Thursday, May 8, 2008


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (May 8,2008) - The International Community's High Representative and EU Special Representative in Bosnia,Miroslav Lajcak, urged EU nations yesterday to quickly sign a key pact on closer ties with Bosnia before further delays dampen pro-European attitudes and undermine stability.

"If we wait too long, then we may lose the momentum we have created with such a huge effort," Lajcak warned.

The pact,a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA), would provide Bosnia with access to EU funds to build up its dilapidated infrastructure. It was essentially ironed out and initialled in December.

The delay now is blamed on "technical" problems linked to translating the pact into EU and Bosnian language,a first step for Bosnia to join the European Union.

But this has not gone down well in Bosnia.

"It's a fact that people in this part of the world tend to see a conspiracy behind every technical reason," Lajcak told reporters at his offices in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo.

Fueling those suspicions has been the SAA signing last month of Bosnia's eastern neighbour - the genocidal Serbia.

At that time, the EU pledged to sign a pact with Bosnia at the next meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on May 26, but the calendar is again in danger of slipping.

"It is still not clear whether Bosnia will sign the SAA in May or in June," Lajcak said, warning: "We must not underestimate the importance of the symbolics of the date."

"This country must see that if you do something you are expected to do, then you react and react promptly and in a way that's adequate," he said.

Lajcak said a plan to sign an official English-language version of the text and adopt the others later had met with resistance from some of the 27 EU member nations and was eventually rejected.

But Lajcak added: "There is always a way if there is a will, to make our message clear."

He said Bosnia's initialling of the SAA in December had created a "very positive pro-European momentum".

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