Friday, May 30, 2008

BOSNIAN PRESIDENT HARIS SILAJDZIC TO ATTEND MEDITERRANEAN SUMMIT IN FRANCE

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (May 30,2008) – The Ambassador of France to Bosnia Maryse Berniau delivered yesterday an invitation from the French President Nicolas Sarkozy to the Bosnian President Haris Silajdžić for participation in the First Summit of the Union for the Mediterranean that will be held on July 13, this year in Paris,France, as well as for participation in the celebration of July 14, the French National Holiday.

During the meeting, the Bosnian President Silajdzic and the French Ambassador Berniau agreed that the European-Mediterranean Dialogue, which has lasted for 13 years, is a good way for bringing peoples together as much as possible around concrete projects.

President Silajdžić thanked for the invitation and he gladly accepted to participate The Union for the Mediterraneanin the First Mediterranean Summit in Paris.

The Union for the Mediterranean (French: Union pour la Méditerranée)is a proposed community of European Union member states and countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea planned to be established in July 2008.

The Mediterranean Union would be a looser grouping than the EU. Sarkozy called on the Mediterranean people to "do the same thing, with the same goal and the same method" as the European Union, however he stated it would not be based on the EU model.

However when the project began to be scaled down in 2008, many proposals were dropped, such as a Mediterranean Investment Bank (modeled on its European counterpart) and a raft of agencies. Instead it would focus on more practical projects.

Under the original plans, members would form a regular council under a rotating presidency (similar to the current EU model) dealing with energy, security, immigration and trade.
.

FOUR BODIES OF GENOCIDE VICTIMS FROM BRATUNAC EXHUMED

BRATUNAC, Bosnia (May 30,2008) – In village Rakovac,near the eastern Bosnian town of Bratunac, Bosnian expert team exhumed four bodies of Bosnian civilians from Bratunac which are presumed to have been murdered by the genocidal Serbian fascist aggressor in May 1992.

”We expect to find seven bodies in this location”, stated Danica Arapovic-Kovacevic, Tuzla Canton Prosecutor.

Asides clothing of the genocide victims, the team also found barbed wire and razors.Work on excavating the site and finding more genocide victims’ remains continues.
.

EUFOR,NATO SEARCH HOME OF SERBIAN WAR CRIMINAL RADOVAN KARADZIC'S SUPPORTER

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (May 30,2008) - The European Union Force (EUFOR) and NATO troops in Bosnia searched the office and apartment of Belgrade professor Kosta Cavoski in Pale, some 20 kilometres east of the Bosnian Sarajevo, today.

Cavoski, who works as a professor in a law school in Bosnia, heads a fascist Serbian organization that supports Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic, the former leader of the Serbians living in Bosnia who is charged by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) of with war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity and severe breaches of the Geneva Conventions committed during the 1992-1995 Serbian aggression against Bosnia.

Cavoski was questioned during the raid. EUFOR says a number of items were confiscated during the early morning search today.
.

NINETEEN BOSNIAN PLAYERS REFUSE TO PLAY IN FRIENDLY AGAINST AZERBAIJAN

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (May 30,2008) - Nineteen Bosnian players have refused to play in a friendly against Azerbaijan this Sunday in protest at the sacking of national coach Meho Kodro by the Bosnian Football Association.

Several players said they would instead accept invitations by Kodro and Bosnia's leading striker Elvir Bolic to play in a charity match scheduled at the same time.

Kodro was sacked this month after only four months when he refused to lead the team in a friendly against Iran, saying he had not been notified about the fixture in time.

Acting coach Denijal Piric said the boycott meant he had to scramble together a team with many players from the Under-21 team.

"We have to play the match, otherwise we risk being suspended by FIFA and block our clubs' entry on to the European stage," Piric said.

Piric said he would quit after the Sunday match.

Zenica, the central Bosnian town where the friendly will take place, was covered this week with placards calling for the public to ignore the game.

The capital Sarajevo also featured placards urging fans to join Bolic and Kodro, the "Saviour of Bosnian Football", and buy tickets for the humanitarian match in the Kosevo Olympic stadium.

"All that is worthy in Bosnian football will gather in Kosevo, while (the Zenica stadium) Bilino Polje will probably be empty," said a commentary in the Bosnian daily Oslobodjenje.

At least eight players have boycotted games and called on Bosnian Football Association officials to resign in the past year. Two top Bosnian Football Association officials are facing corruption charges in the state court.
.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

RAFSANJANI: ENEMIES' MEDDLING HAS AFFECTED IRAN-BOSNIA TIES

TEHRAN, Iran (May 29,2008) – The Chairman of the Iranian Expediency Council Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani sai that the enemies lowered level of ties between Bosnia and Iran,the Iranian National News Agency (IRNA) reported.

Rafsanjani made the remarks during the meeting with the Bosnian Ambassador to Iran Senahid Bistric.The current level of economic and commercial ties between Bosnia and Iran is very low,Rafsanjani said.

Talking about 1992-1995 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia,he said it was very tough time for the Muslim World,especially for the Islamic Republic of Iran,adding that it eas the responsibility of the Islamic countries to prevent genocide in Bosnia.

The Bosnian Ambassador,for his part, appreciated the support made by the Islamic Republic of Iran during the 1992-1995 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia and said the supports were made during "your presidency when most of other countries had adopted an indifference attitude."

Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani served as President of Iran from August 17, 1989 to 1997, and was the first President of Iran to step down officially, having completed his term in office. Until the election of Rafsanjani, Ali Khamenei was both the President and Supreme Leader, and officially stepped down as President of Iran, about two month prior to completing of his presidential term.

Rafsanjani is currently the Chairman of the Iranian Expediency Council. The Iranian Expediency Council is an advisory body for the Iranian Supreme Leader. It has ultimate adjudicating power in disputes over legislation between the Iranian Majlis (the Iranian Parliament) and the Iranian Guardian Council. The Supreme Leader appoints the Council's members, who are prominent religious, social and political figures.
.

BOSNIAN FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER SVEN ALKALAJ VISITS UNITED STATES

WASHINGTON, USA (May 29,2008) – The Bosnian Foreign Affairs Minister Sven Alkalaj, who is in a working visit to the United States, had meetings yesterday at the U.S. State Department and the U.S. National Security Council.

In a meeting with Daniel Fried, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Euro-Asian Affairs, the current state of politics in Bosnia and the region was discussed.

Fried and a representative of the U.S. National Security Council Burt Braun welcomed the reforms taking place in Bosnia, especially in the light of the upcoming signing of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) and visa liberalization negotiations between Bosnia and the EU.
.

CENTER FOR JUDICIAL DOCUMENTATION OPENED IN SARAJEVO

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (May 29,2008) – The Bosnian High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council opened on Tuesday the Center for Judicial Documentation in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo.

The center is founded with the support of the Spanish Agency for Development Cooperation and with technical support of the Spanish Documentation Center, the Spanish High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council and the European Commission.

”The Center for Judicial Documentation is of great importance for us now that we are getting closer to the EU”, stated Branko Peric, the President of the Bosnian High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council.

The Spanish Ambassador to Bosnia, Jose Maria Castroviejo y Bolivar pointed out that his embassy is proud with this project.

”Judicial system in Bosnia underwent a number of transformations. It is still very complicated and there is no similar example in other European countries”, stated Spanish Ambassador.

The project is worth 300.000 Euros.

All data available to the center are on disposal via web page http://pravosudje.ba/csd
.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: SLOW PROGRESS IN TERMS OF IMPROVEMENT OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN BOSNIA

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (May 29,2008) – Many perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity during the 1992-95 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia continued to evade justice, and thousands of enforced disappearances remained unresolved.Progress was made in the domestic prosecution of war crimes, including in proceedings at the Bosnian State Court, as it is stated in the Report of the Amnesty International on Human Rights in Bosnia in 2007.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) continued to try perpetrators of serious violations of international humanitarian law. Serbian war criminal Slobodan Milosevic died at the Tribunal Detention Unit following a heart attack on 11 March. He had been on trial before the ICTY for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the genocidal Serbian fascist aggressor in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo, and for genocide in Bosnia.

Under a 'completion strategy' laid down by the UN Security Council, the ICTY was expected to conclude all cases in 2010. As a result of the tight deadlines imposed by the strategy, the Tribunal continued to refer cases involving lower level perpetrators to national jurisdictions in the former Yugoslavia. In 2006 cases involving seven suspects were transferred to Bosnia.

The War Crimes Chamber within the Bosnian State Court, set up to try particularly sensitive cases or cases referred by the ICTY, issued its first convictions.

According to estimates of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), approximately 13,000 people who went missing during the 1992-95 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia were still unaccounted for. Many of them were victims of enforced disappearances, whose perpetrators enjoyed impunity.

Of an estimated 2.2 million Bosnian citizens displaced during the war, more than a million refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) were estimated to have returned to their homes. Progress on returns was limited. UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, registered approximately 3,600 returns between January and October. Of these, some 3,000 returned to areas where they were part of a minority community.

Six men of Algerian origin, unlawfully transferred in 2002 by the Bosnian authorities to US custody, remained in detention in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. In April, following a complaint by the wife of one of the detainees, Hadj Boudellaa, the Human Rights Commission within the Bosnian Constitutional Court concluded that the Bosnian authorities had failed to implement a 2002 decision of the Bosnian Human Rights Chamber in the case.

They had failed to use diplomatic channels to protect the rights of the detainee, provide him with consular support, and take all necessary steps to ensure he would not be subjected to the death penalty, including by demanding from the US government for guarantees to that effect.
.

BOSNIA TO DEMAND AT LEAST 4 BILLION USD FROM GENOCIDAL SERBIA AS A COMPENSATION FOR STOLEN PROPERTY

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (May 29,2008) - Bosnia will demand at least USD 4 billion from the genocidal Serbia, as a claim for movable property Bosnia lost after the break-up of Yugoslavia. The property used to belong to the Yugoslav Army (JNA), and was taken to the genocidal Serbia during the 1992-1995 Serbian aggression against Bosnia.

