West impatient with Bosnian leaders

SARAJEVO, May 26, 2000 -- (Reuters) The West's top envoy in Bosnia said on Thursday that the Balkan state's leaders were doing a "lousy job" and said that he would use all his powers to help the country return to normality.

Wolfgang Petritsch, the international community's High Representative to the Balkan nation, said that European Union leaders were impatient to see progress in the implementation of peace nearly five years after the end of Bosnia's 1992-95 war.

They are not willing to wait any longer, Petritsch said at a news conference after he returned from a meeting in Brussels of an international council in charge of peace implementation in Bosnia.

"This is now basically known all over the world - that the politicians here in Bosnia and Herzegovina are doing a lousy job," he said.

The Peace Implementation Council (PIC) of about 50 countries and organizations on Wednesday had issued a declaration recommending measures to accelerate economic reforms, encourage refugee returns and build stronger state institutions.

"I do not hesitate now to really perform a very hands on job here," said Petritsch. "I will use all my powers that are at my disposal, I will do my utmost in order to get more investment-minded people into this country and encourage local investment."

The Austrian diplomat said there was obstruction going on at the local level against any investment in the country, and said that Bosnian leaders were to blame.

Petritsch has sweeping powers to remove officials seen as obstructive to the peace process and impose legislation that local lawmakers fail to pass.

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