Monday, June 30, 2008

BOSNIANS EMBARK ON ANCIENT PILGRAMIGE

PRUSAC, Bosnia (June 30,2008) — Thousands of Bosnian Muslims converged on a central Bosnian village of Prusac yesterday in a pilgrimage that was banned for almost half a century under Communist rule.

"I believe this is a holy place since God decided that water should begin to flow without help of any tools or machines," 45-year-old Naza Modric said. "I come here every year. It's a kind of confirmation of my faith."

The pilgrimage saw thousands of Bosnian men, women and children,including some 200 men on horseback,climb a seven-kilometre (four-mile) path leading to a site on Mount Ajvatovica, sacred to Bosnian Muslims for more than five centuries.

Walking up the hill, the pilgrims waved green Islamic flags with white crescents, before stopping in a ravine, which they believe was created by God.

At the site they chanted 'Allahu Akbar',God is Great,and prayed.

According to a true story,dating back to the mid-15th century when Bosnia was within the Ottoman Empire, the village of Prusac had a water supply problem. However, an abundant spring was blocked in a rocky hill.

Local Imam Ajvaz-Dedo found a powerful spring of water near Prusac. The spring had been shut off by a rock 74 meters long and 30 meters wide, which obstructed the construction of a running water system. Ajvaz-Dedo spent 40 days praying to God to split the rock. On the fortieth morning, following his prayers, Ajvaz-Dedo dreamt that two white rams collided and split the rock. When he awoke, he saw the rock split in half. Wooden pipes were placed along the newly formed canyon to take water into Prusac.

Seeing it as a sign of God’s blessing, people began going on pilgrimages to the place where the rock had split.

This year's pilgrimage continues tradition of 498 years of Bosnian Muslims visiting Ajvatovica to honor Ajvaz-Dedo and this God's miracle.From that spot water continues to flow and Bosnian Muslims and even some Christians come here every year to give thanks to God.


Bosnian Muslims walk through legendary canyon during a pilgrimage to Ajvatovica near the central Bosnian village of Prusac. This year's pilgrimage continues tradition of 498 years of Bosnian Muslims visiting Ajvatovica to honor local Imam Ajvaz-Dedo who spent 40 days praying to God to split the rock,74 meters long and 30 meters wide, which obstructed the construction of a running water system. On the fortieth morning, following his prayers, Ajvaz-Dedo dreamt that two white rams collided and split the rock. When he awoke, he saw the rock split in half.


Bosnian Muslims pray together, during a pilgrimage to Ajvatovica near the central Bosnian village of Prusac. This year's pilgrimage continues tradition of 498 years of Bosnian Muslims visiting Ajvatovica to honor local Imam Ajvaz-Dedo who had prayed continuously for 40 days asking Allah to remove obstacles preventing fresh mountain creek water to run towards thirsty people.


Video: Ajvatovica Pilgrimage 2008

"I was so impatient and excited that I had a sleepless night," said Izet Skrobo, who rode some 50 kilometres (30 miles).

"The whole family took care of me," explained the 70-year-old dressed in the Ottoman era style - white shirt, red vest, black trousers and a red fez on his head.

"My wife prepared my clothes, my grand-daughter decorated the horse's head with flowers and my son has prepared it for the trip."

"Life is very hard so I come here to be closer to Allah. It gives me the strength to continue. When I come here my soul fills with faith," 35-year-old Kenan Hodzic said.

Upon reaching the narrow ravine, the women put a towel on the floor and kneel on it to pray.The others try to tear off small pieces of the cliff.

"We put these stones in front of our house during storms so they protect us," Salko Dzenan explained.

The 75-year-old is among those who remember that the Prusac pilgrimage was banned in 1947 by the communist regime of the former Yugoslavia, that Bosnia was briefly part of until 1992.

After Bosnia's democratic elections in 1990 the Ajvatovica pilgrimage was allowed again.

Muslims comprise 44 percent of Bosnia's 3.8 million population, compared with 31 percent for Orthodox Christians and about 10 percent for Catholics.
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MALAYSIA SEEKING COLLABORATION IN AGRICULTURAL SECTOR WITH BOSNIA

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (June 30,2008) - Malaysia and Bosnia need to find new approaches in the agricultural sector as a way out to the current global food crisis, the Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said today.

He said both countries could identify each other’s strengths in the agricultural sector and collaborate in the development of the agro-based industry.

“We must certainly pay attention to the current global crisis concerning food including the big increases in the price of food items,” he said in his opening remarks at the Malaysia-Bosnia delegation meeting at the Malaysian Prime Minister’s Office.

The Bosnian side was led by the Bosnian President Dr Haris Silajdžić. Also present were members of the Bosnian State Presidency Nebojša Radmanović and Zeljko Komšić.

The Bosnian President Dr Haris Silajdžić, who arrived in Malaysia on Saturday was given a state welcome at the parliament square in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.

He was met on arrival by the Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

The national anthems of both countries were then played to the firing of a 21-gun salute before President Silajdžić inspected a guard-of-honour mounted by 108 members of the Malaysian Royal Malay Regiment led by Major Norhisham Kamar.

The Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, cabinet ministers and heads of departments as well as foreign dignitaries were also present at the ceremony.

After the ceremony, President Silajdžić, who is accompanied by the Bosnian senior government officials and leaders from the country, left for Putrajaya for a meeting with Abdullah and to attend a bilateral meeting between Malaysia and Bosnia.

Tonight, the entourage would be feted to a state banquet at the Istana Negara.

The Bosnian President Dr Haris Silajdžić and the Bosnian State Presidency Members Nebojša Radmanović and Željko Komšić are in an official visit Malaysia from June 29 until July 3, 2008.

The Bosnian President Dr Haris Silajdžić will also meet with the King of Malaysia, His Majesty Yang Di Pertuan Agong XIII (Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin).

The visit protocol envisages series of bilateral meeting between the Bosnian delegation and the Malaysian delegation and the meeting between the Bosnian Presidency members and Malaysian businessmen.

The Bosnian Presidency Members, during their visit to Malaysia are scheduled to visit the International Islamic University, the Institute of Economic Planning and the Institute of Diplomacy and International Relations and meet the Bosnian students receiving their education in Malaysia.
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12 SOUTHEASTERN EUROPEAN COUNTRIES TO LUNCH A NEW BLOC

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 30,2008) - Twelve southeastern European countries will launch a new bloc on Tuesday to speed up development and boost ties with the EU, but analysts warn political instability in the region may hamper its efforts.

"Our main goal is to strengthen cooperation between the governments in the region, boost their links with the European Union and monetary institutions with the aim to accelerate development," the Regional Cooperation Council's (RCC) Secretary General, Hido Biscevic said.

The RCC, run exclusively by regional experts, has been headquartered in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo and is to start operating in full force on July 1.

Biscevic stressed the need for a regional approach to economic development.

"Most of the countries in the region are too small, with too small markets, to be able to resist the consequences of globalization armed exclusively with their own national strategy."

In 2007 southeastern European countries registered an average growth of between five and seven percent, double the EU average, the Croatian diplomat emphasized, adding the region was attractive for foreign investment.

Future development programmes will focus on strengthening cooperation in energy and infrastructure sectors, he said.

Biscevic could not specify when the concrete programmes would be developed, but underlined that the EU and the World Bank are to design their development plan for the region in the next few months.

"Our priorities are identical, and that is very important".

The RCC includes Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, the genocidal Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey.

Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Romania and Slovenia are already EU members, while Turkey, Croatia and Macedonia have a candidate status.

Biscevic sees the fact that the countries are at different stages of accession to the EU as an advantage and a catalyst of cooperation rather then as a barrier.

For example Croatia, as an EU candidate country, "has a strong national security interest to have EU member states as its neighbors," Biscevic said referring to Bosnia and the genocidal Serbia.

Slovenian ambassador to Bosnia Natasa Vodusek said her country, which has held the rotating EU presidency for the past six months, was "interested in regional cooperation within the RCC".

The council should focus on transport infrastructure, she estimated.

"Without better roads, without better rail, air and maritime traffic the countries in the region would remain physically distant from the EU despite all political declarations, good will or pledges."

The three-million-euro RCC budget for the first year is provided in three equal shares by the EU, international monetary institutions and member countries.

The RCC is the successor to the Stability Pact set up by the international community to strengthen peace in the former Yugoslavia following devastating wars in the 1990s.

But besides the spectacular 1999 opening ceremony that took place in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, attended by world leaders including then US president Bill Clinton, the pact remained widely seen as inefficient.

"It was a bureaucratic institution without any substance," said political analyst from Bosnia Emir Habul.

"The RCC has a chance to succeed if it starts working more on technical, economic level.It will happen if the countries recognize their economic interest and get engaged more intensively," Habul stressed.

However, Biscevic warns that current political situation in the genocidal Serbia may hamper his efforts.

"I have to admit that it is difficult to build a house while it is storming outside," he said referring to political situation in the genocidal Serbia following a unilateral declaration of independence by "its" province of Kosovo in February.

"Current political signals in the region are such that they are not going to contribute to regional cooperation," estimated Davor Gjenero, a political analyst from Croatia.

"I’m afraid that presents a significant disadvantage for Mr Biscevic", he said.

Gjenero agreed that concrete economic projects could strengthen the region but expressed doubts that hard line political forces in the genocidal Serbia would be ready to accept such a sort of economic pragmatism.

While admitting that most of countries in the region have a history of difficult relations, Biscevic stressed that they are ready to put the past behind.

All the countries agreed to name the Bosnian capital Sarajevo as the RCC headquarters; he said adding that the move was "charged with symbolism."

