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BOSNIA AND
HERZEGOVINA

 
  
  

 

Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 6,963 5,249 4,800 104
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 1,540 1,270 1,240 123
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Bosnia & Herzegovina

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km)
51,129

Population
4,007,608

Capital
Sarajevo

Currency
Convertible Mark 

President 
Borislav Paravac



Update No: 109 - (29/06/06)

The spectre of independence cast by Montenegro
It is hardly surprising that the independence of Montenegro is having repercussions elsewhere in the Balkans, especially in neighbouring Bosnia. Within a week of the declaration of Montenegrin independence on June 3rd (the vote in favour took place in the referendum on May 21st), the Bosnian Serbs began to talk of having a referendum of their own on whether they remain within Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH).
The problem is any such referendum would likely to be won by the pro-secession camp. Indeed, it is a near certainty that it would. There is no love lost between the Serbs and the other two peoples of BiH, the Croats and the Moslems, after the appalling events of 1992-95, known to all.
But any break-up of BiH would have a disruptive impact on what remains of Serbia, encouraging Kosovo to go down the same route and perhaps even the Albanians in Macedonia. This at any rate is what the international community fears.

Russia joins EU, US against referendum calls of Bosnia Serbs
The Russian government has rejected the latest referendum calls of Bosnian Serbs for the Serbian entity of Republika Srpska (RS) to split from the country, the office of international envoy said.
In this they are joining the EU and the US, who do not want to see any further splintering of the Balkans. The RS would in all probability then join up with the now truncated Serbia, some consolation to the Serbs in their loss.
With everyone else against the idea, it is imperative to see what the attitude of Belgrade is the prospect, which has yet to be made clear.

Schwarz-Schilling urges BiH Parliament to enact key laws before October elections
Lawmakers should "waste no time" in adopting legislation to improve people's lives and meet EU requirements, High Representative Christian Schwarz-Schilling said in his first major speech to a BiH institution. Schwarz-Schilling, has called for penalties to be imposed on Serb parliamentarians who are boycotting lately the work of Assembly
Elected leaders must set aside personal agendas and engage in serious political bargaining, said the BiH High Representative. "I will not take decisions for those who do not have the courage to take them," he added. Christian Schwarz-Schilling, the EU's special representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), said on 24th May that lawmakers in the country's central parliament were acting in "bad faith," by letting opportunities to pursue reforms slip by. He urged MPs to use the time until the October general elections to pass key legislation needed for improving the lives of citizens and for meeting EU requirements. 
"You should waste no time in taking decisive steps to improve the situation," Schwarz-Schilling told the parliament in his first major speech to a BiH institution since taking office at the beginning of February. "The next 100 days -- the last of this particular parliament -- will offer you many opportunities to do so." 
The veteran German politician, who also serves as the EU special representative in BiH, noted the need for reforms in the education sector -- in particular, a Higher Education Law that would harmonise standards and foster opportunities for the country's young people to study in Europe. 
"I urge you not to hold the youth of this country back any more," said Schwarz-Schilling. "The future of this country depends on them. They are watching what you do -- do not let them down." 
In the economic arena, Schwarz-Schilling listed three measures, which he said could bring "significant economic progress" -- the law on obligations, the salary law and the creation of a central banking supervision system. 
Further reforms are also needed in the judicial sector, including changes aimed at strengthening the judiciary and ensuring the continued successful transfer of cases from The Hague tribunal, he said. 
He also stressed that two major reforms -- of the country's police structures and broadcasting system -- are essential to the "very fabric of this society" and to the success of BiH's talks on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU. 
Referring to lawmakers' recent rejection of a key constitutional reform package, Schwarz-Schilling assured parliament of his willingness to play an active role in helping achieve progress in this area. "Your responsibility does not end with the "no" vote -- that is just the beginning," he said. "Democracy does not stop when something is rejected." 
Assuming his post earlier this year, Schwarz-Schilling made it clear that he views his role as an assistant, adviser and advocate to BiH and its politicians. Addressing lawmakers, he stressed that he was not planning a change in action, particularly when it comes to the planned phase-out of the Office of the High Representative next year. 
But he also cautioned that he would not allow lack of responsibility and political courage -- "a darker side of political life" that he had witnessed in BiH in recent months -- to "overshadow what is good and positive in this country". 

Freeze of constitutional talks until October
The leaders of the main political parties of BiH's three ethnic entities agreed to postpone the talks on the failed draft constitution package, until after parliamentary elections due in October.
The agreement was made following consultations between representatives of the six major BiH political parties of Bosniaks (Bosnia Muslims), Croats and Serbs, and the International envoy Schwarz Schilling. Local politicians agreed that it would be impossible to expect any breakthrough on the constitution deadlock before October, and argued that as the pre-election campaign has started it is better to freeze the issue until later this year.
Amendments agreed by main political parties supported by US and EU, failed to have the support of two-thirds of the delegates of the House of Representatives of BiH's parliament in April.
The new proposals are aimed to create more efficient institutions in the country and at the same time to allow easier negotiations for better ties with EU and NATO, of both of which BiH aims to become a full member.
As well as the political parties the majority of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) citizens are also in favour of the constitution reform package. The latest research conducted in April by International Republican Institute (IRI) on the sample of 1550 citizens of BiH shows that 53.5% support the proposed changes of the constitution, while 26% are against. 
Among those who participated in the survey, 60.6% of Bosniaks (Bosnia Muslims) support constitutional changes, while 50.3% of Croats are in favour and 44.9% of Serbs also.

