Friday, October 24, 2008


NEW YORK, UNITED NATIONS (October 24,2008) - A member of the Bosnian State Presidency Zeljko Komsic met in New York with the UN general Secretary, Ban Ki-Moon and UN General Assembly president Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann.

Komsic informed Ban Ki-Moon on the current political situation and the region and pointed out that the situation in Bosnia is much better than some Bosnian politicians and representatives of the international community present.

The strategic interest of BiH is, Komsic said, for all countries in the region to be stable and become members of the EU since instability of one of the countries in the region means automatically the instability of the entire region.

He pointed out that the issue of recognition of Kosovo is specific issue for Bosnia and that, due to internal political reasons, will not happen in the near future.

He also said that one of the main goals in realization of more active role of Bosnia on the field of the foreign policy is Bosnia's candidacy for temporary member of the UN Security Council in 2010.

Ban Ki-Moon pointed out the significance of the unity of the Bosnian state institutions and necessity of focus on Bosnia's stability as one of the important factors in the region.

It is, due to this, necessary to ensure that all Bosnian citizens feel safe and comfortable in Bosnia.At the end he expressed his wishes and hopes that Bosnia will become temporary member of the UN Council of Security.

Komsic also met with the UN General Assembly president Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann discussed the current political situation in the country.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (October 24,2008) - The Bosnian President Haris Silajdžić met yesterday with a delegation of Confederation of Turkish Businessmen and Industrials of Turkey- TUSKON, led by its president Rizanur Meral.

They discussed the possibility of investments of Turkish investors in Bosnia and direct cooperation of businessmen working in two countries.

TUSKON representatives announced more intensive cooperation with businessmen in Bosnia.

President Silajdžić stressed that it is the right time to invest in Bosnia, especially when it comes to energy, water, wood industry and tourism.What gives further security to foreign investors, as Dr Silajdžić said, is the fact that Bosnia is on the path to membership in the EU and NATO.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (October 24,2008) - Coordination team of the Bosnian Council of Ministers for NATO integrations adopted yesterday on the Action plan for realization of Bosnia's activities for obtaining NATO membership until April 2009 that is till the next summit of the Alliance. Igor Crnadak, the Bosnian Deputy Minister of Defence was presiding at the meeting.

As it was announced from the Bosnian Ministry of Defence the most important activities in this period will be realization of the taken obligations, especially from the IPAP and the intensified dialogue.

Another obligations are also fulfilment of the Bosnian Mission to NATO, Department for NATO and PFP at the Bosnian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as development and the beginning of the realization of the strategy of communication for better introduction of the Euro-Atlantic integrations to the Bosnian citizens.

NATO Coordination team concluded that it is necessary to speed up the fulfilment of the Bosnian Mission to NATO since delay would lead to practical difficulties due to the fact that they could not participate in everyday work of the Alliance and poorer presence of Bosnia in Brussels.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (October 24,2008) - According to a new report from Reporters sans Frontiers (RSF), Bosnia is tied for 36th in the world for press freedom, with the United States, Cape Verde, South Africa, Spain and Taiwan. Of the nations that rank above Bosnia, the report lists Mali, Ghana, Namibia, Jamaica, Surinam, as well as states formerly controlled by the Soviet Union such as the three Baltic states : Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and Slovakia. France ranked 35th, just ahead of Bosnia.

The United States rose twelve places to 36th position. The release of Al-Jazeera cameraman Sami Al-Haj after six years in the Guantanamo Bay military base contributed to this improvement. Although the absence of a federal “shield law” means the confidentiality of sources is still threatened by federal courts, the number of journalists being subpoenaed or forced to reveal their sources has declined in recent months and none has been sent to prison.

The group also noted that there has not yet been justice for the murder of the editor of the Oakland Post, Chauncey Bailey, suggesting that flaws in the system and a lack of special protection for journalists may be contributing to the lag in prosecuting the crime.

“The way the investigation into his murder has become enmeshed in local conflicts of interest and the lack of federal judicial intervention also help to explain why the United States did not get a higher ranking”.

RSF also criticized the US for the “many arrests of journalists during the Democratic and Republican conventions”, which includes the arrest of several reporters who were covering an anti-Republican party protest rally, during the Republican national convention, by authorities who were either making blanket arrests or were specifically instructed to interfere with media coverage of the event.

Bolivia was the worst performer, dropping 47 places to 115th worldwide. The RSF report cites institutional conflict and the deliberate targeting of journalists by one political faction or another: “Its institutional and political crisis has exacerbated the polarisation between state and privately-owned media and exposed journalists to violence because of their presumed links with the government or opposition”.

