Bosnia and Herzegovina's declaration of sovereignty in October 1991, was followed by a referendum for independence from the former Yugoslavia in February 1992. The Bosnian Serbs - supported by neighboring Serbia - responded with armed resistance aimed at partitioning the republic along ethnic lines and joining Serb-held areas to form a "greater Serbia." In March 1994, Bosniaks and Croats reduced the number of warring factions from three to two by signing an agreement creating a joint
Bosniak/Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. On 21 November 1995, in Dayton, Ohio, the warring parties signed a peace agreement that brought to a halt the three years of interethnic civil strife (the final agreement was signed in Paris on 14 December 1995). The Dayton Agreement retained Bosnia and Herzegovina's international boundaries and created a joint multi-ethnic and democratic government. This national government is charged with conducting foreign, economic, and fiscal policy. Also recognized was a second tier of government comprised of two entities roughly equal in size: the
Bosniak/Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Bosnian Serb-led Republika Srpska (RS). The Federation and RS governments are charged with overseeing internal functions. In 1995-96, a NATO-led international peacekeeping force
(IFOR) of 60,000 troops served in Bosnia to implement and monitor the military aspects of the agreement. IFOR was succeeded by a smaller, NATO-led Stabilization Force
(SFOR) whose mission is to deter renewed hostilities. SFOR remains in place at a level of approximately 21,000 troops.
Update No: 077 - (01/10/03)
A troubled land
The Bosnian Federation is an anomaly in Europe, an international colony run by the International High Representative in Sarajevo and his staff. This fact and the tripartite character of the polity are reminiscent of Iraq. They suggest that if the UN takes over in Iraq they could be there for a lot longer than originally planned.
Some eight years after deploying 32,000 troops in Bosnia to keep Serbians, Croatians and Bosnian Muslims from fighting each other, there are still 12,000 international troops on the ground in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Even now few doubt that without them the fragile peace could well crumble into discord and dissension again.
Bosnia is still a very divided country, ethnic animosities that brought 240,000 deaths and created millions of refugees are just below the surface. The international aid workers and officials on the ground are convinced that the troops are still needed to keep a lid on things and to buy more time to create a valid civil society. That is becoming more difficult to persuade the Americans of, keen to devote more attention and troops to Iraq and other theatres of military activity..
After 9:11 Donald Rumsfeld, US defence secretary, called for a reduction in troop strength of one third, which duly happened. The Bosnia Mission, he told a NATO meeting, was straining the US and others "when they face growing demands from critical missions in the war on terrorism."
The Europeans to understand the Americans
A new division of labour can be expected in trouble spots like Bosnia, in which the Americans are the peace-makers and the Europeans and others are the peace-keepers and nation-builders, as in Afghanistan. This is involving fewer troops in all, who will act as a centralised force ready to be transported at a moment's notice, if trouble brews up. It will in all likelihood involve less aid too. There will be many in the aid movement who think this will be no bad thing. The $5bn extended to Bosnia since 1995 has often found its way into the wrong hands.
There is no longer any need to bribe the Bosnians to stay together is one view, articulated by the former International High Representative in Sarajevo, the top international official in the Balkans, Wolfgang Petritsch. " In Bosnia four years of fighting led to a kind of exhaustion and realisation on all sides that war is not going to help them." His successor, Paddy Ashdown, would be in agreement, but still regards the tasks ahead as truly formidable. "Troops are still required," he says, "until peace is irreversible."
Ashdown and his colleagues are trying to create an independent judiciary and a legal framework for economic development, including clear rules on the recovery of property by refugees.
What the Bosnians need to do to keep the West interested is to set up legislation to attract foreign investment; not least because this is where the Americans could come back in force again. A new law on foreign investments was passed in the federation's lower house last year, and has been adopted in the upper house. But it will take time to assess its full significance.
New life emerges for old bridge in Mostar
Almost 10 years after it was destroyed during the 1992-95 Bosnia-Herzegovina conflict, the famous Old Bridge in the southern city of Mostar is going though the final phase of its renaissance. Construction workers from Croatia, Turkey and Bosnia completed the reconstruction of the main arch of the bridge, finishing the most delicate phase of the reconstruction which started a year ago, according dpa News Agency.
Expressing his wishes that the reconstruction of the Old Bridge would symbolically renew good relations between Mostar's Moslem and Croat neighbours, the city's mayor, Hamdihja, laid the final 456th stone in the centre of the bride's 27m arch. The reconstruction project was designed to pay respect to the original shape of the Old Bridge, said project manager, Tihomir Rozic.
