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As Bosnia's Statistics Agency announces a pilot census for this October, international monitors say the fate of the landmark 2013 census will depend on the success of the autumn test run.
A pilot census for Bosnia, according the Statistics Agency, will be held next month, from October 15-29, aimed at showing whether Bosnia is ready to conduct a landmark census next April, the first in 22 years, which included the 1992-5 war.
Zdenko Milinovic, director of the Bosnian Statistics Agency, said in Sarajevo on September 19 that extra personnel will be hired and trained by mid-October, adding he hoped that the pilot census will show up all possible flaws in the head-counting process.
“You should accept that we didn't have census for 20 years, so we don't have an opportunity, like other countries in the region and EU, to compare it with past results and fix mistakes,” Milinovic said.
He explained that the pilot census will be conducted in 66 areas of the Republika Srpska, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzgovina and the District of Brcko at a cost of at least 100,000 euro.
Pieter Everaer, director of the EU statistics agency EUROSTAT, said he believed that the pilot census will be held on time after meeting Milinovic and the Bosnian Prime Minister Vjekoslav Bevanda on Wednesday.
Speaking at a press conference, Everaers said that the results of the October pilot census would affect the decision of the International Monitoring Commission on whether to advise the Bosnian government to go ahead with the full census next April, or postpone it.
“The pilot census preparations are relatively good and under control, and we believe that the pilot census will take place October 15-29,” he said.
He said the success of the test run would show whether Bosnia can conduct the April 2013 census or not, and it would determine the quality of data-gathering methods.
Everaers added that approving the pilot census does not mean automatically approving next year's census, which many have already qualified as historic.
This is because it will reveal the real demographic state of the country for the first time since the 1992-5 war.
The overall population is thought to have fallen markedly since the early 1990s. The last census in 1991 showed that 4.4 million people lived in Bosnia.
Muslims [Bosniaks] then made up 43.5 per cent of the population, Serbs 31.2 per cent, Croats 17.4 and some 5.5 of the country's population declared themselves as Yugoslavs.
The United Nations estimates that Bosnia and Herzegovina is today home only to some 3.8 million people.
Milinovic told Balkan Insight that the estimated cost of the 2013 census is around 21 million euro but the bill could rise further before April.
Civil society organizations have asked the Bosnian Statistics Agency to change the 2013 census form and remove what they see as discriminatory elements from questions about nationality, religion and language.
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