Friday, February 29, 2008


BRUSSELS, Belgium (February 29,2008) - Peace Implementation Council Steering Board (PIC SB) noted that, since October, Bosnia has made progress with regard to the Stabilisation and association Agreement (SAA) with the EU. The Peace Implementation Council Steering Board welcomes the initialling of the SAA by Bosnia that took place on 4 December 2007. The signing of the SAA is finally in reach as soon as the necessary conditions are met,the Office of the International community's High Representative in Bosnia (OHR) said.

However, important underlying problems, which gave rise to recent crises, remain in Bosnia. There have been attempts to weaken progressively the institutions and legitimacy of the state. There have been renewed tensions between political actors over the future constitutional make-up of the country as well as the role and competencies of the state. The limited degree of cooperation among Bosnia's pliticians shown in late 2007 has deteriorated. There have also been unacceptable challenges to the Dayton Peace Agreement,the OHR said.

The Peace Implementation Council Steering Board expressed deep concern with regard to the calls for secession by the genocidal serbian creature in Bosnia (RS). The PIC SB strongly emphasizes that under the Dayton Peace Agreement an entity has no right to secede from Bosnia.

As previously stated, the PIC SB is also concerned by statements calling the existence of entities into question.

The Steering Board underlined once again that Bosnia is a recognised sovereign state whose territorial integrity is guaranteed by the Dayton Peace Agreement. The Steering Board recalls that the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina recognises that Bosnia and Herzegovina consists of two entities and that Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs are constituent peoples. The Steering Board remains fully committed to the Dayton Peace Agreement,the OHR said.

The PIC Steering Board reiterated that Bosnia's politicians must end the practice of threatening unilateral changes to the constitutional structure of the country. All parties must comply fully with the Dayton Peace Agreement. The Steering Board underlines 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 the country. All signatories and parties are obliged under Annex 10 of the Dayton Peace Agreement to cooperate fully with the High Representative and his staff. Decisions of the High Representative must be fully respected and promptly implemented.

With regard to police reform, the PIC SB encourages Bosnia's politicians to take forward the debate in the Bosnian +Parliament and to adopt police reform legislation in line with the Mostar Declaration and the subsequent Action Plan and consistent with EU requirements as a matter of urgency,OHR said.

The PIC SB encourages the Bosnian Council of Ministers to continue to move forward on the reform agenda with determination, and to adopt an action plan as a response to the European Partnership,OHR said.

The PIC SB welcomes the adoption of the Platform for Action and the progress made towards realising some of its objectives, including fiscal coordination. However, much more needs to be done,OHR said.

The PIC SB noted that political party leaders in Bosnia have had initial discussions on constitutional reform and that this issue is also reflected in the Mostar Declaration and the Action Plan. The Steering Board reaffirmed its view that constitutional reform will be necessary in order to equip Bosnia to meet the requirements of a modern European state.

The PIC SB underlined the importance of a free and independent Bosnian media, and noted that the Dayton Peace Agreement obliges Bosnia to ensure the highest level of internationally recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms. In this regard the PIC SB welcomed the visit of the OSCE Representative for Freedom of the Media to Bosnia.

In line with the decision taken at its October 2007 meeting, the PIC Steering Board reviewed the situation. It endorsed the following recommendations of the the International community's High Representative (HR) in Bosnia regarding the future of the OHR.

Having assessed developments in Bosnia over the past months, the PIC SB reiterated that transition and ownership remain the goals. It is for Bosnian's politicians, in the first place, to create the conditions for transition to occur, which should happen in the shortest possible time. The PIC SB and the broader International Community stand ready to support Bosnia in creating the necessary conditions,the OHR said.

Bosnia as a “peaceful, viable state irreversibly on course for European integration” has been the longstanding objective of the PIC Steering Board and achieving this objective has been the focus of OHR’s work.

The OHR Work Plan approved by the PIC Steering Board in April 2007, contains a number of longstanding objectives that the PIC Steering Board considers to be essential for the creation of such a peaceful, viable state. For this reason, the PIC Steering Board has decided that the most critical issues contained in the OHR Work Plan be considered objectives that need to be achieved by the BiH authorities prior to transition. These objectives are well established, approved by the PIC SB and have all been previously recognized by the Bosnian authorities as obligations.

