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U.S. Cites Bosnia Reconstruction Woes
Rebuilding Shattered Nation
Still in Earliest Stages

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — U.S. officials, pushing for investment in Bosnia to help secure peace, Monday acknowledged problems ranging from lack of a working civilian airport to conflict over the color of police uniforms. While military goals have largely been met in the four months since the signing of the Dayton peace accords for the former Yugoslavia, the officials said reconstruction is still in its earliest stages.

"What we're looking at in the short term is immediate impact reconstruction, quite frankly so we can make a difference before the elections," said James Jeffrey, a State Department expert on the rebuilding of Bosnia. The elections, planned for September, are a key element of the Dayton plan. These quick-fix projects will be limited to housing repairs and shoring up municipal infrastructure.

Replacing Power System Will Wait
The biggest jobs, such as getting Bosnia's ruined power system back on line, will have to wait, Jeffrey told a conference on business opportunities in Bosnia and Croatia. "It takes us basically one step beyond humanitarian assistance," he said.

The World Bank has estimated more than $5 billion will be needed ultimately to rebuild Bosnia, shattered by more than four years of war involving its Muslim, Serb and Croatian factions. Jeffrey and other officials responded to businessmen clearly frustrated by continuing problems of working in the post-war chaos.

Of Checkpoints and Police Uniforms . . .
To one man who told of being repeatedly stopped at various checkpoints as he tried to enter Bosnia from Croatia, Jeffrey said the embryonic federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, linking the Muslims and Croats in Bosnia, was working to eliminate "obnoxious checkpoints." He said the federation was also working to get a consistent gray-colored uniform for its police officers — not a trivial matter since the current uniforms, either blue or green, identify officers with a particular faction.

"This has been a very serious issue; it undercut some of the efforts to take over control of the formerly largely ethnic Serb suburbs of Sarajevo,'" Jeffrey said. "... People have to get a sense that these police represent everybody in the federation and that they don't represent just their own ethnic groups."

. . . and, a Working Airport
Lieutenant Colonel James Keagle, deputy director of the U.S. Defense Department's Bosnia task force, reported good progress with the military mission in the former Yugoslavia. However, Keagle noted there was still no working civilian airport serving the area. The airport at Sarajevo, while physically ready for commercial traffic, could be opened to such traffic by mid-summer, he said. "The airport is physically ready; it's a question of control and access," Keagle told the conference, which was dedicated to the memory of Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, who died in a plane crash April 3 in Dubrovnik, Croatia while on a mission to promote U.S. investment in Bosnia and Croatia.

While putting the best face on international efforts to bring harmony to the area, Jeffrey noted that the planned elections were likely to come under attack from supporters of Bosnian Serb leaders, including Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. He said alleged war criminals were "still not only walking around free, but in the case of Karadzic and Mladic, they're calling the shots" in some areas.

He said the decision by Bosnian Serbs not to send representatives to a recent conference on reconstruction in Brussels was "a deliberate affront" to which Washington would have to react, but he did not say what this response would be.

Additional resources
Yugoslavia Contributes $10 Million in Aid
Bosnian Serbs Defend Conference Boycott
The World Bank

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