Wednesday, December 19, 2007


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!"


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.


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.


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.


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".


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.


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%.


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).


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.


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.