The objectives that will need to be delivered by the BiH authorities prior to transition are:

-Acceptable and Sustainable Resolution of the Issue of Apportionment of Property between State and other levels of government

-Acceptable and Sustainable Resolution of Defence Property

-Completion of the Brcko Final Award

-Fiscal Sustainability (promoted through an Agreement on a Permanent ITA Co-efficient methodology and establishment of a National Fiscal Council)

-Entrenchment of the Rule of Law (demonstrated through Adoption of National War Crimes Strategy, passage of Law on Aliens and Asylum, and adoption of National Justice Sector Reform Strategy).

In addition to the objectives listed above, the PIC Steering Board agreed that two conditions need to be fulfilled prior to transition: Signing of the SAA and a positive assessment of the political situation in Bosnia by the PIC SB based on full compliance with the Dayton Peace Agreement.

The signing of the SAA is not part of OHR’s Work Plan. However, it is an important requirement for transition and necessary to demonstrate Bosnia’s progress towards membership of the European Union,the OHR said.

The political situation in Bosnia has previously been defined by the PIC SB as a criterion for decision-making on OHR closure and transition. It remains crucial that Bosnia's political leaders fully comply with the Dayton Peace Agreement avoiding any rhetoric or action that would threaten or violate the Peace Agreement,the OHR said.

The achievement of the above mentioned objectives and fulfilment of the conditions will facilitate transition. The PIC Steering Board urged the Bosnian authorities to achieve these objectives and contribute to fulfilling these conditions as soon as possible. The High Representative stands ready to advise and work with the Bosnian state institutions in this regard,the OHR said.

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

OHR will remain in place and continue to carry out its mandate under the Dayton Peace Agreement, ensuring full respect of the Peace Agreement.

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

The PIC SB calls upon Serbia, a Dayton signatory, as well as the authorities in Bosnia, especially those in the genocidal Serbian creature in bosnia ("RS"), to abide by their obligations under international law to cooperate 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, without further delay, dismantling the networks offering support to such fugitives, and ensuring they are transferred to the ICTY,the OHR said.

The OHR will monitor progress against objectives and conditions and the PIC Steering Board will keep the situation under constant review. The next meeting of Political Directors will take place in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo on 24 and 25 June 2008.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (February 29,2008) - The Bosnian Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees will allocate this year 40 million Bosnian Marks for refugees and displaced persons, and together with allocations from the entity budgets the sum will increase up to about 100 million Bosnian Marks.

The data were presented by the president of the Bosnian Union of Associations of Refugees, Displaced Persons and Returnees, Merhunisa Zukić, at the press conference held in the southern Bosnian city of Mostar.

She added that revision of viable return strategy is in progress, which was initiated by the Bosnian Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees, in which 70 governmental and non-governmental institutions have been included.

“What is most important for us is that it is for the first time since the Dayton Agreement that NGOs have been entrusted to participate in drafting of such document in all segments. In this way we practically change the Bosnian Constitution.Strategy will be a binding one and will have more force than Dayton Agreement”, Mrs Zukić pointed out.

The mentioned strategy should be found in the Bosnian Parliament by the end of March, while its realization could start this summer.

Zukić pointed out that since the end of the 1992-1995 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions in entire Bosnia 68 % of the destroyed housing fund have been reconstructed, i.e. 307, 000 houses, while 145, 000 houses have remained unreconstructed.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (February 29,2008) – The Bosnian State Court sentenced yesterday Serbian war criminal Mitar Rasevic to eight and a half years and Serbian war criminal Savo Todovic to twelve years of imprisonment for war crimes committed against Bosnian civilians during the 1992-1995 Serbian aggression against Bosnia at the Foca concentration camp.

The Bosnian State Court announced Serbian war criminals Mitar Rasevic and Savo Todovic are guilty of crimes against humanity committed at the concentration camp in the eastern Bosnian town of Foca and sentenced them to eight and a half and twelve and a half years imprisonment respectively.

They were also found guilty of having participated in joint criminal enterprise.

The time they have spent in custody will be credited towards their sentence. Rasevic has been in custody since August 2003 and Todovic since January 2005.

Serbian war criminals Todovic and Rasevic, between April 1992 to October 1994, participated in the mistreatment of more than 700 Bosnian civilians at the Foca concentration campnnnnnj. Rasevic was commander of guards, while Todovic was deputy commander of the concentration camp.

The announcement of the verdict started with an hour and a half delay. Upon his arrival to the courtroom, Trial Chamber Chairman Hilmo Vucinic said the delay was "just proof" that the three-day legal deadline "was not sufficient for these type of decisions."

The Bosnian State Court announced the two Serbian war criminals guilty of all counts in the indictment, but it acquitted them of the charges contained in two sub-counts, which charged them with having maintained the system of mistreatment of Bosnian civilians in the Foca concentration camp and with having ordered the guards to torture and murder detained Bosnian civilians.