"Sarajevo is a geographical center of the region...We wanted it to become a symbol of cooperation."
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VATICAN TO PROBE "MEDJUGORJE SIGHTINGS"

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 30,2008) - The Vatican announced it will form a commission to investigate the apparitions of "the Virgin Mary" in the southern Bosnian town of Medjugorje.

The Bosnian Cardinal Vinko Puljic said that this will be the first Vatican commission ever to visit Medjugorje.

In 1991, a Commission set up by the Bishopric Conference in the former Yugoslavia visited the town, but ruled that nothing out of the ordinary ever took place. The Vatican has never investigated the sightings, nor has it recognized them.

Cardinal Puljic stressed that no swift decision should be expected as the commission will look separately into the apparitions as well as into the work of local clerics. The process of recognition of apparitions by the Vatican usually takes decades.

On June 1981, six young parishioners from Medjugorje reported seeing a white form with a child in her arms on one of the surrounding hills. They interpreted this and other apparitions they reportedly witnessed as "the Virgin Mary".

The story spread quickly and Medjugorje became one of the most popular Catholic pilgrimage sites in the world, attracting millions of visitors each year. The development has transformed the remote and poor village into one of the most developed and rich small towns in Bosnia.

Though the Vatican’s lack of recognition has not stopped the pilgrims, it has nearly created a split within the Roman Catholic Church in Bosnia as local priests have continued providing services in the Medjugorje church even when threatened with expulsion from their order.

Mostar’s Catholic Bishop Ratko Perić, who is responsible for the southern Bosnia region, still publicly denies any apparitions in Medjugorje.
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TWO MEN KILLED BY LAND MINE IN NORTHERN BOSNIA YESTERDAY

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 30,2008) - Two Bosnians were killed in woods in northern Bosnia when they stepped on a land mine left over from the 1992-95 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions,Bosnian police said in a statement today.

Ismet Tagic, 48, and Nihad Dagic, 24, were chopping wood on Sunday evening when Tagic stepped on a land mine that killed them both. Two other men were slightly injured from the blast in Turije, some 120 kilometers north of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, police said.

A deadly legacy of the Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia, hundreds of thousands of land mines remain hidden throughout the country, one of the most heavily mined in the world.

After the fighting, documentation was collected on the location of some 350,000 mines, but NATO experts say that represents only one-third of the total number laid during the war.

Clearing the mines will take decades and cost millions of Bosnian Marks.However,foreign donations are decreasing as donors turn toward new crises in other parts of the world.

According to the records of the International Committee of the Red Cross, land mines and other ordinance have injured over 1,500 people in Bosnia, more than 400 of them fatally, since the end of the 1992-95 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia. A fifth of the victims were under 18.
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CONSTRUCTION OF WATER PLANT IN BRCKO DISTRICT HALTED

BRCKO, Bosnia (June 30,2008) - After the failure of a USD 150 million project of the District of Brcko to build an ethanol refinery, the construction of a water plant, which should have been completed by the end of August, is also questionable.

The head of the government municipal works department Stevan Zoranovic confirmed that the construction had been halted.

"The contractor has not informed us officially that they have stopped working, but it is a fact that the work is not being done. The problem occurred when the contractor, Austrian Wabag Water, did not pay its suppliers for construction material", said Zoranovic.

The project is worth 10.8 million Bosnian Marks, and was made possible through a government loan to the district.
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Friday, June 27, 2008

BOSNIAN PRESIDENT HARIS SILAJDZIC TO BEGIN HIS FIVE-DAY VISIT TO MALAYSIA ON SATURDAY

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 27,2008) - The Bosnian President Haris Silajdzic will make a five-day visit to Malaysia beginning Saturday in an effort to enhance bilateral relations between the two countries.

The Malaysian Foreign Minister Rais Yatim said that during the visit President Silajdzic,who will be accompanied by senior Bosnian government officials,will meet with the Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and several other Malaysian high officials.

"This will boost the existing close relations between the two countries in various fields especially trade,investments,defence,tourism,culture and education.The visit will also give an opportunity to the top leaders of both countries to discuss regional and international issues for mutual benefits," the Malaysian Foreign Minister said in a statement yesterday.

He said the Bosnian delegation will be given a briefing by the Economic Planning Unit on Malaysia's experiance in developing its economy.

He also said the Bosnian President Haris Silajdzic will give a public lecture at the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur,entitled "Multicultural Society and Globalisation".

The Bosnian delegation will also meet with Bosnian students at the International Islamic University in Kuala Lumpur.
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LAJCAK AND REHN DISCUSSED BOSNIA'S PROGRESS TOWARDS EU MEMBERSHIP

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 27,2008) - “Notable progress has been made in Bosnia over the last month, but important challenges lie ahead to enable a full transition from the Office of the International Community's High Representative in Bosnia (OHR) to the Office of the EU Special Representative (EUSR),” the International Community's High Representative/EU Special Representative in Bosnia Miroslav Lajčák told EU Enlargement Commission Olli Rehn and the Political and Security Committee (PSC) ,a key EU foreign policy body,in Brussels yesterday.

The meeting with Olli Rehn focused on the results of this week’s meeting of the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) and Bosnia’s process of EU integration and the need for a swift and efficient implementation of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, which will come into force on 1st July.

In his briefing to the PSC, Lajčák stressed that the signing of a Stabilisation and Association Agreement between Bosnia and the EU was a major accomplishment and cause for celebration.

“This was the first time that Bosnia was united on any issue by the support of all its politicians and all of its constituent peoples. This day should continue to mark the dawn of a new era in the Bosnian history and politics”, he said.

In the last month alone, there has been concrete progress on reaching an acceptable and sustainable resolution of defence property, entrenching the rule of law and completing the Brčko Final Award.

“This is impressive by any standards, but it is not to say that we are on the home straight to finish the job – there are challenges ahead”, Lajčák warned.

Speaking of his recent EU campaign visits to 16 cities across Bosnia, Lajčák indicated that there is a great deal of unanimity, common concerns and interests amongst Bosnian citizens, which are different from what politicians impose as the topics of daily political life.

“The national question is never the number one issue: unemployment is, followed by crime and corruption, the future of youth, education, visa liberalisation,” he said

Lajčák stressed that that the vast majority of the 3,000 Bosnian citizens who took an active part in the campaign had told him that they want an EU future for Bosnia. This view has been confirmed by recent public opinion research, which has found that a record number of Bosnian citizens,over 80%, want Bosnia to become a member of the European Union.

PSC Ambassadors thanked the International Community's High Representative/EU Special Representative in Bosnia for his efforts in moving Bosnia closer to the EU, and expressed their full support for the bench-mark driven strategy for OHR-EUSR transition, as reflected in the last PIC communiqué.
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MACEDONIAN TROOPS HUMILIATED IN BOSNIA

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 27,2008) - Macedonian peacekeepers participating in the EU-led ALTHEA mission in Bosnia were ordered to remove the state insignia "MKD" from their uniforms, Macedonian daily Dnevnik said.

This is yet another humiliation against Macedonian soldiers serving in missions abroad, after the recent scandal during the NATO-led exercise in France, where Macedonian troops had been ordered to take off their uniforms with their country's name.

Citing unnamed diplomats, Dnevnik daily says Macedonia issued a harsh statement after the scandal, threatening to pull out its soldiers. The order was allegedly issued by EU Secretariat.

Once the EU officials in Brussels saw that Skopje was about to withdraw Macedonian peacekeepers from Bosnia, those responsible tried to clarify the situation by saying it was a mistake.

Unlike the case with Macedonian uniforms in France which ended up with an apology from NATO Secretary General Jaap De Hoop Scheffer and inner probe within the Alliance, the latest humiliation against Macedonian soldiers will probably be hushed up, Macedonian daily Dnevnik said.
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MIRSAD CEMAN ELECTED NEW JUDGE OF BOSNIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 27,2008) – The FBIH Entity Parliament's House of Representatives elected yesterday Mirsad Ceman for the judge of the Bosnian Constitutional Court as a Bosniak representative instead of Hatidza Hadziosmanovic who retired from the duty.

Ceman received majority votes out of five proposed candidates in the first and second round of voting.

Mirsad Ceman was born in 1955 in Tesanj and he graduated from the Law Faculty in Banja Luka in 1979. He was member of regular or ad hoc commissions for constitutional matters on several occasions.

He will perform this duty until he turns 70 when he is obliged to retire.
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TOPCAGIC: SAA WILL NOT INCREASE BOSNIAN TRADE DEFICIT

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 27,2008) - The Stabilization and Association Agreement(SAA) with the European Union (EU) should not increase Bosnian trade deficit, said Osman Topčagić, Director of the Bosnian Directorate for European Integrations.He said that Bosnia has had bilateral agreements with the countries in the region since 1996 and it has joined the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) recently.

Bosnia has imported mostly from the countries in the region so there is no danger that products from the EU might influence domestic production in a negative manner after customs duties are reduced or abolished.

On the other hand, he said Bosnia’s main problem is the lack of goods that might be exported into the EU market. In his opinion, direct effect of signing the Stabilization and Accession Agreement between Bosnia and the EU is the increase of investments either from European or from non-European countries.The products produced according to certain standards will be placed on the EU market as local products without the burden of customs duties.
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BOSNIA COULD BECOME THE BIGGEST EXPORTER OF ELECTRICAL ENERGY IN THE SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 27,2008) - According to the Head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission to Bosnia Costas Christou Bosnia has potential for becoming the leading exporter of electricity in the southeastern Europe.

However, he does not see a national strategy on energy, despite plans to attract foreign investors in this area.

