West's envoy to Bosnia encouraged to get tougher

SARAJEVO, Jul 14, 2000 -- (Reuters) The West's top envoy in Bosnia said on Thursday he had been encouraged by some of the countries overseeing the 1995 Dayton peace agreement to be even tougher in ensuring its implementation.

"Again today...the increasing frustration about the inefficiency of politics and public service in this country (was expressed)," Wolfgang Petritsch told a news conference after meeting senior diplomats from the Peace Implementation Council.

"Several delegations expressed their full support for my work and the way I go about resolving the issues. They encouraged me to be even more robust if necessary," he said.

His comments come amid increasingly vocal criticism from the international community, which has bankrolled the former Yugoslav republic for almost five years in a bid to stabilize a country torn by the worst European war since World War Two.

After committing $5.1 billion to help reconstruct Bosnia over the first five post-war years, the West is now much more reluctant to give funds without seeing greater progress in market reform and the fight against corruption.

Petritsch, the High Representative who reports to the PIC made up of 50 member countries as well as international organizations, has wide powers, including the ability to sack officials seen to be working against the spirit of Dayton.


But while he has fired a string of officials, using powers that were increased half way through the term of his predecessor, Carlos Westendorp, he is anxious to impress on Bosnians that they must take responsibility for their country.

Asked if he might resort to imposing a key election law that has not even been discussed by parliament, he said people should not expect an international protectorate to resolve their post-war problems.

"The international community has been here for almost five years to assist you. But you cannot count on anything like a protectorate. You need to move forward. You need to vote into responsible positions responsible politicians - this is the only way forward for Bosnia-Herzegovina," he said.

The election law, like many other internationally-sponsored reform initiatives in Bosnia, is aimed at weakening the power of nationalist political parties who still hold sway five years after the war and keep a tight grip on the economy.

Parliamentary elections are due in Bosnia in November and Petritsch is hoping moderates will come to power.

"I can assure you no foreign private investment is going to come to this country in the necessary amounts unless the politicians here get their acts together," he said.

The PIC diplomats he had met earlier came from France, Germany, Italy, Russia, United Kingdom and United States, as well as Canada, Japan, European Union executives and Organization of Islamic countries represented by Turkey.

Original article