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Bosnian major parties sign declaration on police reform

The presidents of Bosnia’s six major parties making up the parliamentary majority signed on Sunday a police reform declaration, which is expected to remove obstacles to the initialing and signing of a pre-membership agreement with the EU.The European Unione xecutive welcomes Bosnian agreement on police reform.

The declaration was signed after nearly four hours of a meeting behind closed doors in Mostar, said reports reaching here from Bosnia. “We are offering this Declaration to the international community’s High Representative to Bosnia-Herzegovina (Miroslav Lajcak) and the European Union,” said the host of Sunday’s meeting, Dragan Covic of the Croatian Democratic Union of Bosnia- Herzegovina.

Bosnia’s Muslim, Croat and Serb political leaders voiced confidence the declaration would meet the key condition - police reform - for the signing of a Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union. The declaration was signed by Covic, Bozo Ljubic of the HDZ 1990, Milorad Dodik of the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, Mladen Ivanic of the Democratic Progress Party, Haris Silajdzic of the Party for Bosnia-Herzegovina and Sulejman Tihic of the Party of Democratic Action. Under the Dayton peace agreement that ended its 1992-1995 war, Bosnia-Herzegovina is made up of the Muslim-Croat federation and the Serb Republic, each with own police force. Bosnian Serb politicians were against abolishing their entity police and creating inter-entity police regions, while politicians from the Croat-Muslim federation wants a unified force.

The European Union has warned Bosnia-Herzegovina that it could not sign the Stabilization and Association Agreement, the first step on the ladder to EU membership, without the police reform. The signatories agreed they would take every activity necessary to implement the reform in accordance with the EU’s three principles: be organized at state level, financed from a single budget and free from political interference.

The declaration says that the aim of the entire police reform is the functioning of a multiethnic and professional police. The declaration does not specify if the current Bosnian Serb entity police will survive and if police regions will cross the entity border, the reason for previously irreconcilable positions. The declaration says the new and reformed police will rely on relevant provisions of the Bosnian Constitution that will result from constitutional reform. This should mean that police reform will be accompanied by constitutional reform. Lajcak, who attended the meeting, told the press the participants in the meeting agreed to launch a new negotiating round on constitutional amendments, which would be discussed at the next joint meeting in a month’s time.

The EU executive welcomed on Monday an agreement by Bosnia’s Muslim, Croat and Serb political leaders to get stalled police reform back on track. A spokeswoman for EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said the European Commission had not yet had time to study Sunday’s declaration in Mostar in detail. However, she added: “The Commission welcomes the spirit of consensus and compromise that was shown by the party leaders in Mostar.” “A strong political consensus is essential to meet the conditions for closer EU integration," said the spokeswoman, Krisztina Nagy told Reuters. (people.com.cn)