Books on Bosnia & Herzegovina
Update No: 092 - (01/01/05)
EUFOR takes over
A ceremony in Sarajevo on 2nd December saw the historic conclusion of the
NATO-led Stabilisation Force (SFOR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the launch of
the European Union's follow-on EUFOR. SFOR has been brought to a successful end
almost exactly nine years since NATO deployed forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina
in 1995 in what was NATO's first peacekeeping operation.
After a presence of some nine years, NATO is pulling out of Bosnia. The
alliance's peacekeeping force SFOR first moved into the Balkan nation in 1995 to
monitor compliance with the Dayton peace accord - a task which it has been
largely successful in fulfilling. Yet, despite the end of the mission, some
7,000 of the original 60,000 troops are to remain to continue the job, only now
under the umbrella of a European Union peacekeeping mission code-named
Within ALTHEA, the European troops are merely exchanging their NATO
"hats" for the European EUFOR beret. The decision reflects the
improved security situation in the country. The successful termination of SFOR
does not spell the end of NATO's engagement in Bosnia and Herzegovina. While the
European Union assumes responsibility for peacekeeping operations, NATO will
maintain a headquarters in Sarajevo to assist the country with defence reform,
with a complement of 150. It will also carry out some operational tasks, in
co-ordination with the European Union. This will include counter-terrorism and
assistance in apprehending persons indicted for war crimes.
The 7,000-strong EUFOR mission will be supported by NATO under the so-called
'Berlin Plus' arrangements that provide the framework for NATO-EU cooperation.
The fact that the Americans have now decided to leave Bosnia entirely to the
Europeans says much about the relatively stable situation which currently
applies in the country. Things have moved on so far that Bosnia now has a new
military apparatus, forged from what were once sworn enemies - the fighting
units of the Serbs, the Croats and the Muslims. This operation is not, however,
quite yet completed since, for example, the question of who is to command the
new armed forces has yet to be resolved. This, too, has provided NATO with a
reason to keep a small headquarters in Bosnia so that it can continue to
supervise the process.
Now, it becomes the task of the Europeans to safeguard continuing peace inside
Bosnia. Should they fail, and the dormant conflict again spark the flames of
violence, then NATO still has a rapidly deployable battalion to fall back on.
That, too, consists of European troops, albeit that they come from European NATO
members, for - as far as the US military involvement is concerned - the Bosnia
chapter is now closed.
Sale of Omarska
The Bosnia chapter, however, is not closed for the Bosnians themselves. They
are haunted by their gory past.
The site of the infamous concentration camp at Omarska - operated by Bosnian
Serbs for Muslim and Croat prisoners - has been bought by Britain's richest
resident, steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, who has interests in Romania and is a
confidant of Premier Tony Blair.
Camp Omarska, where hundreds died, was established on the site of an iron ore
mine, one of three in a complex in which Mr Mittal has a controlling share in a
joint venture with the local Bosnian Serb authorities. Now, survivors of the
camp and relatives of the dead are pleading with Mr Mittal not to reconvert the
mine without preserving some buildings and land in commemoration of what
In letters sent to Mr Mittal, survivors of the camp plead that installations be
preserved out of respect for the dead, and to help bring about some reckoning
and reconciliation between the Bosnian Serbs and their victim communities. 'You
own a place with a legacy,' says one letter, and 'we hope you will look
compassionately upon our request so that the past will not be forgotten'.
Mr Mittal also faces the possibility that bodies - mass graves, even - may be
found on or near the site. Work has just concluded on one mass grave, exhuming
420 bodies, only two miles away. In 2001, 353 bodies, mostly of men killed in
Omarska, were found within the territory of another mine in the complex, Ljubija.
'There is no doubt whatsoever that there are bodies as yet unfound within the
mine of Omarska and its vicinity,' said Amor Masovic, president of the Bosnian
government's Commission for Tracing Missing Persons.
Mr Mittal acquired a 51% controlling stake in the Ljubija/Omarska mine complex
in April this year, with a view to restarting ore production. The remaining 49%
is maintained by the RZR mining company, a public sector enterprise owned by the
Republika Srpska statelet.
In October, Mr Mittal became the biggest steel producer in the world with a
$4.5bn (about £2.35bn) takeover of the American International Steel Group.
FOREIGN ECONOMIC RELATIONS
Bosnia, Belarus sign two economic agreements
BiH [Bosnia-Herzegovina] Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations,
Dragan Doko, and Belarus Ambassador to BiH, Vladimir Aleksandrovic Mackjevic,
signed recently in Sarajevo, a trade agreement and an agreement on the promotion
and protection of investments, Federation News Agency reported.
Ambassador Mackjevic was of the opinion that the signed agreements would enhance
economic cooperation between the two states. Foreign trade between BiH and
Belarus was worth only US$70,000 in 2003.
Bosnian, Finnish leaders discuss economic reforms, foreign investments
Adnan Terzic, chairman of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Council of Ministers, and Matti
Vanhanen, Finnish prime minister, established in Helsinki recently that the
potential for intensifying the economic cooperation between the two countries
was great, the Information Service of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Council of
Ministers said, Bosnian Serb radio reported.
The Finnish prime minister expressed particular interest in the activities that
Bosnia-Herzegovina was conducting with regard to increasing its competitiveness,
with a view to even better conditions for foreign investments.
Terzic explained to the Finnish prime minister the reforms that have been
implemented so far which are necessary for the negotiations to begin on the
signing of an agreement on stabilization and accession to the EU, and
particularly emphasized the economic reforms envisaged by the Bosnia-Herzegovina
medium-term development strategies.
Bosnian, Croatian, Macedonian, Montenegrin leaders discuss regional cooperation
Chairman of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Council of Ministers, Adnan Terzic, and
Croatian President, Stjepan Mesic, concluded the drafting of the agreement on
borders between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia and all that remains are
technical details, SRNA News Agency reported.
At the meeting in Cavtat, they pointed out that the drafting of the agreement on
property rights is in its final phase, the Bosnia-Herzegovina Council of
Terzic and Mesic assessed the political relations between Bosnia-Herzegovina and
Croatia as good and emphasized the need for resolving outstanding issues in line
with existing European standards.
They both judged that the port of Ploce was an important economic issue, which
should be resolved to mutual satisfaction.
Terzic, also held talks, in separate meetings, with Macedonian President, Branko
Crvenkovski, and Montenegrin President, Filip Vujanovic, with whom he exchanged
views about the state of bilateral relations.
During the meeting with Crvenkovski there was an exchange of views about the
progress that had been made by Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia on the path to
drawing closer to Euro-Atlantic integration.
Crvenkovski expressed his encouragement with the progress Bosnia-Herzegovina had
achieved in implementing reforms and reiterated Macedonia's support for
Bosnia-Herzegovina on its road to the EU.
The interlocutors assessed that by intensifying regional cooperation the
possibility for the speedier accession of Southeastern European states into
Euro-Atlantic integration would be enhanced.
Terzic accepted President Crvenkovski's invitation to visit Macedonia at the
beginning of next year.
Terzic and Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic exchanged views on bilateral
cooperation and stressed the possibility of improving economic relations between
Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro.
They agreed that joint infrastructure projects could significantly increase
Bosnia-Herzegovina's investments in Montenegro and that the relevant departments
should work in that direction.
Terzic took part in the regional economic forum for Southeastern Europe in
Cavtat entitled, "Competitors and partners on the path to the EU,"
where Terzic announced that a competitiveness council will soon be formed in
Bosnia-Herzegovina, a body which already existed in countries in the region.