Wednesday, November 5, 2008


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (November 5,2008) - Head of European Commission (EC) delegation in Bosnia Ambassador Dimitris Kourkoulas delivered the report today on Bosnia's progress towards EU membership for the last 12 months to Bosnia's Prime minister Nikola Spiric.

The European Commission (EC) urged Bosnia to speed up reform efforts in order to enter closer ties with EU.

Bosnia has made some progress in addressing political criteria during the first half of 2008. Beyond the developments that led to the signature of the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU, the country continued implementing its public administration reform strategy and adopted a national plan for development of the justice sector. The Bosnian State Court continued prosecuting war crimes, and trials have generally been held within a reasonable time frame and in compliance with internationally recognised principles. Municipal elections in October 2008 were conducted in accordance with international standards,the EC said.

However, lack of consensus on the main features of state building, frequent challenges to the Dayton/Paris peace agreement, and inflammatory rhetoric have adversely affected the functioning of institutions and slowed down reform, in particular since the middle of this year. The authorities have not yet demonstrated sufficient capacity to take the necessary political ownership and responsibility. The role played by ethnic identity in politics hampers the functioning of the democratic institutions and the country's overall governance. No progress has been made as regards constitutional reform. Corruption remains widespread and is a serious problem,the European Commission said.

The Bosnian economy has continued to expand rapidly and the country made some, albeit uneven, progress towards becoming a functioning market economy.

Macroeconomic stability has weakened as a result of worsening trade balance, higher inflation and expansionary fiscal policy. The persistence of very high unemployment remains a major source of concern. Fiscal coordination was improved, however.

The SME sector benefited from increased access to financing. However, the shift in the structure of production towards higher value added activities remained sluggish and the commitment to structural reforms remained uneven across the country.

Further considerable reforms must be pursued to enable the country to cope over the long term with competitive pressures and market forces within the Union,The EC said.

As far as En standards are concerned, progress has been made in Bosnia in the fields of customs, taxation, agriculture, transport, visa administration, border management, asylum and migration.

However, the country needs to intensify its efforts in many areas, as free movement of goods, persons and services, employment and social policies, state aids, energy, environment and statistics. Improved results as regards the fight against organised crime, drug trafficking and money laundering are also necessary,the EC said.

The report on Bosnia's progress for 2008 on Thursday shall be presented before the both houses and joint commission for EU integrations of the Bosnian State Parliament.


MARSEILLE, France (November 5,2008) - On the margins of the meeting of Foreign Affairs ministers of the Mediterranean Union member states held yesterday in Marseille,France, the Bosnian Foreign Affairs Minister Sven Alkalaj met with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Javier Solana.

They discussed current political situation in Bosnia, especially in terms of fulfillment of obligations deriving from the process of getting closer to EU integrations.

Alkalaj expressed hope that the European Commission report on progress of Bosnia shall express the achieved progress in fulfillment of obligations of Bosnia in the EU integrations processes and give incentive to Bosnia on its EU path.

Solana expressed concern of EU because of stagnation in Bosnia regarding fulfillment of obligations and expressed the need to continue with reform processes as soon as possible.


BANJA LUKA, Bosnia (November 5,2008) - A Catholic bishop from the northern Bosnian city of Banja Luka has protested that neither the Bosnian government nor the international community is doing anything to enable Catholic refugees to return to their homes some thirteen years after the end of the 1992-1995 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions against Bosnia.

Bishop Franjo Komarica said he and his priests had expected that the Bosnian government and the international community would take steps to restore damaged infrastructure, but he fears the government does not seem to regard itself as responsible for the Catholics.

In the bishop’s view, the government appears to take the position that Catholics in Bosnia are the concern of the bishop, though Bishop Komarica pointed out that it is not the task of the Church to build homes, provide running water and repair roads.

According to the bishop, perhaps two percent of the Catholics who fled during thew war have returned. He added there was no discernable political will to implement the public declarations that Catholics could return to their homes.

“Our appeals, pleas and protests have gone unheard", said Bishop Komarica. "Justice in this case is being trampled underfoot! Why do human rights apply in Germany, France and the USA, for example, but not to us in Bosnia?"

