Friday, September 26, 2008


NEW YORK, USA (September 26,2008) - Bosnia has been invited to join a group of countries seeking membership in the NATO alliance.The Adriatic Charter, which consists of Albania, Croatia and Macedonia,extended invitations to the two southeastern European states: Bosnia and Montenegro, during a meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

"This decision was made in the firm belief that this expansion of the charter will further strengthen mutual cooperation and advance Euro-Atlantic integration," McCormack said.

Albania, Croatia and Macedonia under the guidance of the United States founded the Adriatic Charter in 2003 to help the countries join the NATO alliance.

Albania and Croatia are set to become NATO members next year, while Macedonia’s bid to join the military alliance faltered because of a Greek veto.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (September 26,2008) – A concentration camp survivor from Kalinovik testified yesterday before the Bosnian State Court about the mass rapes committed by the genocidal Serbian fascist aggressor's soldiers against Bosnian women during the 1992-1995 Serbian aggression against Bosnia.

Prosecution witness Enesa Hasanbegovic was dtained in the vicinity of Ulog, in Kalinovik municipality, in late June 1992. She was among 193 residents of Gacko, who were captured while trying to escape the town due to the attack conducted by the the genocidal Serbian fascist aggressor.

On that occasion the witness' husband and two children were also detained and taken to the premises of the school in Ulog.

In early July 1992, all detained Bosnian civilians were transferred to the sports hall within the school building in Kalinovik, where witness Hasanbegovic's husband was murdered by the genocidal Serbian fascist aggressor in August 1992. She has still not found his remains.

"On August 1, 1992, members of the unit commanded by some "duke" from Prebilovci, took my husband away. I have never seen him again. Later on I went to the classroom in which he was murdered. When I got there I saw marks on the wall, which were made by bullets, and bullet capsules lying on the floor. The floor was dark, like blood. There was a trace of blood, leading to the exit door," Hasanbegovic said.

The Bosnian State Prosecution charges Serbian war criminals Ratko Bundalo, Nedjo Zeljaja and Djordjislav Askraba, former members of the genocidal Serbian fascist aggressor;s formations, among other things with the crimes committed in a school building in Kalinovik in 1992.

"In Kalinovik we were guarded by men, dressed in green uniforms. While we were there and in Ulog we used to receive food, which was brought in green military caldrons. Members of various (genocidal Serbian fascist) paramilitary groups, among whom were Pero Elez and Marinko Bjelica, visited the camp very often. They used to take Bosnian women and young girls away. Upon return they were covered with blood," Hasanbegovic said.

The indictment states that, in August 1992 members of a genocidal Serbian fascist paramilitary group, led by Serbian war criminal Pero Elez, used to come to the school building in Kalinovik every day and took the deyained Bosnian women nd young girls girls from the school and raped them.

The witness and other detainees, who were held in the school, was exchanged on August 31, 1992.

Second Prosecution witness Milos Mandic said that he was "engaged" in Gornji logor barracks in Kalinovik, in which Bundalo was "commander".

"I was in charge of a three-barrel gun, although I do not even know what it is. My post was in the vicinity of Jelasac village. I know that this gun was never used when I was there. You must understand that my health has deteriorated over the past four years, so I cannot remember many of those things," said Mandic, who responded to most Prosecution's questions by saying: "I do not know".

The trial of Serbian war criminals Ratko Bundalo, Nedjo Zeljaja and Djordjislav Askraba is due to continue before the Bosnian State Court on October 3, 2008.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (September 26,2008) – The Bosnian State Court accepted today the guilt admission agreement concluded between the Bosnian State Prosecution and Croatian war criminal Slavko Sakic, by which Croatian war criminal admitted guilt for war crimes committed against Bosnian civilians in Bugojno in 1993,during the Croatian aggression against Bosnia

Slavko Sakic, former member of the Croatian fascist aggressor's fprmations told the Court that he "wanted to admit guilt for all counts contained in the indictment".

