Sunday, October 30, 2011


(Pictured Sandro Gacic and Nedim Buza)
Bosnians often don't get the credit for being the basketball power and the country the proving ground that it should. Second only to soccer in BiH, basketball is a passion for it's people. Also known for her tall people (especially in Herzegovina region) Bosnia has produced some great talents over the years from Mirza Delibasic, Zoran Savic, Nenad Markovic, Damir Mulaomerovic, Vladmir Radmanovic, Zoran Planinic to the more recent generation of Nihad Dedovic, Nedzad Sinanovic, Mirza Teletovic, Emir Preldzic, Bojan Bogdanovic and so many other talents.

Bosnia suffered because of the war in the 1990's and so did basketball in the country. The next generation of basketball talents from the postwar era (1995 and beyond) has reclaimed some of the past glory. The next challenge for BiH is keeping most of the talent inside the country and convincing the youngsters that their future belongs inside the BiH National Team. In the past the biggest threats came from Slovenia, Serbia and Croatia (and to a lesser degree Turkey which had taken Mirsad Turkcan, Emir Preldzic, Asim Pars, Hedo Turkoglu and others) and now the biggest threat seems to be Spain who have picked off Nedim Dedovic, Adnan Omeragic and it seems Nedzad Sinovic is more likely to join Spanish National Team.

Taking a look forward these are the best young talents in BiH and of Bosnian origin.

1) Sandro Gacic 6'5" SG/SF 1996 A tremendous talent who has led a lot of his youth teams in scoring and can attack the opposition in multiple ways. Sandro has a offensive game mature beyond his years. Has yet to don the jersey of Bosnian National teams.

2) Nedim Buza 6'7" PF 1995 He exploded upon the scene with a great 2011 U16 National Team for Bosnia. He is skilled, is a good athlete and just needs to add some polish and get quality coaching to be a serious player in Europe.

3) Nedim Dedovic 6'5" SG 1997 A great talent who has better shooting form than his older brother Nihad. He decided to accept Spanish passport and it seems will be lost to Spain.

4) Samir Sehic 6'8 PF 1996 Getting a lot of notice in the US from college scouts who like his skill set and attitude. He looks like he should develop into a high quality college player in the US.

5) Adnan Omeragic 6'7" SF 1996 A very good athlete who appears to have little interest in joining Bosnian National Team. He has a quality all around game and has a bright future.

6) Alen Omic 6'11" C 1992 The best young center talent from Bosnia, he proved to be a leader for Slovenia youth teams.

7) Adin Vrabac 6'8" SF 1994 Adin is a raw talent who needs to develop his body and get better coaching.

8) Miralem Halilovic 6'8" F 1991 It seems like he is a lot older than he is because he has been playing for so many years as a professional. Stuck on the bench with KK Zagreb he isn't getting many minutes with the team and would benefit for getting loaned to a team like KK BOSNA ASA.

9) Adi Zahiragic 6'2" PG 1995 Not a great athlete but he shows a mature PG game and could develop into a really solid player in the future.

10) Boris Barac 6'7" SF 1992 Solid talent who has a lot of weapons but is inconsistint. Good bloodlines as his brother Stanko Barac plays on high level European teams and is a key member of the Croatian National Team.

Honorable mention: Marko Ramljak PF (undersized PF who has some outside shooting ability ), Marko Rikalo PG ( showed some upside in very limited minutes for the Bosnian U20 team ), Mirza Bulic SF ( a nice scorer who is weak physically at this point and inconsistent ), Nermin Buza PF (flashes some nice all around talent who needs more minutes ), Ali Demic SF ( Ali was a higher rated prospect who is finally getting minutes at the age of 21 ) Armin Mazic SF ( has disappointed so far, he shows skill which has made him attractive to others), Djordje Micic SF (flashes a high level of athletic ability, a bad shooter so far and opportunities seem to be getting limited )

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Response letter I recieved from Timothy Frye Director Harriman Institute Columbia University response to denying Bosniaks a chance to hear Dodik speak

Dear Mr. Mathieu,

Thank you for your e-mail.

The Harriman Institute takes your concerns seriously. The event was
oversubscribed and, additionally, it appears there were technical
glitches in the online reservation system that affected a broad,
diverse spectrum of individuals who wished to participate in the event.

The doors were also closed promptly for the event so that several
latecomers were not admitted. These were unfortunate developments.

Most importantly, I can assure you that the Harriman Institute would
never discriminate against anyone who wanted entry to an event on the
basis of their national origin, ethnicity and/or religious beliefs.

In my introductory remarks at the event that are attached here, I
underscored that an invitation to speak at the university in no way
implies an endorsement of views or policy of the speaker.

