US ambassador warns Bosnians against dependence on aid

BANJA LUKA, May 31, 2000 -- (AFP) U.S. Ambassador Thomas Miller has warned Bosnians they cannot depend on international aid but must act to secure their own future.

In the latest issue of the Bosnian Serb independent weekly Reporter, Miller paraphrased the late U.S. president John Kennedy: "Do not ask what the international community can do for you, but what we can do together for the future of Bosnia."

"We are glad that we can offer help, but the fact is that the international community has been generous enough towards this country.... Bosnia has received significant help already," Miller wrote in a column.

Bosnia's economy was devastated during the 1992-95 war. It has received 5.1 billion dollars in assistance since the end of the war, but its economy remains heavily dependent on foreign aid.

In a meeting earlier this month in Brussels of the Peace Implementation Council, the international community said further financial aid to Bosnia would depend on successful economic and political reforms demanded by major donor countries.

Donors questioned the need to secure additional funding for the return of refugees to Bosnia "when the Bosnian government has other, bigger priorities, like buying expensive aircraft for an airline which cannot make a profit," he wrote.

Bosnia's state-owned airline Air Bosna ordered last January two Airbus aircraft for 85 million dollars, and put an option on a further two.

"In other words, why are we, the international donors, more concerned with providing funds for the return of refugees than the government of this country itself," Miller asked.

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