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BOSNIA AND
HERZEGOVINA


  
  

 

In-depth Business Intelligence

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)

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Area (sq.km)
51,129

Population
4,007,608

Capital
Sarajevo

Currency
Convertible Mark 

President 
Borislav Paravac



Update No: 106 - (23/03/06)

There is only one subject that matters in Bosnia right now. Everyone is looking back to the horrors of the past.

Death of the Butcher of Belgrade
The death of Slobodan Milosevic, cheating international justice at The Hague, must be a poignant moment for every Bosnian, in one way or another, depending of course on their ethnicity. He was certainly in cahoots with the two major villains of the Bosnian War of 1992-95, if not the initiator of the whole gory story with his inflammatory speeches in favour of a Greater Serbia, and providing al the weaponry and support the Federal Yugoslav army could give their fellow Serbs in Bosnia..
Bosnia is still divided along ethnic lines a decade after the war ended. Dragan Cavic, president of the Bosnian Serb-run half of the country, said "a historic person has left the scene, a person who was disputed, criticized and praised." 
Sulejman Tihic, the Bosnian Muslim member of the country's three-person presidency, said Milosevic "will be remembered as a negative historic person, the most responsible for the bloody break up of Yugoslavia and suffering of its peoples, including the Serb people."
UN Crime Tribunal may release documents on Milosevic 
The death of Milosevic could yet have a cathartic impact. The UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia is considering the release of confidential materials and documents from the case against Milosevic to facilitate the inquiry by the Dutch authorities into his death. 
The Tribunal on March 14th formally closed the proceedings against the former Serbian leader, the main suspect in the genocide of Muslims in Kosovo, but is conducting its own internal probe into his death. 
Milosevic was facing 66 counts in connection with numerous crimes committed in Kosovo, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1991 to 1999 when he was found dead in his cell on March 11th. 
In a separate development, tribunal judges on March 1st convicted Enver Hadzihasanovic and Amir Kubura, both high level commanders in the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, sentencing them to five years and two-and-a-half years, respectively, for crimes committed in central Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1993 and the beginning of 1994.

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It is worth considering the views of a diplomatic figure, well versed in Balkan affairs, on the subject:-

Justice is robbed by Milosevic's death
By Dan Simpson, a retired diplomat, a member of the editorial boards of The Blade and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 

The death of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic while in the custody of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague brings to an end his role in the drama of the Balkans over the past 19 years, including the war crimes trials. 
But his death with his trial incomplete also leaves a number of issues unresolved and certain questions unanswered. Perhaps the most important was whether it made more sense for Milosevic to be tried before an international, United Nations tribunal, as opposed to by a Serbian court, in Serbia. 
The same question can be asked with respect to the ongoing trial of former president Saddam Hussein of Iraq, currently under way in US-occupied Iraq. What was taking place in The Hague, and the way it ended, is relevant to the Saddam Hussein trial in Baghdad, although the circumstances are different. 
Probably the main reason that the international community insisted on Serbia turning over Milosevic to an international court was that the international community did not have confidence that Serbia would give him a fair or a tough enough trial. The same reasoning applied in the cases of others accused from Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Such trials would also have been, by their nature, tense affairs, given the sympathizers of their causes still active and at large in those countries. The Belgrade, Zagreb, and Sarajevo governments may have been just as happy to see those people carted off to The Hague. 
But what was lost by moving the trials to the Dutch capital, to become accessible to the populations of those countries only through the media, was the sense that people were seeing justice done. It was also the case that the catharsis that could have taken place as the trials unrolled, not entirely unlike a Truth and Reconciliation Conference, was lost. 
Instead, Milosevic, in his red, white, and blue tie, and the other accused war criminals were able to play to the house, to the camera, presenting themselves as victims of the international community and martyrs to the sacred, holy nationalist cause of Serbia, Croatia, or whatever. 
The most important loss occasioned by holding the trials at The Hague, in my opinion, was that the enormous amount of money that went into holding them in the Netherlands could have been poured instead into reviving the sometimes weak and damaged legal structures of the countries concerned, rebuilding confidence in their legal systems. That would have been a serious investment, as opposed to what was instead a vast, questionably useful expenditure in a country that has adequate money for such things already. 
Milosevic himself was both despicable and pathetic. Looking at the history of the former Yugoslavia, there is no question that he was the lead player in setting off the mayhem and bloodshed that occurred there in the 1990s. 
Although Milosevic sought to present himself at The Hague as a Serbian nationalist hero, his motives were not as pure as that. His career reveals him to have been a relatively low-talent bureaucrat with enormous ambitions, demagogic skill, and no scruples. 