Its value has never been assessed, and there are several versions of how much it was actually worth. According to the most “conservative” valuation method, the Bosnian Defence Ministry says, it was worth USD 4 billion, but if the Croatian method of valuation was used, Bosnia could demand to be paid USD 8 billion indemnity.

However, this is a very delicate political issue which the genocidal Serbia has been ignoring so far. The fascist country has already received a similar claim from Croatia, worth USD 10 billion. Croatia claims Slovenia also opposes to opening the issue of distribution of military property, because she, like the genocidal Serbia, kept a large portion of it.
.

INTERIM AGREEMENT BETWEEN BOSNIA AND EU TO BECOME EFFECTIVE ON JULY 1

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (May 29,2008) - The interim agreement between Bosnia and the European Union (EU) will become effective on July 1, containing parts of the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA).

What this means, Head of the Bosnian Direction for European Integrations Osman Topcagic explains, is that a new tariff policy on trade exchange with the EU countries will come into force, as well. In other words, some tariffs will be cut or entirely cancelled for certain goods coming from the EU.

The Bosnian economy will benefit from import tariffs being cancelled on primary materials and manufacturing components, equipment and machinery used in production, he stresses, but at the same time domestic producers will face more competition.
.

BOSNIA TO SPEND OVER 2 BILLION BOSNIAN MARKS THIS YEAR ON FOOD IMPORT

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (May 29,2008) - In the first four months of 2008 the local traders in Bosnia spent 720 million Bosnian Marks on imported food and beverages. Cereals and their products accounted for the biggest share – 155 million Bosnian Marks. Fruit and vegetables were the second most imported items, worth 92 million Bosnian Marks, and followed by coffee, tea, spices, sugar, dairy products, eggs, meat, and so on. 32 million Bosnian Marks was spent on imported cooking oil.

At the same time, official statistics show, Bosnia’s food exports amounted to 89 million Bosnian Marks, which means that the export/import ratio was only 12 per cent.

If the trend continues, Bosnia will spend somewhere around 2.1 billion Bosnian Marks by the end of 2008 on food, beverages and oil alone. Retail mark-up is sometimes as high as 30 per cent.
.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

JAPAN STRONGLY SUPPORTS BOSNIA'S EURO-ATLANTIC INTEGRATION

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (May 28,2008) – The newly appointed Ambassador of Japan to Bosnia Futao Motai submitted yesterday credentials to the Bosnian President Haris Silajdžić.Welcoming the newly appointed Ambassador of Japan and wishing him a successful mission in Bosnia,the Bosnian President expressed his belief that bilateral relations between Bosnia and Japan would continue to develop in different areas, especially in the field of culture and economy.

“Bosnia is quickly entering the Euro-Atlantic integration because on June 16, we will sign the Stabilization and Association Agreement. We have also taken a very important step with NATO and we are hoping for the Japanese Government’s support in the Euro-Atlantic path, just as it was so far”. President Silajdžić emphasized and added that Bosnia, with its resources, especially tourist economy, could be a reliable partner for investors and the Japanese government, in bilateral and multilateral field.

Ambassador Futao Motai, during the transfer of credentials of His Majesty, the Emperor of Japan to the Bosnian President Haris Silajdžić, transferred Japan's people’s and government’s satisfaction that Bosnia has risen from the ashes and achieved this level of development.

Japan will continue to strongly support Bosnia in the process of joining the European Union and the full-fledged NATO membership,Ambassador Motai stated.
.

EU COUNCIL OF MINISTERS DISCUSSED POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS IN BOSNIA

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (May 28,2008) – EU Council of Ministers, which discussed yesterday the political developments in Bosnia in the context of preparations for signing the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) between Bosnia and the EU, invited all authorities in the country to take all necessary measures in order for the temporary agreement on trade as a composite of the SAA could be effective immediately.

Ministers welcomed opening of the dialogue on free visa regime with Bosnia which formally opened on Monday with first expert and technical discussion on the development of specific criteria and conditions within the Road Map for Bosnia.

EU military and security situation was rated as stabile and it was concluded that the EU will continue with its active role, including the Eropean Union Force in Bosnia (EUFOR) as part of total efforts of the EU in Bosnia.

In conclusions they stated that the EU will preserve its leading role in securing safety and stability in Bosnia.

The council welcomed recent adoption of the Bosnian police reform laws and stated that it firmly supports The European Union Police Mission in Bosnia (EUPM) in providing aid to Bosnian authorities to implement the reform more successfully.
.

WORLD BANK ALLOCATES GRANTS FOR SEVEN ORGANIZATIONS OF THE CIVIL SOCIETY

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (May 28,2008) – The World Bank Office in Bosnia has allocated grants for seven Bosnian organizations of the civil society, as part of this year’s competition of the Fund for the Civil Society, as it has been announced by the World Bank.

92 registrations have been received this year.

The winners have been elected by the independent commission, and the sum of the grant for seven organizations is 35,000 USD.

This has been the ninth consecutive year that the World Bank has been giving small grants to the organizations of the civil society in Bosnia in order of strengthening of the arrangement of the civil society in solving the problems of the most endangered categories of the population.

“Over the years we have noticed that the impact of these small programmes can really be significant. In the few past years we have seen efforts for the Roma children to be involved into regular process of education, to improve the life of disabled people and to ensure for their voice to be heard. We have also seen that the young people have been given chances to make some impact on the development of their local communities“, said Marco Mantovanelli, Head of the World Bank Office in Bosnia.
.

QATAR TO BUILD TOP-CATEGORY HOTELS IN BOSNIA

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (May 28,2008) - The President of the Bosnian Foreign Trade Chamber Milan Lovric and Qatar’s Ambassador to Bosnia Mubarak Al-Hajri had a meeting in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, during which the Ambassador Al-Hajri said that Qatari entrepreneurs are interested to invest in building top-category hotels in Bosnia.

One company from Qatar is already interested to build one such hotel in Sarajevo. Qatar is also interested in Bosnian construction companies, especially those specializing in building bridges.

Lovric concluded that, unfortunately, good bilateral relations between Bosnia and Qatar are still not accompanied with equally good business cooperation, and said that the Bosnian Foreign Trade Chamber is open to all initiatives in that area.
.

KASUMOVIC AND MANTOVANELLI DISCUSSED WORLD BANK PROJECTS IN BOSNIA

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (May 28,2008) - Fuad Kasumovic - the Bosnian Deputy Finance Minister and Marco Mantovanelli – Head of the World Bank’s Office in Bosnia have discussed the activities of the World Bank in Bosnia, and ways to improve cooperation, especially in the area related to coordination of international assistance between Bosnia and the donor community.

Furthermore, Mantovanelli introduced the World Bank’s idea about forming a fiduciary operations unit within the Bosnian Ministry of Finance, which would be in charge of all procurement and financial management activities related to the local projects funded by the World Bank.
.

BUILDING AND RECONSTRUCTION SHOW OPENS IN SARAJEVO

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (May 28,2008) - The 30th international building and reconstruction show opened at the Sarajevo Skenderija centre yesterday (Gradnja i obnova 2008). More than 350 exhibitors from Bosnia and the rest of the world will display their products and services on the total area of 13,000 sqm until May 30.

The Sarajevo Canton Chamber of Economy is the partner of this event. The Bosnian capital Sarajevo is currently the country’s biggest construction area in the country, with 173 active construction sites
.

SURVEY SHOWS WORRYING FACTS ABOUT BOSNIAN YOUTH

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (May 28,2008) - 93 per cent of young married couples in Bosnia do not have their own home, and more than 80 per cent of youth aged 16 – 30 live with their parents. These are the results of a survey about the position of youth in Bosnia, carried out on the sample of 1,500 respondents from 53 municipalities by the Coordinating Commission for Youth Issues, with the Bosnian government.

Social scientists find the survey results disappointing, especially the ones related to young married couples, and criticize the Bosnian government and employers for not doing anything to help them solve their housing issues.
.

FOUR SERBIAN WAR CRIMINALS ARRESTED IN BOSNIA

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (May 28,2008) - The Bosnian State Protection and Investigation Agency (SIPA) arrested yesterday four Serbian war criminals suspected of war crimes during the 1992-1995 Serbian aggression against Bosnia, the Office of the Bosnian State Prosecutor confirmed in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo.

Serbian war crminals Damir Ivankovic, 38, Dusan Jankovic, 58, Zeljko Stojnic, 38 and Zoran Babic, 40 were arrested in the north- western Bosnian town of Prijedor on the orders of the Bosnian State Prosecutor.

The four Serbian war criminals are suspected of involvement in the war crimes against Bosnian civilians - in 1992 at Koricanske Stijene in central Bosnia.

The genocidal Serbian fascist aggressor mass murdered more than 250 Bosnian civilians at Koricanske Stijene in August 1992.

Bosnian civilians, transported in two buses from the concentration camps in north-western Bosnia were ordered by the genocidal Serbian fascist aggressor to leave the buses when they arrived at Koricanske Stijene with a sheer rock face on one side of the road and a steep cliff on the other.

When they left the buses more than 250 Bosnian civilians were ordered to kneel at the edge of the cliff after which the genocidal Serbian fascist aggressor murdered them.
.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

REHN: EU TO SIGN PRE-ACCESSION ACCORD WITH BOSNIA ON JUNE 16

BRUSSELS, Belgium (May 27,2008) – The European Union and Bosnia will sign a Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) on June 16th, the EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said in Brussels yesterday after opening the discussion on lifting visas for Bosnian citizens.Commissioner Rehn confirmed the date at a joint press conference with Bosnia's Prime Minister Nikola Spiric and Vice President of the European Commission Jacques Barrot where it was also announced that dialogue over liberalizing the visa regime for Bosnian citizens has begun.

“We opened dialogue today for the liberalization of visas between Bosnia and the EU, based on the ‘road map’ that will presented in the next few weeks,” Barrot said.