Furthermore, it is notable that during the question and answer session
that Mr. Dodik faced a number of difficult and hostile questions from
the audience which suggests that the audience was diverse. This robust
exchange comports with the spirit of academic rigor that characterizes
such events involving outside speakers at Columbia.


Timothy Frye
Director, Harriman Institute
Columbia University

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bosnia Sarajevo: Serbian gunman attacks US embassy in Sarajevo, suspect shot and in custody

Sarajevo Gunman in Custody, Officials Condemn Attack

Mevlid Jasarevic, a 23 year old from Novi Pazar, Serbia fired shots at the US embassy in Sarajevo. Police told Balkan Insight that one security guard was injured, shot in the legs and the gunman was wounded but alive.
Valerie Hopkins, Eldin Hadzovic

Sources from the general hospital in Sarajevo have said that the gunman has been brought to the hospital.
Jasarevic shot an automatic rifle multiple times at the US Embassy from the tram station across the road, in the Marijn Dvor district of the city.  One security guard was injured, shot in the legs and was taken to surgery to the general hospital in Sarajevo.
Police sources have told Balkan Insight that the assailant was shot in the leg. He was taken to the hospital and is under arrest. The scene of the shooting is still cordoned off by the police while the interior ministry of the Sarajevo Canton, the federal police and the state agency for investigation and protection, SIPA are collecting evidence.

Mevlid Jasarevic fired shots at the US embassy this afternoon, Photo by FoNet
Mevlid Jasarevic fired shots at the US embassy this afternoon Photo by FoNet
Traffic has been halted outside of the US Embassy to Bosnia and Herzegovina because of the shooting.
About a hundred people are milling around the police line, unable to return to their apartments in the blocked off area around the US embassy.

An eyewitness, Smail Zilic, who was driving by the embassy at the time of the shooting, told Balkan Insight that the man paced back and forth in front of the embassy for five minutes, screaming "Bring me an American, I want an American"

He said a sniper fired at the assailant twice, wounding him the second time in the leg.

According to Zilic, the gunman was clearly not a Bosnian, although he spoke the language perfectly, albeit with ekavica, a regional dialect found in Serbia.

Zlic said he fired five shots.

"This has nothing to do with religion," said Zilic.  "This man is clearly insane.   He came here to die.  He made no attempt to flee the scene, he wanted to be a martyr.  But he is just crazy."
"God help us all," said Adi Hadzic, another Sarajevan. "We don't need a terrorist attack like this in our city."
“I heard noise for almost a minute,” said Will Richard, an American citizen who works in the nearby UNITIC towers.  “It sounded like rapid fire, but thought it was just part of the construction projects in the area.”
Officials Condemn "Terrorist Attack"
Bakir Izetbegovic, member of the Bosnia presidency condemned the attack on the US embassy in Sarajevo. "I expect a swift and decisive investigation into this event", Izetbegovic said.
"Shooting at the US embassy is shooting at a friend of Bosnia and Herzegovina," said Haris Silajdzic.
Nermin Niksic, Prime Minister of Bosnia's Federation said the act was an attack against peace in the country. "The United States have proven countless times by now to be Bosnia's friends, and the government of the Federation is convinced that this cowardly act cannot endanger our friendly relations, as well as the relations between the people of Bosnia's and the US".
Denis Becirovic, Chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina said that today's terrorist act in Sarajevo deserves the sharpest condemnation and quick action of the state's security services in order to uncover all the perpetrators and their motives.
"This attack reminds us in the cruelest fashion that we shouldn't give up in the fight against terrorists and extremists", Becirovic said.
The Prime Minister of Sarajevo canton Fikret Music called a special session of the local government's parliamentary body condemning the terrorist attack.
 "Due to these unfortunate events I have called an emergency session of the Canton Sarajevo Assembly. The government is  condemning this terrorist attack against the US embassy and the citizens of the Sarajevo Canton.
"We will provide full support to the relevant authorities to combat all kind of terrorist activities and pursue investigative processes with regards to this case. The government also expresses its objection to this ideology and to its supporters, emphasizing that there will be no room for such activities in Sarajevo in the future."

 "We are shocked by this attack that reminded us of the horrible times this city was exposed to not so long ago. I call on all the citizens of Sarajevo to remain calm. We assure you that the government will do everything to dispell fear and restlessness among our citizens."
So far, Bosnia's state court has processed three cases of terrorism attacks in the country.
Jasarevic and another suspected wahabbi have been reportedly detained by police in Novi Pazar in November 2010 during a visit of ten ambassadors in the town. Jasarevic and the other man were detained and questioned by police as potentially dangerous for the diplomats.

Columbia University Prevents Bosnian Americans from Attending Dodik Lecture! Send protest letters to the university!

