Bosnia Muslims See Reform Plan as Yielding to Serb
A new Western plan to revive Bosnia`s stalled reforms gives away too
much to the Bosnian Serbs.



A new Western plan to revive Bosnia's stalled reforms so that it can
sign a key accord with the European Union gives away too much to the
Bosnian Serbs, Bosnian Muslim parties say.

After the 1992-95 war,
Bosnia was split into two autonomous regions,
the Muslim-Croat federation and the
Serb Republic.

Bosnia's international peace overseer, Miroslav Lajcak, invited
Muslim, Croat and Serb party leaders this week to discuss a new
approach to a merger of
Bosnia's two police forces, a key step towards
reconciliation in the divided nation.

Details of the plan have not been made public and negotiations have
not started, but Bosnian Muslim leaders already dismiss it as a
capitulation to Bosnian Serb defiance.

"This is a devaluation of European priciples, we could not accept it,"
Sulejman Tihic, leader of one of the main Bosnian Muslim parties, told
reporters on Thursday.

Ethnic Croat parties have been silent. The Bosnian Serbs first refused
comment, then said the plan was unacceptable.

"His initiative does not back our stance on the police reform and does
not represent a compromise solution," Serb Republic Prime Minister
Milorad Dodik told a news conference.

"It is unconstitutional," he said without elaborating.

The EU has long pushed for the merger of the two ethnically based
police forces, and made it a condition for signing a key pre-
membership accord.

The Bosnian Serbs, widely seen as the aggressors in the war, have
threatened to have a secession referendum if too many powers are taken
away from them.


For the Muslims, Tihic said the new proposal did not provide for a
unified police force but restructured the existing forces. Lajcak had
"legitimised the existing police structure" by keeping the
police, he said.

"It seems those who make radical statements and attack the
international community are more appreciated," he added.

Lajcak took up the powerful post of overseer in July, pledging to
speed up
Bosnia's progress towards the EU and clinch the police reform
deal in September.

One analyst said he had compromised too much in his drive to move the
reform process forward.

"Police reform is one of
Bosnia's key problems, it reflects the
general political situation based on the conflict of two viewpoints
from the war," analyst Senad Slatina told Reuters.

"The bottom line is which one will prevail -- the one born in wartime
Sarajevo or that which promotes the ideas of (Bosnian Serb wartime
leader and genocide suspect) Radovan Karadzic."

"There is no easy way out and Lajcak should have confronted this issue
directly," he added.

Lajcak said he was "deeply disappointed" with the Muslim leaders'
attitude because it showed "disdain for their colleagues and the
political process."

"Furthermore, they rejected a proposal that is fair and balanced," he
said in a statement

The EU joined the debate, reminding Bosnians of the importance of a
deal. "Without an agreement ... the EU is unable to conclude a
Stabilisation and Association Agreement," Enlargement Commissioner
Olli Rehn said in a statement.

Lajcak's spokesman Eldar Subasic said on Friday negotiations would


Published: August 31, 2007 17:03h