According to the Trial Chamber, on the basis of the presented pieces of evidence it can be determined that the indictees were "aware of their positions and of all the happenings in the Foca concentration camp".

"Most of the witnesses were the foca concentration camp survivors. The Chamber is aware of the fact that they were not eyewitnesses to these events, but it decided to admit their statements, as they suffered incrimination and because their statements were more or less the same," Vucinic said.

Chairman Vucinic also emphasised that, when considering the severity of the sentence, the Chamber "especially considered the mitigating circumstances" for Rasevic although he did not say which circumstances he was referring to.

"The eight and a half years sentence can fully serve the purpose of punishment. Concerning Serbian war criminal Savo Todovic, the Bosnian State Court determined that the twelve and a half years sentence is adequate bearing in mind the severity of the crime," Vucinic said.

The Defence attorneys of the two indictees said that they intended to file an appeal, as they were not content with the verdict.

The two Serbian war criminals were originally indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at The Hague. In October 2006, as part of the ICTY's exit strategy, this case was referred to Bosnia for further processing.

In early 2007 the Bosnian State Court confirmed the amended indictment against Serbian war criminals Mitar Rasevic and Savo Todovic.


SOFIA, Bulgaria (February 29,2008) – A meeting was held in Bulgaria of the Southeastern Europe Regional Stability Pact, which officially marked the end of the Stability Pact and transfer of jurisdiction to the Regional cooperation council (RCC), headquartered in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo.

The session was resided by Stability Pact Special Coordinator Erhard Busek, who officially passed the jurisdiction to the Council’s Secretary General Hidajet Biscevic.

The Bulgarian Vice President and Foreign Affairs Minister Ivajlo Kalfin and the President of the Council of Europe and thr Slovenian Foreign Affairs Minister Dimitrij Rupel addressed the meeting participants.

The Bosnian Foreign Affairs Minister Sven Alkalaj also addressed the participants of the session on the occasion of the official transfer of authorities. He thanked the countries participants of the South East European Co-operation Process (SEECP) for supporting Bosnia and its capital by a consensus in the process of making it RCC headquarters.

”Let me, on behalf of the Bosnian state and its high officials sincerely thank you for the trust that you have showed us. This truly is a great challenge to our instrument of cooperation in the region, which should contribute the strengthening of regional stability, prosperity and an accelerated democratization of SE Europe. This is also a possibility for progress in EU reform processes and an opportunity for assembling of all the countries of the region around one and main goal”, Alkalaj said.

Minister Alkalaj stated his belief that Bosnia will make a good host to the future RCC activities.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (February 29,2008) – The Bosnian capital Sarajevo is hosting a two day conference on healthcare financing, pensions and unemployment benefits in the southeastern Europe.

At the conference organized by the World Bank in cooperation with the Direction for Economic Planning in Bosnia,the high government officials from Bosnia, Montenegro, Serbia, Albania and Macedonia gathered in Sarajevo along with experts from the World Bank and other international organizations.

The goal of the conference is to reach consensus on necessary reforms of health financing, pensions and unemployment benefits, especially in the context of citizen’s aging. Participants shall exchange experience from their own countries on social security and financing in this area.

Head of the World Bank office in Bosnia Marco Mantovanelli stated that issues of financing healthcare, pensions insurance and unemployment insurance are extremely important for all countries of the southeastern Europe which are facing new challenges related to the sustainability of existing models of social security.

In these countries these rights are realized through incomes from formal employment and considering that the base of formal employment is very narrow, authorities must rely on the narrow tax base for collection of income tax. Consequence of this are high tax rates which is does not motivate employment in formal sector.

"High taxes on work power harden employment of larger number of people and on the other hand, with fewer employees there is less assets for financing all social rights”, added Mantovanelli.

Population in these countries is getting older and the only exception is Albania, so there is fewer work competent people who could pay income tax which leads to situation in which these countries would have to decrease rights and find new ways for their financing.

"I hope we will exchange information during this conference on how individual countries think about solving these problems and that we will reach a consensus on how to move on”, added Mantovanelli.

Bosnia is currently developing a new strategy for mid-term development. Head of Direction for Economic Planning Ljerka Maric stated that this conference is a chance to reconsider situation in the social sector from 2004 to 2007.

"Economically we are progressing but social expenditure is highly endangered”, stated Maric and underlined the priority of implementation of structural reforms in these three sectors.