Columbia University Prevents Bosnian Americans from Attending Dodik Lecture

Institute for the Research of Genocide Canada
Published: October 26, 2011
Columbia University Prevents Bosnian Americans from Attending Dodik Lecture
Bosniak American Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina {BAACBH} strongly condemns Columbia University’s discriminatory actions against Bosnian Americans that occurred yesterday, October 25, 2011. The University’s Harriman Institute of Russian, Eurasian, and Eastern European Studies hosted Milorad Dodik, the President of Republika Srpska (RS), where he gave a lecture titled “An American Foreign Policy Success Story: The Dayton Accords, Republika Srpska, and Bosnia’s European Integration.”
The Columbia Daily Spectator, the student newspaper, reported that a few dozen individuals came to protest Dodik’s speech, but were turned away after being told that their names were not on the list of pre-registered attendees. However, many of these individuals had in fact pre-registered for the event and had printed copies of the confirmations in hand. Individuals with what sounded like Bosnian Muslim names were taken off the list, while individuals with Serb or American sounding names were permitted to enter. When those present objected to being excluded to the event for which they had confirmed registrations, they were threatened with arrest by Columbia University security. This is clear discrimination by the Harriman Institute and Columbia University, and it poses potential legal consequences.
BAACBH has strongly opposed Columbia University’s willingness to host Mr. Dodik from the outset, and sent a protest letter together with partner organizations. Mr. Dodik denies that genocide took place in Srebrenica despite the fact that the U.S. Congress passed H.R. 199 defining the crime as genocide and both the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) have ruled that genocide occurred in Srebrenica. Since his rise to power Dodik has undermined the reconciliation and post war rebuilding process in BiH. He has constantly menaced BiH with the threat of secession by the RS, has openly questioned the validity of the BiH state court system, undermined the rule of law, and has actively opposed the prosecution of war crimes committed by the Serbs during the aggression on BiH in the early 1990′s.
Columbia University’s decision to provide a forum to a political figure so detrimental to the peace and reconciliation process in Bosnia is all the more concerning because of the University’s decision to exclude Bosnian Americans from the event. Such actions run counter to open dialogue and diversity of opinion that characterize institutions of higher learning. It is all the more painful to the Bosnian Americans who could not enter the event last evening because many of them fled their hometowns in the early 1990′s for fear of persecution of the Serb army precisely because of their names. BAACBH has tried to contact the Harriman Institute for comments without success and strongly advises the University to take the necessary steps to repair the damage caused by its actions.
BAACBH encourages all Bosnian Americans and all friends of Bosnia to ACT NOW and send a protest letter to:
John Coatsworth, Dean of School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia
Timothy Frye, Director of Harriman Institute,
lan Timberlake, Director East Central European Center at Columbia,

Protest Letter to Columbia University for hosting genocide denier, Milorad Dodik

Institute for the Research of Genocide Canada
Published: October 23, 2011
Protest Letter to Columbia University for hosting genocide denier, Milorad Dodik
October 23, 2011
John H. Coatsworth, Ph.D
Dean, School of International and Public Affairs
Columbia University
14th floor, MC 3328
New York, NY 10027
Timothy Frye , Ph.D.
Director, The Harriman Institute
Marshall D. Shulman Professor of Post-Soviet Foreign Policy
Columbia University

Monday, October 24, 2011

Botanical Garden of the National Museum of Bosnia and Hercigovina in Sarajevo

One of my favorite places to visit while in Sarajevo is the Botanical Gardens of the National Museum of BiH. Even though like most cultural icons of Bosnia, it too has suffered in the post war era. It still makes for a great trip while in the cosmopolitan city of Sarajevo. It is always underutilized so getting in and around is easy and I have found the people to kind and friendly who work there.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Old Jewish Synagogue in Sarajevo Bosnia and Hercigovina

A picture of the old Jewish Synagogue in Sarajevo. I am not sure what it is used for now, the population of Jews in only a couple thousand in Sarajevo now.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Republika Srpska's Dodik Says He's 'Only Supporting The Constitution'

October 14, 2011
Milorad Dodik has headed the ethnic Serb entity of Bosnia as Republika Srpska's president since November 2010, having previously served as its prime minister since 2006.

In an interview with RFE/RL Russian Service correspondents Irina Lagunina and Aija Kuge, Dodik discusses the political situation in Bosnia, which has been deadlocked over the formation of a new government for more than a year. Dodik accuses Bosnian Muslims of trying to "impose their will" on the country's ethnic Serbs and Croats and blames the "constant meddling" of Western powers for the country's political problems.

RFE/RL: It has been more than a year that Bosnia-Herzegovina has been unable to form a Council of Ministers, an executive branch of government. Who is to blame for this? What is going on in this country?