The most pathetic - I shy away from the word "sympathetic" - aspects of Milosevic were his ordinary origins, the fact that both his parents committed suicide, and the fact that at the end he chose to defend himself pretty much alone against a relentless international prosecution headed by the self-righteous international chief prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte. The supreme irony was that at the time of the negotiation of the 1995 Dayton Accords, Milosevic was considered to have been a positive element in reaching the agreement that brought the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina to an end. 
In any case, the world and, more importantly, the people of the Balkans were robbed of the opportunity to see justice done by convictions of Milosevic for some or all of the charges against him - genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity. The court had more than four years to do its work; it never finished it. 
In the end, Slobodan Milosevic, 64, died in prison. If he had been convicted of the crimes of which he was accused, he would have died in prison, so the end of the story was not changed much by whatever happened, only the timing. 
For Serbia itself, its people would be wise to take the death of Milosevic as a conclusive end to the rottenness that they perpetrated in the region in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Kosovo in that miserable decade and now work to move the country forward on a more propitious path.

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But the assumption that Milosevic was the master villain of the whole affair, largely true, needs to be corrected by another viewpoint. That Franco Tudjman, the president of Croatia throughout the 1990s, instigated genocidal acts against the Serbs, is not in dispute.
The Bosnian Muslim leadership, however, is mainly exempted from blame. The following provides another version, written in a highly partisan manner, to blatantly omitting the clear Serb provocations leading to the war, and their awful massacres of civilians, both Croat an dBosniak:-

The Bosnian Jihad 
By Vojin Joksimovich

Presidents Bush-41 and Clinton sided with Alija Izetbegovic-led Bosnian Islamists in the civil and religious conflict in Bosnia in order to mollify the radical Muslim world and Saudi Arabia in particular. A secular Bosnian Muslim faction, who had no interest in war with either the Serbs or the Croats, was completely marginalized by Washington. Izetbegovic publicly stated that he needed the war to accomplish his objective of an Islamic Republic in Bosnia (creation of what some call "mujoland" in the heart of Europe). The Iran-led pan-Islamic coalition lavishly financed by Saudi Arabia and other petrodollar countries launched the Bosnian jihad. Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations, like the Algerian Group Islamic Armee (GIA) and Egyptian Gamm'a al-Islamiyya, infiltrated the jihad. While Iranians are predominantly Shiites and the Iranian Islamists are anti-American and anti-Jewish they were allowed to lead the pan-Islamic coalition in an attempt to forge unity of the Muslim world. 
Alija Izetbegovic, the 1994 winner of the King Faisal Award and 2001 Figure of the Year in the Islamic World, spent most of his life dreaming of a Muslim-led independent Bosnia-Herzegovina. His US supporters and admirers such as former President Clinton, Clinton's Balkans envoy, Richard Holbrooke, former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, former US Ambassador to Belgrade, Warren Zimmermann, and various handmaidens in the media--characterized him as a devout Muslim but committed to a multi-ethnic and democratic Bosnia. They claimed that Serbs and Croats only painted him as an Islamic supremacist and that this was not the case. Izetbegovic's two prison terms, his writings in Islamic Declaration (inspired by famous jihadist ideologue Sayyid Qutb's writings) and close relationships with the Islamists defeat that argument. Nonetheless, the petrodollars turned lies into the truth. 
Nebojsa Malic, an antiwar.com columnist, concluded: "Izetbegovic's vision of Bosnia was not a multi-ethnic democracy, but a multi-caste hierarchy of the kind that existed under the Ottoman Empire, the memories of which were still fresh at his birth in 1925." Jonathan Eyal, director of the London-based Royal United Services Institute, stated that Izetbegovic was not only responsible for atrocities committed by the Bosnian Muslims, Iranian and Arab mujahideen but also for the declaration of independence when it was abundantly clear that it was leading to war, for gambling with the destiny of his people, and for the corrupt, single party state he was attempting to establish with rule through nepotism. 
The Western governments and the compliant media demonised the Serbs and attributed almost every atrocity committed to the Serbs. In November 1998 The Times of London published a letter quoting General Sir Michael Rose, Former UN Military Commander in Bosnia: "We were escorted by a woman from the US Embassy as we flew towards Tuzla. She pointed at all the destroyed villages and exclaimed excitedly 'Look at what the criminal Serbs have done.' In fact they were Bosnian Croat villages ethnically cleansed by the Muslims…Later (we) visited Mostar where the Croats had virtually destroyed the Muslim sector. The US official cried: 'Well at least this was done by the criminal Serbs.' The woman burst into tears when it was pointed out that the Croats had been to blame." 