The Old Bridge (Stari Most) which lends its name to the town of Mostar, was build in 1566 by the Turkish architect, Hajrudin when the region was part of the Ottoman Empire. It was then declared a miracle of construction and was meant to present "a rainbow gently touching the banks of emerald-green Neretva," Rizic said.
The Old Bridge is a symbol of Mostar and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Respected for its priceless historical, cultural and architectural value, it has been placed under the protection of UNESCO. That fact did not stop Bosnian Croat troops destroying the monument as part of the fight against Moslems during the Moslem-Croat 1992-94 conflict, part of the 1992-95 war. The bridge totally collapsed on November 9th, 1993 when Bosnian Croat troops brought tanks close to the Old Bridge and shelled one of its supports. Both Moslems and Croats in Mostar remember the day with bitterness. "I could never forget the day when the bridge was destroyed. Part of my life has gone with it," said Alija Ajanic, a 55-year old Moslem from Mostar. Ajanic was a diver who used to take part in competitions, jumping from the bridge's arch into the more than 20-metre deep canyon in the Neretva. "Today when the bridge's arch is finally reconstructed I feel like the Old Bridge was reborn. I feel like my own child is born," Ajanic said. "If anyone asked me, this bridge would never have been destroyed and no war, hatred and divisions would have happened to us here. I am happy that the bridge will finally be back again, to connect and hopefully reconcile people in Mostar," Ajanic said. Ibrahim Corda, a Moslem from eastern Mostar, also said he hopes the reconstruction of the Old Bridge "would help in restoring good neighbour relationships in Mostar and the whole of Bosnia-Herzegovina."
The reconstruction work on the Old Bridge is due to continue on the rest of the bridge. It would be completed and open to the public next year. A total of 1,088 blocks of while limestone, including the 456 stones built into the arch, were taken from the same quarry as the stones that originally formed the bride. Rizic said the whole reconstruction project is expected to cost US$15m, most of which was raised by donations.
Bosnian Serb refinery signs contract with London company on crude oil deliveries
RS [Bosnian Serb Republic] Minister for Economy, Energy and Development, Milan Bogicevic, representatives of London's Petrocamak Europa Ltd and Bosanski Brod oil refinery signed in Banja Luka a contract on purchasing crude oil for the needs of the oil refinery, Onasa News Agency web site has reported. RS Prime Minister, Dragan Mikerevic, also attended the contract signing.
The government said in a statement the contract was signed according to a public invitation for the collection of bids, stating conditions linked to the quality of crude oil, price, payment terms and deliveries.
"Nine bids have arrived after the public ad, of which three bidders met the formal terms," the statement said, adding that the bid by Petrocamak Europa Ltd was accepted due to its favourable price, dynamic of deliveries and payment terms.
Petrocamak has offered 80,000 t of crude oil per month in the Croatian port of Omisalj at a lower price than the other two bidders, as well as crediting the necessary investments in the oil refinery intended for its full capacity work.
The first shipment of crude oil for the refinery is expected in 20 days.
Bosmal company secures 300m Euros for Bosnian highway from Malaysian bank
The Bosmal company said in a statement on 1st September that it has secured a 300m Euro bank guarantee for the costs of the feasibility study, project documentation and compensation to owners of real estate in the close vicinity of the Vc Corridor, Onasa News Agency web site has reported.
The Bank Islam Malaysia Berhad guarantee document was signed on 29th August in Kuala Lampur by Edin Sabanovic, Bosmal director general, and Raja Zainal Alam Shah, director of the bank's business and investments department.
The Bosmal company has hereby fulfilled its obligations three months before the deadline.
Sabanovic said that the bank's guarantee and the documents on Bosmal's financial competency will be forwarded to the BiH [Bosnia-Herzegovina] Prime Minister Adnan Terzic and Minister of Communications and Transport Branko Dokic.
Dato Ahmad Tajudin Abdul Rahman, director of the Bank Islam Malaysia Berhad, will visit Sarajevo on 3rd-6th September to personally confirm the bank's plans to finance Bosmal in the project.
The BiH Council of Ministers accepted Bosmal's construction bid on 23rd July, declaring that the company must provide evidence of secured finances in the amount of 300m Euro within four months.
The BiH section of the Budapest-Osijek-Sarajevo-Ploce Vc Corridor stretches over 330 km, and will be the most significant road through BiH and shortest route from Central Europe to the Adriatic Coast.
The expected construction expenses will amount to 3bn Euro.
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