news 13 Jun 13

Bosnia Ministers Agree Border Deal by Phone

After Bosnian Serb ministers said they could not attend cabinet sessions in Sarajevo because of the protests taking place there, ministers had to agree an urgent border deal with Croatia by telephone.

Elvira M. Jukic
BIRN
Sarajevo

Bosnia's state-level government held an urgent session by telephone on June 13, firming up a border deal agreed with Croatia on Wednesday in Brussels.

After Prime Minister Vjekoslav Bevanda said government sessions could not take place in Sarajevo, owing to security concerns, minsters voted on the border deal over the phone.

After ministers accepted the agreement, it will be sent to the State Presidency for confirmation and then officially signed by a minister with his Croatian counterpart in Brussels at the end of month.

Under the new agreement, which has to be valid by July 1, when Croatia joins the European Union, Bosnian nationals will need passports to enter the neighbouring country.

However, citizens living in designated border areas will be able to enter Croatia using only special border cards.

The telephone session of the cabient was called on Thursday after Bosnian Serb ministers said they would not attend sessions in Sarajevo on the grounds that street protests had made the capital unsafe.

Protesters last week surrounded parliament and trapped MPs and foreign visitors for most of an entire night, demanding that parliament adopt a long-awaited law on personal numbers.

Adoption of the law is vital for parents of newborns to obtain documents on their behalf such as passports.

Bosnia's Security Minister, Fahrudin Radoncic, said he could guarantee that MPs and ministers would be able to work in Sarajevo, while the protesters insisted that their intentions were non-violent.

However, Bosnian Serb politicians are unpersuaded. The assembly of the Bosnian Serb-led entity, Republika Srpska, is due to discuss the further participation of Serbian officials in state institutions in Sarajevo.

Prime Minister Bevanda meanwhile scheduled a telephone session of the cabinet, saying it was urgent to reach a border agreement with Croatia.

Without a deal, citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina might be prevented from going there altogether. Croatia also wants a deal reached a soon as possible as it effects the southern Croatian city of Dubrovnik, which is cut off from the rest of Croatia by a sliver of Bosnian territory round the town of Neum.

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