Bin Laden's Master Plan 
The Clinton administration fuelled the rise of Osama bin Laden from an ordinary man to Hydra-like monster. Al Qaeda operated with impunity in Bosnia. Bin Laden's master plan was to establish a hub in Europe against al Qaeda's true enemy, the US Without the Bosnian jihad it is difficult to imagine 9/11. Who's who in al Qaeda were directly involved in the Bosnian war including bin Laden himself, Al-Zawahiri, masterminds of the 9/11 and Madrid bombings, recruiters of the pivotal Hamburg cell, members of the supporting Madrid cell, five 9/11 hijackers, etc. All in all 9/11 and Madrid bombing capabilities were then established. The Clinton administration transported al Qaeda's mujahideen from Central Asia to Bosnia; encouraged the Pakistani Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, to send a unit to Bosnia, which included British Pakistani involved in the 7/7 London bombings; gave a green light for transportation of Iranian arms to Bosnia; recruited mujahideen to fight the Serbs in Kosovo, etc. Omar Sheikh, a British Pakistani convicted of kidnapping the Wall Street journalist Daniel Pearl, was lured into the Bosnian jihad. 

Catastrophic Consequences 
Had the US decided to remain neutral, the war could have been prevented as the EC (EU predecessor) brokered a deal with all three parties. However, acting upon advice from the US and the Islamic world Alija Izetbegovic reneged on the agreement. The ensuing civil and religious war killed some 100,000 people (not 200,000 or 250,000 as commonly reported by the media and the State Department for over 10 years). Two independent studies have arrived at a figure of 100,000 including the one by the International Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). In addition, Bosnia would not have become al Qaeda's staging ground leading to 9/11. 
Had the Clinton Administration not rejected four peace proposals, including the Vance-Owen plan, the 42-months war would have ended much sooner. 

Clinton Administration Legacy 
As a part of the Dayton Accords, the US recognized that the mujahideen represented a threat to NATO troops and demanded withdrawal within 30 days. About 3,500 of them stayed, some having no option to return to their native countries, they married local women, became Bosnian citizens, and obtained Bosnian passports. In 2002, six of them were flown to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after it was discovered they were plotting to blow up the US Embassy in Sarajevo. In November 2005, cooperation by law enforcement officials in four European countries and the US stopped a terrorist cell of 14 Muslims, spanning from Bosnia to Britain, who were planning a suicide attack in Europe or America. The Sarajevo police confiscated a suicide bomber belt and a video of masked men begging for God's forgiveness for the sacrifice they were about to commit. The tape, showed on Bosnian TV, was made 20 hours before the raid. The probe began October 19 with a bust in Sarajevo that netted explosives, rifles, other arms and a videotape pledging vengeance for the "brothers" killed fighting Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq. One of those arrested ran a Web site on behalf of Abu Musab Zarqawi who heads the insurgent group al Qaeda in Iraq. 

Bosnia Today 
Ten years after the Dayton Accords and billions of dollars spent or misspent, Bosnia remains a desperately poor place suspended somewhere between war and peace. The economy has continued to be on international life support. The peace has been kept but the nation was not built. The Serbs want to be a part of Serbia, the Croats part of Croatia while the Bosnian Muslims want to dominate the Christians either with assistance from the West or the Islamic world. The present state of affairs is unsustainable. The EU has recently added the carrot of possible membership by announcing negotiations of a Stabilization and Association agreement deemed as the first step towards the EU membership. NATO membership is also mentioned. 
On the 10th anniversary of Dayton, the State Department summoned presidents of all three parties to Washington to celebrate US diplomatic achievements in the field of nation building. In addition they were coerced to negotiate on ways to make the country unified. Assistant Secretary of State, Nicholas Burns, explained: "Simply put, the Dayton Accords need to be modernized. They served Bosnia well over the last decade, but they were never meant to be immutable or set in stone." It was also built up as a slogan, "from Dayton to Brussels." Needless to say all three parties pursued their own interests. For Muslims that meant abolition of Republika Srpska in order to establish domination over the Christians. The UShowever, did not clobber the Serbs as the Muslims expected. In disappointment, Tihic, the Muslim representative, accused Burns of being a liar. In the end, the parties signed a commitment to pursue constitutional reform so that Dayton-plus Bosnia will have one president, a strong prime minister and a parliament. 