He added that the dynamics of the talks would depend on Bosnia’s capacity to meet criteria such as the introduction of biometric passports.

Spiric said that this was a good day for Bosnia and stated that the country was ready to meet all the necessary conditions as soon as possible.
.

EUROPEAN UNION LAUNCHES VISA TALKS WITH BOSNIA

BRUSSELS, Belgium (May 27,2008) – The European Commission formally opened yesterday a dialogue on visa liberalization with Bosnia.

Commission Vice President Jacques Barrot said the opening of talks represented a “concrete example of the political commitment given by the EU to the region.”

Like the other countries of the southeastern Europe, Bosnia must fulfill technical conditions before a visa-liberalisation agreement can be signed. These include improving border management and issuing biometric passports.

“I am convinced that Bosnia will be able to make rapid progress to fulfill the necessary criteria,” Barrot said.

After it finished a process of visa "facilitation" with the countries of the southeastern Europe, making it easier for certain groups of citizens to acquire visas, the Commission decided to launch a technical dialogue on visa liberalization with all countries in the region. The aim is to reach agreement on a visa-free regime by January 1, 2009.

Bosnia's Prime Minister Nikola Spiric took part in the opening of the technical dialogue and stressed that the decision of the EU will “reinforce the EU idea" in Bosnia. In the next few weeks the Bosnian authorities will receive a roadmap laying out the conditions that have to be met before a visa agreement with the EU can be signed.

“We are committed to fulfilling all the conditions from the roadmap,” Spiric said. “Our aim is a visa-free regime for all citizens of Bosnia.”

Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn welcomed the Commission's decision to launch a dialogue on visa-free travel, noting that it was particularly important for young people in Bosnia.

“Compared to where we were half a year ago, the year 2008 has started well for Bosnia and its EU orientation,” Commissioner Rehn said.
.

EU TO KEEP TROOPS IN BOSNIA

BRUSSELS, Belgium (May 27,2008) – European Union defense ministers agreed yesterday in Brussels to keep the bloc's 2,500 peacekeepers in Bosnia, citing concern that tensions in Kosovo could spill over into other parts of the southeastern Europe.

"The region is not yet fully stable,It is necessary to continue being present militarily." said Slovenia's Defense Minister Karl Erjavec, who chaired the meeting.

"Some EU nations had hoped that growing stability in Bosnia would allow them to pull the troops out, leaving just a police and civilian mission. However, the failure of Bosnia's ethnically based political parties to agree on a new constitution and the tensions over Kosovo mean thesoldiers needed to stay on," Minister Erjavec told reporters.

The EU ministers said in a statement the "EU-led military presence will remain in Bosnia for as long as necessary."

The EU took over the Bosnian mission in 2004 and cut troop levels from 6,000 last year as part of a gradual reduction from the 60,000 NATO soldiers that moved in after the 1992-1995 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia.
.

TWO BOSNIAN WOMEN,WHO WERE RAPED BY GENOCIDAL SERBIAN AGGRESSOR,TESTIFIED BEFORE BOSNIAN STATE COURT AT TRIAL OF THREE SERBIAN WAR CRIMINALS

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (May 27,2008) – Prosecution witnesses Dika Suljic and Ismeta Pervan testified yesterday before the Bosnian State Court at the trial of Serbian war criminals Ratko Bundalo,Nedjo Zeljaja and Djordjislav Askraba about sexual abuse of Bosnian women by the genocidal Serbian fascist aggressor and the participation of Serbian war criminals Djordjislav Askraba and Nedjo Zeljaja in the capture and forcible detention of Bosnian civilians from the Bosnian town of Kalinovik by the genocidal paramilitary fascist formations of the Serbians living in Bosnia (VRS), during the 1992-1995 Serbian aggression against Bosnia.

"Our neighbours (Serbians living in Bosnia), who were armed and uniformed, came to pick us up on August 2, 1992. They first took us to the elementary school building in Kalinovik. When we came there, some women from Gacko had already been there. Slavko, Zaga and another soldier drove seven of us by a truck to Miljevina. The four girls from Gacko were 14 to 18 years old, while the three of us from Jelesac were adults. I was raped, but I cannot speak about that," witness Pervan said through tears.

The Bosnian State Prosecutor charges Serbian war criminals Ratko Bundalo, Nedjo Zeljaja and Djordjislav Askraba with crimes committed against Bosnian civilians from Kalinovik in 1992 and 1993,during the Serbian aggression against Bosnia.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) sentenced Serbian war criminal Dragoljub Kunarac, also known as "Zaga", to 28 years imprisonment for torture,rape and unlawful detention of Bosnian civilians in the eastern Bosnian town of Foca.

"In June 1992 Sasa Cerovina came to our house and asked for my father. I could have hid him, but I was naïve and I asked him to come out. My father said a final goodbye to us and he got on the truck. Zeljaja, who had already been on the truck, told him that they were taking him to an interview and that he would be back home the same night," Pervan said.

According to this witness, the genocidal Serbian fascist aggressor took her father and a group of other Bosnian civilians from Jelesac village to the "Barutni magacin" concentration camp, where Pervan saw Serbian war criminal Djordjislav Askraba, who was "the chief".

"In the beginning I used to bring clothes and food to my father in 'Barutni magacin'. However, after some time Askraba did not let us do that any more, as he was the boss there. The last time I saw my father he was wearing a blue pullover and he just waved to me," Pervan told the Bosnian State Court.

The examination of second Prosecution witness Dika Suljic, who began her testimony before the Bosnian State Court on Monday, May 19, took place, as requested by the Court, with no members of the public present, so as to "protect the personal and intimate life of the witness", who spoke about the sexual abuse of Bosnian women by the genocidal Serbian fascist aggressor.

The trial of Serbian war criminals Ratko Bundalo,Nedjo Zeljaja and Djordjislav Askraba is due to continue before the Bosnian State Court on Thursday, May 29.
.

3.000 ROSES THROWN INTO THE DRINA RIVER FROM MEHMED PASHA SOKOLOVIC BRIDGE IN MEMORY OF GENOCIDE VICTIMS FROM VISEGRAD

VIŠEGRAD, Bosnia (May 27,2008) – In the organization of the Bosnian Association of families of missing persons and civilians victims of aggression “Visegrad 92” on Sunday, a commemoration was held for genocide victims from the eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad.

On this occasion, 3.000 roses were laid on Mehmed Pasa Sokolovic Bridge and after the ceremony they were lowered into the Drina River as a sign of memory 3000 genocide victims from Visegrad murdered by the genocidal Serbian fascist aggressor in the early 1990's.

16th anniversary ceremony of the mass murder of innocent Bosnian civilians from Visegrad was attended by a member of the Bosnian State Presidency Zeljko Komsic who threw a bouquet of red roses into Drina River in memory of the genocide victims.

About 2.000 people were present at the commemorative ceremony.

Those present were Bosnian government representatives, representatives of Bratunac municipality, emissaries of the FBiH entity, Sarajevo Mayor Semiha Borovac, Gorazde Imam Hamed Ef. Efendic, and number of Imams from Podrinje.

During the 1992-95 Serbian aggression against Bosnia, Visegrad was a site where war crimes were committed by the Serbian aggressor against the town's Bosnian population.Some 3,000 Bosnian civilians, including 121 children,from Visegrad were mass murdered by the genocidal Serbian fascist aggressor.
.

PARLIAMENTARY MEETING ON SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BEGAN YESTERDAY IN BRUSSELS

BRUSSELS, Belgium (May 27,2008) – The Joint Parliamentary Meeting titled “Achieving the European Perspective for South East Europe” has began yesterday at the European Parliament in Brussels.

The President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia, France Cukjati chairs the meeting together with the President of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Pöttering.

The Bosnian State Parliament at this significant gathering is represented by Niko Lozancic, the Bosnian State Parliament's House of Representatives Chair who will address the present during the meeting.

Participants of the meeting,which ends today,are focusing on the role of parliaments in the integration of the southeastern European countries, economic development and European perspective for the Southeastern Europe, security and judiciary and immigration and visa policies.
.

8 BOSNIAN CITIES TO HOST FORUMS ON NATO

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (May 27,2008) – Bihac is to host a first out of eight city forums with a purpose to create informal, open forum for leaders of local communities in Bosnia in order to initiate a discussion about Bosnia's defense reform progress, stated the release of NATO HQ.

Bosnia is a very successful member of NATO’s Partnership for Peace Program (PFP). As recognition for this success, Bosnia was invited at the NATO Bucharest Summit,earlier this year, and joined the process of Intensive Dialogue with NATO.

During next six weeks, NATO HQ in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo will visit eight Bosnian cities (Bihac, Prijedor, Livno, Travnik, Bijeljina, Brcko, Trebinje, Gorazde) with a purpose to inform citizens, NGOs, students, businessmen, education and religious sector with aspects of NATO which are rather unknown to the broader Bosnian public.
.

BOSNIA TO BECOME A MEMBER OF WTO IN 2009

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (May 27,2008) - A member of the Bosnian negotiating team has confirmed that negotiations about Bosnia’s membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) are expected to be over by the end of this year. A year after that, Bosnia could become a full member.

Bosnia has already formed agencies for the food safety, industrial and intellectual rights, copy rights and plant protection, while there are several pieces of legislation awaiting adoption in the area of commerce.
.

BOSNIAN COMPANIES CONSIDERABLY INCREASE THEIR PRESENCE ON FOREIGN MARKETS

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (May 27,2008) - The value of work carried out by Bosnian companies in foreign countries increased by considerable 58.3 per cent in the first quarter of the year, compared to the same period of last year.

According to the official statistical sources, the value increased the most in Africa (by 67.7 per cent), where the shares of building construction and heavy construction contracts were approximately the same.
.

Monday, May 26, 2008

BOSNIAN MOVIE "SNOW" WINS CANNES CRITICS' GRAND PRIX

CANNES, France (May 26,2008) - The Bosnia co-production with Iran,Germany and France “Snow” won the Cannes Critics’ Week Grand Prix, the International Critics’ Week of the Cannes Film Festival announced.

