Monday, July 7, 2008


MOSTAR, Bosnia (July 7,2008) - Bosnia’s famous Old Bridge located in the southern city of Mostar will remain on the UNESCO list of world heritage sites on condition that a nearby hotel is redesigned.The member of the Bosnian Commission for Heritage Sites, Amra Hadzimuhamedovic, said today that UNESCO, during its meeting over the weekend in Canada,accepted a local report and plan for the Old Bridge.

The plan requires Mostar city authorities to publicly advertise for a redesigning of the Ruza hotel, which should be completed by February 2009.

Mostar’s Old Bridge, is one of the most beautiful single-span stone bridges, originally constructed in the 16th century. The Old Bridge was destroyed by the Croatian barbarians in 1993,during the Croatian aggression against Bosnia.It was fully reconstructed in line with original blueprints and materials in 2003. The Old Bridge has attracted millions of tourists from within the country and abroad.

In 2005, the Old Bridge was placed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list, yet its position there was soon jeopardised by reconstruction works at a nearby hotel. UNESCO experts claimed that the architecture and height of the hotel violated the bridge’s original surroundings.

City authorities halted all reconstruction works on the hotel in 2006 but failed to find a compromise between UNESCO requirements,which included the removal of the top fourth floor of the Ruza hotel and hotel owner, local businessman Emir Keco, who had already obtained all necessary documents for the works.

Keco even threatened to press charges against city authorities for damages worth as much as 50 million Bosnian Marks (25 million Euros) due to the two-year delay in the hotel’s reconstruction.


TUZLA, Bosnia (July 7,2008) - Drive three hours north from the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, through the sweeping hills and valleys of central Bosnia and you arrive in the city of Tuzla.It is a pretty enough place with its elegantly dressed people and numerous cafes, but this place could be about to undergo a remarkable transformation.

The talk here is about oil. Not just the prices which are affecting everyone but supplies, deep underground.

On the edge of the city, where the cornfields lie, it is easy to find traces of the exploration carried out here. Twenty bore holes were drilled into the ground to find out what lies beneath. And now the oil bubbles to the surface on its own, leaking out of the holes, scarring the surface nearby.

Professor Hazim Hrvatovic is Bosnia's most senior geologist. He has looked at the results from the drilling in the thirties and at the surveys carried out by a British firm in the 1980s.

"From all we've read and all we've seen there may be around 400 million barrels of oil here. It will take money to extract and develop which is why we need a partner to help us.

"But there is enough oil here to supply our demands for the next twenty years and maybe more. This could transform our economy," he says.

The area needs so much though - roads and other transport links to move the oil, somewhere to process it and somewhere to store it. With oil hitting $130 a barrel, it is suddenly financially viable to do all of this.

But drilling for oil is a risky business. No one wants to spend the millions of dollars it takes to drill just one hole only to come up dry. Bosnia needs outside help.

Ibrahim Bosto is a senior figure with Bosnia's main energy company Energoinvest, which is 67 per cent owned by the government. In his office, we look over geological maps of the area. There are four places around the country which have been identified as of potential interest.

Energoinvest, carried out a research which proved the existence of oil pools in the northern region of Posavina, as well as in several locations in the south.

Energoinvest has the original report which indicates that Bosnia may have oil resources as big as Saudi Arabia or Iraq.

"The only solution at the moment is to find a strategic partner, who is ready to invest in this works, to co-operate with us and to reap the rewards of what may be there," Bosto says.

According to several Bosnian experts, British Petroleum, BP and American Oil Company, AMOCO, now also part of BP, were interested in potential oil resources in Bosnia before the 1992-1995 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia.

Video: Bosnia poised for oil find - Al Jazeera

In Tuzla, the idea of transforming this place into the oil capital of the southeastern Europe excites the locals.

In an area of high unemployment, they see the benefits. Stop anyone on the street and they know about the stories of oil.

One woman said: "Oil could be the sign of wealth and development growth for our whole society, and maybe it's a big chance for employment for the young people because at the moment they don't have jobs."

The government has watched the oil price rise steadily. And now it knows the country could be on the verge of a bonanza.

Vahid Heco, the FBIH Entity Minister of Energy, Mining, & Industry, is optimistic.

"The potential in raw oil and natural gas that exists here would transform the whole economic situation in Bosnia and I assume we would become a centre for energy development in the southeastern Europe," he said.

But for the moment, all there is is oil bubbling slowly to the surface. So the people must wait to see if the experts are right and deep underground, there lies enough oil to transform this country and its struggling economy.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (July 7,2008) - Bosnia’s internal setup is ‘dysfunctional’ and the cantons system in the FBIH entity should be scrapped, the Chairwoman of the European Parliament Committee for South-East Europe Doris Pack said yesterday.

“If your country wants to enter into the European Union then its institutions have to be efficient,” Doris Pack said in an interview published by Bosnian daily Dnevni Avaz on Sunday.

The Bosnian Constitution – adopted as a part of the Dayton peace accord which ended the 1992-1995 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia – has created a complex internal setup. The country is weak at state level and has two highly decentralised entities – the FBIH and the genocidal Serbian creature in Bosnia the "RS" – and the separate Brcko district. The FBIH entity is further divided into ten cantons.

Pack said that both entities should be reformed but especially stressed that the FBIH entity should be “simplified.”

“Maybe the number of cantons should be reduced. Or maybe they should be abolished! Why do they have to exist?” she said, elaborating that cantonal responsibilities could be divided between entity and municipal levels.

Pack also added that establishment of a third entity is “not necessary” and “would only complicate the situation even further.”

Bosnian politicians and the political representatives of the Croatians living in Bosnia rejected Pack’s suggestion. Most of them support a thorough constitutional overhaul which would abolish both entities and establish a new regional division of the country along non-ethnic lines. This option is strongly rejected by the political representatives of the Serbians living in Bosnia.

“This is an unacceptable solution, which would only cement the two-entity division of the country,” said Miso Relota, spokesman for the HDZ BiH Party.

The Vice President of the ruling Bosnian Party of Democratic Action (SDA), Sefik Dzaferovic, said the setup should be changed not only in one but in both entities.


SREBRENICA, Bosnia (July 7,2008) - During the visit to the remote Srebrenica local community Skelani, the Japanese Ambassador to Bosnia Futao Motai met in Srebrenica with the Srebrenica Municipality Mayor Abdurahman Malkic.

"We talked about realization and spreading of the socio-economical rural development that my country's government, by virtue of its Agency for Development JICA, implements in the area of the five Srebrenica local communities that gravitate to Skelani, in cooperation with those local communities and five NGOs from that area. This is an agricultural project and the Japanese government invested around 600 000 Euros for it so far," said Ambassador Motai.

He pointed out that Srebrenica Municipality gave significant contribution to the realization of this project.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (July 7,2008) - Official statistics show that in the first five months of the year Bosnia’s export to Turkey dropped by 44.7 per cent, which is especially worrying given that Turkey is a country with one of the most developed trade relationships with Bosnia.

At the same time, import from Turkey increased by 48.4 per cent. More precisely, the value of Bosnia’s export to Turkey was just 6.8 million Bosnian Marks, while imports from Turkey in the first five months of 2008 reached 411 million Bosnian Marks. June figures do not give reason for optimistic forecast, either.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (July 7,2008) - Bosnia and Montenegro are preparing to implement several joint projects in the areas of energy and transport, worth several billion Euros, Montenegro’s Ambassador to Bosnia Ramiz Basic has announced.

The European Agency for Reconstruction (EAR) has already set aside EUR 350,000 for write a feasibility study for the rehabilitation of one section of the Sarajevo – Podgorica highway.