news 28 Nov 12

Bosnian Army Marks Anniversary on Less Cash

Marking their seventh anniversary, Bosnia's Armed Forces complain of having the same number of staff and same obligations as before, but on a lower budget.

Elvira M. Jukic
BIRN
Sarajevo

Marking the seventh anniversary of the armed forces, Bosnia's Defence Ministry said it is proud of the help that Bosnian soldiers have provided during natural disasters and on missions in international operations.

At the same time, the Ministry said the armed forces are operating on a tighter financial model but with the same number of people and the same obligations as before.

The Defence Ministry budget in 2010 was around 171 million euro, 95 per cent of which went on the army. In 2011 the budget was lowered to 150 million.

In 2012 the budget was raised slightly to 156 million euro but 10.7 million of that amount was a special transaction to pay for pensions of former soldiers.

In 2013, according to Ministry, the plan is to cut the budget even more, leaving them 145 million euro but with the same obligation of paying pensions of 10.7 million euro.

The Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina were formed in 2005 and united the three war-time armies: the Bosniak-dominated Army of BiH, the Croatian Defence Council, HVO, and Army of Republika Srpska, ARS. There are 10,000 soldiers and 1,000 civil servants in all.

Marina Pendes, Assistant Minister, said that she hoped that the Ministry will be able to implement its plans and obligations on less cash.

“The average spent on the armed forces in Slovenia and Croatia is 1.5 per cent of GDP,” she recalled. “But here we will soon drop to less than 1 per cent.”

She added that the institution will try to make internal cuts in order to spread the money so that operations are not endangered.

Referring to media claims that lowering the budget for the army is part of a slow process of abolishing a rare example of a successful state-level body, she said she could not comment.

Bosnia's original six-party coalition, which included the Party of Democratic Action, SDA, fell apart in May over the state budget when the SDA resisted cuts to the defence and security ministries.

The new coalition comprises the Social Democratic Party, SDP, Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, SNSD, the Serbian Democratic Party, SDS, the Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ BiH, its sister party, HDZ 1990, and the Alliance for a Better Future, SBB.

The SDA held the security and defence ministries. After the two ministers were dismissed, the new ruling coalition appointed Zekerijah Osmic from the SDP as Defence Minister.

“I cannot speak about the previous accomplishments of the ministry and the army, but I can say they did a good job in providing help to civil structures this year,” Osmic said on Tuesday.

The Ministry, meanwhile, is to finish the work of registering military property, which is a key issue in moving forward to NATO membership.

Bosnia has to clear up registration of the various objects and divide up ownership between the country's two entities.

“We have to find a model for this to go faster and more efficiently,” said Miladin Milojcic, Chief of the Joint Staff, referring to the process of registration of property. “If we had more money we could do more,” Milojcic added.

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