Books on Bosnia & Herzegovina
Update No: 090 - (28/10/04)
A Million refugees return home
The United Nations have said more than a million people displaced by the war in
Bosnia-Herzegovina in the early 1990s have now returned home. A spokesman for
the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), Peter Kessler, described it as a
Nearly 500,000 of the returnees went back to areas where they were ethnically in
a minority - especially Muslims, but also Serbs and Croats. Kessler stressed
that "enormous obstacles" still had to be tackled. The problems on the
ground include restoring infrastructure, education and healthcare, rebuilding
homes and simply finding jobs. More than 2m people fled their homes during the
"Nevertheless, this return movement over the last 9 years has been
important because it demonstrates that when the international community is
prepared to put money into these operations refugees can go back - and can go
back in sure and stable ways," Kessler said. The returnees included more
than 560,000 displaced and 440,000 who came back from abroad, he said.
"We think there are another half a million people who may go back, but on
top of that indeed there are hundreds of thousands more who have built new lives
in countries where they have integrated." Nato deployed some 60,000 troops
to Bosnia at the end of the 1992-95 war, but its troop presence has shrunk to
just 7,000. It will hand over peace-keeping duties to an untested European Union
force at the end of the year.
Some observers warn that the country remains a "powder keg," with
ethnic tensions still running high in many areas. The UNHCR said nearly 75% of
the returnees went back to the mainly Muslim-Croat entity - the Federation of
Bosnia and Herzegovina, and 25% to Republika Srpska.
The dramatic progress of its neighbours in preparing the way for them to
join the EU highlights just how much ground Bosnia-Herzegovina has lost recently
simply by standing still. Bosnia is still unable to begin negotiations for a
Stabilisation and Association Agreement - the very first milestone on the long
road to Europe. With its economy and political system still far from satisfying
the Copenhagen criteria, the prospect of full EU membership seems decades away.
In fact, Bosnia and Herzegovina is more internationally isolated today than it
was five years ago. It remains on the black list of countries for which a visa
is required to travel to the European Union. Together with Serbia-Montenegro, it
is one of the last countries in Europe excluded from NATO's Partnership for
Peace programme, which with members like Turkmenistan, Belarus and Tajikistan
has not traditionally been considered an exclusive club. It has not yet joined
the World Trade Organization, whose 147 members include Moldova and Angola. The
only major European organisation that Bosnia has been able to join is the
Council of Europe. Yet in August 2004, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council
of Europe reviewed the quality of Bosnia's democracy, and questioned "the
extent to which the current role of the [High Representative] is compatible with
membership of Bosnia-Herzegovina in the Council of Europe" (Resolution
B) Poor economy
International isolation is not the only concern: over the past seven years,
Bosnia and Herzegovina's economy has performed consistently worse than even the
most pessimistic projections of its international advisers. In 1995, the World
Bank hoped that the country would become creditworthy by 1998; now, the most
optimistic projections are for 2007. Privatisation has failed to prevent the
collapse of industries and very few strategic enterprises have found buyers. The
international competitiveness of Bosnian products is low, and the progress of
its neighbours towards the EU makes it even more difficult for Bosnia to attract
foreign investment. A slight improvement in export performance over the past
year cannot mask the fact that, in the first eight months of 2004, Bosnia and
Herzegovina exported less to the European Union than Gaziantep, a Turkish city
of 1.3 million inhabitants not far from the Syrian border.
As a result, Bosnians face a desperate shortage of employment. Less than a third
of Bosnia's working-age population participates in the labour force, compared to
an EU average of 64 percent, and employment rates among women and young people
are among the lowest in Europe. Forced out of the formal economy, many Bosnians
are scraping together a living from itinerant labour and informal trade,
returning to a life of subsistence agriculture, or simply leaving the country.
The overall conclusion is stark: in the past five years Bosnia and Herzegovina
has not just failed to catch up, it has fallen further behind the rest of
Europe. A recent UNDP Early Warning Report commented: "As a country and as
a society, Bosnia-Herzegovina has been politically stagnating for several years
now… This protracted state of affairs, well over nine years now, can no longer
be seen solely as a consequence of the war."