Two aspects stand out in the index, which covers the 12 months to 1 September 2008. One is Europe’s preeminence. Aside from New Zealand and Canada, the first 20 positions are held by European countries. The other is the very respectable ranking achieved by certain Central American and Caribbean countries. Jamaica and Costa Rica are in 21st and 22nd positions, rubbing shoulders with Hungary (23rd). Just a few position below them are Surinam (26th) and Trinidad and Tobago (27th). These small Caribbean countries have done much better than France (35th), which has fallen again this year, this time by four places, and Spain (36th) and Italy (44th), countries held back again by political or mafia violence. Namibia (23rd), a large and now peaceful southern African country that came first in Africa, ahead of Ghana (31st), was just one point short of joining the top 20.

The economic disparities among the top 20 are immense. Iceland’s per capita GDP is 10 times Jamaica’s. What they have in common is a parliamentary democratic system, and not being involved in any war. This is not the case with the United States (36th domestically and 119th outside its own territory) and Israel (46th domestically and 149th outside its own territory), whose armed forces killed a Palestinian journalist for the first time since 2003. A resumption of fighting also affected Georgia (120th) and Niger, which fell sharply from 95th in 2007 to 130th this year. Although they have democratic political systems, these countries are embroiled in low or high intensity conflicts and their journalists, exposed to the dangers of combat or repression, are easy prey. The recent provisional release of Moussa Kaka, the Niger correspondent of RFI and Reporters Without Borders, after 384 days in prison in Niamey and cameraman Sami al-Haj’s release after six years in the hell of Guantanamo serve as reminders that wars sweep away not only lives but also, and above all, freedom.

Countries that have become embroiled in very violent conflicts after failing to resolve serious political problems, such as Iraq (158th), Pakistan (152nd), Afghanistan (156th) and Somalia (153rd), continue to be highly dangerous “black zones” for the press, places where journalists are targets for murder, kidnapping, arbitrary arrest or death threats every day. They may come under fire from the parties at war. They may be accused of taking sides. Any excuse will do to get rid of “trouble-makers” and “spies.” Such is the case in the Palestinian Territories (163rd), especially the Gaza Strip, where the situation got much worse after Hamas seized power. At the same time, in Sri Lanka (165th), where there is an elected government, the press has to face violence that is only too often organised by the state.

Bringing up the rear are the dictatorships - some disguised, some not - where dissidents and pro-reform journalists manage to open cracks in the walls that enclose them. The year of the Olympics in the new Asian power, China (167th), was the year that Hu Jia and many other dissidents and journalists were jailed. But it also provided opportunities to those liberal media that are trying gradually to free themselves of the country’s still pervasive police control. Being a journalist in Beijing or Shanghai - or in Iran (166th), Uzbekistan (162nd) and Zimbabwe (151st) - is a high risk exercise involving endless frustration and constant police and judicial harassment. In Burma (170th), run by a xenophobic and inflexible junta, journalists and intellectuals, even foreign ones, have for years been viewed as enemies by the regime, and they pay the price.

In Alexander Lukashenko’s Belarus (154th) and Teodoro Obiang Nguema’s Equatorial Guinea (156th), the leader’s ubiquitous portrait on the streets and front pages of the newspapers is enough to dispel any doubt about the lack of press freedom. Other dictatorships do without a personality cult but are just as suffocating. Nothing is possible in Laos (164th) if it does not accord with government policy.

Finally, North Korea and Turkmenistan are unchanging hells in which the population is cut off from the world and is subjected to propaganda worthy of a bygone age. And in Eritrea (173rd), which has come last for the second year running, President Issaias Afeworki and his small clan of paranoid nationalists continue to run Africa’s youngest country like a vast open prison.

The international community, including the European Union, endlessly repeats that the only solution continues to be “dialogue.” But dialogue has clearly had little success and even the most authoritarian governments are still able to ignore remonstrations without risking any repercussions other than the inconsequential displeasure of the occasional diplomat.

The other disease that eats away at democracies and makes them lose ground in the ranking is corruption. The bad example of Bulgaria (59th), still last in Europe, serves as a reminder that universal suffrage, media pluralism and some constitutional guarantees are not enough to ensure effective press freedom. The climate must also favour the flow of information and expression of opinions. The social and political tensions in Peru (108th) and Kenya (97th), the media politicisation in Madagascar (94th) and Bolivia (115th) and the violence against investigative journalists in Brazil (82nd) are all examples of the kinds of poison that blight emerging democracies. And the existence of people who break the law to get rich and who punish inquisitive journalists with impunity is a scourge that keeps several “great countries” - such as Nigeria (131st), Mexico (140th) and India (118th) - in shameful positions.