Strategy comes first, Christosu pointed out in the interview. He spent the past two weeks analyzing the Bosnian economy, and his findings will be reported to the IMF.The IMF will then make adequate recommendations to the Bosnian government.
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BOSNIAN CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM URGENTLY NEEDED

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 27,2008) - The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), dedicated a special debate on June 25 to the state of democracy in Europe. A report by the PACE Monitoring Committee, relating to the period between April 2007 and June 2008, was discussed in connection to the 11 European countries that are currently under the monitoring procedure of the PACE.

Bosnia is one of them, and the report states that the country is in urgent need of constitutional reform. Some of the problems generally troubling the 11 are the separation of authorities of parliaments, election system reforms, the funding of political parties, fight against corruption, media pluralism and local and regional democracies.
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BOSNIA'S IMPORT EXPECTED TO INCREASE SIGNIFICANTLY FROM JULY

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 27,2008) - With the first days of implementation of the Stabilization and Association Agreement between Bosnia and the european Union, import volumes are expected to increase significantly, since domestic enterprises are obviously waiting for tariffs to go down, Assistant Director of the Bosnian Indirect Taxation Administration announced.

Bogdan Novakovic, who is in charge of customs, claims everything is ready for July 1, when import tariffs on a large number of items from the EU will go down. Bosnia expects customs revenue to be reduced by approximately 160 million Bosnian Marks.
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Thursday, June 26, 2008

OHR STAYS IN BOSNIA UNTIL CONDITIONS ARE MET FOR ITS TRANSITION

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 26,2008) – The Office of the Internationa Community's High Representative in Bosnia (OHR) stays in its full capacity until the political leaders and authorities in Bosnia deliver all objectives and conditions in full, said the Internationa Community's High Representative in Bosnia Miroslav Lajcak yesterday, after a two-day session of the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board (PIC) held in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo.

Political Directors of the PIC Steering Board met in Sarajevo on 24 and 25 June. The representatives of the Bosnian government and the Bosnian State Parliament as well as the leaders of Bosnia's governing political parties were present at parts of the meeting.

The PIC Steering Board welcomed the significant progress that has been made by the authorities in Bosnia since their last meeting in February, in particular the adoption of State-level police legislation, which enabled Bosnia to sign the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU on 16 June.

The members of the PIC Steering Board stressed that Bosnia as a “peaceful, viable state irreversibly on course for European integration” remains their longstanding objective. They also reminded the country’s authorities of the decision they took on 27 February 2008 that they must deliver five objectives and two conditions prior to the transition of the Office of the Internationa Community's High Representative in Bosnia (OHR) into the Office of the EU Special Representative (EUSR).

"The signing of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement represents a major step forward in Bosnia’s relations with the EU. In this respect it is more important than ever for political leaders and the institutions at all levels to support efforts to build amodern, efficient state that can take its place in the EU. Political leaders should not allow the forthcoming elections to dampen this momentum.

Bosnia as a “peaceful, viable state irreversibly on course for European integration” remains the longstanding objective of the PIC Steering Board and it reminds the authorities of the decision it took at its meeting on 27 February 2008, that the five objectives and two conditions must be delivered by the Bosnian authorities prior to OHR-EUSR transition. Until such time as the PIC Steering Board determines the five objectives and two conditions are delivered, OHR will remain in place and continue to carry out its mandate under the Dayton Peace Agreement, ensuring full respect of the Peace Agreement,",he PIC Steering Board said in a press rlease.

The PIC Steering Board also welcomed the Bucharest NATO Summit decision in April 2008 to begin an intensified dialogue with Bosnia.

The signing of the SAA delivers the first of the two conditions for OHR-EUSR transition. The PIC Steering Board welcomed this positive development as well as the progress that has also been made by the authorities in Bosnia to deliver the five objectives. The most notable progress that has been made includes:

On Objective Two - Acceptable and Sustainable Resolution of Defence Property: An agreement on the transfer of movable defence property was signed in March.

On Objective Three - Completion of the Brcko Final Award: a new education law and amendments to the Statute, Assembly Rules of Procedure, and election law promoting inter-ethnic cooperation and minority representation have been enacted in line with the Final Award.

On Objective Four - Fiscal Sustainability: a Law on the National Fiscal Council has been passed by both Houses of the Bosnian State Parliament and the Bosnian Indirect Taxation Authoritity (ITA) Governing Board has agreed an ITA co-efficient methodology.

On Objective Five - Entrenchment of the Rule of Law: the Bosnian Law on Stay and Movement of Aliens and Asylum has been adopted and rule books are being prepared. The National Justice Sector Reform Strategy has been finalised and adopted by the Council of Ministers, Brcko District and entities. In addition to this, the Bosnian Prosecutor’s Office is finalising a draft War Crimes Strategy.

Much has been achieved, and it is now time for the political leaders and authorities in Bosnia to fulfil the remaining criteria for the five objectives and two conditions to be delivered in full. Once the PIC Steering Board decides that the five objectives and two conditions have been delivered in full, then it would be in a position to take a decision on the transition. In this respect, the PIC Steering Board highlighted a number of specific points it expects the Bosnian authorities to address as priorities:

On Objective One - Acceptable and Sustainable Resolution of the Issue of Apportionment of Property between State and other levels of government: the Steering Board notes the four-year failure of the State and entity authorities to reach an agreement on the first objective, thereby necessitating the High Representative yet again to extend the ban on disposal of State Property It is now time for political leaders tobuild on the progress they have made in other areas and to take the lead and to reach an agreement on this matter that enables the State to conduct its constitutional responsibilities.

On Objective Two - Acceptable and Sustainable Resolution of Defence Property: the approval of an agreement on transfer of immoveable defence property by the state and entity governments that meets the needs of the Bosnian Ministry of Defence and the Bosnian Army.

On Objective Three - Completion of the Brcko Final Award: the political leaders and competent authorities to make concrete progress towards adopting adequate legal protections vis-à-vis Brcko District’s relationship with the state and entities.

On Objective Four - Fiscal Sustainability: the competent authorities to complete the adoption of the Law on the National Fiscal Council and the establishment of the National Fiscal Council.

]On Objective Five - Entrenchment of the Rule of Law: the competent authorities to completethe drafting and adoption of the National War Crimes Strategy. Rhetoric and efforts to undermine state-level judicial institutions are inconsistent with this objective.

The PIC Steering Board also reminded Bosnia's political leaders and the authorities of the need to fulfil the second condition, a positive assessment of the situation in Bosnia by the PIC Steering Board based on full compliance with the Dayton Peace Agreement. To fulfil this condition, it remains crucial that Bosnia's political leaders fully comply with the Dayton Peace Agreement avoiding any inflammatory statements or action that would threaten or violate the Peace Agreement.

The PIC Steering Board re-emphasised that an entity cannot withdraw unilaterally from a previously agreed reform. The consolidation of state-level institutions must continue and the undermining of these same institutions must end. Statements and actions that undermine the state or seek to roll back reforms will not be tolerated by the PIC Steering Board and the High Representative, and may be acted upon accordingly. They will also be considered by the PIC Steering Board when assessing the situation. The Steering Board also expects that the upcoming municipal elections will be in accordance with international standards and legal requirements, and that pre-election rhetoric and activities will remain acceptable.

The PIC Steering Board also underscored its full support for the High Representative to facilitate accomplishment of these objectives and conditions in a manner consistent with the overall goal of entrenching reform and ensuring Bosnia meets its commitments for Euro-Atlantic integration. The PIC Steering Board requested the High Representative to undertake all appropriate measures to ensure that the above objectives are met.

The PIC Steering Board underlined that Bosnia is an internationally recognised sovereign state whose territorial integrity is guaranteed by the Dayton Peace Agreement.The Steering Board remains fully committed to the Dayton Peace Agreement.

The PIC Steering Board underlined that the International Community retains the necessary instruments to counter destructive tendencies and that it will not allow attempts to undermine the Dayton Peace Agreement, whether from inside or outside Bosnia.

"All signatories and parties are obliged under Annex 10 of the Dayton Peace Agreement to cooperate fully with the High Representative." the PIC Steering Board said.

The PIC Steering Board reiterated the view that a reinforced EUSR Office would constitute an important part of the EU’s comprehensive engagement after OHR. The Steering Board looks forward to a continued exchange of information on the respective planning processes at the next meeting of the Steering Board.

The PIC Steering Board welcomed the apprehension of ICTY indictee,Serbian war criminal Stojan Zupljanin on 11 June and cites it as evidence that indicted war criminals can be found and apprehended.

The PIC Steering Board calls upon the competent authorities inside and outside Bosnia to abide by their Dayton and wider obligations under international law by cooperating fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), playing a proactive role in apprehending all remaining indictees – including Serbian war criminals Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic,charged with genocide by the ICTY, without further delay, dismantling their support networks and ensuring indictees are transferred to the ICTY, as well as addressing witness protection issues.

The PIC Steering Board said that the Bosnian Constitution must evolve in order to ensure that the state is functional, efficient, and capable to meet the challenges of EU integration. The need for constitutional changes has been widely recognised inside and outside the country, including by Bosnia’s political leaders. The PIC Steering Board repeated its support for domestic efforts on constitutional changes.

The PIC Steering Board noted that Ambassador Bond’s mandate as the High Representative’s Envoy for the Srebrenica Region will end on 11 July. The Steering Board thanked him for all his efforts in that capacity to improve the situation for the residents of Srebrenica and the surrounding area.

