Bosnia approves key reform, eyes EU pact soon

Bosnia's parliament approved on Thursday a set of key reform laws expected to pave the way for the country to start the process of joining the European Union soon.

Bosnia approves key reform, eyes EU pact soon
The approval came after Bosnia's Serbs, Croats and Muslims reached a compromise agreement on police reform that had already been debated for some four years.

The 42-seat parliament approved the laws offered as a compromise deal by Bosnia's international peace overseer, Miroslav Lajcak, with a narrow majority of 22 votes for, 19 against and one abstention. "I want to congratulate all those who made a compromise in the interest of citizens and the state," Prime Minister Nikola Spiric told reporters. "Better days are ahead of us and also a lot of work related to the SAA signature".

The parliament's upper house is expected to approve the laws on Monday.

The EU had insisted that the laws be passed for Bosnia to sign the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, the first step towards membership.

The plan, endorsed by Bosnia's Western backers, has been watered down from the original, which had envisaged the unification of the police forces of Bosnia's two regions, the Muslim-Croat federation and the Serb Republic.

Bosnia's squabbling Serbs, Croats and Muslims have time and again debated, drafted and redrafted the laws on the unification of the police, now run separately by Bosnia's two autonomous regions, the Muslim-Croat federation and the Serb Republic.

Serb opposition

But staunch Serb opposition to the loss of what it saw as a cornerstone of its autonomy means the proposed merger of the two will be largely cosmetic.

Under the Lajcak's plan, state bodies will control and coordinate the work of various agencies performing some of police activities at the state level but will not interfere with the work of regional police forces.

The state control over local police agencies will be launched only after Bosnia agreed on the future organisation of the country in accordance to a new constitution.

The European Union has pledged to accept whatever reform local politicians agree on as long as it meets some broad criteria of operating in an unbiased manner.

Bosnia, along with neighbour Serbia and newly-independent Kosovo, are the only states in the Balkans without the SAA.

Together their respective parties, along with Bosnian Croat parties that pledged to support the laws, can secure the vote in parliament.

The EU has told Bosnia that the laws must be passed by parliament on Thursday so that it can sign the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA), the first step towards the eventual membership of the bloc, before next month.
Last Mod: 11 Nisan 2008, 12:11
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