Wednesday, February 27, 2008


BRUSSELS, Belgium (February 27,2008) - The EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) Javier Solana and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer met in Brussels yesterday and stated that they do not believe the speculations on the strengthening of tensions in the region.Speaking about Bosnia, Solana confirmed that during EU-NATO meeting most they talked about police reform and future of the Office of the International Community's High Reprsentative in Bosnia (OHR), that is, its transformation into the Office of the EU special Representative in Bosnia. He expressed hope that Bosnia's political leaders shall soon manage to agree on the main principles of the police reform since the signing of the stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) between Bosnia and the european Union depends on it.

Commenting the possible influence of the situation in Kosovo on Bosnia, Solana stated that the political and security situation in Bosnia is under control and that Brussels does not expect any negative outcomes.

He repeated the stand of the EU from last Monday under which the conditions for completion of Altea operation in Bosnia still are not met and that EU will keep its military presence in Bosnia as long as it is necessary.


JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (February 27,2008) – A member of the Bosnian Presidency Dr Haris Silajdzic met in Saudi Arabia with the President of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB). During the meeting, the two were discussing IDB’s role in the economic development of Bosnia. Need to support sustainable return of refugees, infrastructural developments and other projects for overall improvement of the quality of life were in the focus.

Afterwards, Silajdzic also met with the general secretary of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) – Dr Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu. They were talking about the details of the forthcoming OIC Summit in Dakar, to which Bosnia has been invited to participate.


BRUSSELS, Belgium (February 27,2008) - Bosnia could sign an agreement in April bringing it closer to EU membership, the European Union said yesterday, urging the Southeastern European state to complete police reforms to avoid missing the opportunity.

"I would expect we should be able to sign an SAA with Bosnia shortly, that is in April, on condition that Bosnia can adopt the required laws concerning police reform," EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn told reporters yesterday.

"It's a great opportunity for the country and I trust the leaders will not miss this opportunity," he said ahead of meeting in Brussels today with Bosnia's leadership.

"If they (Bosnia's leaders) show enough willingness, positive thinking and pro-activeness, there is enough to go forward," Brigadier General Vincenzo Coppola, the official in charge of an EU police mission in Bosnia told a news briefing in Brussels.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (February 27,2008) – The Bosnian State Court said it will announce its verdict against Serbian war criminals Mitar Rasevic and Savo Todovic at the end of this week.The Trial Chamber said it will announce its verdict tomorrow,on February 28.

The Bosnian State Prosecutor alleges that Serbian war crimials Rasevic and Todovic participated in the establishment and maintenance of the system for murder and mistreatment of at least 700 Bosnian civilians held by the genocidal Serbian aggressor in the Foca concentration camp,during the 1992-1995 Serbian aggression against Bosnia.

The indictment claims that Rasevic was commander of guards, while Todovic was deputy concentration camp commander. The two Serbian war criminals are charged on the basis of their command and individual responsibility.

Calling for a verdict of release, the two indictees and their Defence teams said they considered that the Prosecution did not prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

In their closing arguments, Serbian war criminals Rasevic and Todovic denied having participated in the mistreatment and murder of Bosnian civilians and asked the Bosnian State Court to pass down "the only fair verdict, i.e. a verdict of release."

Defence attorney Slavisa Prodanovic stressed that Serbian war criminal Mitar Rasevic treated the Bosnian civilians in a "humane" manner and that in no way could he influence the conditions in the Foca concentration camp. He further said that he did not have the "power" to sanction other Serbian aggressor's soldiers "for whatever they did".

Prodanovic said that the indictment was "defective and imprecise" and repeated several times that it was "arbitrary." He added that the Prosecution had not managed to prove, "beyond reasonable doubt", any count from the indictment or the individual and command responsibility of his client.

"The Prosecution has based this case on one document, by which the Foca concentration camp commander appointed Rasevic as commander of guards. On the basis of this document, the Prosecution determined that he had the power to prevent the guards from doing something. His sole responsibility was to distribute the guards. All other issues were handled by the concentration camp commander," Prodanovic said.