The Critics’ Week Grand Prix is awarded by Cinepolis to a feature film voted by journalists and film critics after each screening.

Directed by Bosnian film director Aida Begic, “Snow” is set in the small isolated Bosnian village of Slavno four years after the 1992-1995 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia.

A government delegation comes to Slavno, offering the villagers money to leave the village. But, the villagers mostly are women find it hard to abandon their home and decide to fight for their freedom and the survival of Slavno.

Prizes at the Cannes Film Festival were announced yesterday.The French film "The Class" has won top honors.

Directed by Laurent Cantet, "The Class" ("Entre les Murs") was the first French film to win the main prize, the Palme d'Or, at Cannes since "Under Satan's Sun" in 1987. The film was shot in a raw, improvisational style to chronicle the drama that unfolds over one school year.

The win was a unanimous decision among the nine-member Cannes jury, said American director and actor Sean Penn, who headed the panel.

"The movie that we wanted to make had to resemble French society, had to be multifaceted, a bit teeming, complex, and had to sometimes portray frictions that the film didn't try to erase," Cantet said.
.

BOSNIA SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH WORLD BANK WORTH 25 MILLION USD

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (May 26,2008) - Bosnia signed the financial agreement with the World Bank, for the road infrastructure and safety project in the amount of 25 million US Dollars.The loan will be used for improvement of the road network in Bosnia and improvement of institutional capacities concerning road safety.

This is the first loan approved by the World Bank within a four year strategy of partnership with Bosnia under IDA conditions – payment deadline is 20 years, with grace period of 10 years servicing expenses of 0.75 annually.

Assets will be used to finance reconstruction of 240 kilometers of regional and main roads in Bosnia and there will also be a strategy for improvement of road safety in the country.

The world Bank financing is a part of a wider program of roads reconstruction in Bosnia, finaced also by the Bosnian government ,the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

This project is a response to the demands of the Bosnian authorities to improve safety of the main road infrastructure, stated the Bosnian Ministry of Finance and Treasury.
.

BOSNIAN STATE COURT SENTENCED SERBIAN WAR CRIMINAL ZELJKO LELEK TO SHAMEFULLY LOW SENTENCE OF 13 YEARS OF IMPRISONMENT

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (May 26,2008) – Serbian war criminal Zeljko Lelek was found guilty on Friday for the crimes against humanity and the Bosnian State Court sentenced him to the shamefully low sentence of 13 years of imprisonment with calculated time he spent in detention during the criminal proceeding since May 5 2006.

Serbian war criminal Zeljko Lelek,46, was found guilty under the indictment that,as a member of the genocidal Serbian fascist aggressor's formations, committed the acts of murder, torture and rape against Bosnian civilian population of the Visegrad municipality in the period of May, April and June of 1992,during the Serbian aggression against Bosnia.

At the beginning of June 1992, Serbian war criminals Zeljko Lelek and Milan Lukic, raped a Bosnian woman. The indictment further stated that this Bosnian woman was raped on daily basis and physically and mentally mistreated by Serbian war criminal Lelek and other Serbian fascists over a period of ten days during which she was held captive.

“I cannot believe the Bosnian State Court ruled like this”, stated the president of the Bosnian Association “Women-Victims of War” Bakira Hasecic commenting on the shamefully low sentence in Serbian war criminal Zeljko Lelek’s case.

“The real question is,what is actually happening with the Bosnian State Court”, she added.
.

AVERAGE GROSS SALARY IN BOSNIA IN MARCH WAS 1,120 BOSNIAN MARKS

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (May 26,2008) - Head of the Bosnian Central Statistics Bureau Zdenko Milinovic said that the average monthly salary for March per employee in Bosnia amounted to 726 Bosnian Marks (577 USD), which shows a nominal growth of 6.6 percent regarding December last year.

The biggest average salaries were in the sector of financial mediation and amounted to 1,222 Bosnian Marks (971 USD).

They are followed by the public administration, defence and mandatory social insurance ( 1,004 Bosnian Marks), and electricity, gas and water supply ( 995 Bosnian Marks), etc.

According to Milinovic, the average gross salary per employee in the first quarter of this year amounted to 1,120 Bosnian Marks (890 USD), which is 13.2 percent more than in the same period last year.
.

BOSNIAN MINISTER OF FINANCE SIGNED FINANCIAL AGREEMENTS WORTH 14 MILLION EUROS

VIENNA, Austria (May 26,2008) - The Bosnian Minister of Finance and Treasury Dragan Vrankic signed a financial agreement with members of the Management Board of Austrian bank BAVAG P.S.K. for the realisation of a project of modernisation of two hospitals and health centres in Mostar worth EUR 8,968,155.41.

The report of the Bosnian Ministry of Finance and Treasury states that Vrankic signed a financial agreement with Director of export finances of Austrian Raiffeisen bank for the realisation of the project of modernisation of the University of Zenica worth EUR 4,975,020. The repayment deadline for these non-interest credits is 12 years with a grace period of 4 and a half years.
.

Friday, May 23, 2008

BOSNIAN PRESIDENT HARIS SILAJDZIC VISITS UNITED STATES

WASHINGTON, USA (May 23,2008) – During the second day of his visit to the USA, the Bosnian President Haris Silajdzic held a lecture at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in the US capital Washington,yesterday on the topic “Euro Atlantic Integrations of Bosnia: prospects and Challenges” and met with American congressmen and senators.

President Silajdzic talked about progress Bosnia made on its road towards NATO and the EU and pointed out the necessity of further reform processes especially when it comes to the Constitution in order to secure the full membership in all these institutions.

During the meeting with President Silajdzic, member of the Committee for Foreign Policy of the American Congress, Sheila Jackson Lee underlined the importance of continuous engagement of the United States in Bosnia and stated that it is especially important to secure equality of all Bosnian citizens in realizing their political and human rights.

Lee, who visited the Bosnian capital Sarajevo under siege in 1995,during the Serbian aggression against Bosnia, expressed her willingness to visit Bosnia in near future along with her colleagues from the US Congress.

Senator James DeMint, deputy chair of the Sub-committee for European Affairs underlined the importance of Bosnia's full membership to NATO and stated that the United States shall continue to fully support Bosnia on its road towards the EU integrations.

Helsinki Committee co-chair and member of the Committee for Foreign Policy of the US Senate, Senator James Cardin underlined the importance of the minority rights protection in Bosnia and stated that he as Senator shall help Bosnia to become a full NATO member as soon as possible.

At the special meeting with congressmen Marilyn Musgrave, Frank Wolf, John Boozman, Bob English, David Weldon, Joe Pitts and Christopher Smith they also discussed the issue of women’s rights in Bosnia, family life and rights of child.

All congressmen and senators unreservedly supported Bosnia's membership to NATO and the EU.
.

LAJCAK DISCUSSED POLITICAL SITUATION IN BOSNIA WITH SENIOR US OFFICIALS

WASHINGTOM, USA (May 23,2008) - The international Community’s strategic goal in Bosnia is to see the country join both NATO and the EU as soon as possible.

Quick progress is therefore needed on meeting the five objectives and two conditions identified by the Peace Implementation Council in February 2008, the International Community's High Representative and EU Special Representative in Bosnia Miroslav Lajčák and senior US officials concluded during a series of meetings in Washington.

The United States Under-Secretary for Political Affairs William Burns and Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Daniel Fried expressed the US administration’s full support for the work of the Office of the International Community's High Representative in Bosnia (OHR).

Lajcak and US officials also welcomed recent progress on the reform agenda, in particular the adoption of police reform laws, which have paved the way for Bosnia to sign the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU.

The goal of the international community is to ensure a successful transition from OHR to a reinforced EU presence in Bosnia, Lajčák said.

US officials assured that the United States would remain fully engaged and committed to Bosnia throughout and beyond the transition process, the OHR said.
.

BOSNIA USES LESS THAN 20% OF EU PRE-ACCESSION FUNDS

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (May 23,2008) – Bosnia currently uses less than 20% of the EU EU pre-accession funds and opening of other funds will depend on the course of negotiations with the EU.

Funds open for Bosnia and registering of projects for non-refundable assets of the EU are the topic of a two day seminar which started yesterday in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo with 30 insitutions representatives, private companies and NGOs.

Seminar was organized by the Apriori Communications from Mostar,Bosnia, and Zagreb,Croatia, company RR from Ljubljana,Slovenia, which is a consulting company for project development according to the EU standards.

Participants were informed about the preparation of project registries, documents and cost estimate which is a most complicated part of the project registering.

"Considering that the EU funds are non-refundable, the EU wants every Euro accounted”, stated the coordinator of the Apriori Agency, Josipa Terzic.

She added that these seminars are held at the same time in all countries in the region and that there is a great interest for the access funds of the EU.

Terzic stated that Slovenia uses about 70% of funds, Croatia about 20 and B0snia less than 20%.

Seminar dedicated to documentation and cost accounting will be organized during June in Mostar and Banja Luka.
.

FOUR BOSNIAN ARMY OFFICERS PARTICIPATED IN A MAJOR EUFOR EXERCISE

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (May 23,2008) - Between 19 and 23 May the European Union Force in Bosnia (EUFOR) carried out Map Exercise ‘Determination’ and invited four Bosnian Army officers to participate.

The exercise was controlled EUFOR HQ and rehearsed contingency planning procedures and information flow, for responding to genuine and crisis situations.

The exercise is part of an ongoing training programme for EUFOR and on this occasion the Bosnian Army officers were fully involved in the event, having previously acted as observers at a similar exercise. This reaffirms EUFOR’s intent to use its expertise to cooperate with the Bosnian Armed Forces whenever a suitable opportunity arises, the EUFOR said.

The EUFOR Commander, Major General Villalain said: “This successful exercise was extremely beneficial to all involved and demonstrates the increasing ability for the Bosnian Armed Forces to be fully engaged in the processes of maintaining a safe and secure environment, even if on this occasion it was for exercise purposes and in a fictitious scenario”.
.

TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL: DAMAGE MADE BY CORRUPTION IN PRIVATIZATION SURPASSES HALF A BILLION BOSNIAN MARKS

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (May 23,2008) – Preliminary results within the first monitoring phase show the high risk of corruption in privatization sector, prior to all because of lack of transparency in all phases of the procedure, as it was concluded in the report of the Transparency International in cooperation with the Bosnian Open Society Fund.

Legal framework in Bosnia with 13 different solutions defining these processes and 13 bodies which deal with privatization process, open great possibilities for corruption and conflict of interest.

During last year only, according to analysis and research of the Transparency International, direct damages caused by non-transparent privatization processes, concession issuing and similar public agreements amount to over half a billion Bosnian Marks.

Ignoring the illegalities in the privatization process by prosecution and law enforcement agencies even in media exposed cases opens a suspicion that this is the case of organized crime with deep roots in highest political circles, believes the Transparency International.
.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

BOSNIA HAS THE LARGEST OIL DEPOSITS IN EUROPE

TUZLA, Bosnia (May 22 ,2008) - Dean of the Faculty of Technology and Mining in the northern Bosnian town of Tuzla, Abdulah Basic, told Bosnian media yesterday that some 500 million tonnes of oil could be located in several locations in the northern Bosnia as well as further in the southern Bosnia in a the depth of between 4,000 and 6,000 metres.His comments were triggered by an incident on May 12, when a man digging a water well in the village of Kadrici near Tuzla, hit a pocket of natural gas. The gas ignited creating a column of fire which according to eyewitnesses was at least 20 metres high.

In the past, local media have occasionally touched upon the possibility of oil deposits under Bosnia. According to several Bosnian experts, British Petroleum (BP) and American Oil Company, AMOCO, now also part of BP, were interested in potential oil resources in Bosnia before the 1992-1995 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia.

In cooperation with these two companies, one of the biggest Bosnian construction companies, Energoinvest, carried out a research which proved the existence of oil pools in the northern region of Posavina, as well as in several locations in the south.

Basic says that Energoinvest still has the original report which indicates that Bosnia may have oil resources as big as Saudi Arabia or Iraq.

Yet even after the end of the war, neither the Bosnian government nor international companies showed interest to continue with the research. However this may be changing with the recent skyrocketing of oil and food prices on global markets.

“First barrels of oil from Bosnia could be excavated as soon as the next 15 years, under the condition that local governments have an interest in this,” Basic stated.
.

NEW MASS GRAVE FOUND IN EASTERN BOSNIA

ZVORNIK, Bosnia (May 22 ,2008) - Bosnian forensic experts found a new mass grave today believed to contain the bodies of more than 40 Bosnian civilians murdered by the genocidal Serbian fascist aggressor,during the 1992-1995 Serbian aggression against Bosnia.

The grave was found near the eastern Bosnian town of Zvornik, Murat Hurtic of the Bosnian Commission on Missing Persons said.

Hurtic said the mass grave was believed to contain the bodies of 42 Bosnian civilians murdered in April and May 1992, soon after the genocidal Serbian fascist aggressor attacked Zvornik.

The exhumation, he said, should be completed in the next few days.

Some 30,000 people went missing during the 1992-95 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia and over the years Bosnian experts have been finding their bodies in hundreds of mass graves throughout the country.

Once a body is exhumed, it goes through an identification process that includes DNA analysis before it is released to the family. So far about 17,000 bodies have been found.
.

LAJCAK: THE CLOSURE OF THE OHR IS NEAR

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (May 22 ,2008) – The International Community's High Representative and EU Special Representative in Bosnia Miroslav Lajcák said the closure of the Office of the International Community's High Representative in Bosnia (OHR), is a matter of months.

In an interview published yesterday by Slovak daily Hospodarske Noviny,Lajcak, stressed the international community still had work to do in Bosnia and refused to speculate on when the OHR would be finally closed.

"I don’t want to speculate about when this would be, but we are definitely talking about months, and not years", Lajcak said.

In his recent half-annual report before the UN Security Council, Lajcak asserted that the country had made significant progress, but the work of the international community in Bosnia is not over yet.

Ambassador Lajčák said the main goal of the International Community from now on “will be to ensure that EU integration is at the top of the political agenda as the main cohesive factor.”

He stressed that “EU integration addresses fundamental issues of the Bosnian statehood” and added that “the European Union Special Representative in Bosnia (EUSR) is therefore the natural successor to the OHR as the principal coordinator of international engagement in Bosnia, once the time for OHR closure is right.”
.

PLASSNIK: BOSNIA TO SIGN THE SAA WITH THE EUROPEAN UNION ON JUNE 16

VIENNA, Austria (May 22 ,2008) – Bosnia will sign the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the European Union on June 16 in Luxemburg, confirmed on yesterday the Austrian Foreign Affairs Minister Ursula Plassnik.

"The efforts Bosnia invested in economic and political reforms are now giving results and make it possible to complete the set of agreements between the EU and southeastern European states”, stated Plassnik in the press release.

She received a green light from the Austrian government to sign the SAA with Bosnia at the ceremony which will be held on June 16 in Luxemburg.

The SAA was initialed on December 2007 between Bosnia and the EU and its signing depended on the adoption of the police reform which was completed by Bosnian State Parliament in April.
.

TRIAL AGAINST UNITED NATIONS AND NETHERLANDS TO BEGIN ON JUNE 18

THE HAGUE, The Netherlands (May 22 ,2008) – An international team of lawyers filed a lawsuit last year on behalf of approximately 6,000 genocide survivors from the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica against the Dutch State and the United Nations (UN) for helping the genocidal Serbian fascist aggressor commit genocide in Srebrenica in 1995.

The lawsuit contains 8.000 individual cases with around 6.000 plaintiffs.

Finally, after one year, the first hearing in this case will be held on 18 June 2008 at 10 a.m. at the District Court at The Hague,the Netherlands.

Late last year, the court declared that the UN is in default of appearance.

The UN had announced through other channels that it would be exercising its right to immunity and had therefore chosen not to appear as litigant in the trial.

The genocide victims' families launched the lawsuit against the Netherlands and the U.N arguing the Dutch U.N. soldiers were to blame for the genocide in Sreberenica because they refused crucial air support to their own troops defending the Bosnian town.

The Dutch U.N. soldiers abandoned the enclave instead,and the genocidal Serbian aggressor mass murdered up to 10,000 Bosnian civilians who had relied on protection from the Dutch U.N. troops.

Former leaders of the Serbians living in Bosnia,Serbian war criminals Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, both wanted by the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague on genocide charges over Srebrenica, are still on the run.

Dismayed by the failure to bring to justice the two chief suspects, the genocide victims' families say they have turned to a Dutch court for recognition and redress for the tragedy.

The Dutch state has always said its troops were abandoned by the U.N. which gave them no air support, but public documents actually show a network of Dutch military officials within the U.N. blocked air support because they feared their soldiers could be hit by friendly fire, the genocide victims families' lawyers said.

Despite repeated attempts by both the Dutch Public Prosecutor's Office and the attorney of the Dutch State to have the claims of the genocide survivors declared inadmissible, the judge decided in the favor of the genocide survivors.

During this crucially important hearing, proceedings will only deal with the issue of whether the UN,despite its direct involvement in the genocide in Bosnia,is entitled to immunity in this extraordinary case.

Given the possible implications for the UN, this trial will be receiving worldwide attention. The court has already indicated that additional measures will be taken in this respect for media and other purposes.
.

CONFERENCE ON CLIMATE CHANGE TO BE ORGANIZED IN SARAJEVO IN JUNE

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (May 22 ,2008) - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), together with the Bosnian Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations will host a conference “Climate Change Challenges in Bosnia”, which will take place in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo on June 2 - 3.

"Since Bosnia has finally ratified the Kyoto Protocol and the issue of climate change has become one of the foremost global priorities, it is the right moment to improve the understanding of key national stakeholders on opportunities and economic and social development benefits for the country, which joining the Protocol, activating it’s development mechanisms, and the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) requirements can bring to Bosnia," UNDP said.

The conference aims to gaining a better understanding of the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol and the needs for legislative, institution and capacity building in this regard.

Through the conference, the participants will discuss the changes in institutional and regulatory framework needed to spearhead the carbon emission reductions and come up with recommendations on the best ways to attract and facilitate investments in this sector.
.

BOSNIA AMONG COUNTRIES WITH THE LOWEST BIRTH RATE IN THE WORLD

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (May 22,2008) – Bosnia along with South Korea, Belize, Czech Republic, Poland and Ukraine is a country with lowest birth rate in the world, stated yesterday the World Health Organization (WHO).

In 2006 fertility rate, measured by average number of newly born by one woman, decreased in these countries from 1.4 to 1.2 in 2000 and 1.6 in 1990, shows the WHO records.

Right behind these countries are Japan, Singapore, Andorra, Armenia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Lithuania, Romania, Russia, San Marino and Slovenia.

The largest fertility rate is in Niger and Afghanistan, 7.3 and 7.2
.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

LAJCAK: BOSNIA MUST FOCUS ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE SAA

NEW YORK, USA (May 21,2008) - The International Community's High Representative and EU Special Representative in Bosnia Miroslav Lajcák, met with British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband in New York.

Lajcák said that Bosnia is poised to take a significant strategic step forward on the road to EU integration.

“The country must now focus on the implementation of the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union, which comes with obligations as well as benefits,” said Lajcák.

He briefed the British Foreign Secretary Miliband on Bosnia’s progress towards meeting the five objections and two conditions agreed unanimously by the Peace Implementation Council when it met in February for the OHR’s transition to an EU led mission.

“The faster progress is made on these five objectives and two conditions the sooner the Office of the International Community's High Representative in Bosnia (OHR) can transition into an EU led mission," said Lajcák.
.