The bishop explained that the Catholic Church wishes to make a “fruitful contribution to the future of Bosnia,” but he added: “in order to do so we must first be able to live here.”

Bishop Komarica said that he will not tire of speaking out for all those disenfranchised.


HOFFENHEIM, Germany (November 5,2008) - TSG Hoffenheim midfielder Sejad Salihovic has pledged his long-term future to the Bundesliga newcomers, signing an extended contract running until the summer of 2012.

The 24-year-old Bosnia international has helped his club rise from the third tier of German football, having joined Hoffenheim from Hertha Berlin just over two years ago.

The club’s sporting director, Jan Schindelmeise, said: "Sejad is a wonderful example for TSG 1899 Hoffenheim's rise.

"Our team is unthinkable without him these days. I'm delighted that we continue to go our way together."

Meanwhile, Hoffenheim owner Dietmar Hopp has warned off any club considering making a bid for Salihovic’s compatriot, Vedad Ibisevic, in the January transfer window.

The 24-year-old has already scored 13 goals in 11 Bundesliga games this season, sparking talk of interest in him from a number of major clubs across the continent.

However, a defiant Hopp said: "I have not invested so much in my club to allow others to come along and start picking off our best players.

"All the players are under contract and are part of an exciting project. We don't need the money and we won't be selling anyone," he said.


ZVORNIK, Bosnia (November 5,2008) - On the order of the special section for war crimes of the Bosnian State Prosecutor's Office, members of the Bosnian State Information and Protection Agency (SIPA) arrested today Serbian war criminals Momir Pelemis and Slavko Peric in the eastern Bosnian town of Zvornik.

The two Serbian war criminals are suspected of committing a criminal act of genocide,during the 1992-1995 Serbian aggression against Bosnia, by participating in detention and mass murder of up to 1.700 Bosnian civilians from the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica in July 1995, stated the release of the Bosnian State Prosecutor's Office.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (November 5,2008) - Brigadier General Carlos Díaz del Río took over yesterday his duties from the outgoing Deputy Commander of EU's peacekeeping mission in Bosnia (EUFOR) Brigadier General Roberto D’Alessandro, who departed after six months in Bosnia,EUFOR has announced.

Brigadier General Roberto D’Alessandro on his departure said: “I am honored to have served as the EUFOR Deputy Commander for the past six months. It has been an enriching experience both professionally and personally. The professionalism and the unique support and cooperation of the staff of EUFOR HQ have been crucial to me to reach the goals of my job. Finally, my appreciation for the close cooperation established between EUFOR and the Bosnian Army, which is another step for the complete stabilization of the county.”

Brigadier General Carlos Díaz del Río has previously worked in Land Operation Centre at the Spanish Army HQ, Madrid, attended Senior Course at NATO Defense College, Rome and assigned to the NATO Striking Fleet Atlantic Norfolk, Virginia embarked on board USS Mount Whitney as ACOS CJ9 (CIMIC).

More recently, he was appointed Chief of the Army National Planning Centre (CEPOEN). He is very much looking forward to serving in Bosnia and is keen to reinforce the message that EUFOR remains a force for good and is working together with the Bosnian Armed Forces.


BANJA LUKA, Bosnia (November 5,2008) - Autopsy of the body of American citizen Paul Dennis Price (57) who was found dead on Monday at the flat where he lived in Banja Luka should show the exact cause of his death.

Price was found dead after his colleagues at the American agency for consultant military cooperation, which was placed at the Banja Luka barracks, reported that he did not come for work or he answered his mobile phone.

Police came to his flat where they found the workers from the above mentioned military organization and it was concluded that the doors of the flat were locked.

After the flat was searched it was found out that there are no traces of violence. The doctor said that the cause of death is probably the natural death.

The prosecutor on duty informed the US Embassy in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo about everything.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (November 5,2008) - Analysts of Standard and Poor’s have been in Bosnia for the past few days, talking with politicians, experts and members of the Bosnian business community before they decide how to rate the country’s credit risk.

Bosnia has so far been rated by Moody’s only.

The experts were particularly interested in Bosnia’s politics. The steps taken by the Bosnian Central Bank in response to the financial crisis were met with approval.