The PIC Steering Board noted the need to continue coordination of the international support for Srebrenica. The Steering Board calls on the authorities at all levels in Bosnia to continue their efforts to improve the every day lives of the people of Srebrenica and to ensure that justice is done for the genocide that have been committed there by the genocidal Serbian fascist aggressor during the 1992-1995 Serbian aggresion against Bosnia.

In the spirit of pragmatism that prevailed at the time of the Srebrenica amendments to the Bosnian Election Law, the PIC Steering Board expects all parties to utilise the opportunity provided by the forthcoming elections to propose candidates who can actively contribute to the integration and prosperity of the Srebrenica community.

The PIC Steering Board also expressed its condolences to the European Union Force in Bosnia (EUFOR) and to the families of the victims of the recent helicopter crash. It commended the contribution that EUFOR personnel continue to make ensuring a safe and secure environment in Bosnia.

The next meeting of Political Directors of the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board will take place in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo on 20 and 21 November 2008.
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BOSNIAN FILM "SNOW" TO OPEN SARAJEVO FILM FESTIVAL

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 26,2008) – Bosnian film Snow, directed by Aida Begic is slated to officially open the 2008 Sarajevo international film festival (SFF).

Co-produced by Bosnia,Iran,Germany and France, the film relates the story of widowed women living in post-war Bosnia in 1997, who fight for their freedom and survival.

Snow premiered at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival and received the Grand Prix Award of the event's Critics Week program.

The 14th Sarajevo Film Festival will be held from Aug 15 to 23, 2008.
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BOSNIAN STATE PRESIDENCY TO HOLD 40TH REGULAR SESSION TODAY

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 26,2008) – The Bosnian President Haris Silajdžić has scheduled the 40th regular session of the Bosnian State Presidency.The session will be held today,June 26,2008.


The agenda proposal:

1. Designating a delegation for participating in the first Mediterranean Union Summit that will be held in Paris, July 13, 2008,

2. Agreeing to organization of the Regional Conference within the Geneva Convention on armed violence and development for the South East Europe and Caucasus countries that will be held in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, in early October, 2008.

3. Report on participation of the Bosnian Armed Forces members, police and state servants of Bosnia in peace-supporting operations in the period of September 1, 2007 until February 29, 2008,

4. Decision proposal on prolonging the mandate of liaison officers of Bosnia at the Multinational Force Command in Iraq,

5. Report on Budget execution of the Bosnian state institutions and international commitments of Bosnia for the period January-December 2007,

6. Report on Budget execution of the Bosnian state institutions and international commitments of Bosnia and Herzegovina for the period January-March 2008

7. Decision proposal on accepting the agreement and designating signatories for:

7.1. Financial Agreement between Bosnia and the European Community Commission in National Program for 2007 within the instruments for pre-accession aid – The component for support in transition and building institutions,

7.2. Agreement on mutual support between the South East Europe countries in case of accidents in border areas,

7.3. Agreement between Bosnia and Norway on visa facilitation,

7.4. Agreement on cooperation in culture between Bosnia and Malaysia,

8. Decision proposal on Bosnia joining the Cartagena Protocol on Biosecurity of the UN Convention on Biodiversity,

9. Decision proposal on replacing the signatory for the Agreement between Bosnia and the United Arabian Emirates in culture, education and science,

10. Decision proposal on ratifying:

10.1. Optional Protocol and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Procedures or Punishments,

10.2. Convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice and environmental issues, created in Aarhus, Denmark, June 25, 1998,

10.3. Agreement on cooperation in defense between Bosnia and Greece,

10.4. Framework Agreement between Bosnia and the European Investment Bank regulating the activities of the European Investment Bank in Bosnia,

10.5. Credit Agreement between Bosnia represented by the BiH Ministry of Finance and Treasury and Bank Austria Creditanstalt AG / Posušje Municipality Water Supply System Reconstruction and Restoration,

10.6. Loan Agreement - Reorganization of the Electric Energy System Reconstruction Project – between Bosnia and the European Reconstruction and Development Bank,

10.7. Agreement on Amendment reviewing and amending the Loan Agreement of November 2, 2000 with amendments of December 5, 2001 and February 23, 2004 between Bosnia and the European Reconstruction and Development Bank,


A press release will be issued after the session,the Bosnian State Presidency said.
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SCHMUNK: EU WILL NOT BE A NEW KIND OF OHR IN BOSNIA

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 26,2008) – The European Union is not, and it will not be a kind of a new Office of the International Community's High Representative in Bosnia (OHR) since the authorities of this office differ from the authorities of the EU and the special representative, said in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo the German Ambassador to Bosnia Michael Schmunk.

He, in his inaugural addressing at the round table "Bosnia and the contradictions of the process of the EU integrations", that gathered the representatives of the International community, civil society and Bosnian political life, talked about misunderstanding of the process of the European integrations that are present in Bosnia.

- EU did not have nor will have something similar to the "Bonn conclusions", explained Ambassador Schmunk at the meeting organized by the Office of the German Foundation Heinrich Boll in Bosnia.

He pointed out that some Bosnian political leaders still believe that Bosnia should not accept and implement EU norms and standards and that Bosnia is in position to change these norms.

-That is a wrong perception, Ambassador Schmunk said, stressing that Bosnia, once it enters the EU can try to change this legal acquis.
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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

BOSNIA INVESTIGATES HANDOVER OF SIX BOSNIAN CITIZENS TO THE UNITED STATES

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 25,2008) - The Cantonal Court of Sarajevo confirmed today it launched an investigation into two former senior Bosnian officials, suspected of violating the country's laws by handing over six Bosnian citizens to US authorities six years ago.

The Cantonal Prosecutor Branko Sljivar said in a statement that the investigation would include Bosnia's former prime minister and Social-Democratic Party (SDP) leader Zlatko Lagumdzija, his party colleague and former interior minister Tomislav Limov, as well as a number of employees of the city's prison.

The court said Lagumdzija and Limov might be charged with illegal deprivation of liberty and violation of the principle of equal rights of all citizens.

Six Bosnian citizens of Algerian origin,Bensayah Belkacem, Mustafa Adir, Saber Lahmar, Mohammed Nehle, Lakdar Boumedien and Boudellah Hadz, known as the Algerian Group, were arrested in Bosnia in October 2001 under suspicion of planning possible attacks against US and British diplomatic missions in Bosnia. All were married to Bosnian women.

Although the Bosnian Supreme Court ordered their release, after finding no evidence of their alleged involvement in terrorist activities, then premier Lagumdzija ordered their arrest again in January 2002 and handed them over to the US authorities.

Prosecutor Sljivar, in his statement, said Lagumdzija and Limov were suspected of "handing over naturalized Bosnian citizens (of Algerian origin) to US authorities, based on ethnic differences of those people, who belong to the Semite group of peoples."

"With no reason and without any judicial decision or any other decision of a state institution to prevent the free movement of the group, they were detained, kept in detention for some time and then extradited to US authorities without a legal decision of a local court on extradition," according to the statement.

The men were transported to the US' Cuba-based Guantanamo military base, used as a prison, where they were believed to suffer difficult conditions and humiliation, without the basic conditions for normal life.

Handing over the group to the US, where the death punishment is still in force, Lagumdzija and Limov had also violated the Bosnian Constitution and a number of human rights granted by the state laws in accordance with the European standards.

The court also mentioned neglect of the authorities towards the families of the Algerian group.

Soon after her Boudellah Hadz was extradited to the US and sent to Guantanamo Bay, his daughter Sejma died of acute heart weakness.

Her family did not have money for the lifesaving heart treatment she needed, according to the statement.

The investigation of the Sarajevo Cantonal Court coincided with the decision of the US Supreme Court earlier this month to give Guantanamo detainees possibility to challenge their detention in federal courts.

The case, known as "Boumedien versus Bush," in which the court granted Guantanamo detainees rights under the US constitution to challenge their status as "unlawful enemy combatants," was initiated by Lakdar Boumedien of Bosnia's Algerian group.
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BOSNIA AND IRAN TO EXPAND EXPO TRADE

TEHRAN, Iran (June 25,2008) – Bosnia and Iran signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Tehran in order to broaden their trade and economic ties through participation in each others’ exhibitions.The Memorandum of Understanding was inked by Iran’s International Exhibitions Company director, Mohammad Javad Salari and his Bosnian counterpart.

Salari expressed hope that expanding expo trade between Bosnia and Iran would contribute in bolstering bilateral economic ties.

“Signing such cooperation agreements will lay the grounds for active participation of Iranian companies in Bosnian international fairs and will showcase their capabilities,” he said.

The Bosnian official, for his part, noted that boosting expo trade could pave the way for stronger bilateral economic cooperation.
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ECONOMIC GROWTH IN SE EUROPE WILL SUFFER AS ENERGY SHORTAGES HIT,EXPERTS WARN

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 25,2008) - Southeast Europe will face a severe electricity shortage in coming years that could cause economic growth in the region to slow significantly, leading energy experts warned.

They blamed government subsidies,which have kept electricity prices artificially low,for the soaring growth in consumption, while little has been done to step up production or offer alternative sources of energy.

Studies by KPMG, a leading financial management consultancy, and the European Stability Initiative, an independent research institute based in Berlin, found that significant investments would be needed in energy generation and infrastructure in Southeast Europe in coming years to overcome decades of neglect.

Currently, half-a-dozen power plants are being built or expanded in Bosnia,Bulgaria, Romania and Slovenia. But even if they all come on line as planned by 2015, their combined output will be less than half the anticipated growth in consumption.

The €800 million ($1.2 billion) Stanari thermal power plant in Bosnia is the first new generating facility in the southeastern Europe in three decades. It will have an installed capacity of 420 megawatts.