ALKALAJ: OPENING OF THE DIALOGUE ON VISA REGIME LIBERALIZATION AN IMPORTANT STEP TOWARDS THE EU

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (May 21,2008) – Opening the dialogue on the visa regime liberalization between Bosnia and the EU, planned for May 26 in Brussels on the highest ministry level represents one of the most important steps of Bosnia towards the EU integrations, stated the Bosnian Foreign Affairs Minister Sven Alkalaj.

Even though Bosnia will not sign the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU on this day, as it was speculated earlier, Alkalaj explains that with the beginning of this dialogue Bosnia gains quite a lot.

After the ceremonial dialogue opening, experts shall begin to review all elements of this process. Bosnia will not receive a so-called “Road Map” on that day sine all countries have to agree on the terms.

This process shall last for about 15 days after which all remarks and demands will be put together into the Road Map which will be given to Bosnia right after the signing of the SAA, added Alkalaj.

The Road Map is in fact a guideline of what Bosnia has to do in order to get the visa regime liberalization with the Shengen states.

Minister Alkalaj also pointed out that the duration of this process depends only on Bosnia but expressed his belief that everything could be accomplished in a year.
.

GREGORIAN AND POCAR UNSATISFIED WITH BOSNIAN PRISON SYSTEM

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (May 21,2008) - A year after the escape of the convicted Serbian war criminal Radovan Stankovic from a prison in Bosnia the official response has been far from satisfactory, said the International community's Principal Deputy High Representative in Bosnia Raffi Gregorian at the meeting with the ICTY president Fausto Pocar.

“Stankovic remains at large and the authorities have yet to produce a thorough report identifying those who aided Stankovic’s flight, hold accountable those responsible, or take measures to tighten up security in prisons”,Gregorian said.

Serbian war criminal Radovan Stankovic was convicted by the Bosnian State Court of rape and crimes against humanity committed in the eastern Bosnian town of Foca in 1992,during the Serbian aggression against Bosnia.He was the first ICTY indictee whose case was transferred to a national court as part of the Tribunal's completion strategy.

“Stankovic is a convicted rapist and torturer, and is a danger to society wherever he is.He has expressed no remorse for his crimes and there is a real danger that he may strike again”,said Gregorian.

Serbian war criminal Radovan Stankovic's escape has highlighted several shortcomings in the Bosnian penal system. The High Representative toughened up the state level prison regime in the aftermath of the Stankovic prison break last year; prisoners convicted for war crimes under State law may no longer be granted weekend leave nor may they leave prison premises without proper supervision.

Pocar and Gregorian agreed that the International Community must be sure that war criminals, once tried and convicted, are properly imprisoned. Pocar reported that the ICTY is concerned about where and under what conditions the convicted war criminals will serve their sentences in Bosnia.
.

BOSNIAN JOURNALIST ASSOCIAITON REACTS TO THE ATTACKS AGAINST JOURNALISTS FROM MOSTAR

MOSTAR, Bosnia (May 21,2008) – The Bosnian Association of Journalists sharply protested because of the attacks against the crew of Mostar Radio and Television, which took place on Monday in the Donja Mahala area of the southern Bosnian city of Mostar.

On that occasion, an unknown individual attacked the cameraman Admir Maslo and driver Hasan Kajic. They sustained neck and shoulders injuries. Journalist Maja Buric hid in the vehicle and sustained no injuries.

“We are terrified with the repeated attack against the crew of journalists and with continuation of violence over media representatives. We demand the Mostar Police to investigate the case and determines identity of the attackers”, the announcement states.

Since the beginning of 2008, SOS line for journalists registered 18 attacks against the press members.
.

GENERAL D'ALESSANDRO TOOK OVER THE DUTY OF EUFOR DEPUTY COMMANDER

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (May 21,2008) - As of 20 May 2008 The European Union Force in Bosnia (EUFOR) has a new Deputy Commander (DCOM). Brigadier General Roberto D’Alessandro took over his duties from the outgoing DCOM Brigadier General Carmelo De Cicco.

Brigadier General Carmelo De Cicco on his departure said: “I would like to thank everyone who has assisted me throughout my tour of duty. I am very pleased with the decisive progress that Bosnia has made during my time as DCOM.

I only mention, as examples, the initialling of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the European Union, which is in the final stage for signature, and the remarkable achievements in the sector of police reform.

Additionally, I have been delighted with the close cooperation established between EUFOR and the Bosnian Armed Forces, which are marching together along the road to a complete stabilisation of the country”.

Brigadier General Roberto D’Alessandro has previous experience of service in Bosnia (1995-1996), when he served in the Multi-National Division (South-East) in the southern Bosnian city of Mostar.

He said,he is very much looking forward to serving in Bosnia and is keen to reinforce the message that EUFOR is a force for good that is working together with the Bosnian Army, in bringing the country closer to the European Union and NATO.
.

BOSNIAN METAL-PROCESSING INDUSTRY IS GETTING STRONGER

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (May 21,2008) - Quarterly data about the Bosnian metal-processing industry’s performance show that the industry is on a path to recovery. According to the official statistics, the Mostar aluminium plant produced 39,019 tonnes of aluminium in the first three months, while the Zenica steelwork produced 323,595 tonnes of steel. This output was by 29,961 tonnes bigger compared to the same period last year.

Based on the continuing upward trend in Mostar in April, as well, forecasters now expect close to 160,000 tonnes of aluminium by the end of 2008, which would be 40,000 tonnes more than the factory was producing before the 1990s war. At Zenica Arcelor-Mittal, they expect 1.3 million tonnes of steel this year.
.

40 NEW FACTORIES TO BE BUILT IN ZENICA

ZENICA, Bosnia (May 21,2008) - The local government in Zenica currently has applications from 40 potential investors who want to build factories on its territory, its head announced yesterday at the ZEPS Intermetal opening.

Zenica administration has done all it can to make the place pleasant to live in, and now, instead of looking for investors, they are coming to us, and we are in the position to choose, he said.

The ZEPS Intemetal metal trade show opened in Zenica yesterday. 207 exhibitors from 22 countries (eight of which have ratified the CEFTA) will be exchanging experiences in the metal processing industry.

Chambers of commerce of Croatia and Montenegro, the SEE Automobile Cluster and the Sisak County Chamber of Commerce (Croatia) will have collective stands.
.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

UN SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSED POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS IN BOSNIA

NEW YORK, USA (May 20,2008) - Although important progress had been made in Bosnia, the international community’s job there was not complete,the International Community's High Representative and EU Special Representative in Bosnia Miroslav Lajcak, said in a briefing to the UN Security Council yesterday.He said that over the last six months, the situation had improved considerably as Bosnia had taken a significant step towards stabilizing the political situation by adopting two police reform laws. The country is also on the verge of signing a Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union and moving towards membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Its Peace Implementation Council Steering Board had reached consensus on a set of five objectives and two conditions, the fulfilment of which would end the High Representative’s tenure and trigger a transition to a European Union Special Representative.

Lajcak noted, however, that following Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence, the political representatives of the Serbians living in Bosnia had officially linked their future with that of Kosovo,and their,so called, "Alliance of Independent Social Democrats" (SNSD) had called for "the right" to self-determination for the genocidal Serbian creature in Bosnia "RS".

Lajcak (who wholeheartedly supports Serbian fascism and the very existence of the genocidal Serbian creature in Bosnia "RS"),said,however,the Office of the International Community's High Representatives in Bosnia (OHR) had responded by stressing that Bosnia is an internationally recognized State and from which there was no right to secede.

Warning that nationalism remained strong in Bosnia, and that the forthcoming municipal election campaign would lead to a rise in inflammatory rhetoric, he said: "We have come a long way. The prospect of European Union integration - the only positive alternative for Bosnia’s future - is advancing. We need to ensure that the leaders of Bosnia make the most of this opportunity. The citizens of Bosnia deserve a European future. They must have full confidence that we are here to help."


At the end of November 2007, negotiations with the main political party leaders in bosnia had resulted in an agreement to improve the efficiency of voting procedures in the Bosnian State Parliament and the Bosnian Government, Lajcak said. The six party leaders had reached agreement on police reform known as the Mostar Agreement and Action Plan. The European Union had welcomed that agreement by initialling the Stabilization and Association Agreement on 4 December,2007, with full signature remaining conditional upon parliamentary adoption of the two police reform laws. Despite their rejection by one of the leading Bosnian parties, the bosnian State Parliament had finally passed the two laws on 16 April 2008. That had been followed by a recommendation to European Union member States to proceed with signing the agreement, the ceremony for which would take place on 16 June.

He said the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board had met in February to focus on defining a conditions-based strategy for the transition from the Office of the High Representative to a European Union Special Representative and agreed on a strategy based on five objectives and two conditions. The five objectives that Bosnia would need to deliver were: acceptable and sustainable resolution on state property; acceptable and sustainable resolution of defence property; completion of the Brcko Final Award; fiscal sustainability; and entrenchment of the rule of law. The conditions to be met were signing the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU, and a positive assessment of the situation by the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board.

Also making statements were the representatives of China, Belgium, Italy, Russian Federation, Croatia, Indonesia, Costa Rica, Viet Nam, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Libya, United States, Panama, United Kingdom, Slovenia (on behalf of the European Union and associated countries) and the genocidal Serbia.

LIU ZHENMIN ( China) said Bosnia had taken positive measures on police reform, economical reform, and national integration since last year, though elements of instability continued to exist and the situation remained volatile and sensitive. Bosnia was uniquely vulnerable to political instability in the region and Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence had had a negative impact in the country.

Urging all parties concerned to keep their eyes on the country’s long-term stability and that of the Balkan region, he expressed the hope that they would all work together in accordance with the Dayton Agreement, and achieve greater progress in constitutional reform and institution-building. China welcomed the prospect of the country’s integration into the European Union and the High Representative should continue to prompt Bosnia to take constructive measures towards joining the regional bloc.

