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EU Troika foreign ministers urge Bosnia to speed up reform efforts
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09:27, April 10, 2009

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The foreign ministers of the European Union Troika on Thursday urged Bosnian authorities to speed up reforms in a bid to catch up with neighboring countries and join the EU.

The Czech, French and Swedish foreign ministers -- Karel Schwarzenberg, Bernard Kouchner and Carl Bildt -- concluded their two-day visit to Sarajevo on Thursday.

The visit was aimed at showing renewed EU determination to end Bosnia's political deadlock among the three constituent nationalities, Bosniak Muslim, Serbs and Croats, the Bosnian news agency Fena reported.

After talks with deputies in the Bosnia-Herzegovina parliament, Schwarzenberg said it was absolutely clear that the EU was Bosnia's friend and that it wanted to help but the fundamental responsibility for reforms lay with Bosnian authorities.

He said that it would be useful to simplify the constitutional framework as Bosnia's complex government was suitable for corruption.

A peace agreement signed in the U.S. ended Bosnia's 1992-1995 war and left the former Yugoslav republic divided into two entities, the Serb republic and Muslim-Croat federation. Under the agreement, each entity has its own government, parliament and police, but neither is allowed to secede.

Schwarzenberg said that he, Kouchner and Bildt arrived in Bosnia as true friends of the country and came to reiterate the readiness of the EU to provide any help that Bosnia needed.

"The situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina is complex, with strong distrust among leaders of the three constituent peoples which triggers tensions and hampers advancement of the country," Kouchner said.

The Czech Republic currently presides over the EU, while Sweden will take over the role on July 1. France held the half-year EU presidency before the Czech Republic.

The head of the Bosnian parliament's House of Peoples, Ilija Filipovic, said the foreign ministers of the EU Troika have given a loud and clear message that Bosnia-Herzegovina was welcome in the EU, once it met the conditions.

"We have done little, the time is running out and we must hurry," Filipovic said.

During their stay in Sarajevo, the three foreign ministers held talks with Bosnia's tripartite presidency, Premier Nikola Spiric and other political leaders.


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