Trial Chamber Chairwoman Jasmina Kosovic determined that the indictee "advisedly admitted guilt", adding that the Bosnian State Court would pronounce the verdict on September 29. Within this agreement, the Bosnian State Prosecution proposed to the Chamber to sentence the indictee to between seven and ten years' imprisonment.

"I would like to use this opportunity to address all those whom I harmed. I know that I cannot expect them to forgive me, but they should know that I feel sincerely sorry for the misdoings I committed," Croatian war criminal Slavko Sakic told the Bosnian State Court.

The Bosnian State Prosecutor Prosecution charges Croatian war criminal Slavko Sakic, as former member of the Croatian fascist aggressor's formations, with having searched Bosnian civilians and forcibly taken their money and jewelry from them when they were captured and with having participated in the torture of Bosnian civilians, who were detained by the fascist Croatian aggressor in the basement of "Akvarijum" motel in Vrbanja settlement in July 1993.

As per a request by the Trial Chamber, the Bosnian State Prosecution presented its evidence against Croatian war criminal Slavko Sakic. Fifty pieces of material evidence, including statements given by 27 persons, who were supposed to appear as witnesses in the course of this trial, were included as material evidence.

Presenting her closing arguments Defence attorney Branka Praljak asked the Trial Chamber to sentence him to "7 years' imprisonment", bearing in mind the mitigating circumstances, including the fact that "the indictee was only 20 years old" when he committed the crime and his "sincere repentance".

Croatian war criminal Slavko Sakic was arrested in the southwestern Bosnian town of Livno by members of the Bosnian State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA). He has been held under custody since then. The indictment against him was confirmed on July 30.

This is the fifth guilt admission agreement concluded between the Bosnian State Prosecution and war crime indictees.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (September 26,2008) – The ways Bosnia can take the best advantage of the projects advocated by the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) was the main point of discussion between the RCC Secretary General Hido Biscevic and Bosnia's Prime Minister, Nikola Spiric, held in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo.

Spiric expressed full support to RCC activities and reaffirmed Bosnia's commitment to regional cooperation.

The two officials stressed the importance of taking the best advantage of regional projects through the European Union’s forthcoming multi-beneficiary strategy for Southeast Europe, highlighting the RCC contribution in identifying the project areas.

Secretary General Biscevic presented Prime Minister Spiric with the upcoming RCC projects, including the establishment of the Southeast European Regional Fire-Fighting Centre and the Regional Disaster Insurance Facility, as well as a conference on integrated use of inland waterways.

The important role the international financial institutions and RCC National Coordinators can play in this process was also stressed.

With regards to the political situation in the southeastern Europe, both officials emphasized the urgent attention the countries of the region need to pay to reform processes in order to speed up their European integration prospects.

As the successor of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe, the RCC is intended to foster regional cooperation and support European and Euro-Atlantic integration in Southeast Europe. Its work focuses on six priority areas: economic and social development, energy and infrastructure, justice and home affairs, security cooperation, building human capital, and parliamentary cooperation as an overarching theme. The RCC is based in Sarajevo.


ZENICA, Bosnia (September 26,2008) - According to the organizers, 525 participants have already applied to participate at the ZEPS 2008 general fair, taking place in Zenica from October 7 to 12. The participants will come from 33 countries of the world, marketing director Dzavdana Hukeljic has announced.

Based on an agreement signed in Teheran in June, a delegation of Iran’s industrially most developed county of Arak will arrive, as well. Some 30 companies in the delegation will have their European debut at ZEPS. There were 630 companies from 36 countries last year, and more than 700 are expected this year.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (September 26,2008) - The Bosna Bank International (BBI),an Islamic Bosnian bank,wants to make a breakthrough to the Croatian market, where it would adjust its operations to the existing legislation, bank’s general director Amer Bukvic confirmed.

He said they would probe the Croatian market and then decide on the way of founding a bank and its operation. Bukvic noted that double taxing in Croatia was a big problem for BBI.

The Croatian National Bank stated that conditions for founding or taking over a bank in Croatia are defined in detail by the law and apply to all founders equally.