Analysts say annual growth of energy consumption in the southeastern Europe, comprising a dozen countries with a combined population of 73 million people,averages nearly four percent, pushed up by strong economic growth and improving living standards.

But the region has a combined installed electrical power of about 76 gigawatts, barely enough to fulfill current requirements.

"The stability of electrical supply in the region is becoming dangerously overstressed," said Sijka Pistolova, the editor of the Balkan Energy Observer, a trade publication.

She said that the immediate reason for this was the closure last year of two units of Bulgaria's nuclear plant at Kozlodui — as part of that nation's requirements to join the European Union.

Until then, Bulgaria could always make up for shortages elsewhere. Although Romania's Cernavoda nuclear plant is being expanded, it will not be able to compensate for that loss, she said.

The region has large unexploited hydropower potential and the largest lignite coal reserves in Europe.

But Pistolova noted that a general lack of investment and the damage caused by the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s , which destroyed large parts of the transmission grids ,had disrupted investment in power generation.

Within 2-3 years, this could result in daily, hours-long power cuts in some countries, she warned. Nations like Albania, Macedonia and Greece already barely meet their needs.

A possible remedy for future shortfalls could be to increase imports from countries which have large surpluses, such as Russia. But analysts noted that this too would require investments in transmission grids from the east.

The European Union has been reluctant to help develop such infrastructure, fearing it would lead to increased energy dependence on Russia.
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A HOSPITAL AND A SCHOOL BUILT BY BOSNIA IN QUAKE-HIT AREAS IN PAKISTAN TO OPEN SOON

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (June 25,2008) - A high school and a hospital built in a quake-hit area of Azad Jammu and Kashmir by the Bosnian government from donations made by the people of Bosnia will soon be inaugurated, said the Bosnian Ambassador to Pakistan Damir Dzanko.

The Bosnian Ambassador said both the projects had been completed with the help of funds donated by the people of Bosnia as a token of solidarity with Pakistan in an hour of difficulty.

He said the funds for the school were donated by the Bosnian schoolchildren falling in the age brackets of seven to twelve. He said these schoolchildren asked their government to build a school for their peers in the quake-hit areas of Pakistan.

Dzanko said the funds for the BHU were arranged by the Bosnian doctors, who had visited Pakistan soon after quake and treated victims. “When they went back, the 44-member team of doctors decided to contribute 50 per cent of their salaries to the construction of a hospital,” he said.

The Ambassador said Bosnian government also contributed to the construction of hospital, as the donations made by the doctors were not sufficient but they spearheaded the move to build the health facility.

He said the people of Bosnia still remembered the help Pakistan provided them during the 1992-1995 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions agaist Bosnia.

To a question, he said Bosnians had overcome their initial problems and were moving forward as a nation. He said Bosnia’s economy was developing at a rate of nearly 6 per cent.
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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

PEACE IMPLEMENTATION COUNCIL TO DISCUSS FUTURE OF OHR

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 24,2008) - The eventual closure of the Office of the Internationa Community's High Representative in Bosnia (OHR) is up for discussion at a meeting of the top international body supervising peace in Bosnia.

The Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) is made of representatives of organisations and countries involved in enforcing peace in Bosnia. They are holding their meeting in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo today and tomorrow. They are also scheduled to meet all the key Bosnian political leaders.

According to sources close to the OHR, the Peace Implementation Council meeting will also review all key conditions which have been set for the closure of the OHR – including respect of the rule of law and political stability. However, no final decision related to the fate of OHR should be expected until later this year, diplomatic sources said.

The OHR was set up in late 1995 as part of the Dayton Peace accord which ended the 1992-1995 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia, as the international community’s top envoy in Bosnia and to oversee peace and stability in the country. As of 1998 the OHR received broad governing powers and the ability to impose laws and sack local officials.

The OHR was supposed to be abolished by 2007 but its mandate was prolonged indefinitely as political infighting in Bosnia and regional tensions blocked reforms and triggered political deadlock.

This crisis was temporarily resolved and Bosnia signed its Stabilisation and Association Agreement,considered the first big step towards European Union membership,on June 17. Yet this development renewed pressure from some local and international officials for the abolishment of the OHR.
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BRCKO SUPERVISOR AND TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL SIGN MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING ON FIGHTING CORRUPTION

BRCKO, Bosnia (June 24,2008) - A Memorandum of Understanding for implementation of an anti-corruption project called “Strengthening integrity of the District institutions” was signed at the Brcko Final Award Office yesterday.

The signatories of the Memorandum are the Brcko District Supervisor Raffi Gregorian and Executive Director of Transparency International in Bosnia Srdjan Blagovcanin.

The Project’s goal is to assist citizens in achieving improved governance and transparency in Brcko District.

Transparency International will help identify causes and scope of corruption and its consequences for the society, assist in evaluating the integrity of District institutions and guide citizens in methods of fighting corruption and creating a climate where corruption will not be tolerated.

“We are pleased that Transparency International has established a presence in Brcko and believe that this project will enable the citizens to take things into their own hands after Supervision ends. I encourage Brcko District institutions and residents to strongly support this project,” said Supervisor Gregorian.
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ECONOMIC COOPERATION BETWEEN BOSNIA AND BULGARIA TO BE IMPROVED

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 24,2008) - Foreign ministers of Bosnia and Bulgaria, Sven Alkalaj and Ivailo Kalfin met yesterday in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo and agreed to intensify economic cooperation between the two countries and initiated organization of a business forum.

"We discussed organising a big business forum in Bosnia so that the Bulgarian companies can get to know on the spot the investment opportunities,” Kalfin said. He also said Bulgaria planned to increase the staff of its embassy in Bosnia by adding a trade and a military affairs attache.

Economic cooperation between Bosnia and Bulgaria does not catch up with political cooperation, stated Alkalaj and added that this business forum can help to improve this cooperation.

Alkalaj and Kalfin agreed to speed up the process of signing of agreements in the segment of investments and protection from double taxation and transport services. They also agreed that there are possibilities in economic cooperation in segments of metal and wood industry and tourism.

”There is a great interest in Bulgaria when it comes to investing in Bosnia and increase of trade exchange between the two countries”, stated Kalfin.

He added that Bulgaria will continue to support Bosnia on its road towards EU intergradations and welcomed the signing of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) between Bosnia and the EU.

He supported the visa liberalization process and announced that Bulgaria will work within European processes on termination of visa payment for Bosnian citizens until the full visa liberalization.
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AVERAGE GROSS SALARY IN BOSNIA WAS 1,O94 BOSNIAN MARKS IN APRIL

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 24,2008) – Average gross salary in Bosnia in April amounted to 1.094 Bosnian Marks (869 US Dollars) which shows nominal growth by 8.6% comparing to last December

Average monthly salary for April amounted to 739 Bosnian Marks (587 US Dollars) which shows nominal growth by 8.5% comparing to December last year.

According to the data published by Bosnian Agency for Statistics, average monthly salary in April comparing to the same month last year is higher by 16.4%.
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SERBIAN WAR CRIMINAL STOJAN ZUPLJANIN DECLINED TO ENTER A PLEA YESTERDAY AT THE ICTY

THE HAGUE, The Netherlands (June 24,2008) - A former Security chief of the genocidal paramilitary fascist formations of the Serbians living in Bosnia,Serbian war criminal Stojan Zupljanin declined to enter a plea yesterday at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Serbian war criminal Stojan Zupljanin is charged by the ICTY with genocide, crimes against humanity, violations of the laws and customs of war and grave breacees of the Geneva Conventions,committed during the 1992-1995 Serbian aggression against Bosnia.

Serbian war criminal Stojan Zupljanin, 56, arrested earlier this month after more than eight years as a fugitive from justice, told the court in The Hague he had lived in constant fear of assassination and almost welcomed being in prison.

During his time in hiding, "sometimes I would wish to be taken to the tribunal in The Hague as soon as possible," Serbian war criminal said.

But he wished the other Serbian war criminals on the run from justice "a long life in freedom."

"I wish they remain at large forever," he said.

Appearing for the first time in court, Serbian war criminal Stojan Zupljanin said he would delay entering a plea for the 30 days allowed by law, but indicated he would fight the charges against him.

Prosecutors say he had also overall responsibility for the genocidal Serbian fascist aggressor's concentration camps in Bosnia where thousands of Bosnian civilians were mass murdered.

"I am going to prove all the untruths of this indictment," Zupljanin said. By the time the trial is finished, he said Bosnians, Croatians and and
Serbians would erect a monument in his honor.

The indictment accuses him of joining a campaign of genocide against Bosnian civilian population between April and December 1992,during the Serbian aggression against Bosnia.

It says Serbian war criminal Stojan Zupljanin was responsible for 38 concentration camps where Bosnian and Croatian civilians were mass murdered,beaten, tortured, and sexually assaulted by the genocidal Serbian fascist aggressor.

"I am very unhappy that war broke out in the former territory Yugoslavia," Serbian war criminal told the judge.

Zupljanin is the 43rd Serbian war criminal brought to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia so far. Others include former President of the genocidal Serbia Slobodan Milosevic, who was ousted in 2000 and died in 2006 while on trial for war crimes charges.
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RAMA HYDRO-ELECTRIC PLANT TO BE RECONSTRUCTED

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 24,2008) - Bosnian authorities have signed an agreement with the German national bank KFW securing EUR 17 million for reconstruction of the hydro-electric power plant Rama.

According to the agreement, EUR 7 million are non-returnable funds, while EUR 10 million is granted as a loan that will become due in 2011.