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FOREIGN COOPERATION

Croatia and Bosnia to organise trade conference 

Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina will organise a conference to promote economic cooperation between the two countries while an intergovernmental ministerial task force will try to resolve all outstanding issues, Croatian Prime Minister, Ivo Sanader, announced in Zagreb after meeting the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Adnan Terzic, Hina News Agency reported. 
The conference will take place in the Bosnian coastal town of Neum and a date will be set later. The outstanding issues such as the use of the Croatian port of Ploce by Bosnian companies, the construction of the Peljesac bridge and the border will be addressed by an interdepartmental task force at ministerial level, which is to be formed in the near future, Sanader said at a press conference. Congratulating Bosnia-Herzegovina on opening talks on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the European Union, Sanader said Croatia would provide full support to its neighbour on the road to EU membership. The two officials were pleased with the conclusion of an agreement on dual citizenship.

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FOREIGN LOANS

EIB approves an 86m Euro loan for railways 

The European Investment Bank has granted an 86 million Euro loan to Bosnia and Herzegovina to rehabilitate and modernise both the North-South and the East-West railway routes, ANSAmed reported. 
The 20-year loan, carrying a five-year grace period and representing some 50 per cent of the total finance, will contribute to overhauling the track and reconstructing bridges, tunnels, and stations. Furthermore, the signalling systems, the electrification and the telecommunications will be updated to enhance safety and increase the speed on these key lines. In total some 172 km will be upgraded. The project includes the preparation of detailed design studies, construction works supervision, management consulting activities and, if needed, land acquisition. The design work is to start in 2006, while the construction works are planned for the period 2008-2011. The project will redevelop the existing heavy industry by making available efficient and environmentally friendlier transport of heavy goods between national industrial centres, and across borders for export.

World Bank invests US$100 million in 2006 

To encourage crucial structural reforms in Bosnia, the World Bank will provide US$100 million this year for three projects to improve the economic situation in the public and social sector, ANSAmed reported. 
Dirk Reinermann, the bank's representative in Bosnia, made the announcement. Further to the initiative, the World Bank and Bosnian authorities are preparing a series of investment projects relating to infrastructure, land and environment.

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INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

Microsoft opens office in Bosnia 

US software giant Microsoft will open an office in Bosnia, saying it hopes to reduce the illegal use of software there, ANSAmed reported. 
Microsoft manager for southeastern Europe, Goran Radman, said that "some 70 per cent of software market in Bosnia-Herzegovina is illegal," adding that the average European rate was 30 per cent. The company planned to slash by half software piracy in Bosnia within the next five years, he said. Since November last year, Microsoft has run a campaign in Bosnia offering its products at a 40 per cent discount.

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MINERALS & METALS

Bosnia's Mittal Steel plans to double output 

Bosnia's largest steel maker, Mittal Steel Zenica, aims to nearly double output this year to 630,000 tonnes from 340,000 in 2005, an official said recently. In 2004 output by the unit of Mittal Steel, the world's biggest steel maker, owned by Indian-born steel magnate Laksmi Mittal, was about 110,000 tonnes, development director, Aziz Mujezinovic, said, New Europe reported.
He said the company had initially planned to produce 800,000 tonnes in 2005 but had to revise its plans as the trial of a new 100-tonne electric arc furnace installed that year took longer than expected. Its annual production capacity is 800,000 tonnes, he added. Mittal Steel, which raised its stake in the Zenica plant to 92 per cent from 51 per cent for US$98 million last month, plans to export 450,000 tonnes of products including forgings, bars and rods to the countries of the former Yugoslavia and the European Union. Mujezinovic also said the new owner would invest some 100 million Euro (US$120.9 million) in 2006 to restart integral production which will enable total output of about two million tonnes of steel a year.

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