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Bosnia wants EU pact before top official's role ends

Written by: Staff

BRUSSELS, June 28 (Reuters) Bosnian Prime Minister Adnan Terzic today said it would be a mistake to end the U.N.-mandated role of high representative in his country before conclusion of an agreement towards European Union membership.

After talks with Terzic in Brussels, EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn stressed that concluding a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) agreement to bring Bosnia closer to membership depended on it meeting reform conditions.

Terzic told reporters he and Rehn disagreed on the issue.

''I believe it is a mistake to support the closing down of the Office of the High Representative (OHR) without having the Stabilisation and Association Agreement signed,'' he said.

''The OHR is required to be present in the case things go in the opposite direction from the SAA,'' he said.

High Representative Christian Schwartz-Schilling, who will continue working from next June in the lower-profile role of EU Special Representative, would not have a clear mandate without an SAA, Terzic said.

''If he doesn't have a clear mandate, he doesn't have clear jurisdiction,'' he added.

Rehn told the briefing his aim was to conclude the SAA with Bosnia by the end of the year but this depending on progress in reforms and there was ''a certain difference with regard to the degree of realistic ambition''.

''Unfortunately we have not seen much progress concerning the policy reform,'' he said, adding that this message needed to be addressed particularly to the autonomous Serb Republic.

''If the conclusion of the SAA were to be delayed beyond the summer of 2007, we all would have failed,'' he said.

The European Union wants greater efforts to create a single Bosnian police force and says reforms of public broadcasting and administration have also been lagging.

The two halves of Bosnia agreed last October to create a single, multi-ethnic police force within 3-5 years, a commitment that paved the way for the start of the SAA talks.

The Serb Republic has since raised objections to policing areas straddling the line dividing the two regions and has frozen participation in a police reform body.

Reuters SK VP0125

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