OLIVIER BELLE (Belgium), associating himself with the statement to be made by Slovenia on behalf of the European Union, said much progress had been achieved in Bosnia but there were still many challenges to be faced. Belgium agreed that unilateral constitutional reform would not be advisable, since the main communities remained diametrically opposed, and pragmatism should reign. Belgium reiterated its full support for the provisions of the Dayton Agreement and the position of the High Representative.

MARCELLO SPATAFORA ( Italy) said that, despite many difficulties, Bosnia was moving ahead. Peaceful and constructive interaction in society had been strengthened and the situation had improved noticeably, with the country having taken significant steps towards stabilizing the political situation. Kosovo’s declaration of independence had not had a significant impact. The parties had reached agreement on police reform and the Stabilization and Association Agreement would soon be signed. NATO had launched intensified dialogue with Bosnia and the Bosnian Government was moving steadily in the right direction.

Despite that progress, however, many concerns must still be addressed as tensions continued to flare periodically, he said. Constitutional reform was a priority, but the principal of ownership must be upheld. Decisive progress could be achieved on the five objectives and two conditions. Now that the Stabilization and Association Agreement had been ‘green-lighted’, a positive overall assessment of the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board seemed closer. Italy hoped the virtues of dialogue and compromise would prevail in the coming months. Building the rule of law was the only guarantee that Bosnia would be a reliable partner of the international community.

VITALY I. CHURKIN (Russian Federation),
noting recent agreements on parameters for police reform and parliamentary actions, said the major tasks stemming from the Dayton Agreements, on the whole, had been achieved. That said, the major imperative must remain a policy to transfer authority in Bosnia from international structures to legally elected national authorities. The Russian Federation would continue to support the Office of the High Representative.

He went on to express his country’s hope that the Steering Board would not procrastinate and impose conditions, especially as the situation in Bosnia was no worse than elsewhere in the region where, in fact, there were no high representatives. Moves to turn away from joint governance and towards a third Balkan entity contravened the Dayton Agreements. The situation had improved after the difficulties of last year, giving every reason to believe that future progress was assured.

NEVEN JURICA ( Croatia), welcoming Bosnia’s progress towards integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions, reiterated the necessity of a transparent and common approach towards the countries in Southern Europe. When taking into consideration the complex political circumstances within Bosnia and tensions over Kosovo, the adoption of the two police reform laws was a welcome event, as was the agreement between the State and the entities on moveable defence property, which had led to intensified dialogue with NATO.

He said constitutional reform was essential for the future of Bosnia, but the parties must be open and flexible in order to afford all of the country’s people the feeling that their future and ethnic well-being were assured. The Croatians living in Bosnia were the smallest constituency and their interests must be kept in mind and protected. Croatia called on Serbia to meet its legal obligation to arrest war criminals Mladić and Karadžić and transfer them to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

Noting that his own country was finalizing its integration into NATO and the European Union, he said negotiations required hard work on the part of the State Administration. Bosnia would be a beneficiary of Croatia’s EU integration as the latter would be sharing its experience and knowledge. As for unresolved problems of defining Croatia’s borders with Serbia and its plan to build a bridge, which will block Bosnia’s access to the open sea.

HASAN KLEIB ( Indonesia)
welcomed the incremental progress made towards fulfilling the Stabilization and Association Agreement, as demonstrated by the signing of legislation on police reform, which was part and parcel of security-sector reform. Further progress in strengthening the rule of law was crucial to the country’s stability and development. While Indonesia welcomed the High Representative’s continued efforts to forge cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, it nevertheless must be coupled with other major efforts to facilitate smoother inter-ethnic relations.

Dialogue, reconciliation and negotiation must be the preferred option for the resolution of any issues, he stressed, pointing out that the agreed parliamentary voting procedures and those of the Council of Ministers showed the desirability of relying upon negotiations, no matter how difficult and intense. The Council and the Steering Board must support the country in empowering itself to chart its own course of action. While various reform plans were still ongoing, they should not be used as preconditions. Outside pressure might be helpful at times, but in the long run, it would not meaningfully help the country.

He went on to note with concern the slow return of refugees and internally displaced persons, and welcomed the efforts of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and other stakeholders to draft a new strategy to tackle that delicate humanitarian situation. The strategy should not merely provide the basic building blocks of a new life, but also aim to build a higher level of trust among the returnees and local populations. The returnees must be convinced that they would be able to interact and live peacefully with others, and the longer it took for them to return the less incentive they would have to do so.

JORGE URBINA ( Costa Rica) said the adoption of the two police reform laws and the upcoming signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement were tangible evidence that parties of different ethnic backgrounds had been able to work together and reach a compromise. However, the torturous political procedure leading to those agreements had been frustrating for most citizens of Bosnia and, unless the parties learned from that, they could become irrelevant.

He called on all parties and citizens to make a sustained effort to have the Dayton Agreement reflected in constitutional reform, as well as in national laws and institutions so the country could move forward on the road to social and economical development. The Bosnian Government should cooperate fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in bringing to justice those charged with atrocities. Costa Rica supported the work of the High Representative and urged him to continue his efforts to solve political problems in order to avoid serious consequences in the future. Once the objectives and conditions put forth by the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board had been met, the Office of the High Representative could be closed.

BUI THE GIANG ( Viet Nam) said his delegation had been following developments in Bosnia closely and was pleased to note the important progress made towards further stabilizing the political and security situation, including the adoption of police reform laws last month which had enabled the European Union to initial a Stabilization and Association Agreement. Regarding economic development, Viet Nam was encouraged by the significant achievements as seen through the strong revenue growth registered early this year, which had resulted in a general budget surplus. The various positive activities at various levels towards the law on pharmaceutical and medical devices, profit tax and income tax, among other legislation, were also welcome.

Commending Bosnia’s leaders for their efforts to set the country back on the path of overall socio-economic development, he noted, however, the renewed tensions over the country’s future constitutional make-up and the role and competencies of the State and entities, as well as calls for secession. Viet Nam also noted reports of the ‘divisive, confrontational and self-defeating’ character of the country’s politics, which were a major impediment to the overall implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement, and called on the parties to work together in the spirit of reconciliation, while continuing their patient search for mutually acceptable solutions regarding an integral, multi-ethnic State with guaranteed rights for all Bosnian citizens.

BONGIWE QWABE ( South Africa) encouraged Bosnia to continue to fulfil the aims of the five conditions, and all parties in the country to ensure that all conditions of the Stabilization and Association Agreement were met. Dialogue and cooperation were vital in creating a broadly representative Government and ensuring a secure and stable society that met the needs of all parties.

She went on to express concern about the situation of refugees and internally displaced persons, and noted the relevant strategy currently being elaborated by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and others. A comprehensive solution to that issue could help promote national reconciliation and contribute to longer-term stabilization. Bosnia was uniquely vulnerable to political instability, and South Africa hoped that recent developments in the region would not have a negative impact on the country’s progress.

PAUL ROBERT TIENDRÉBÉOGO ( Burkina Faso) said the overall situation in Bosnia could be considered encouraging, especially with the adoption of the police reform laws and the upcoming signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement. Burkina Faso also welcomed measures regarding the return of refugees and internally displaced persons, and urged the parties to break the deadlock regarding constitutional reforms, as they would help them reach the goals set by the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board.

Stressing the crucial importance of economic reform, he noted Bosnia’s commitment in that regard as demonstrated by the signing of the economic reform platform. Hopefully, upon implementation, it would have a positive effect on communities and the international community would provide the necessary support. Burkina Faso also encouraged national-reconciliation initiatives in order to reduce tensions in the country. More work was needed to resolve pending key issues and the international community should continue to support peace efforts there within the context of the Dayton accords. The stability of the whole region was at stake.

JEAN-PIERRE LACROIX ( France) welcomed the adoption of the police reform laws, which had been a requirement for the signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement. The adoption of a modified electoral law had been another step in the right direction and France hoped all parties involved would continue their efforts towards necessary reforms for a stable Bosnia. The adoption of constitutional reforms remained more necessary than ever.

Stressing the importance of the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country, he said that, in response to certain recent statements, the international community must make clear that any threat of secession was completely unacceptable and contrary to the Dayton Peace Agreement. It was also unacceptable that Serbian war criminals Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić had not yet been apprehended and transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. France called on all parties concerned, as well as Serbia, to continue to cooperate with the Tribunal to turn over all those still at large.

He emphasized the continuing necessity of the international community’s commitment to Bosnia, noting that the European Union was playing a major role in that regard with the deployment of the European Union-led peacekeeping force (EUFOR) and the European Union Police Mission. Bosnia’s future could only be seen in the context of the future of the southeastern Europe as a whole. With the final settlement of the status of Kosovo, the last unresolved link in the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia, a painful page in the history of Europe had been turned.

GIADALLA A. ETTALHI ( Libya), while joining others in welcoming the progress made, expressed concerns about the disagreements between political parties, especially during the present election year. Libya called on all political parties to strive for cooperation to ensure stability in the country. It was also important to entrench long-term stability, which required that all refugees and internally displaced persons be allowed to return home. In addition, all those who had committed war crimes must be punished and it was to be hoped that all the authorities in Bosnia would cooperate to that end.

ZALMAY KHALILZAD ( United States) said the role of the High Representative remained critical in implementing the Dayton accords and ensuring that Bosnia completed its transition to a secure and stable State. The United States would continue to support the High Representative ahead of and during the handover. While welcoming recent progress, the United States also hoped Bosnia would turn away from the ‘zero-sum’ politics that had stalled police reforms for some three years and complete the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union.

He urged close cooperation with NATO and called upon political parties to avoid the divisive actions that had characterized the 2006 election campaigns during the upcoming municipal elections. Improvements to the Dayton constitution were needed to enable Bosnia to meet the requirements for Euro-Atlantic integration. The United States was prepared to support the constitutional process and stressed that all the peoples inside the country should be involved in that process.

