Wednesday, December 26, 2007


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 26,2007) – The Head of the Bosnian Direction for European Integrations Osman Topcagic said in the Bosnian capital sarajevo that not much progress was achieved in 2007 in the sector of European association processes.

”We should have initialled and signed the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the European Union (EU) earlier. However, certain time was needed for achievement of agreements related to interior policy in the country”, Topcagic said.

He added that in 2007, most of the activities were focused on fulfilment of conditions for initialling and signing of SAA.

Bosnia negotiated about the agreement in 2006. Police reform agreement had been expected throughout the year. That agreement was achieved December 4,2007.

Topcagic stated that the EU offered Bosnia a new form of help – the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA). Preparations for use of the IPA fund was a part of the activities of the Bosnian Direction for European Integrations.

He is of the opinion that there are good chances to sign the SAA in spring 2008, provided that additional agreements are achieved on police reform, Police Reform action Plan and ways of its implementation.

”That will be a completely new situation. We would for the first time have an agreement with the EU. Dooor to progress in the sector would be open”, Topcagic said.

He is of the opinion that after signing of the SAA, Bosnia needs to show the ability of implementing the obligations from the Agreement.

”Being granted the status of a candidate means that we first need to submit the candidacy demand. If marked positively, than a study will be conducted. The European Commission will prepare opinion on the candidacy status”, Topcagic said.

Apart from that, intensive activities need to be undertaken together with other countries of the region, as well as with members of the EU.

”Now another situation comes forth. With signing of SAA, all the countries of the region,Bosnia included, would have a contract relationship with the EU. I think it could initiate certain activities of the EU for the purpose of accelerating the processes”, Topcagic said.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 26,2007) – The Head of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia Ambassador Douglas Davidson is of the opinion that 12 years past the end of the1992-1995 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia, there are too many unsolved war crimes cases.

”Justice demands processing of as many cases as possible. Truth can be determined this way; basis for reconciliation between peoples, who fought war some time ago, can be created this way, Ambassador Davidson said.

He stated that the OSCE Mission has offered some limited expert assistance to the Bosnian State Prosecutor’s Office in the process of development of a strategy and solving of the most important cases. Many of them are yet to be solved.

Davidson is of the opinion that an accelerated solving of the war crimes could help create conditions of sustainable return in Bosnia. He stated that most of the Bosnian citizens who wanted to return to their pre-war houses have done so. However, authorities have not created all the conditions necessary for sustainable return.

He added that the adequate social care without discrimination could contribute sustainable return.

In that sense, Ambassador Davidson emphasized a significant role of the local authorities in Bosnia, for towns are the first and the most frequent instance of contact between the citizens and authorities’ representatives.

Davidson started that the OSCE officials for democratic processes have contributed a lot in the sector. The number of municipalities has significantly increased, as well as the level of fiscal control and transparency.

Commenting the sector of the Bosnian education, Davidson said that schools have been divided on the ethnic basis and that they are still functioning, in spite of the obligations taken over five years ago. Davidson added that such system of schooling in Bosnia needs to end.

He warned that different curricula and division on ethnic basis decreases the level of understanding in the country.

On the other hand, Davidson stated that District of Brcko has found a way of dealing with these issues and that students there are able to attend schools in the way that they listen to lectures in their mother tongues without being separated from the students of other ethnic groups.

Ambassador Davidson is of the opinion that this could serve as a solution to illegal practices and ethnic divisions which marked education in other parts of the country.

Commenting the military stabilization, OSCE Head of Mission emphasized that Department for Security and Cooperation of the Mission continued with activities in 2007 in order to make Bosnia peaceful and safe.

Officials of this department assisted the Bosnian Army inspections in order to ensure all obligations related to weapons control defined by the Dayton Agreement are implemented. That resulted in decrease of the number of small-calibre weapons and ammunition.

Officials of the department also cooperated with domestic and international partners in the process of strengthening civil supervision of the army. That also means parliamentary monitoring, which is one of the bases of every developed democracy.

OSCE officials, Davidson stated, will continue with activities in 2008, especially in the human rights sector, democratization, education and regional military stability. Although the Mission will decrease in the number of personnel and locations, OSCE goals will remain more or less the same.

