Friday, April 11, 2008


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (April 11,2008) – The Bosnian State Parliament adopted yesterday long-disputed police reforms which are the key condition to move the country forward on its path to the EU membership.

Lawmakers of the Lower House of the Bosnian Parliament adopted two police reform bills which passed by 22 votes to 19 still need confirmation by the Upper House, considered a formality.

The bills were the last EU-set hurdle for Bosnia to sign a key pact on closer ties with the 27-nation bloc later this month.

The deputies dismissed all three previous proposals resulting from more then two years of talks about the extent of integration of the separate ethnic police forces and adopted a forth drafted over the past week with the help of the International Community's High Representative in Bosnia Miroslav Lajcak.

Bosnia's strongest parliamentary and opposition parties,the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP),voted against the bills saying they were just "cosmetic".

Initially, Brussels demanded a rapid unification of Bosnia's separate police forces.

However, the EU has since accepted a reform which envisages setting up seven new state-level police coordination bodies, without immediately affecting the autonomy of police forces of the country's two highly autonomous entities.

A compromise was finally brokered by the highest international envoy to Bosnia, Miroslav Lajcak, and passed in a late-Thursday session.

"I want to congratulate all those who made a compromise in the interest of citizens and the state.Better days are ahead of us and also a lot of work related to the SAA signature," Bosnia's Prime Minister Nikola Spiric said.

The passage of the bills now means that the EU can sign a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Bosnia - a significant step towards the EU membership.

The adopted bills regulate that the new bodies will assume authority over separate police forces a year after and in a way defined by the Bosnian constitutional reform.

There is no set date for the start of the constitutional reform process.

Current entity police structures are subordinated to the entity governments and closely tied to local political structures.

In December last year, Bosnia initialled a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) essentially a trade and aid pact, seen as the first step towards joining the European Union.

EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said last month that Brussels expected to sign the SAA with Bosnia in April, pending the implementation of the police reforms.

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