To move towards Europe, Bosnia-Herzegovina needs to overcome its authoritarian
temptation and embrace a genuinely democratic political process. For the
international community, this means leaving responsibility in the hands of
elected governments, rather than feeding old habits of dependency. For the
European Union, it means offering Bosnia the kind of support offered to
candidate countries like Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey. The sooner this happens,
the sooner Bosnia-Herzegovina will truly set out on the path towards Europe, but
in a country that was so recently a killing field with three ethnic groups in
murderous confrontation, the process of international de-coupling is a far from
FOREIGN ECONOMIC RELATIONS
Pakistan, Bosnia to enhance economic ties
President Pervez Musharraf, and his Bosnian counterpart, Sulejman Tihic,
recently agreed on bolstering trade and economic cooperation through increased
investment and joint ventures between the two countries, World News reported.
The two leaders told newsmen after formal talks that they also discussed a host
of regional and global issues of common interest, including the fight against
terrorism, Indo-Pak relations and restructuring of the Organisation of Islamic
President Musharraf said the two sides also discussed the scourge of terrorism.
"We discussed the requirement of contributing toward bringing harmony in
the world and ridding our own countries and the world in general of this
The president described discussion with his Bosnian counterpart as fruitful,
saying the two shared the desire and conviction to boost bilateral ties in
political, economic and cultural fields. He expressed the confidence that
President Sulejman Tihic's visit and discussions would help give new depth and
direction to political and economic ties between Pakistan and Bosnia. The two
sides also decided to look into cooperation in the field of military training.
President Musharraf said he apprised the Bosnian leader of the situation in
South Asia, in particular the state of relations between Pakistan and India.
"I underlined my commitment for a result-oriented composite dialogue with
India to resolve all outstanding issues, including the core issue of Jammu and
Kashmir," he said.
Finance Minister and prime minister-designate, Shaukat Aziz, Foreign Minister,
Khursheed Kasuri, Commerce Minister, Humayun Akhtar, and Minister for
Privatisation and Investment, Dr Hafiz Sheikh, aided the president in the formal
talks between the two sides.
Pakistan and Bosnia also signed agreements on holding regular bilateral
consultations between their ministries of foreign affairs and avoidance of
double taxation for increased economic and trade cooperation. President
Musharraf and his Bosnian counterpart, Sulejman Tihic, oversaw the signing of
the agreements at the Aiwan-e-Sadr. Foreign Minister, Kasuri, and his Bosnian
counterpart, Mladen Ivanic, signed the agreements.
Later, President Musharraf hosted a banquet in the honour of his Bosnian
counterpart at the Aiwan-e-Sadr. Prime Minister, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, also
attended the banquet. Earlier, Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Northern
Areas, Dr GG Jamal, received the Bosnian president at the Islamabad airport.
Talking to Sulejman Tihic at the VVIP Lounge, he said Pakistan wanted to bring
the OIC back to life under the dynamic leadership of President Pervez Musharraf.
Bosnia Herzegovina Telecom creates new nationwide broadband network with Redback
Next Generation Platform
Redback Networks Inc. (RBAK), a leading provider of next-generation broadband
networking systems, has announced that the Bosnia Herzegovina Telecom (BH
Telecom-Sarajevo) is creating a new, integrated nationwide broadband and IP
network, Business Wire reported.
The network will bring ADSL broadband and IP access and services to the country,
for the first time, as a part of its rebuilding effort after the war. With the
SmartEdge(R) Service Gateway platform and NetOp(TM) Policy Manager from Redback
Networks, Bosnia Telecom will create a Smart Broadband Network to meet the
broadband needs of consumers and small-to-medium businesses, while at the same
time providing leased line and frame relay termination and MPLS VPN services for
"Broadband will play a critical role as the underlying infrastructure of
Internet-enabled commerce, communications and delivery of content," said
Nedim Dzaferovic, director of data transfer directorate of BH Telecom Sarajevo.
"The Redback platform will be an essential element of that infrastructure
for us to meet current consumer and business needs and scale with great
flexibility to meet the needs and opportunities of the future."
"We are pleased to help BH Telecom in its rebuilding effort to create
essential national infrastructure with a Smart Broadband Network that offers the
reliability, flexibility and scalability to meet the demands of an emerging and
quickly growing market," said Marco Wanders, vice president of sales and
operations for Europe, Middle East and Africa regions for Redback Networks.
"BH Telecom has the vision, and now the infrastructure, to meet the
challenges and opportunities of both today and tomorrow."
Initially, BH Telecom will offer broadband and IP service within all larger city
centres and then will extend the broadband network to all other urban and
suburban parts of the country. Currently the country has dial-up and narrowband
fixed-connection Internet service, but BH Telecom plans to build a world-class
broadband network for all citizens in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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