The reconstruction will extend the lifetime of the power plant by at least another 20 years, but it will not boost its output. The project is expected to be completed by 2012, and the loan will be paid back in the course of 12 years.
Also, it was announced that another contract will be signed with KfW, this time on the contruction on a wind farm in Mesihovina.
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SERBIAN FASCIST MLADEN IVANIC SENTENCED TO 18 MONTHS IN PRISON

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 24,2008) - The Bosnian State Court sentenced fomer leader of the genocidal Serbian creature in Bosnia "RS",Serbian fascist Mladen Ivanic to one year and six months in prison for mismanaging a forest company , while he was acquitted of conspiracy to commit bribery.

According to the indictment,Serbian criminal incurred the damage of more than half a million Bosnian Marks on the Ribnik municipality.
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PRESIDENT SILAJDZIC: DODIK VIOLATED BOSNIAN CONSTITUTION

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 24,2008) - The Bosnian President Haris Silajdzic said in a press release that the leader of the genocidal Serbian creature in Bosnia "RS",Serbian fascist Milorad Dodik violated the Bosnian Constitution by talking to the Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa about the issues concerning the Bosnian foreign policy and the Bosnian foreign trade policy.

"These policies fall within the scope of authority of Bosnia, and not its entities, so Milorad Dodik did not have the competence to speak with Jansa about EU integrations, foreign policy, and especially about the possibility of establishing a general consulate of Slovenia in Banja Luka," President Silajdzic said.
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CITIZEN ORGANIZATION FRONT CALLS ON LAJCAK TO PUT SALARY ACT OUT OF FORCE

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 24,2008) - Citizen organization Front has called on the International Community's High Representative and EU Special Representative in Bosnia, Miroslav Lajčák to put the Act on Salaries and Compensations of Employees in the Bosnian state institutions out of force and thus directly prevent the legal plunder of Bosnian citizens by "despots who do nothing and receive hefty pays".

The organization also called on the political representatives of the Serbians living in Bosnia who have been saying that "Bosnia is not their country" to give up their benefits.

Citizen organization Front says that it is high time Lajcak stopped expressing his concern and starts taking concrete measures to protect Bosnian citizens or let somebody more capable take concrete measures.
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Monday, June 23, 2008

BOSNIA CELEBRATES TURKEY'S WIN AGAINST CROATIA

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 23,2008) – In the Bosnian capital Sarajevo and throughout Bosnia,in Mostar,Tuzla,Zenica,Bugojno... Turkey's win over Croatia in the Euro 2008 quarter finals,last weekend,sparked joyful celebrations and thousands of Bosnians came into the streets wrapped in Turkish flags and chanting Turkey and Allahu Akbar, or God is Great.Many more Bosnians drove around town in their cars, honking and cheering.

Police were struggling to prevent clashes between Bosnians and some Croatians living in Bosnia after thousands came into the streets of the southern town of Mostar after Turkey's win over Croatia in the Euro 2008 quarter finals.

Police had to use tear gas to keep rival groups apart as violent fans hurled stones and glass bottles at them.Gunshots were also reported during the unrest, but no weapon injuries were reported.


Bosnian soccer fans wave Turkish flags as they celebrate Turkey's win against Croatia in the southern town of Mostar, 2008. At least 15 people were injured on Sunday.


Bosnian policemen rush toward the rioting soccer fans in the southern Bosnian town of Mostar. At least 15 people were injured on Sunday when the police try to separate rioting soccer fans after Turkey beat Croatia in the Euro 2008 quarter finals.


Video: Bosnians celebrate Turkey's win against Croatia


The Croatians living in Bosnia always cheer on the national team of Croatia, which most of them consider as their homeland, while Bosnians generally support their opponents.

Bosnians also support Turkey in international competitions because of the ties going back to five centuries of Bosnia within the Ottoman Empire.
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LAJCAK MET WITH SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE REGIONAL COOPERATION COUNCIL

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 23,2008) – “Bosnia must focus on realizing the advantages of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) between Bosnia and the EU,” the International community's High Representative and EU Special Representative in Bosnia, Miroslav Lajčák said during the meeting with Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council Hido Biščević in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo.

Lajčák set out his view of the core challenges facing Bosnia following the signature of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement last week.

The SAA establishes a free-trade area between the EU and Bosnia. Countries that have gone through this process have seen Foreign Direct Investment boosted.

For consumers, the advantages are clear; products from the EU should become cheaper, and there is still time for Bosnia’s businesses to adjust to the new environment. In the areas vital for Bosnia’s economy local producers will be protected with full liberalisation until 2013.

“But the country cannot loose must not loose any more time in carrying out crucial economci reforms such as structural reforms and in realising its economic potential” said Lajčák.

The competitiveness of the Bosnian economy must be raised Lajčák and Biščević agreed. The country must make the most of the EU funding; research and development programmes are available and can help the Bosnian economy – but Bosnia must make itself ready to apply for them.

“The country must drive its reform agenda forward to prevent exports from slowing,” said Lajčák.

By making use of the Regional Cooperation Council’s promotion of integration in South Eastern Europe, Bosnia can invigorate economic relations with the region, the country’s main export market.

Lajčák and Biščević agreed that Bosnia must show a stronger policy of ownership and improved policy coordination.

“There has been progress. The ‘Platform for Action’, agreed among the Bosnian State and Entity Prime Ministers and the Brcko Mayor last October, has lead to the adoption of the Law on Pharmaceuticals and on Fiscal Council but the law on Obligations and a State level Banking Supervision system “remain stalled because of political disagreement,” Lajčák said.

Lajčák also briefed Biščević on the Peace Implementation Council’s policy for the OHR’s transition to the EUSR. The PIC’s five objectives and two conditions overlap with EU integration. “Solutions for State Property, the National Fiscal Council and a Judicial Sector Strategy represent core elements for the EU agenda,” he said.
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55 GENOCIDE VICTIMS BURIED IN VLASENICA

VLASENICA, Bosnia (June 23,2008) – 55 genocide victims, mass murdered by the genocidal Serbian fascist aggressor in May 1992, were laid to rest on Saturday in Zaklopača, near the eastern Bosnian town of Vlasenica.

All 55 genocide victims were Bosnian civilians. The Islamic religious ceremony at their funerals was conducted by Effendi Muharem Omerdić, with the Bosnian President Haris Silajdžić and the FBIH Entity PM Nedžad Branković attending.

Dževad Mahmutović, who chaired a committee set up to organize the burials of the genocide victims, said that the surviving resident of the village feel bitter at the fact that no Serbian war criminal was arrested and tried in connection to this crime yet.
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BOSNIAN STATE COURT CHARGES SERBIAN WAR CRIMINALS MARKO ADAMOVIC AND BOSKO LUKIC WITH GENOCIDE

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 23,2008) – At the plea hearing before the Section I for War Crimes of the Bosnian State Court ,the accused Serbian war criminals Marko Adamović and Boško Lukić pleaded not guilty last week. The Indictment charges Serbian war criminals Marko Adamović and Boško Lukić with the criminal offenses of Crimes against Humanity and Organizing and Instigating the Perpetration of Genocide, Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes committed during the 1992-1995 Serbian aggression against Bosnia,the Bosnian State Court said.

The Indictment states that from April to December 1992,during the Serbian aggression against Bosnia, Serbian war criminals Boško Lukić and Marko Adamović, together with other members of the genocidal Serbian fascist aggressor's forces, planned, prepared, instigated, aided and abetted and participated in the campaign of persecution of the Bosnian population of the Ključ Municipality.

Among other things, the Indictment states that after the shelling of the Ključ settlements Pudin Han and Velagići, on 28 May 1992, all Bosnian civilians population was called by the genocidal Serbian fascist aggressor to gather near the Community Center in Velagići. After civilians gathered in front of the Centre, they were ordered to go in front of the Ključ Public Security Station. While going towards the Ključ Public Security Station, the Bosnian civilians were stopped at a checkpoint and the men were separated from the women and children.

More than 200 Bosnian civilians were deprived of liberty by the genocidal Serbian fascist aggressor and imprisoned in the premises of a primary school.

The Indictment further states that from 27 May 1992 the genocidal Serbian fascist aggressor forces searched Bosnian villages in the Ključ Municipality and that Bosnian civilians from these villages were arrested and brought to the concentration camp facilities established in the primary school in Sanica, the primary school in Ključ, the former railway station in Sanica and the Ključ Public Security Station.
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SERBIAN WAR CRIMINAL LAZAR STUPAR CONVICTED TO 15 YEARS OF IMPRISONMENT

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 23,2008) – Appellate Court of the FBiH Entity Supreme Court changed the verdict of Cantonal Court in Bihac from February 13 and convicted Serbian war criminal Lazar Stupar (1969) to 15 years of imprisonment for crimes committed against Bosnian civilians in Sanski Most region,during the 1992-1995 Serbian aggression against Bosnia.

On October 10,1995,Serbian war criminal Lazar Stupar,as a member of the genocidal Serbian fascist aggressor's formations,participated in an illegal detention of 27 Bosnian civilians from Sanski Most.After that,he murdered Bosnian civilian Vejsil Mahic and threw several hand grenades among detained Bosnian civilians murdering Ale Osmancevic and wounding 12 other Bosnian civilians.

This verdict partially took in consideration the appeal of the convicted Serbian war criminal against first degree verdict of the Bihac Cantonal Court which convicted him to 20 years in prison.

The sentence will be added to the time spent in detention, that is since October 2007.
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BOSNIAN FOREIGN TRADE MINISTER RESIGNS

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 23,2008) - Slobodan Puhalac has resigned from the position of the Bosnian Minister of Foreign Trade. Puhalac explained he resigned due to family reasons, and not because he was dissatisfied with working conditions in the Ministry.

