Friday 23 February 2007 - 20:30 on Europe by Satellite

Special Bosnia package ahead of PIC


00:00 Cutaways of Dirk Lange, Desk Bosnia and Herzegovinain European Commission DG Enlargement


On the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, we concluded the technical talks at the end of December and we were in this respect I think quite successful to finish the negotiations within one year, now we are discussing with the member states the results of these discussions, there are still some pieces where we need some clarification but I think in the big context we can see that we have almost an agreement done. We may need to revise some parts of the agreement but I hope it will not be too substantial.


Well, the expectations are clearly that they get the reform agenda moved on and what we have seen in the last year and partly due to the elections is that the reform agenda was slowed down and that we have clearly seen also in all our meetings and reports and we hope now that we have a new government that they will catch up.


All PIC meetings are important for BiH and as you know the main issue which needs a decision now is whether the OHR should stay for another year and the HR, Dr. Schwarz-Schilling had asked and suggested a prolongation of the mandate of the OHR and these are the main subjects of discussions in the PIC meeting. Apart from this, we have also the overall reform agenda and we will ask the government to report on where they are the ways forward.


The best solution for Bosnia, I would first of all say that we are relying very much on the evaluation and the assessment of the Dr Schwarz-Schilling and his concern as far as I can se for the moment is that the OHR should stay for regional security and stability problems in the region. And if this is the case it’s probably good also for Bosniathat the OHR stays for another year.


I’m always optimistic and that’s really my all endeavour here in the work I’m putting behind this, I think there is a possibility that we can do it, that we can sign the SAA agreement let’s say in July and that the interim agreement at least would enter in force later on let’s say in September.

02:35 Cutaways of the International Crisis Group building interior

02:42 Interview with Sabine Freizer from INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP

So, the ICG came out with a new report on Bosnia last week, it’s called “Ensuring Bosnia’s future, a new international engagement strategy”, the main arguments we are making in this report is that it’s time for the International Community to consider what it’s going to do in the post OHR and post Bonn powers period. So here we’re making very strong recommendations saying that we believe that it’s time for the OHR to transit to EUSR, European Union Special representative, we believe that the PIC meeting in the end of February should already make that statement where they clearly assure that they will be a transition. And what we argue is that the transition should clearly happen during this year and we shouldn’t extend this beyond 2007.

Also what we say is that we believe that Bonnpowers at this stage should not be transited over to the EUSR because at this point the powers no longer have as much validity as they did in the nineties. There is no longer the same kind of both military and political support and empathies to support these powers.


Our expectation is that Mr Schwarz Schilling will leave in June that’s pretty much what he declared publicly, our feeling is that there has been during S.-S. time as HR a certain loss of credibility of the HR Office. Partially this has been because of internal ways of how the OHR was functioning, also more importantly however, some of the key benchmarks Mr S.-S. hoped it would be reached during his tenure haven’t been, so I think specifically about constitutional reforms but also police reform, education reform and other issues which Mr S.-S. hasn’t been able to give an empathies and support satisfactorily.


I don’t think everything is really dependant on the Bonn Powers, it also is, he could have been perhaps more politically engaged, not using Bonn Powers but making political statements, political messages, trying to get his political messages across more effectively within the policy process in Bosnia, but also what we are talking about extensively in this report is the what we consider inefficient economic assistance that has come to Bosnia. Economic assistance used to be very high in the post war years, what we saw is a dip in the early 2000’s, and still there is very little economic support in Bosnia, going to Bosnia from the EU, and this we think is a big problem, it would be much easier for an EUSR, or previously for an OHR to probably work directly with Bosnian politicians if there was more an economic kind of impetus. One thing that we’re thinking about e.g. is that there is still a tremendous amount of unemployment in Bosnia and Herzegovina and it’s very important that the population feels itself that there is a reason and interest to move on quickly with these reforms and towards European integration.