Thursday, October 9, 2008


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (October 9,2008) - A former foreign fighter,who participated in the defence of Bosnia from the genocidal Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian fascist aggressors in the 1990's,and who is now detained by some criminals within the Bosnian government and may face deportation, has gone on hunger strike demanding respect for his human rights.

The health of former Bosnian citizen of Syrian origin Imad al-Husayn, also known as Abu Hamza, was deteriorating fast,his lawyer, Osman Mulahalilovic said.

Abu Hamza was arrested on October 6 and brought to the Bosnian Immigration Centre in the southern Sarajevo suburb of Lukavica, where he was visited by his lawyer on October 8.

This could be a prelude to Abu Hamza’s extradition.It is believed that between 2,000 and 5,000 foreign fighters came to the country during the 1992-1995 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions ahainst Bosnia. Most of them left after the war, but a few hundred married Bosnian women, had families and remained in Bosnia.Abu Hamza is one of them.

He obtained Bosnian citizenship in 1994 but some criminals within the Bosnian government, claiming "he posed a threat to national security", revoked it in 2001.

Foreign and domestic Christian fundamentalist media has speculated that Abu Hamza may have been linked to al Qaeda - though none of those claims and accusations were backed up by any evidence.

The Bosnian Constitutional Court had previously accepted Mulahalilovic’s claim that Abu Hamza – although no longer a Bosnian citizen – should not be separated from his family as it would violate the most basic European human rights principles and laws. Therefore, the Constitutional Court sent the case back to a lower court for a retrial.

Yet despite that, Bosnian police arrested Abu Hamza on October 6 near his home. As of October 7, he has entered a hunger strike.

Abu Hamza’s lawyer,Bosnian media and non-governmental organisations strongly criticised Bosnian government for moving against Abu Hamza and some other defenders of Bosnia, without any concrete criminal evidence against them.


VITEZ, Bosnia (October 9,2008) - Bosnian police say an explosion at a shopping center in the central Bosnian town of Vitez has killed a security guard and injured four customers.

Police spokesman Sefir Barucija says the explosion occurred around noon today in the town of Vitez. He says one person was hospitalized with serious wounds while the others were lightly injured.

He also said last Friday police were tipped off that an explosive device was placed in the FIS shopping center, but officers did not find any device.

Witnesses say FIS security guard Zvonko Barbic noticed a suspicious package, picked it up and was killed when it exploded.Police says an investigation is under way.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (October 9,2008) - The Ukranian Ambassador to Bosnia Markian Lubkivsky has expressed, in his conversation with the Bosnian President Haris Silajdžić, his satisfaction with the relations between the two countries, and stressed the necessity to improve cooperation in the area of economy.

During the conversation Ambassador Lubkivsky informed President Silajdžić about the preparations that Ukraine is making for opening of its embassy in Bosnia and expressed the hope that Bosnia will soon start the process of opening its embassy in Ukraine.

Ambassador Lubkivsky also congratulated Bosnia on the progress it has made in the process of its accession to European Union and NATO alliance.

The Bosnian President Haris Silajdžić said that Bosnia was ready to intensify its relations with Ukraine, at both political and economic level and also exchange cultural heritage.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (October 9,2008) - Hosted by the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), a two-day coordination meeting gathering participants in the Multi-Beneficiary Programme under the European Commission’s Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA), has commenced in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo today.

Head of Operations of the European Commission Delegation to Bosnia Boris Iarochevitch and Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council Hido Biščević addressed the participants at the opening ceremony. They both emphasized the importance of the meeting and of the Multi-Beneficiary Programme, which might become an important tool for the very essence of the work of the RCC.

Delegations of Bosnia, Albania, Croatia,Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey and European Commission have gathered to discuss and evaluate implementation of the ongoing projects, Programme’s strategy and possibilities for future cooperation.

Iarochevitch underlined how important and useful is to held meetings like this one in order to exchange information among the beneficiaries of the countries and delegations of the region and discuss future regional cooperation and steps forward.

“I think that the timing is very important. As you all know, we are currently engaged in the IPA programming cycle. You have been recently asked to commence to draft programmes and plans for the years 2009-2011, and I think our work today will help us to generate ideas with a regional scope for the future indicative programmes.”- stressed Iarochevitch.

Biščević pointed out that the next year, a year of 2009, would be a crucial year for the countries of the southeastern Europe, and particularly for the Western Balkans countries.He said that these countries, which are at the crossroad now, could experience two possible outcomes – a positive one, where the positive trends can be sustained and accelerated, and a negative one, a scenario of standstill.

“I need to tell you that the countries in the region are eagerly waiting for a strategy to be finalised. The governments in the region are very much preparing to see in what way, how, to what dynamics and to what methodology the Multi-Beneficiary Programme strategy will be translated, in the forthcoming period, into concrete work, concrete projects.” – said Biščević.

The multi-beneficiary programme will complement and add value to the support given by different national programmes. Multi-beneficiary actions consequently focuses on support that requires collaboration among the beneficiaries, such as regional structures, networks of experts or civil servants or to tackle needs or problems of a cross-border nature.

Purpose of support under the IPA programme is to help candidate and potential candidate countries (the Beneficiaries) to progress towards fully meeting the Copenhagen political and economic criteria as well as adopting and implementing EU acquis.