Certain would-be “great countries” deliberately behave in a manner that is brutal, unfair or just disturbing. The examples include Venezuela (113th), where President Hugo Chávez’s personality and decrees are often crushing, and the Putin-Medvedev duo’s Russia (141st), where state and opposition media are strictly controlled and journalists such as Anna Politkovskaya are killed each year by “unidentified” gunmen who often turn out to have close links with the Kremlin’s security services.

The ranking’s “soft underbelly” also includes countries that waver between repression and liberalisation, where the taboos are still inviolable and the press laws hark back to another era. In Gabon (110th), Cameroon (129th), Morocco (122nd), Oman (123rd), Cambodia (126th), Jordan (128th) and Malaysia (132nd), for example, it is strictly forbidden to report anything that reflects badly on the president or monarch, or their family and close associates. Journalists are routinely sent to prison in Senegal (86th) and Algeria (121st) under repressive legislation that violates the democratic standards advocated by the UN.

Online repression also exposes these tenacious taboos. In Egypt (146th), demonstrations launched online shook the capital and alarmed the government, which now regards every Internet user as a potential danger. The use of Internet filtering is growing by the year. China is still leads the “Internet black hole” ranking worldwide, deploying considerable technical resources to control Internet users.

Only a few countries have risen significantly in the ranking. Lebanon (66th), for example, has climbed back to a more logical position after the end of the bomb attacks on influential journalists of recent years. Haiti (73rd) continues its slow rise, as do Argentina (68th) and Maldives (104th). But the democratic transition has halted in Mauritania (105th), preventing it from continuing its rise, while the slender gains of the past few years in Chad (133rd) and Sudan (135th) were swept away by the overnight introduction of censorship.

The RSF report covers “every kind of violation directly affecting journalists (such as murders, imprisonment, physical attacks and threats) and news media (censorship, confiscation of newspaper issues, searches and harassment). And it includes the degree of impunity enjoyed by those responsible for these press freedom violations”.

The 2008 world press freedom ranking:

1 Iceland 1,50
- Luxembourg 1,50
- Norway 1,50
4 Estonia 2,00
- Finland 2,00
- Ireland 2,00
7 Belgium 3,00
- Latvia 3,00
- New Zealand 3,00
- Slovakia 3,00
- Sweden 3,00
- Switzerland 3,00
13 Canada 3,33
14 Austria 3,50
- Denmark 3,50
16 Czech Republic 4,00
- Lithuania 4,00
- Netherlands 4,00
- Portugal 4,00
20 Germany 4,50
21 Jamaica 4,88
22 Costa Rica 5,10
23 Hungary 5,50
- Namibia 5,50
- United Kingdom 5,50
26 Surinam 6,00
27 Trinidad and Tobago 6,13
28 Australia 6,25
29 Japan 6,50
30 Slovenia 7,33
31 Cyprus 7,50
- Ghana 7,50
- Greece 7,50
- Mali 7,50
35 France 7,67
36 Bosnia 8,00
- Cape Verde 8,00
- South Africa 8,00
- Spain 8,00
- Taiwan 8,00
- United States of America 8,00
42 Macedonia 8,25
43 Uruguay 8,33
44 Italy 8,42
45 Croatia 8,50
46 Israel (Israeli territory) 8,83
47 Mauritius 9,00
- Poland 9,00
- Romania 9,00
- South Korea 9,00
51 Hong-Kong 9,75
- Liberia 9,75
53 Cyprus (North) 10,00
- Montenegro 10,00
- Togo 10,00
56 Chile 11,50
57 Panama 11,83
58 Kosovo 12,00
59 Bulgaria 12,50
- Nicaragua 12,50
61 Kuwait 12,63
62 El Salvador 12,80
63 Burkina Faso 13,00
64 Serbia 13,50
65 Timor-Leste 13,75
66 Botswana 14,00
- Lebanon 14,00
68 Argentina 14,08
69 United Arab Emirates 14,50
70 Benin 15,00
- Malawi 15,00
- Tanzania 15,00
73 Haiti 15,13
74 Bhutan 15,50
- Ecuador 15,50
- Qatar 15,50
- Seychelles 15,50
- Zambia 15,50
79 Albania 16,00
- Fiji 16,00
81 Guinea-Bissau 16,33
82 Brazil 18,00
- Dominican Republic 18,00
- Tonga 18,00
85 Central African Republic 18,50
86 Senegal 19,00
87 Ukraine 19,25
88 Guyana 19,75
89 Comoros 20,00
90 Mozambique 20,50
- Paraguay 20,50
92 Congo 20,75
93 Mongolia 20,83
94 Burundi 21,00
- Madagascar 21,00
96 Bahrein 21,17
97 Kenya 21,25
98 Moldova 21,38
99 Guinea 21,50
- Honduras 21,50
101 Guatemala 22,64
102 Armenia 22,75
- Turkey 22,75
104 Maldives 23,25
105 Mauritania 23,88
106 Tajikistan 25,50
107 Uganda 26,00
108 Peru 26,25
109 Côte d’Ivoire 26,50
110 Gabon 26,75
111 Indonesia 27,00
- Kyrgyzstan 27,00
113 Venezuela 27,33
114 Sierra Leone 27,75
115 Bolivia 28,20
116 Angola 29,50
- Lesotho 29,50
118 India 30,00
119 United States of America (extra-territorial) 31,00
120 Georgia 31,25
121 Algeria 31,33
122 Morocco 32,25
123 Oman 32,67
124 Thailand 34,50
125 Kazakhstan 35,33
126 Cambodia 35,50
- Colombia 35,50
128 Jordan 36,00
129 Cameroon 36,90
130 Niger 37,00
131 Nigeria 37,75
132 Malaysia 39,50
133 Chad 41,25
134 Djibouti 41,50
135 Sudan 42,00
136 Bangladesh 42,70
137 Gambia 42,75
138 Nepal 43,25
139 Philippines 45,00
140 Mexico 46,13
141 Russia 47,50
142 Ethiopia 47,75
143 Tunisia 48,10
144 Singapore 49,00
145 Rwanda 50,00
146 Egypt 50,25
147 Swaziland 50,50
148 Democratic Republic of Congo 51,25
149 Israel (extra-territorial) 51,50
150 Azerbaijan 53,63
151 Zimbabwe 54,00
152 Pakistan 54,88
153 Somalia 58,00
154 Belarus 58,33
155 Yemen 59,00
156 Afghanistan 59,25
- Equatorial Guinea 59,25
158 Iraq 59,38
159 Syria 59,63
160 Libya 61,50
161 Saudi Arabia 61,75
162 Uzbekistan 62,70
163 Palestinian Territories 66,88
164 Laos 70,00
165 Sri Lanka 78,00
166 Iran 80,33
167 China 85,50
168 Vietnam 86,17
169 Cuba 88,33
170 Burma 94,38
171 Turkmenistan 95,50
172 North Korea 96,50
173 Eritrea 97,50