The overall goal of the OSCE Mission will be helping Bosnia strengthen democracy, rule of law and human rights for all citizens, who should be equal before the law, regardless of their ethnicity, Davidson stated.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 26,2007) – The Bosnian Association of Farmers in cooperation with the FBIH Entity Association of Farmers, held protests in front of the FBIH entity government building. The protest was aimed to pressure the FBIH entity government to provide at least six per cent of the FBIH entity budget to initiate agricultural development in 2008. That means providing about 100 million Bosnian Marks.

The Bosnian farmers also expect the increase of prices of milk. They added, however, that the milk industry has already increased the prices of their products per 20 to 40 per cent, although they were not the ones affected by drought, but farmers.

The Deputy President of the Bosnian Association of Farmers Bisco Alibegovic told the press that they sent a note to the FBIH entity government December 13 defining their demands and asking for negotiations.

Alibegovic said that the FBIH Entity Prime Minister Nedzad Brankovic told farmers that he is on the way to Gorazde but that he has obliged the FBIH Entity Minister of Agriculture to meet with the farmers.

Alibegovic confirmed that the Associaiton representatives have met with Minister of Agfriculture and that some talks were held in order to reach a solution.


BANJA LUKA, Bosnia (December 26,2007) – The Bishop of Banja Luka Franjo Komarica is not satisfied with the number of Catholics who returned to the area this year. Not much was done in the process of ensuring sustainable return.

”Although we are still urging the politicians, no strategy has been adopted this year. Some progress was made in Posavina and in the Mrkonjic Grad area”, Bishop Komarica stated at a press conference held in the northern Bosnian city of Banja Luka on the occasion of marking the 2007 Catholic Christmas.

Komarica hopes that a synchronized cooperation between the local politicians and international representatives will take place. Croatia has so far been the main donor in the process of construction of destroyed houses of Catholic refugees.

Commenting the process of return of the Catholic Church property, Bishop Komarica stated that the first step in the sector was made during this year after a building belonging to Catholic Church in Banja Luka was returned and a part of the real estates of the famous monastery of Marija Zvijezda in Banja Luka.

Bishop Komarica read the Catholic Christmas note and emphasized the importance of family, community, comradeship in faith, life and love.

Komarica congratulated Christmas to all the Catholics in Bosnia and in the rest of the world, especially to the refugees. He hopes that the following year will be the year of return.


BANJA LUKA, Bosnia (December 26,2007) – Old foreign currency savers association of the Bosnian citizens and diaspora will organize protests and blockade of four Bosnian state border crossings on December 28. The following border crossings will be blocked: Izacic, Pavlovica most, Bijeljina and Bosanska Gradiska. Purpose of those activities is to draw attention to their problems.

President of the Association Svetozar Nisic stated at a press conference in Banja Luka that the blockade will begin at 1 p.m. on December 28,2007. They will give up the blockade only if their demand is fulfilled.

That demand is, as stated, that decision passed by the Bosnian Parliament’s House of Representatives is accepted. The decision was passed December 18 2006 and states that the old foreign currency savings will be fully paid in five years’ time or will be paid with five per cent interest rate.

He added that the demand can be fulfilled that that there is enough of money to make that happen. Nisic also stated that the old foreign currency savers agreed to alternative ways of compensation in material goods.

Nisic added after the emergency session of the Association’s Managing Board that if their conditions are not accepted, the old foreign currency savers will not give up, but will, immediately after the New Year enter all the banks in Bosnia and block them.

He called all old foreign currency savers and other Bosnian citizens to come to the border crossings and in that way draw attention of domestic and foreign public to “injustice that was made over the old foreign exchange savings clients and other citizens”.

Svetozar Nisic, among other, stated that the old foreign currency savers tried to reach the final solution to their problems with the Bosnian authorities. However, those efforts failed and now they are forced to block the state border crossings.

He again stated that the verification of old foreign exchange savings is “just another trick of the authorities”.

”We all know that 30 billion Bosnian Marks (22 billion US Dollars) was exported from the country in the period from 1988 to 1991. We have all documents necessary to prove that. That money still lies in some banks. We found out that 5 billion Bosnian Marks (3,7 billion US Dollars) is at the accounts of certain politicians”, Nisic said.

He added to have “contacted the Interpol in Prague. We were told that the Bosnian authorities need to conduct an investigation in order to announce the accounts of the people who keep those billions in other European banks, while citizens are starving here”.