and positive message from Bosnia to the rest of Europe.

“I am sure that the reaction from the European Union will be positive”, Lajcak said.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 2,2007) – A member of the Bosnian Presidency Haris Silajdzic met in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo with the Commander of the European Union Force in Bosnia (EUFOR), Rear Admiral Hans-Jochen Witthauer, for a farewell visit.

Witthauer expressed conviction that Bosnia will, apart from all the difficulties, continue the way of Euro-Atlantic integrations. He emphasized in his last visit to Brussels that Bosnia has again attracted attention of western diplomats and that the country has again become a regular topic of their meetings.

Silajdzic thanked the EUFOR commander for his engagement in Bosnia and added that the country’s integration to the EU and NATO will contribute security and economic prosperity of the entire region.

Witthauer will complete his term as Commander of EUFOR in Bosnia on 4 December.He will hand over command of EUFOR to General de Division Ignacio Martín Villalaín of the Spanish Army.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 2,2007) – The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director General Koichiro Matsuura sent a letter to Ibrahim Spahic, Director of the Sarajevo Winter Festival, informing him that UNESCO accepts the invitation of sponsoring the Sarajevo Winter Festival 2008.

”This event will offer an opportunity for the participants to exchange the artistic ideas in the spirit of mutual understanding and universal dialogue. The UNESCO greets this festival aimed to promote creativity and cultural diversity which is in complete accordance with the UNESCO mission”, the UNESCO Director General Koichiro Matsuura wrote.

This is the 15th time UNESCO sponsors the Sarajevo Winter Festival. The Sarajevo Winter Festival is also sponsored by the Bosnian President Zeljko Komsic and the Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 2,2007) - The Bosnian Government passed a Decision at a session held in Sarajevo on Allocating of 1.900.000 Bosnian Marks of the Budget Reserves and International Obligations for 2007 to the Bosnian central Election Commissions.

The Bosnian Ministry of Finances and Vault and the Bosnian Central Elections Commission are to implement the decision.

At the proposal of the Bosnian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Bosnian Council of Ministers determined individual proposals of the decisions on ratification of the Agreement between Bosnia and the EU on readmission of persons staying in the country illegally, as well as the agreement between Bosnia and the EU on visa facilitation regime.

Individual proposals of the decisions on ratification of agreements signed September 18 2007 in Brussels, the Bosnian Ministry of Foreign Affairs will enable a more liberal visa regime for a large number of categories of citizens.

The Bosnian Government passed a Decision on Allocation of Funds for Grant Support in the Year of 2007, proposed by the Ministry of Civil Affairs. 76 organizations are placed, according to the document, to the list of budget users. The amount of money preserved for them is 672.000,00 Bosnian Marks.

The Bosnian Government adopted several normative acts of the Bosnian Institute for Missing Persons. Adoption of these acts enables the Institute’s work in full capacity.

The Bosnian Government also determined Proposal of Foundations for Signing of the Loan Agreement between Bosnia and Spain. The Agreement enables Spain to provide 40 million EUR of loans to Bosnia for the purpose of economic and social development. The list of priority projects will be determined by the end of 2007.

The Bosnian Government also determined Proposal of Foundations for Signing of the Agreement between the Bosnian Government and the German Government on Financial Cooperation in 2006. According to the Agreement, the German Government will invest 17 million EUR for SCADA distribution network’s activities, as a part of the Energy IV Project, financed by the World Bank, European Development Bank and European Investment Bank.

The Bosnian Government also determined Proposal of Initiative for Negotiations on Signing of the Agreement on Sharing the Responsibility of Air Navigation within the Bosnian Air Space between the Bosnian Government and the Croatian Government.

The Bosnian Government also determined Proposal of Initiative for Negotiations on Signing of the Agreement on Air Space Navigation Insurance Services between the The Bosnian Government and the Serbian Government.

The Bosnian Government accepted the Kuwait Donation Implementation Plan, proposed by the Bosnian Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees. That is the technical equipment which consists of 112 construction machinery pieces worth about 110.000 USD. It has also been concluded that the Kuwait donation should be placed into the Reconstruction and Sustainable Return Program in Bosnia.

The Bosnian Government also adopted the Economic and Fiscal Program for 2007, proposed by the Direction for European Integrations. The Direction has been ordered to submit the Economic Fiscal Program for Bosnia by November 30 2007.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 2,2007) – David Schwendiman, international prosecutor with the Special Section for War Crimes of the Bosnian State Prosecutor’s Office, took over as Chief Prosecutor and Head of this Section.

At a press conference in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, Schwendiman told those responsible for war crimes that they will not be able to hide.

“You cannot prevent us from finding you or to tirelessly work on brining you to justice for what you have done. You will not escape us”, he said.

Schwendiman warned that there is no place for unhealthy competition between international organisations that have shown that they wish to control events in the Special Section for War Crimes.