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The history of public violence in BiH is unfortunately matched by a high scale of domestic violence too, aggravated no doubt by the events of 1992-95. The following bleak account makes this evident:-

Bosnia's new battlefield is indoors 
By Sabina Niksic 
She survived the war but 31-year-old Maida came close to losing her unborn child in what experts say is a new Bosnian battlefield - inside the home. The victims are both women and children in this traditionally patriarchal society still smarting from the legacy of the bloody 1992-95 conflict triggered by the break-up of the old Yugoslav federation. 
''Police statistics on family violence indicate an alarming increase in the number of such cases,'' said Saliha Djuderija, a legal adviser with Bosnia's ministry for human rights and refugees. 
In the first three months of this year, there were 50% more cases of domestic violence recorded - according to police, court and help hot-line records - than for all of 2005, she said. 
Post-war Bosnia is a ''high-risk country'' thanks to a 40% unemployment rate, one of Europe's highest, post-traumatic stress and inadequate social services, she explained. 
Bosnia-Herzegovina is one of Europe's poorest countries and next to Macedonia, ranked the poorest of the former six Yugoslav republics. 
While there are no precise figures, an NGO working on the issue, the Foundation for Local Democracy (FLD), estimates that domestic violence affects more than half of Bosnian society. ''According to our recent research, 60% of women are exposed to family violence, mainly by their husbands,'' according to FLD member, Lejla Mujkic, who said the survey covered 7,200 women. 
And the abuse ignores Bosnia's still strong ethnic divide, hitting all groups - Muslim, Orthodox, Serb and Croat. 
It was not before she endured long months of physical, verbal and sexual abuse that Maida gathered courage to escape from her husband. 
Seven-months pregnant at the time, she waited for the early morning hours to run away from her ''home prison.'' 
It was winter, but she was so frightened she might be caught that she crept out of the apartment barefoot, carrying her boots in her hands. 
''I knew I had to escape ... a few days before he hit me so hard that my jaw broke. I had to run away because of the baby,'' Maida recalled. 
In the months prior to her flight, Maida's husband assaulted her on a regular basis, threatening to kill her if she tried to leave. 
Since they shared their home with his family, Maida was never alone, always with what she called an ''escort''. 
''They did not beat me, but someone always followed me. I could not go to a shop or even the toilet without being followed.'' 
Maida and her child, a 21-month-old toddler, now live in a Sarajevo safe house for victims of domestic violence, which the FLD opened five years ago. 
She no longer sees herself as a ''person without identity'', and hopes to get a job soon and find her own apartment for herself and her son. 
''We passed good legislation for prevention of and protection from domestic violence, but we face many problems with implementation,'' Djuderija said. 
Three years ago family violence was finally designated a criminal offence in Bosnia, under pressure from NGOs. It now carries a sentence ranging from fines to 10-years' imprisonment in cases where the abuse resulted in the death of the victim. 
Mujkic echoed Djuderija's views. 
''We have good institutional mechanisms, but they are not applicable due to the lack of funding and to some extent good will,'' she said, noting that ''all shelters in Bosnia are run and financed by the non-governmental organisations.'' 
Old perceptions of family violence as a private matter remain strong in Bosnia's patriarchal society despite growing media attention. 
''Most people, particularly in rural communities, believe that what goes on inside a family is a private matter, and a lot of women are reluctant to change things due to their patriarchal upbringing,'' Mujkic said. 
A recent countrywide survey by Sarajevo-based Institute of Criminology and Security Studies showed that nearly 40% of Bosnians believed that men had the right to treat their wives any way they wanted, while a majority said women had to obey their husbands. 
Many women decide not to persecute their abusive husbands because of their economic dependence, Mujkic said. 
''Out of 500 cases, only two or three end up in court,'' she said. 
Victims are also reluctant to take their cases to court because of drawn-out legal procedures that usually end up in mild sentences. 

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ECONOMY

World Bank sees economy as expanding 


Bosnia-Herzegovina's economy continued to expand strongly in the first quarter of 2006 at a rate of about five per cent, the World Bank said in Sarajevo in its economic newsletter for Bosnia, Deutsche Presse Agentur (dpa) reported. 
According to the report by the World Bank Country Manager in Bosnia, Dirk Reinermann, industrial output "rose strongly, as mining and metal production expanded strongly, benefiting from higher prices for exported metals." The World Bank also noted narrowing of the current account deficit, explaining it with "a temporary drop in imports and a strong rise in exports." "The merchandise trade deficit narrowed to about 550 million Euro (US$707 million) during the first quarter from 700 million Euro (more than US$900 million) a year earlier," the World Bank's report said. Introduction of value added tax (VAT) in Bosnia at the beginning of this year, the report said, helped the creation of the current economic situation in the country.

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TELECOMMUNICATIONS

ENT, HT Mobile ink 2.1 mln Euro deal 

Ericsson Nikola Tesla (ENT) signed a contract in Mostar with Bosnia and Herzegovina's operator HT Mobile communications (new name for former Eronet) worth 2.1 million Euro, which calls for the expansion of the mobile network, delivery of new base stations and radio links and an upgrade of BSC and OSS, the news portal reporter.gr reported.

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