BANJA LUKA, Bosnia (October 24,2008) - A seminar in the northern Bosnian cirt of Banja Luka began yesterday aimed at strengthening border security procedures.The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Bosnian State Agency for Identification Documents, Data Registers and Data Exchange organized the two-day training seminar, the OSCE said.

Security experts from around the world came to take part in the seminar designed to support Bosnia's new passport and identity card system. Officials say border police and criminal investigation authorities are undergoing training on methods and modernized techniques to ensure border security.

"An upgrade to a new travel document provides a good opportunity to modernize and secure the handling and issuance process," OSCE representative Dimitar Jalnev, said in a statement.

"A vital tool in this regard is the development of a modern, secure, transparent and comprehensive civil registration system that safeguards and verifies the identities of citizens," he said


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (October 24,2008) - Russian Gazprom has announced that it would halt its supply of natural gas to Bosnia from January 1, 2009, if a debt totalling 104.8 million US Dollars is not settled by that time.

Bosnia has already faced such threats on several previous occasions.

Bosnian main energy company Energoinvest’s head Dzemail Vlahovljak, who is currently in Moscow at the helm of a Bosnian delegation, said Russians have made their threat more clear than ever before, and announced they would not back down again.

Furthermore, they have threatened for the first time to turn the issue of Bosnia’s debt over to arbitration and court, Vlahovljak said, adding that that would be the worst option for Bosnia, since she would have to pay almost 300 million US Dollars including interest, instead of 104.8 million.

The Russian side has proposed the introduction of a special tax which would be charged to all gas consumers for the purpose of paying the debt. The Bosnian government has little over two months to solve the problem.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (October 24,2008) - The panic in the Bosnian banking market is over.In the past two days there have been more of those clients who were making deposits than those making withdrawals, the Governor of the Bosnian Central Bank confirmed yesterday.

Kemal Kozaric was unable to say, however, what the total amount of withdrawals is. Kozaric said this returned trust is good for commercial banks, as well as that it needs to be mutual, urging banks not to raise their rates and fees.

The governor said the solvency of banks is satisfactory, and that there is more than 1 billion Bosnian Marks surplus in required reserves. He announced a proposal would be made on October 30 to cancel the reserve requirement for foreign loans.