Besides the country-specific financial assistance, a multi-beneficiary programme supports joint projects by several partners, in areas such as economic and social development, exchange of students and academic staff, supporting civil society, administrative and judicial reform, fight against organised crime and corruption and disaster risk reduction.

For 2008-2010, the overall indicative amount of EU financial assistance under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) is 4.471 billion Euros.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (October 9,2008) - The first meeting of the EC-Bosnia Interim Committee was held on 7 October 2008 in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo. This body was established under the Interim Agreement which entered into force on 1 July 2008 and which allows for comprehensive trade liberalisation between the European Union and Bosnia.

This is an important step forward in the Stabilisation and Association Process of the country. At its first constitutive meeting the Interim Committee approved its internal rules of procedure and set up a number of sub-committees to assist it in monitoring the implementation of the Agreement.

The meeting offered an opportunity for the Parties to have a fruitful discussion on current and future priorities, including on free movement of goods, customs and taxation, competition, intellectual and industrial property and transit traffic. Bosnia's WTO accession negotiations and the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) implementation were also discussed.

While most of the industrial, agricultural and fishery products from Bosnia have been given duty and quota free access to the European internal market, Bosnia is granted the right to progressively reduce such duties over five years on goods of EU-origin.

"This will enable larger inflow of foreign investment in Bosnia”, stated Pierre Mirrel, Director of the Commission's Directorate General for Enlargement.

The Commission welcomed the adoption of an Action Plan for the implementation of the Agreement by the Bosnian government and encouraged the country to enhance preparations for full implementation of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the European Union.

In this framework, it also encouraged Bosnia to ensure full compliance with the European Convention for Human Rights, full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and early preparations for a census in 2011.

The Bosnian delegation to the meeting was led by the Director of the Bosnian Directorate for European Integration, Osman Topcagic.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (October 9,2008) - The government of The FBIH entity will revise down its 2008 budget of 1.76 billion Bosnian Marks (1.23 billion US Dollars) after increased revenues allowed for cutting, the FBIH Finance Minister Vjekoslav Bevanda said yesterday.

"The government will revise down the 2008 budget, the cuts will range from 200-400 million Bosnian Marks (100-200 million Euros)," Minister Bevanda said.

"The revised budget will represent a basis for the 2009 budget draft.Our macroeconomic projections showed that such a revised and reduced budget can be increased by only 3.6 percent next year," he added.

Bevanda has been long warning that the budget was overstretched by unrealistic welfare payments promised under a pre-election law in 2006. Now he said the revision was made possible thanks to increased revenues from indirect taxation.

The 2008 budget was mostly social, with more than 700 million Bosnian Marks or 40 percent allocated for social categories, such as war veterans, invalids and civilian victims.

The fiscal system has become threatened by payments after the number of beneficiaries had risen to around 85,000 earlier this year. After inspections, their number fell to some 65,000.

Bevanda said he expected the FBIH entity to record fiscal deficit in 2008 but failed to provide details.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (October 9,2008) - The Head of the Bosnian Savings Deposit Insurance Agency Josip Nevjestic said yesterday that the savings deposits Bosnian citizens have in the banks in Bosnia are safe, and that there is no reason for concern, regardless of the global financial crisis.

"The crisis is not going to go around anyone, but the deposits are safe", Nevjestic assures.

In its meeting yesterday, the Agency’s Board was discussing the state of deposits in insured banks in the period between December 31, 2007 and August 31, 2008.

The deposits in total 24 insured banks in Bosnia have reached 15.6 billion Bosnian Marks, increasing by 8.13 per cent in the stated period.

Citizens’ savings account for the biggest share in that, and they were up by 10.85 per cent, to 5.8 billion Bosnian Marks. The Board has concluded that the trend of growth maintained throughout the period, which is an important reassuring factor.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (October 9,2008) - In the first nine months of 2008 the foreign direct investment in Bosnia reached 550 million Euros, Director of the Bosnian Foreign Investment Promotion Agency (FIPA) Haris Basic has announced.

According to him, that was considerably more compared to 2006, but less compared to 2007, when the FDI inflow especially benefited from the privatization process.

Basic’s estimate is that the final FDI figure this year would reach up to 650 million Euros, which is below forecasts that were based on expected revenues from the privatization of telecoms and the Mostar aluminium plant.


GRACANICA, Bosnia (October 9,2008) - The first waste-to-energy plant in Bosnia was inaugurated in Gracanica yesterday. In the course of the week, several companies in this industrial zone will be provided with heat energy from this plant, during a test phase.

The company behind this project worth 15 million Bosnian Marks is Austrian Seges.

According to the Director of Eko-Toplana Gracanica, the entire industrial zone and the Luka residential area will be connected to the system by the end of 2008, and in the next two years the entire municipality will get heat from this plant running on biomass. Plans also exist to put up another plant which would run on solid waste.


BRCKO, Bosnia (October 9,2008) - The Brcko District Supervisor Raffi Gregorian issued an order yesterday to impose a financial penalty on the Brcko District government members, in the amount of one monthly salary, for their failure to adopt the 2009 Draft Budget within the deadline set by the Statute.

Gregorian made the decision the same day that the government actually adopted the document. Gregorian further instructed the Assembly to proceed with the adoption process, despite this deadline breach, and extended its deadline by the end of 2008.

"The failure to adopt the budget in time could threaten the District’s financial stability, which is something I cannot tolerate", Gregorian explained.