$1.5 Billion is Needed for First Year,
Lack of Serious Projects Cited for Delay
(BRUSSELS, March 24Reuters) European Union foreign ministers, desperate to keep the civilian side of the Bosnian peace accords on track, plan this week to step up pressure on other states to come up with promised reconstruction funds. Carl Bildt, the international community's High Representative to Bosnia, will bring ministers up to date on planning for a major donors' conference in Brussels on April 12-14.
Diplomats say representatives from the 15-nation bloc may meet in Brussels later in the week to coordinate a common EU position ahead of the main conference which will include Japan, the Islamic world and the United States. The conference needs to raise $1.2 billionthe amount considered necessary for the rest of this year. Diplomats say so far between $823 million and $923 million has been pledged, with the EU making some $213 million available, the U.S. $200 million and Japan $200 million. Islamic countries are expected to come up with about $100 million and the World Bank has pledged $160 million.
Diplomats See Situation Improving
"It is looking a lot better than a few weeks ago," said one diplomat. Experts say the reluctance of states to match words with deeds is further complicated by a lack of serious projects on the ground to finance. "It is all very well having the money, but you have to have things to pump it into. At the moment, it is taking some time for these to come through," said one senior official.
The meeting takes place against a backdrop of renewed concern that the political side of the Dayton peace accords which ended Bosnia's 3½-year nightmare is failing to match the success of the military side. Bildt, who will first brief ministers on the progress on implementing the civilian aspects, has frequently warned the end of the long Balkan winter must see real progress with substantial projects to underpin the fragile peace. His view was echoed by Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic who visited Brussels last Thursday to urge European Union to give priority to the creation of jobs and housing. Muratovic, accompanied by Foreign Minister Jandanko Prlic, pressed on External Affairs Commissioner Hans van den Broek the need to build homes to give thousands of refugees an incentive to return.
NATO Demobilization Looms
Under the Dayton accords, several thousand soldiers are set to be demobilized in the months ahead. Diplomats stress they must quickly be given jobs and a stake in the peace process. The ministers are also likely to appoint former mayor of the Spanish city of Valencia, Ricardo Perez Casado, to replace Hans Koschnick as the next EU-administrator of the divided eastern Bosnian city of Mostar. The European Union took over the running of Mostar, divided between Croats and Muslims, in July 1994. Its mandate expires at the end of 1996 when NATO's peace mission also comes to an end. Koschnick resigned last month after failing to sell a plan to reunify the city to the opposing parties.
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