Todovic's Defence attorneys also indicated that Serbian war criminal Milorad Krnojelac, the Foca concentration camp commander who was sentenced by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia to 15 years of imprisonment, was responsible for this concentration camp and that his client's responsibility was "not proved at all."

"The concentration camp commander had the responsibility for all detainees. However, his responsibilities were also limited," the second indictee's additional attorney Jovan Debelica said.

Serbian war criminal Mitar Rasevic said he helped the Bosnian civilians held in the Foca concentration camp "as much as he possibly could" and that he could not prevent anyone from taking them away "even if he told them to kill him first."

"I feel honoured and pleased when I see some of the witnesses whom I helped. To me, the fact that some people who used to be detained in the Facility greet and encourage me today represents the biggest moral satisfaction," he said.

Serbian war criminal Mitar Rasevic also added that he felt sympathy for the families of those Bosnian civilians murdered and the survivors who had been detained in the Foca concentration camp. He also pointed out that it would be unfair to them should the Bosnian State Court pronounce him guilty as, in that case, "the actual perpetrators would remain unpunished."

Serbian war criminal Savo Todovic did not deny that conditions in the Foca concentration camp were "difficult". However, he said that this was a result of "objective circumstances" and was not his fault. He also pointed out that he was glad because "this agony" was finally over.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (February 27,2008) – It seems that after several years of pleading and unsuccessful lobbying with tax regulators, the Bosnian business community will finally see some developments in this area.

Following a proposal by the Bosnian Council of Ministers, the Bosnian Tax Authority Managing Board has decided that that it would have its final say on amendments to the Customs Tariff Act and the Excise Act in the next ten days.

The Board agrees that the current customs tariffs do not meet the needs of the Bosnian economy, both from the aspect of protecting local producers and liberalization of raw material imports.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (February 27,2008) – The Bosnian Parliament's House of Peoples of has adopted a set of laws regulating the reform of the Bosnian police, in the first reading. The laws legislating seven new police bodies had previously been adopted by the House of Representatives.

The members of the Bosnian Parliament that voted against it argued it the laws are not legal, or in conformity with the three European principles of police reform.

The members of the Bosnian Parliament voting in favour said they are a condition for signing the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the European Union. Also, the upper house adopted the budget for the Bosnian government institutions in 2008, worth 1,186 billion Bosnian Marks.

Furthermore, the newly adopted passport law enables the introduction of biometric passports in Bosnia. The Kyoto Protocol was also adopted.


MOSTAR, Bosnia (February 27,2008) – The EU Police Mission in Bosnia (EUPM) is hosting a three-day forum gathering Bosnia's police officials and prosecutors in order to standardise and harmonise the formal documentation used in criminal investigations.

The need to harmonise procedures directly follows from a desire to improve mutual understanding and efficiency with regard to investigations.

The forum has a two-fold assignment – to analyse every relevant step of criminal investigations and the formal documents used on the one hand, and to define how they could be standardised and harmonised throughout the whole country to make investigations and the necessary cooperation between various authorities more efficient on the other.

The findings of the working group will be communicated at a press conference scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday 27 February 2008 at 13:00 hrs at the Hotel Ada in Blagaj, Mostar.

This meeting was organised upon the initiative of the EU Police Mission in scope of an ongoing project of the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council aimed at establishing better coordination mechanisms between the police and prosecutors in the fight against crime and corruption.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (February 27,2008) – The Irish Defence Minister Willie O'Dea is to make a three-day visit to Irish troops in Bosnia next week.

More than 40 Irish personnel are stationed in Bosnia as staff officers or as part of the military police and weapons-verification teams. Ireland has participated in the EU-led mission in the region since 1997.

Minister O'Dea and his officials will hold meetings with international military and diplomatic figures. He is also expected to be briefed on the security situation in relation to Irish troops.