Wednesday, June 18, 2008


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.”


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 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.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 18,2008) - Conference titled “Democratic Governance of Schools: Towards a more Par-ticipatory School Management Culture”, gathering education officials and directors from more than 30 schools throughout Bosnia, was held in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo on 16-17 June.

At the press opportunity, Assistant to the Bosnian Minister of Civil Affairs, Esma Hadžagić, pointed out, that the Conference was designed for school management in Bosnia in order to develop democratic school governance and increased involvement of all involved in teaching process – teachers, students, parents and local community.

“It is essential to emphasize the role of school directors in promoting democratic school governance”, Hadžagić said.

Co-author of the Council of Europe’s publication, titled “Democratic School Governance”, Elisabeth Bäckman, director of a secondary school in Stockholm ,Sweden, is of the opinion that it is not difficult to combine high student influence levels with good learning results.

Releasing creative potential within all students

“I am a director of a school with 650 students. These students speak twenty different native languages. In my work, I was always led by two principles: to ensure that every student reaches his/her maximum and that each student has an impact on important issues regarding curriculum and work. We have established a clear link between students’ rights and responsi-bilities. I believe that students must be involved in reaching important decisions in order to achieve better results. Our school is among the top ten in Sweden for student achievements, and our students live in less privileged parts of the town”, Bäckman explained.

Education Coordinator for South East Europe, Council of Europe, Sarah Keating-Chetwynd said that, over ten years, the Council of Europe has worked on civic and human rights issues in education.

“Democratic school governance is complementary to reaching good results in schools”, Keating-Chetwynd said.

According to Minister Hadžagić, manual “Democratic School Governance” brings new philosophy in terms of the multi-decade education practice in these areas, where a student used to be an object and “a sponge” to be moulded by teachers.

“Of vital importance is that student becomes a subject of education process, with a right to pass his/her opinion without being sanctioned for it. We should work on realising creative po-tential within every young person, since it is the only way for us as a country to become competitive on European and world market”, Hadžagić said.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (June 18,2008) - Thousands of Bosnian war veterans blocked the FBIH entity government building yesterday, protesting delays in their payments.

The protest, one of the biggest in recent months, reflects the worsening economic and budgetary situation in the FBIH entity , caused uncontrolled social and public spending.

Over the past two years, the FBIH entity has adopted legislation granting excessive social benefits for war veterans and invalids – considered to be one of the most influential lobbying groups, especially ahead of the October local elections.

This legislation has brought the FBIH entity on the verge of financial collapse and delayed payment of most benefits and salaries from the budget.

Another part of this legislation has tried to pass responsibility for increased social payments onto the ten regions, or cantons, which make up the FBIH entity , yet most of them, were unable or unwilling to meet this requirement.

This problem gained an additional dimension when the political representatives of the Croatians living in Bosnia, blocked the legislation which provides even greater payments for Bosnian war veterans and invalids.

Frustrated by delayed social payments, Bosnian war veterans from across the Federation staged protests in front of the the FBIH entity government building yesterday demanding their benefits and new jobs.

They also requested the resignation of key political representatives of the Croatians living in Bosnia.

The problem was temporarily resolved and the crowd eventually dispersed without incidents when war veterans’ representatives received pledges from the government that cantons will pay their due contributions.

Unless this promise is met – experts say it seems highly unlikely – then Bosnian war veterans will stage new protests in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo on July 2.