Fri, Sep 14, 2007 - Page 6 News List

Bosnia's EU hopes threatened by lack of police reforms

THE GUARDIAN , BRUSSELS

The EU is to break off negotiations with Bosnia on eventual membership unless its feuding leaders agree to radical police reforms, the country's international governor warned on Wednesday.

Miroslav Lajcak, a Slovak diplomat who took over the running of Bosnia 10 weeks ago, said that he had given Bosnia's rival political leaders an ultimatum -- agree to the creation of a single national police structure by the end of the month or see the negotiations with Brussels frozen.

"If there is no agreement on the police, the international community will have to react," Lajcak, Bosnia's "high representative", an all-powerful post created in 1995, said. "There will be no business as usual. We won't beat around the bush. We'll name names. We have three weeks."

The country's bitterly hostile Serbian and Bosnian Muslim leaders are at odds over the sensitive police issue in a country divided along ethnic lines into a Serbian half and a Bosnian-Croat federation as a result of the 1992-1995 war.

The police structures reflect the ethnic division of the country, with each of the two "entities" empowered to run their own police forces.

The Bosnian Serb leader, Milorad Dodik, has resisted all attempts to form a national police force over the past two years and to cede authority over the police to the national government.

The Bosnian Muslim leader, Haris Silajdzic, has also rejected the police project because it does not go far enough.

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