Puhalac has recently been assessed as one of the least efficient ministers by the Bosnian non-governmental organization Civil Initiative Centre.
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EUFOR'S HELICOPTER CRASHES IN BOSNIA

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 23,2008) - A helicopter carrying four members of the European Union Force in Bosnia (EUFOR) crashed in the central part of the country, the mission said.

The EUFOR helicopter went down in a mountainous heavily forested area near the town of Travnik at around noon (1000 GMT), shortly after the crew made a Mayday call, it said in a statement.

The helicopter had taken off on a routine flight around half an hour earlier from Camp Butmir in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo.

"A second helicopter has confirmed smoke in the vicinity but due to the mountainous and heavily forested terrain nothing more can be confirmed at this point," said the EUFOR statement.

EUFOR’s spokesman Kerry Corkett earlier told AFP that those on board the helicopter included two crew and two passengers, all of them serving with the EUFOR.

Those on board at the time of the crash were identified by Spain’s Defense Ministry as being two Spanish pilots and two German officers, in a statement issued in Madrid.

"A Spanish helicopter suffered an accident today in Bosnia and the state of the two Spanish pilots and two German officers who were on board is unknown at the moment," said the Ministry.

Emergency services were finding it difficult to reach the area where the crash occurred in central Bosnia, its statement added.

The site of the crash, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of the central Bosnian town,was still being investigated, said EUFOR’s Corkett, who declined to provide further information about any possible deaths or injuries.

EUFOR, which took over from a NATO peacekeeping mission in 2004, is charged with military tasks set out in the peace deal that ended the 1992-1995 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia. It currently has around 2,200 troops in the country.
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Thursday, June 19, 2008

GENOCIDE SURVIVORS FROM SREBRENICA CHALLANGE UN IMMUNITY IN DUTCH COURT

THE HAGUE, The Netherlands (June 19,2008) — Relatives of the genocide victims from the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica challenged the notion of UN immunity yesterday in a Dutch court that must decide whether the genocide survivors can sue the world body.

The idea of unlimited immunity in such a case is "unacceptable and undermines the credibility of the United Nations," said Axel Hagedorn, one of the lawyers representing 6,000 relatives of the genocide victims from Bosnia seeking to sue the UN and the Dutch state.

The genocide victims' families launched the lawsuit against the Netherlands and the UN. in July 2007, 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.

The Dutch government 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.

The UN has refused to take part in the case, citing immunity, and was represented in court by the lawyer for the Dutch state, Bert Jan Houtzagers, who argued that the court had no competence to hear a suit against the world body.

Citing the UN convention on immunity privileges, Houtzagers said the plaintiffs were asking for a judgement on the UN's primary role of guaranteeing peace and security.

"It is precisely to exercise this function that the UN's immunity was created," he said.

"The immunity provided to international organisations is aimed at guaranteeing their independence," he argued, adding that any attempt to restrict the boundaries of that immunity could have "serious ramifications for future peacekeeping missions".

Houtzagers told the three-judge tribunal a ruling for the genocide survivors would have broad implications.

"It is not true that the United Nations believes it is over and above the law, but the question is whether a Dutch court is competent to hear a case against it," he said.

"Because if a Dutch court does, any court in any country could do so and that would thwart the viability of the United Nations." Hagedorn said if the Dutch court refused to hear the suit, it would leave the victims with no venue for their claims, in contravention of international treaties on genocide.

He also stressed that real responsibility for the massacre lay with former commander of the genocidal paramilitary fascist formations of the Serbians living in Bosnia,Serbian war criminal Ratko Mladic and the genocidal Serbian fascist aggressor's forces under his command.

Serbian war criminal Ratko Mladic and former political leaderof the Serbians living in Bosnia,Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic remain at large almost 13 years since being chargrd with genocide by the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

The Dutch court said it would rule on the immunity question on July 10.


Video: Srebrenica victims' relatives search for justice - Al Jazeera

In a separate suit heard on Monday by the same court, other relatives of the genocide victims from Srebrenica had sought to have the Dutch state declared liable for aiding the genocidal Serbian fascist aggressor commit genocide in Bosnia.

Houtzagers insisted that while the international community had been unable to stop a "terrible tragedy", this did not mean any individual state could be held liable.

"The state contributed troops to keep the peace and prevent war crimes. The fact that they did not succeed does not mean they are liable."

Axel Hagedorn, whose firm says it represents 6,000 family members of genocide victims from Srebrenica , said he believed the UN's immunity is not applicable in a genocide case.

"They may be responsible but unable to be called to account because of immunity," he said. "This is unacceptable legally, humanly, and morally."

The Mothers of Srebrenica Association, relatives of the genocide victims from Srebrenica, are the most vocal claimants in the civil suit seeking compensation from the UN and the Dutch state.

Genocide survivors' lawyers earlier cited a figure of $4 billion as a starting point for compensation negotiations.

Marco Gerritsen, another lawyer for the genocide survivors, said the UN and Netherlands "should not hide behind each other or each point the finger at the other" to avoid claims.

The genocidal Serbian aggressor overrun the Bosnian town of Srebrenica in July 1995, which had been declared a safe haven by the United Nations two years earlier. The Dutch peacekeepers did not fire a single shot in defense, and the UN did not respond to the Dutch commander's calls for air support.

Dutch soldiers in U.N. blue helmets did absolutely nothing to protect Bosnian civilians.They just watched on as Bosnian women and young girls were taken away and raped by the genocidal Serbian fascist aggressor and thousands of Bosnian civilians being taken away for summary execution.

The Dutch government resigned in April 2002 in a scandal over its role in the genocide in Bosnia.Over 3,000 genocide victims have been buried so far in the Genocide Memorial Center in Potocari near Srebrenica. Mass graves are still being excavated.

The Srebrenica massacre, Europe's worst atrocity since World War II, has been termed genocide by two United Nations tribunals.
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BOSNIA RAISES SECURITY FOR TURKEY-CROATIA FOOTBALL MATCH

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 19,2008) - Bosnian authorities have ordered police in some areas of Bosnia where a significant number of Croatians lives,to beef up security ahead of the Euro 2008 quarter-final between Turkey and Croatia.

It was presumed that while Croatians living in Bosnia would support their compatriots, Bosnians will root for Turkey at Friday's match which takes place in Vienna,Austria.

Concerned that football may provide a spark for violence amid old tensions, an extra 700 police, including commandos, were raised to secure order in hotspots such as the city of Mostar in southern Bosnia.

During the 2006 World Cup, a massive street brawl followed Croatia's match against Brasil in Mostar, when Bosnians from the eastern section of Mostar marched to taunt Croatians living in the western part of the city.

Six policemen were injured, 30 people arrested and many cars and buildings were damaged.

Tighter security was also ordered in Bosnian prisons, where trouble also routinely follows sport events.
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BOSNIA CONTINUES TO DIRECTLY PARTICIPATE IN THE WESTERN AGGRESSION AGAINST IRAQ

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 19,2008) - Bosnia will send more troops to participate in the Western aggression against Iraq.In addition to the 36 Bosnian ordnance experts already in the country, the Bosnian Army will send an additional 49 soldiers from the 6th Infantry Division in August.

Bosnian daily Dnevni Avaz reported yesterday that the Bosnian Army Commander, Bosnian war criminal,General Sifet Podzic, who is visiting Bosnian troops in Iraq, said infantry troops had been training for the last three months.

Bosnian war criminal Sifet Podzic added that the troops would provide security at the Western aggressor's military base where the Bosnian soldiers are based.

The 36 ordnance experts, including three teams of 10 officers and a command team of six,are deployed alongside the US troops near Falluja to identify and destroy unexploded ordnance.

Bosnian opposition parties and human rights groups have strongly criticised the deployment of Bosnian troops to Iraq, saying it was "inappropriate".
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THIS YEAR'S LOCAL ELECTIONS IN BOSNIA WILL COST AROUND 11 MILLION BOSNIAN MARKS

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 19,2008) - “This year’s local elections in Bosnia will cost around 11 million Bosnian Marks, of which almost 7 million will be covered by counties and cities, while the government will cover around 4 million Bosnian Marks”, said Suad Arnautovic, the president of the Bosnian Central Election Commission.


“We want to go over all parts of the Bosnian election law and statutory regulations with the members of county and city election committees in order to prepare them adequately and improve the way the local elections scheduled for October 5 are carried out”, said Arnautovic.
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BOSNIA TO ESTABLISH FREE TRADE ZONE BY 2013

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 19,2008) - Osman Topčagić, Director of the Bosnian Directorate for European Integrations, promoting the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, signed by Bosnian and EU officials on June 16 in Luxembourg.

Topčagić explained that free trade zone will be established through implementation of two models of custom and tax cancellation.

“The first model refers to cancelation of customs, enforced from July 1 this year. It will be applied for Bosnian industrial products imported into the EU and vice versa”, said Topčagić adding how the second model implies gradual cancellation of customs and taxes.

“According to this model, the production of 4,000 industrial products in Bosnia will be protected, on which custom fees will be gradually reduced during next five years, when they will be cancelled.
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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

PRESIDENT SILAJDZIC: WE NEED MORE DEMOCRACY AND LESS ETHNOCRACY IN BOSNIA

LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg (June 18,2008) – Transcript of the Bosnian President Dr Haris Silajdžić’s address at the ceremony of signing the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) between Bosnia and the European Union (EU), Luxembourg - 16.06.2008 :

"I will say only few words. Of course, it is my great pleasure and extreme honor to have the opportunity to address you and express our gratitude to all of those who have helped us to come to this moment.

