China-BiH agreement signed
BiH Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mladen Bočić and his Chinese counterpart, Liu Guchgang, signed a multi-sector cooperation agreement on Wednesday, underscoring the two nations' desire to enhance bilateral relations, Oslobodjenje reported.
At a post-meeting press conference, Bočić said that the agreement "represents an initiative toward establishing a close relationship between the two countries." He went on to say that "the Chinese government has promised to provide BiH with DEM 800,000 in aid toward improving the country's economy."
Bočić and Liu said the agreement, which covers economic, technological, cultural and other sectors, is a great step toward improved relations.
Dole opens missing persons center
Chairman of the International Committee for Missing Persons (ICMP) and former United States Senator Bob Dole was in Sarajevo this week to open the Missing Persons Institute's BiH center.
The Institute is home to state-of-the-art forensic equipment and a DNA lab to be used in the identification of individuals missing from the 1992 to 1995 war.
Dole also met with BiH Presidency Chairman Alija Izetbegović who, according to BiH Press, praised the ICMP's work.
War criminal snatched
Dominik "Como" Ilijašević, the former leader of the Maturice paramilitary unit, was arrested this week by Federal Police forces on charges of war crimes and genocide.
The Maturice unit was notorious for ethnic cleansing operations near the town of Vareš.
According to Oslobodjenje, Ilijašević was dining with a group of people at his café Jerusalem when two unmarked black vans pulled up to the front entrance. Ilijašević tried to escape through the café's back door but was apprehended by a group of masked police officers.
The former parmilitary leader was taken to a detention facility in Zenica, where he was held without bail for one month. At the time of his arrest, Ilijašević was wanted on a Hague Tribunal (ICTY) arrest warrant stemming from his indictment on charges related to the 1993 murder of 16 Bosnian Muslim civilians in a village near Vareš.
More return aid from the US
The United States has earmarked an additional USD 5.1 million to a USAID-funded program assisting minority members to return to their pre-war homes and reintegrate into society. The announced funding is in addition to the USD 75 million already budgeted for the project.
US Ambassador to BiH Thomas Miller said, "the original idea for the USD 5.1 million was intended to aid the budget of the Federal government. However, due to the manner in which the Federal government carried out its economic practicum, we have decided to give this aid toward assisting the rightful return of the minorities to their homes, and not to the government."
Since last year's implementation of the minority reintegration program, nine projects valued at USD 3.9 million have been approved and implemented by USAID, concentrated in areas in the Republika Srpska, Sarajevo canton and southwest BiH.
The new funds announced this week are to be distributed over the next three years and are targeted primarily to reconstruction initiatives and regional infrastructure projects.
U2's Bono back in Sarajevo
U2 lead singer Bono was in Sarajevo this week to present Million Dollar Hotel, a film featuring Mel Gibson and Mila Jovovic, at the 6th Annual Sarajevo Film festival, which is to screen more than 35 films from around the world.
Bono is loved and respected by Bosnians not just because of his popular songs, but also because he supported BiH and its struggle for independence during the war. Sarajevo was included in U2's Pop-Mart tour in 1997 to 1999, during which Bono was awarded honorary Bosnian citizenship by President Alija Izetbegović.
Ambassadors to tour refugee return points
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) High Representative Wolfgang Petrisch joined UNHCR Mission Chief Werner Blatter and SFOR Commander Gen Ronald Adams in announcing that ambassadors representing OSCE member states will visit refugee return points throughout the country.
Office of the High Representative spokesman Oleg Milsic said "the whole purpose of this agenda is to [study] the development of the reintegration programs, focusing on the rightful return of refugees to their homes. Furthermore, this activity will allow personal contacts with refugees wherein their problems and suggestions can be taken on a more 'in-touch with reality' basis."
Some 17 ambassadors will travel around the country in three groups, accompanied by Petrisch, Blatter and Adams.
Ibrahim Sejfović, 2 September 2000
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BiHPress - the news agency of Bosnia-Hercegovina
Oslobodjenje - Sarajevo-based independent magazine
OSCE Press Service