Schwendiman told all those who think that they can influence the independence of the Special Section for War Crimes of the Bosnian State Prosecutor’s Office, or its decisions by public pressure and media campaigns, that they are “wasting both their and our time”.

He especially called on organisations, associations, and representatives of the families of victims to deliver information to the Bosnian State Prosecutor’s Office and allow it access to material in their possession, but stressed that they will not be allowed to dictate who decisions are made in the Special Section for War Crimes.

"We shall extend a hand to people affected by war and explain to the best of our ability what we are doing and what we intend to do, but we shall not back away from our impartiality and independence," Schwendiman said.

His deputy reminded of the results achieved by this Section so far. In less than two-and-a-half years it has filed more than 40 indictments against 69 persons, while there are currently 312 active investigations against 894 persons.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 2,2007) – The FBIH Entity House of Representatives approved at a session held in Sarajevo the FBIH Entity Draft Budget for 2008, with 65 votes over five opposing and 7 votes in abstention. The FBIH Entity Government proposed budget in the amount of 1,746,697,278 Bosnian Marks.

That is per 160,4 million Bosnian Marks or 10,1 per cent higher that the rebalanced budget for this year and compared with the last year’s budget, this is an increase of 607,1 million Bosnian Marks or 53,3 per cent.

It is expected that the indirect taxation money will make up most of the 2008 Budget sum – the total of 1,196,308,540 Bosnian Marks; which is per 116,3 million Bosnian Marks higher than the planned amount of money in this year’s period.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 2,2007) – On the occasion of December 3, the 10th anniversary since the signing of the Ottawa Convention by Bosnia, Canada commends all those who are working with great dedication on ridding Bosnia from the problem of landmines.

The Canadian Embassy in Bosnia stressed in a statement that the achievements of the Ottawa Convention are significant.

“The Convention has saved thousands of lives and their courses and it represent a clear example of effective multilateralism, in which most of the world’s nations are involved”, the Canadian Embassy stated.

Bosnia signed the Convention on December 3 1997 and ratified it on September 8 1998.

Canada played a key role in the adoption and application of the Convention and is committed to joint action with all its partners, including Bosnia, on achieving a common objective – a world without mines,the Canadian Embassy in Bosnia stated.

Canada has provided significant assistance for demining activities in Bosnia on a host of projects throughout the country, in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) , the Bosnian Mine Action Centre (BHMAC), the Bosnian Ministry of Civil Affairs, the Bosnian civil community and international partners.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 2,2007) - Head of the European Union Police Mission in Bosnia (EUPM) Brigadier General Vincenzo Coppola held a working meeting with Dirk Lange, Head of the Unit for Bosnia with the EU Directorate General for Enlargement.

Coppola and Lange discussed the latest developments with regards to the Mostar Declaration and exchanged opinions on the action plan for the police restructuring in Bosnia.

General Coppola also briefed Lange on the main achievements of the Mission within its monitoring and advising role, and discussed the priorities for the extended mission’s mandate.

Both parties expressed hope that the ongoing political debates will develop towards a productive outcome that will assist Bosnia to move towards signing the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the European Union.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 2,2007) - “A free and independent media is an essential part of any true democracy,” Ambassador Douglas Davidson, Head of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia, said to a seminar for journalism students held at the Bosnian Parliamentary Assembly. The event, the third in a series of such seminars, was organized by the OSCE Mission to Bosnia in partnership with the Press Council.

Ambassador Davidson noted that media in Bosnia had been given high marks by several institutions: the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media in his recent report on this country had referred to the Bosnian media landscape “as one of the most advanced self-regulatory mechanisms in Europe”; and the World Wide Press Freedom Index had Bosnia at 21st place in its rankings.

Also,Reporters Without Borders had put Bosnia ahead of countries like the United States when it came to press freedom.

Although freedom of expression was a human right guaranteed in the Dayton Constitution, Davidson said, Bosnia had also created several institutions as a recourse against misuse of this right by the media: a press code and a press council for the self-regulating print press, the Communications Regulatory Agency for the electronic media; and a Freedom of Access to Information Act and the Law on Protection against Defamation.

Still, Davidson added, “The existence of an advanced regulatory framework is not enough to ensure a truly free and independent press.” That also required a responsible approach on the part of journalists to their work.

The media’s function, he argued, was “to act as a guardian of the public interest and as a watchdog on the activities of government.” Thus it was “an important component…of the checks and balances” that were fundamental for a democracy.

If one accepted the common definition of journalism, he continued, as a “very rough draft of history,” it also followed that journalists would “get some things wrong.” Nevertheless, he advised, “journalists, editors, publishers and broadcasters should still at least strive for maximum objectivity and fealty to facts.”

The profession the students had chosen, he concluded, was “an honourable one,” one that had a “special place in a democratic society.” They should be careful to dispose of the enormous power accorded to them “wisely.”