New returnee program
The US government-sponsored Agency for Aid and Development (USAID) has announced a grant program to help stabilize local municipalities to which refugees have returned. The program, called CRPS and valued at more than USD 70 million, will target local infrastructure projects.
The central focus of the program is facilitating the return of 100,000 refugees to their homes in the Brčko District and other areas that have priority status. The municipalities of Foca, Pale and Prijedor will not be considered for this program due to the fact that the US considers them to be harboring known war criminals.
According to a BiH report, CRPS will end in 2004 and the total value of the grants over the three-year period is estimated at USD 72.7 million dollars.
USAID Deputy Director Robert Jacobs said CRPS will contribute toward the rebuilding of 45 bridges, 400 roads, 64 health institutions, 142 schools and will secure electricity for 1,000,000 Bosnians.
CRPS was inaugurated at a signing ceremony attended by Thomas Miller, American ambassador, USAID's Jacobs and Jadranko Prlić, Foreign Affairs Minister of BiH. (BiHPress)
Drvar mayor calls it quits
Momčilo Bajić, Mayor and Municipal chief of the Drvar District confirmed his resignation on Wednesday by officially presenting it to the Wolfgang Petrisch, High Representative for BiH, and OSCE Mission chief Robert Barry.
In his explanation, Bajić said, "My work has been obstructed for a long time by representatives of the Party of Independent Social Democrats headed by Mile Marčeta, and by representatives of Milorad Dodik's Republika Srpska Party of Patriotic Social Democrats."
According to Bajić, numerous threats against him and members of his family also contributed toward his resignation. (BiHPress)
Council of Ministers meets
The Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina held their first summit in Sarajevo on Thursday.
Spasoje Tuševljak, the chairman of BiH Council of Ministers, stated after the meeting that the agenda of their first summit dealt with methods of organizing the council, appointment procedures for federal ministers and funding.
Tuševljak did not provide journalists with any information regarding the decisions that were made at the summit. He simply stated that interested journalists could retrieve information from the council services, which will offer written documents presented at the meeting. He added that the Council intends to hold meetings with OHR and other political leaders where they will discuss legal projects and solutions contributing toward the development and the implementation of the election law for BiH. (BiHPress)
Sikirica at ICTY
Dusko Sikirica, a former commander of "Keraterm," the Serbian concentration camp near Prijedor that held and terrorized thousands of Bosnian Muslims, will appear in front of the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against the humanity. Sikirica was recently arrested by SFOR units. (RFE/RL)
Bosnian Croats lose Croatian voting rights
Croatian Prime Minister Ivica Račan stated recently that Croatians who hold BiH citizenship will have their voting rights revoked, meaning they will be unable to vote in elections in Croatia.
Račan went on to say that "even though I speak for myself, within the Croatian parliament there exists support regarding this matter."
According the Račan, Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina are not seen as immigrants from Croatia, but in fact are seen as an autonomous community living in Bosnia-Hercegovina. (Oslobodjenje)
Commemorating the fifth anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, the Office of The Higher Representative (OHR) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) expressed their sympathy and support for the families of those killed by Serbian forces at Srebrenica.
The massacre is already notorious as one of the single worst crimes committed against the Muslim civilian population by Serbian forces. Srebrenica, a town that was once proclaimed as a "safe haven" for Bosnians by the United Nations, in fact became a haven for genocide where thousands of men were systematically executed and buried in the nearby soccer fields.
OHR spokesman Oleg Milišić said that the fifth year anniversary of the atrocity should be commemorated with dignity by allowing the families of the victims to visit the area in safety and pay their respects to their fathers, brothers and sons. (Oslobodjenje)
Election law politics
Zlatko Lagumdžija, chairman of the BiH Social Democratic Party (SDPBiH), met with OSCE mission chief Robert Barry on Wednesday in Sarajevo.
Lagumdžija presented the SDP's opinion on the recent BiH constitutional court decision on the status of all three ethnic groups in Bosnia-Hercegovina which gave priority to the passing and implementation of the country's election law. He added that SDPBiH is prepared to contribute to the formation and passage of the law and that the OHR and OSCE should introduce certain changes in existing regulations before the coming elections.
Furthermore, Lagumdžija emphasized that these changes have to focus on the elimination of abuses of power by current political authorities who are pressurizing the media and other institutions to act in accordance with political interests. (BiHPress)
Ibrahim Sejfović, 8 July 2000
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