BRIJUNI, Croatia (September 26,2008) - A conference dubbed “Strengthening Peace and Stability” started in Croatia today. The conference is attended by armed forces chiefs-of-staff of 11 countries: Albania, Bosnia, Canada, Estonia, Lithuania, Macedonia,Serbia, Montenegro, Slovenia, the United States and NATO.

The main subjects of the conference are the transformation of the armed forces and the participation in international peace operations.

The Croatian President Mesic said that in entering NATO, Croatia would have to become even more involved both in the stabilisation of its immediate neighbouring countries, as well as in joint efforts of NATO and the EU to stabilise the region of the southeastern Europe. He stressed that Croatia wanted to serve as an example to others by continuing the process of cooperation even after it joins NATO.

"Although wars in the area of the former Yugoslavia ceased in the past decade, the region has still not been stabilised and one of the mechanisms that might facilitate Croatia’s further actions is the American-Adriatic Charter" Mesic said.

He voiced hope that political problems that hindered an invitation to Skopje for the recent NATO summit in Bucharest would soon be overcome and that Macedonia would become a full member of NATO.

"This is also in Croatia’s interest, so Croatia will continue to provide support to Macedonia’s aspirations to join NATO. The A3 group (Bosnia,Croatia and Macedonia) still needs the initiative whose development needs to be continued," Mesic said.

Speaking about the significance of the American-Adriatic Charter, the Croatian president said it had provided results in boosting regional cooperation in the field of security and defence.


MOSTAR, Bosnia (September 26,2008) - More than 200 entrepreneurs and other guests participated in the first business forum hosted by the southern Bosnian city of Mostar yesterday.

The forum was co-organized by the World Bank's office in Bosnia.

As mayor Ljubo Beslic said, the city administration wishes to make a concrete contribution to cutting administrative procedures and furthering the business surrounding.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (September 26,2008) - Head of the European Commission Delegation to Bosnia Dimitris Kourkoulas, attended earlier this week the opening ceremony of the Conference on Support to Tourism Development in Bosnia in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo. Organised on the occasion of marking the World Tourism Day, this conference gathered all relevant stakeholders to exchange views and to jointly derive conclusions on future actions in tourism sector.

Organization of this conference was a result of a joint initiative by the Bosnian Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations and the Working Group for Coordination of Activities in Tourism in Bosnia, supported by the Delegation of European Commission to Bosnia that recognized the initiative as a necessary step in the process of further development and promotion of tourism in the country.

Ambassador Kourkoulas reminded that the European Commission supported the development of competitiveness in tourism sector in Bosnia by financing 60 projects with over than 10 million Euros. In addition, last year a comprehensive Mapping Report was produced in order to provide strategic guidelines and recommendation for targeted EU assistance in the future.

Outlining the fact that capabilities of the Bosnian tourism infrastructure need to be strengthened, Ambassador Kourkoulas said that development of tourism sector would contribute to the overall development of the Bosnian economy.

“For the European Commission this Conference is an excellent example that this country in spite of all problems can progress and build better future and European Commission is here to help in these endeavours.”, concluded Ambassador Kourkoulas.

Nevenko Herceg, the FBIH Entity Minister of Environment and Tourism stressed the importance of creating a positive image of Bosnia by promoting it as a beautiful country of rich history based on variety of cultures.

Thematic part of the Conference commenced with the presentation by Dr. Johan Hesse, First Secretary and Head Operational Section Economic Reform and Natural Resources of the Delegation of the European Commission to Bosnia. He presented the findings of EU funded report about assessment needs in the Bosnian tourism.

The conference covered broad spectre of topics relevant for further development of tourism in Bosnia: from the legislative framework and tourism statistics, topics related to the cultural heritage protection and tourist valorisation, significance of branding and marketing in tourism to the brief on priorities in the sector of tourism in Bosnia as recognised by the EU. On this occasion, successful entrepreneurs and/or representatives of the local communities were also given the opportunity to concisely present their initiatives that had significant results, and shared their own views on the successful tourism business models.

The conference was organised with technical assistance of the EU funded project - EU Training and Consultancy (EU TAC).