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Balkan Pact falls short of expectations, says Bosnia

SARAJEVO, Jun 15, 2000 -- (Reuters) The Balkan Stability Pact agreed with international donors has not yet fulfilled expectations because of poor leadership and a lack of progress in Yugoslavia, a Bosnian minister said on Wednesday.

The pact, for which international donors last March pledged some 2.4 billion euros ($2.3 billion), was launched in Sarajevo last year by the European Union, the United States and other Western governments and international agencies.

"As a whole we consider that the Stability Pact has not given the results we all had expected and that the messages the leaders gave in Sarajevo have not got through," Foreign Minister Jadranko Prlic told a news conference.

The pact offers financial backing for seven countries in the region in exchange for political and economic reforms following a decade marked by the bloody collapse of the former Yugoslavia.

The recipient members are the former Yugoslav republics of Bosnia, Croatia and Macedonia as well as Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania.

Yugoslavia, which NATO bombed last year to bring an end to the repression of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo and which the West shuns as undemocratic, was excluded from the pact.

Prlic said the pact's lask of results so far was "obvious" and complained that the countries in the region had too little input.

"I think it is the matter of leadership...While aiming to coordinate projects the Stability Pact has slowed some of them down," he said, adding that the level of bilateral cooperation between the countries in the region was also low.

But he said the situation in the regional heavyweight Yugoslavia - where the West refuses to deal with President Slobodan Milosevic - was also to blame.

"Objectively, we have to see that in a situation where there is no progress in Yugoslavia, it is not realistic to expect dramatic improvements," Prlic said.



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