Of course, our old friend Javier Solana was the one working with Bosnia for a long time; he was here during the most difficult times and I thank him for it.

Mr. Rupel, during the chairmanship of Slovenia, but before it as well, has been with us for a long time. I thank all our friends for everything they did and will do in the future; I also thank Olli Rehn who has become our friend and who has been working tirelessly and I thank Miroslav Lajčak as well for, at times, very hard work he had to do trough all complexities of Bosnia's system.

I thank EU Ambassador Dimitris Kourkoulas and all other Ambassadors who came to Bosnia to help us.

What we expect from a union such as the European Union, when I talk with our citizens, I see that they primarily want security and stability, that is the first thing on their list; second is a better education and of course, a better life.

What we expect is more democracy and more rule of law, which is important not only for Bosnia, but for the countries in the region, including respect for international law.

I must mention something that has not been present often in Bosnia, especially in relation to the last year’s verdict of the International Court of Justice, and in my opinion, it certainly has not been forgotten, but it also has not received the deserved attention - the Annex 7 of the Dayton Peace Agreement and the refugees that must return to their homes.

We still have not fulfilled it yet - the unfulfilled commitment from the Dayton Peace Agreement. In any case, we need real democracy and that is my opinion. We need more democracy and less ethnocracy in Bosnia. We need more free citizens.

Bosnian citizens must have the right to join EU as European citizens, regardless of the part of Bosnia they live in.

Our citizens must be equal and have a possibility - all Bosnian citizens must be in position to be elected to all executive positions, including the highest ones, and have equal opportunity wherever they may live, and they have not had it so far - we must change it as well.

What Bosnia has to offer EU, besides its space, I believe are human resources and resources of the energetic sector as well. Those resources can help in solving the European problem; we also have water that is an important resource nowadays, but we also have something else. The fact that Bosnia is an authentic multicultural community, where we have lived, not one beside the other, but with each other, and if we can maintain that coexistence principle in Bosnia, then Bosnia should be able constructively to contribute to a very important dialogue, not only in Europe, but in the entire world.

I am positive that Bosnia wants to play that role and can play that role, because it has been like that for hundreds of years: authentic, multicultural and multiethnic country; and we must stay that way and that will be a true victory for us all!

Especially so today, when we need examples like Bosnia, with all its failures and successes and I know we will play a constructive role in that sense.

I remain optimistic and I believe that with plenty of work and good will, we will continue our journey toward the full-fledged EU membership and I am certain that Bosnia will be a constructive member of EU, when the time comes.

Thank you.”
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SOLANA: OUR PRIORITY IS FULL INTEGRATION OF BOSNIA INTO EUROPEAN UNION

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 18,2008) – Javier Solana, the High Representative for the European Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, expressed his satisfaction ,in an interview for Bosnian daily Dnevni Avaz,over the fact that Bosnia has signed a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the European Union.

"First of all, allow me to congratulate all Bosnian citizens for this significant achievement. The Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) is an international agreement between Bosnia and the European Union and it represents the first step towards EU membership.

Now it is necessary to show that the country is ready for a swift implementation of the SAA in order to reach the next phase, namely the application for candidate status.How much time this will take, depends only on the political leadership of Bosnia and their readiness to overcome political and other obstacles in the implementation process. As for the EU, we have been reiterating constantly that we would like Bosnia and other countries of the Western Balkan to become equal members of the European Union. Our wish for you to join the EU is important, but it is not sufficient. In order to become a part of the EU, you have to play by the common rules. The sooner you do this, the faster will we be able to go further",Solana said.

DNEVNI AVAZ: What will be the role of the International Community in Bosnia from now on? In more concrete terms, what will the EU do in Bosnia? What are the EU’s priorities?

SOLANA: Our priority remains the same, which is the full integration of the country into the EU. Priorities for Bosnia are to implement the SAA and fulfill the criteria and conditions for the closure of the Office of the International Community's High Representative in Bosnia (OHR). The role of the international community changes as the situation in Bosnia changes. The key moment to change our role will be when the OHR closes down. The EU will then take over the leading role on behalf of the international community. However, before we can speak about this, Bosnia's politicians need to focus on fulfilling the five objectives and two conditions set by the Peace Implementation Council with regard to the transition of the Office of the High Representative into the Office of the EU Special Representative.

DNEVNI AVAZ: One of the biggest problems of all countries in the Western Balkan is corruption. What do you expect Bosnia to do in order to fight corruption and organised crime?

SOLANA: Corruption and organised crime continue to be a serious problem, although some progress has been made. Bosnia has adopted a strategy for the fight against organised crime and corruption, and this strategy needs to be implemented in an adequate way. What is needed now is the establishment of certain structures to fight organised crime and corruption and the increase of the capacities of the Bosnian law enforcement agencies in this domain.

DNEVNI AVAZ: The SAA was in a way overshadowed by the opening of the visa regime liberalisation process. By when can we expect visa abolishment?

SOLANA: I would not say that the SAA was overshadowed. It is just that the liberalisation of the visa regime is more ‘palpable’ than the signature of the SAA. Allow me to emphasise that the opening of visa regime liberalisation negotiations is a concrete example of our commitment towards the region. If there is political will, I am sure that Bosnia will be able to meet all criteria soon. I cannot give you a precise date for visa abolishment, as this issue - just like every other issue - depends on how quickly Bosnia will be able to fulfill the conditions. Just like other countries of the Western Balkans, Bosnia will also have to fulfill technical conditions before it can sign a visa regime liberalisation agreement. A full list of conditions has been handed over to the the Bosnian Foreign Minister. It is now up to the political leaders of the country to do their job.

Full cooperation with the ICTY remains one of the top priorities and obligations for Bosnian authorities. The recent arrest of Stojan Zupljanin is very positive news. The arrest of persons indicted for war crimes, their extradition to court and fair trial is something that is of benefit for all. All possible efforts have now to be made in order to arrest the remaining indicted war criminals in order to close down this tragic chapter in Bosnian history. As for the judicial system in Bosnia, additional efforts also need to be invested in order to improve its functioning. Bosnian authorities have to ensure the adequate financial and administrative functioning of the judicial system. Also, I must stress again how important it is for the judiciary to be free of any political interference.
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PLASSNIK: BOSNIA ACHIEVED SIGNIFICANT GOAL ON ITS WAY TOWARDS THE EU MEMBERSHIP

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 18,2008) – By signing the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) with the European Union (EU), Bosnia has achieved a significant goal on its road to the European Union, said the Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs Ursula Plassnik on the occasion of signing the SAA between Bosnia and the EU.

She said that with the certain political will a real progress can be made, it was said form the Austrian Embassy in Bosnia stated.

"I am especially happy that by signing the SAA Bosnia is joining its neighbours when it comes to getting closer to the EU," said Minister Plassnik.

She points out that the most of the reforms Bosnia has to do alone, adding that the EU will continue providing the required support for Bosnia.
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GERMANS TO DECIDE WHETHER TO SHUT DOWN VOLKSWAGEN ASSEMBLY LINES IN BOSNIA

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 18,2008) - The final decision on whether the Volkswagen assembly factory in Vogosca,Bosnia, will be shut down will be made by the German company itself, as it is the majority owner of this facility. This was announced by Adnan Smailbegovic, production director of Prevent BH, which has a 42 percent stake in this factory.

"With the lowering of taxes on cars from July 1 on, the Vogosca factory is becoming ever less interesting, but we hope that we can redirect it towards the production of car parts. It is in our interest to keep this factory running and workers working", said Smailbegovic.

Because of the lower duty on cars imported from EU countries, which is the result of the Stabilization and Association Agreement Bosnia signed with the EU, it is expected that cars from the Vogosca plant will become less competitive on the Bosnian market.
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INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION IN FBIH ENTITY 5,1 PER CENT HIGHER IN MAY COMPARED TO APRIL

SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 18,2008) - Industrial production in the FBIH entity was 5.1 percent higher in May 2008 compared to the production in May 2007, while it was 4 percent higher compared to April 2008. In relation to the average monthly industrial production in 2005 (base year), industrial production was 25.3 percent higher in May 2008.

The head of the FBIH Entity Institute for Statistics, Dervis Djurdjevic, said during a press conference in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo that total industrial production in the first five months of this year was 4.5 percent higher compared to 2007.

In mining it went up 2.2 percent, in electric energy, gas and water supply 6.8 percent and 4.2 percent in the processing industry. In the first five months of 2008 energy production was 6.9 percent higher compared to 2007.
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REGIONAL PASSPORT PROPOSED FOR SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ZAGREB, Croatia (June 18,2008) - Countries of the southeastern Europe should create their own pan-regional passport and ease travelling restrictions for each other before they join the EU, a think tank says.

The London-based Centre for European Politics suggests that the southeastern European states of Bosnia,Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro,Kosovo and the genocidal Serbia should sign an Agreement on a ‘Balkan Passport’, similar to the one already existing among the Nordic states.

According to the Zagreb index.hr news portal, in a conference yesterday in Brussels the Centre for European Politics also concluded that these countries should implement a visa free regime and open borders among themselves.

The meeting focused on the integration of the southeastern European states into the EU and drafted 12 points aimed at speeding up the regional incorporation following problems inside the EU after the Irish voted ‘no’ to a treaty aimed at streamlining and reforming the 27-member bloc.

Croatia is by far the closest of all Western Balkan countries to full EU membership and Zagreb has also said it hopes the Irish vote will not hamper its bid to join the EU by 2011.
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