Town’s Bosniaks Cautiously Agree to Segregation in School

Prominent members of the Bosniak community in the town of Jajce said they would accept separate high schools for the children of town’s Bosniaks and Croats if the existing school continues teaching according to the Croatian curriculum.

“The current situation in (the town’s high school) does not meet the educational and national interests of Bosniaks in Jajce, due to the fact that the curriculum of a neighboring country (Croatia) is taught, and (children) are taught about our country only briefly; the only official language in the school is Croatian”, according to a statement of the town’s Bosniak community.

The issue picked up media attention last year, when the Jajce high school students from both communities protested against the local government’s decision to start a new school with the Bosnian curriculum for the children of town’s Bosniaks. The decision was put on hold, but now the plan to have “two schools under one roof” is on again.

“The formation of a (…) high school was not the request of Bosniaks in Jajce, but we accept such a solution, which will enable us to exercise our rights, after almost 20 years of understanding, patience (…) and struggle to avoid segregation,” the statement said.

Sarajevo Local Communities Get New Playgrounds

Children in Sarajevo’s local communities of Moscanica and Sedrenik now can spend time playing at two new, fully equipped playgrounds. Construction of the playgrounds was a priority for the citizens of these local communities, which they defined as a conclusion at a forum held in the framework of the project Strengthening the Role of Local Communities in BiH, which is a joint project of the Government of Switzerland and the Government of Sweden, implemented by UNDP.

Program for children with entertainers, face painting, balloons and sweets was held Monday at the playgrounds.

UNDP Project Manager Majda Ganibegovic said: “Construction of the playground, which will be used by more than 500 kids, is a project that came as an initiative of citizens of local communities. In this way, only a year after the partnership with the municipality of Stari Grad, we have the opportunity to see how voice of citizens can influence positive changes in the local community”.

Municipal Mayor of Stari Grad, Ibrahim Hadzibajric, stressed the successful cooperation with the UNDP, which is actively involved in the inclusion program when it comes to certain social programs in the Municipality of Stari Grad.

“On this occasion I have to say that in this year we continue cooperation on the project Strengthening the Role of Local Communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the amount of funds that will be provided to the municipality of Stari Grad through the project by the Government of Switzerland and the Government of Sweden in future is around KM 150,000, and we planned for the funds to be spent on improving infrastructure in our local communities,” said Municipal Mayor Hadzibajric.

Construction of the two playgrounds cost around KM 44,000. The Governments of Switzerland and Sweden provided KM 34,000 through the project, and KM 10,000 was provided by the Municipality of Stari Grad.

Cooking Oil Producer Net Profit Rises

Brčko-based cooking oil producer Bimal said its net profit increased to 8.3 million KM last year, from 7.3 million KM a year earlier. The company’s operating income increased 6.7% to 193.5 million KM in 2016, while its operating costs rose 6.6% to 180.7 million KM, the company said in a filing with the Sarajevo Stock Exchange.

Bimal was privatized in 2002 by Austrian firm Seed Oil Holdings GmbH, partially owned by Vienna-based Studen Holding.

Swiss Extradite War Crimes Suspect

The state prosecutors said a woman wanted for war crimes she allegedly committed against Serb civilians during the Bosnian war has been extradited from Switzerland. 56-year-old Elfeta Veseli was handed over to authorities on Friday at Sarajevo’s airport, reported AP.

She is accused of a “particularly cruel” murder of a 12-year-old Serb boy near the northeastern town of Zvornik in 1992. Veseli left Bosnia after the war and settled in Switzerland where she was arrested in September. Her transfer to Bosnia for trial was delayed because she had been battling extradition.

EU Didn’t Deliver in the Western Balkans, Says Lajčák

Former international community envoy in Bosnia said his statement about two countries in the Western Balkans being the verge of dissolution and three in a deep political crisis was a message for the European Union, which has a responsibility towards the region. He didn’t say which countries he meant.

“It was a warning for the EU, but also for the region. Because, if two countries are on the verge of dissolution, then things can be stopped, the processes can be reversed in the opposite direction and this is the obligation and responsibility not only of the region but also us of the EU,” Miroslav Lajčák, currently Slovakia’s Foreign Minister, told Sarajevo-based Dnevni avaz daily.

Former High Representative in Bosnia said he was not pleased that his statement, given before a meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council earlier this month, was received with strong condemnation in the region. But, he added that he did not give his statements hastily.

“I said that we are not doing what we have promised to the Western Balkans. For two years, the region was not on the agenda of the EU Council of Ministers. I pointed out that we promised the European perspective; we constantly expect our partners in the region to deliver and meet our requirements, and they expect us to be the leaders. And we did not deliver. The fact is that the situation in the Western Balkans and in some countries is worse than, say, five years ago. But it should have been the other way round.”

World Bank Approves €74.5 Million Loan to Bosnia

The World Bank said its board of directors approved a 74.50 million euro loan to Bosnia for the public finances development policy operation. The program will provide budget support to underpin policy efforts by Bosnian authorities to improve transparency of public finances and lower fiscal pressures over the medium-term, the bank said in a statement.

Bosnia has one of the world’s largest public sectors relative to the size of its economy, with general government expenditures nearly 44% of GDP in 2016, and public enterprises adding even more to the public footprint in the economy. The public finances development policy operation supports measures to reduce public spending by as much as 2.3% of GDP in the medium term and lays the groundwork for further structural reforms for a more effective public sector. It is anchored in the Reform Agenda, a comprehensive structural transformation agenda that is supported by all Bosnian governments and by all development partners, including the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank Group.

“The approved programme recognises the efforts of BiH authorities to make public spending more sustainable in the medium-term,” said Ellen Goldstein, World Bank director for the Western Balkans.

“Tackling the legacy of an unwieldy and ineffective public sector is one of the most important aspects of the country’s Reform Agenda, which is designed to transform the economy in line with European Union criteria and to accelerate growth and job creation.”

Police Crack Down on Migrant Smugglers

Police in Bosnia and in Croatia launched an operation against migrant smugglers, called “Bosphorus”. Officers searched locations and arrested suspects in a coordinated effort to curb the smuggling of migrants and refugees into Western Europe.

 

The operation targeted persons suspected of organizing and planning the smuggling of migrants from Turkey and Syria over the territory of Bosnia and Croatia. The state Prosecution said that the smugglers were charging migrants thousands of Euros.

Six locations were searched in Bosnia and six people were arrested. They are suspected of being part of an international ring that operated in several countries. Croatian police searched fourteen locations in that country.

The suspects will be transferred to the custody of the Prosecution, which will decide on further steps, the Prosecution said.