PAVLE JEVREMOVIĆ (the genocidal Serbia), aligning himself with the European Union, reiterated that his country respected fully the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and its obligations under the Dayton Peace Agreement, as well as its obligation to help bring to justice those who had perpetrated the heinous crimes of recent history. However, the sole focus of the High Representative’s report was on the need to arrest fugitives, which implied that those indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia were only to be found in the genocidal Serbia, whereas the Steering Board’s declaration of 27 February 2008 called on both Bosnia and the genocidal Serbia to abide by their obligations in that regard.

He also disagreed that his country had been neglecting judicial cooperation with others in the region, particularly with regard to war crimes prosecutions, maintaining that the genocidal Serbian prosecutors "met regularly with others in the region". As a result, two high-ranking fugitives had been located and arrested. The genocidal Serbia would continue to strengthen its cooperation with the Tribunal, in line with its genuine acceptance "of the values underpinning European societies" and "modern human rights standards".

RICARDO ALBERTO ARIAS ( Panama) said that, despite major progress in implementing the Dayton Peace Agreement, Bosnia had a long way to go on its way to the EU. Panama reaffirmed the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and urged its leaders to speed up institutional reform. The country’s future lay in the hands of its citizens, but without leadership, courage and vision among its leaders, it would not be possible to achieve a peaceful future. Progress also required active participation by the international community. The European Union must ensure that its responsibility in Bosnia continued to be a priority of its member States.

Council President KAREN PIERCE (United Kingdom), speaking in her national capacity, welcomed the adoption of the police reform legislation, which paved the way for the signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement and commended the High Representative’s role in making that decision possible. It was to be hoped that all countries in the region would redouble their efforts to arrest fugitives and transfer them to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. The Council had been engaged with Bosnia for some 16 years and, since 1995, the picture had been more positive with the European Union, NATO and the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board nurturing the country. More could be achieved if political leaders on all sides stopped using the language of secession threats. Constituents outside Bosnia, some of them close to the country, should not push those issues for their own ends.

SANJA ŠTIGLIC ( Slovenia),
speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated countries, welcomed recent developments in Bosnia, including the long-expected police reforms, which were among the necessary conditions for concluding the Stabilization and Association Agreement. There were three other key priorities, besides police reform, where progress had been noted, including building up the public administration, implementing public broadcasting legislation, and cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. ‘Thus, while there are still shortcomings, there are no obstacles to the signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement […], which will take place as soon as technical preparations are concluded,’ she said, stressing that the pact would be an essential framework for relations between the European Union and Bosnia, constituting an important element to ensure stability and strengthen dialogue within that country.

Noting reports that inter-party and inter—communal tensions were running high during the present election year, she encouraged all political forces in Bosnia to unite their efforts in pursuing its reform agenda with strong determination, including the priorities set out in the European Partnership. Constitutional reform was also essential for the future and, while not a precondition for concluding the Stabilization and Association Agreement, Bosnia would need an efficient, functional and affordable constitutional framework, as well as sustainable State structures and institutions, to meet the challenges of Euro-Atlantic integration.

The Steering Board should remain in place to carry out its mandate under the Dayton Peace Agreement until the necessary objectives were met, she said. The objectives set out in the High Representative’s work plan must be discharged fully by the authorities to ensure a viable State. The overall goal was transition as soon as possible, and the policy of ownership remained the principle. The European Union had a long-standing commitment to the stability of the region and would continue fully and effectively to support the EU perspective for the southeastern Europe, including Bosnia.
.

ICTY PRESIDENT SAYS BOSNIA MUST HAVE BETTER JAILS

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (May 20,2008) - The President the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY),Fausto Pocar has expressed his concern at the state of jails and procedures in Bosnia that allowed Serbian war criminal Radovan Stankovic to escape.

Serbian war criminal Stankovic was convicted of setting up a detention centre in the notorious Karaman House in the eastern Bosnian town of Foca,during the 1992-1995 Serbian aggression against Bosnia, where he kept nine Bosnian women in enslavement, including two 12-year-old girls. One of them is still missing.

He was found to have repeatedly raped, tortured and beaten two Bosnian girls for months, and offered them to other genocidal Serbian aggressor's soldiers, who raped and humiliated them.

The Bosnian town of Foca has become a byword for the use of rape as an instrument of the genocidal Serbian aggression against Bosnia.

After the genocidal Serbian aggressor took control of the town, they detained thousands of Bosnian civilians, locking up women and pre-teen girls in makeshift detention centres.

Being "upset and concerned by the fact that Serbian war criminal Radovan Stankovic has been on the run for a year," Pocar said he would visit Foca today to inspect the prison.

He said that after the tour would be hand recommendations to the international community on how to help Bosnia's authorities improve prison security.

The ICTY, which is set to close down in 2011 and transfer all the remaining cases to local courts, is concerned where and how the convicts would serve their terms once they are convicted before the local courts, Pocar said.

"It is clear this would have not happened if there were proper facilities and proper training of the guards," Pocar to told reporters yesterday.

He is on a three-day visit to Bosnia on through Wednesday to discuss the country’s cooperation with the ICTY.

During his three-day visit, Pocar will hold talks with the Bosnian authorities, members of the judiciary and genocide victims’ associations.

Pocar began his visit to Bosnia by meeting Zeljko Komsic, a member of the Bosnian State Presidency. He repeated that he would urge the the UN Security Council to keep the tribunal open until the most wanted war crimes suspects appear before it.

These include former political and paramilitary leaders of the Serbians living in Bosnia,Serbian war criminals Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic, and Stojan, Zupljanin, as well as the former leader of the Serbians living in Croatia,Serbian war criminal Goran Hadzic indicted for war crimes committed during the Serbian aggression against Croatia in the 1990's.
.

CROATIAN WAR CRIMINAL SLAVKO SAKIC ARRESTED IN BOSNIA

LIVNO, Bosnia (May 20,2008) - The Bosnian police arrested yesterday a former fascist Croatian aggressor's soldier suspected of committing war crimes against Bosnian civilians during the Croatian aggression against Bosnia in the early 1990's.

Croatian war criminal Slavko Sakic, 35, was detained in the southwestern Bosnian town of Livno, on suspicion of committing war crimes against Bosnian civilians, Boris Grubesic, the Bosnian State Prosecutor’s Office Spokesperson said,without elaborating.

The alleged war crimes took place in 1993 in the central Bosnian town of Bugojno.

Some estimates say 200,000 people were killed and 2.2 million displaced during the 1992-1995 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia.
.

TWO KALINOVIK CONCENTRATION CAMP SURVIVORS TESTIFIED AT TRIAL OF SERBIAN WAR CRIMINALS RATKO BUNDALO,NEDJO ZELJAJA AND DJORDJISLAV ASKRABA

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (May 20,2008) - A Kalinovik concentration camp survivor, Ahmo Musanovic,testified yesterday before the Bosnian State Court that in May 1992 Serbian war criminal Ratko Bundalo "was reading the list containing names of about 50 detainees" in the school building in the Bosnian town of Kalinovik, "who were gathered, loaded onto trucks and transported in the direction of Bileca." They have been missing since then.

"Bundalo was uniformed and he was reading the names from the list. I was supposed to go with them as well, but my two-year old boy started crying. I told them I would not go without my son, so Milivoje Sladoje approached Bundalo and whispered something to him. Then he said I did not have to go," the witness said.

Musanovic appeared as a witness before the Bosnian State Court at the trial of Serbian war criminals Ratko Bundalo, Nedjo Zeljaja and Djordjislav Askraba, who are charged, by the Bosnian State Prosecution, with murder, rape, detention, torture, forcible disappearances and pillaging of property of Bosnian civilians in Kalinovik area in 1992 and 1993,during the Serbian aggression against Bosnia.

In the course of his testimony Musanovic told the Bosnian State Court that he and 280 inhabitants of Drace and the surrounding villages, headed towards Sarajevo, after having seen from the forest, in which they were hiding, that their houses had been set on fire by the genocidal Serbian aggressor, in early May 1992. The group of Bosnian civilians consisted of women, children and "about 50 men".

"We arrived to Jelesac village. Passing by a coffee shop in the vicinity of the gunpowder storehouse in Kalinovik, we realised that we were surrounded by soldiers," Musanovic said, adding that all of them were captured by the genocidal Serbian aggressor and taken to the elementary school building in Kalinovik.

The witness then described how he managed to escape.

"General Ratko Mladic came and, I must say, he saved me. They all went to see him and I went in the opposite direction and I managed to reach the free territory," the witness added, but he could not tell when exactly this happened.

Former commander of the genocidal paramilitary formations of the Serbians living in Bosnia (VRS),Serbian war criminal Ratko Mladic has been charged by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) with genocide and crimes against humanity committed during the 1992-1995 Serbian aggression against Bosnia.

In the course of direct examination the witness mentioned Serbian war criminal Nedjo Zeljaja, claiming that he was present when the detained Bosnian civilians were tortured by the genocidal Serbian aggressor in Kalinovik.

Dika Suljic was examined as the second Prosecution witness at this hearing. She was detained by the genocidal Serbian aggressor in the elementary school building in Kalinovik and she lost two family members in the concentration camps ran by the genocidal Serbian aggressor in this Bosnian town.

"On June 25, 1992, they first captured my husband and then my son. They took them to the school building. I found out about this the following day," Suljic said.

She said that, ten days later, the detained Bosnian civilians were transferred to the gunpowder storehouse. While they were there, she used to bring them food and personal hygiene items, which she gave to the concentration camp guards, who were supervised by Serbian war criminal Djordjislav Askraba.

"On one occasion I asked Askraba to let me see my son at least. He said that I would never see him. Then I told him that all this would pass some day, we would stay alive and meet face to face," witness Suljic said, adding that she was also captured the genocidal Serbian aggressor in August 1992 and detained in the elementary school building, together with about 300 Bosnian women and children.

As she said in the courtroom, after being released, she found out that he son had been set to fire in a barn and her husband and one more detainee had been tied up and taken away by the genocidal Serbian aggressor.

The witness will continue her testimony at a closed session before the Bosnian State Court on May 26.
.