Milorad Dodik: You have arrived in a country that was not created by the will of the people who live here but by the will of the international community. The Dayton agreements were concluded for a number of reasons -- someone wanted something, someone else signed the agreement under duress. It would take a whole broadcast to explain this to your audience.

I'd just say this briefly: The situation regarding the selection of a Council of Ministers reflects the situation in the country as a whole, in Bosnia-Herzegovina. It is a fact that the peoples living in Bosnia never expressed the desire to live in that country. It is also a fact that one of those nations wants to impose its will, demonstrate its will as a majority, over the two other nations that do not want to live under such conditions.

You can reduce the problem of the Council of Ministers to the level of ministerial posts and who will have what chair. But in this case, the inability to select an executive branch is typical, and it is directly connected to the conception of the construction of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Dayton accord created Bosnia in two parts and with three basic nations.

So, in general, on the national level, Bosnia-Herzegovina is dominated by these two parts and the three nations that make them up. But this was not to the liking of the liberal politicians of the world. Instead they preferred to strengthen the concept of individuality as sacrosanct and the concept of citizenship replaced the concept of sovereign and constitutional nations. So, the political system of Bosnia-Herzegovina could be different -- even to the point where it wouldn't matter which candidate represented which ethnic group.
Which candidate represents which ethnic group? Some people don't like going into this problem, saying that it isn't important. But for us this question is very important.

However, it is clearly written in the constitution that representatives on the national level must represent ethnic groups. So this problem has arisen now: Which candidate represents which ethnic group? Some people don't like going into this problem, saying that it isn't important. But for us this question is very important. A representative can only be a person who has a mandate -- isn't that the way it is throughout the democratic world? In order to have a mandate, he must be elected in legal elections or he must receive it from legally elected persons.

But the Muslim Bosniaks in Bosnia-Herzegovina are tying to take over positions that belong to the other constitutional ethnic groups. It turned out that the member of the Presidium of Bosnia-Herzegovina from the Croatian ethnic group was elected by the votes of Bosniaks. This is perfectly clear if you look at the results of the elections. This situation has produced mutual distrust and if the Bosniaks are going to continue to insist on this deception, the formation of a government will not succeed.

I represent Republika Srpska and a political party that is dominated by the votes of ethnic Serbs. True, our party also has Croats and Bosniaks, and we respect that and they hold certain posts in our party structures. But on the level of Bosnia-Herzegovina, it is a different matter -- there we are present as Republika Srpska and we are represented as Serbs. I am only trying to support the constitution, where it is written that one-third of the ministerial posts belong to us -- that is, four posts. Now they are demanding that we give up this right and also give up the rotation of the head of the presidium, which was enacted previously under the constitution but was annulled as a result of the incompetent policies of United Nations High Representative Paddy Ashdown. This is unacceptable. It is not possible to violate the constitution and we do not intend to sign on to this complicated game of Sarajevo's.
The will of one part of the world is completely focused. They want to continue with the experiment called "Bosnia-Herzegovina" regardless of how many times it has proven a failure.

I don't consider myself either an optimist or a pessimist on this matter, but the Council of Ministers is functioning nonetheless. But the main question is the functioning of Bosnia and only naive people think the problem is the Council of Ministers.

The problem is the current relations we have in Bosnia-Herzegovina. When that will be settled -- I don't know. Political will in Bosnia-Herzegovina is completely fractured. The will of one part of the world is completely focused. They want to continue with the experiment called "Bosnia-Herzegovina" regardless of how many times it has proven a failure. We are sick and tired of being some sort of chemical elements that foreigners put in test tubes and shake up in an attempt to get a result that is impossible. Our chemical elements do not combine.

RFE/RL: Does the situation with the central authorities of Bosnia have any impact on what is happening in Republika Srpska?

Dodik: No, it doesn't impact us at all. They only bother us. The arrogance of the international community regarding the strengthening of the government of Bosnia-Herzegovina is resulting in enormous financial costs and that money is being spent ineffectively. Bosnia-Herzegovina has 22,000 bureaucrats who get salaries but do nothing useful.

But the struggle of the Bosniaks for their national identity is completely tied to the idea of creating some kind of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Bosniaks are a people that exist only in Bosnia-Herzegovina and only declared themselves a people sometime around 1993. They are stubbornly trying to prove their national identity, which they can only do by destroying the nationality of others -- primarily, of the other constituent ethnic groups of Bosnia.

Of course, Republika Srpska has sufficient opportunities to establish direct relations with the world, with all those who desire such relations. If others don't desire such relations, we won't force them. But Bosnia-Herzegovina is such an artificial construct in many ways, including in its relations with the outside world, and so we get little benefit from "effective" government in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In the past, they have hindered us more than helped us and now and in the future they will hinder our success and development.

RFE/RL: Maybe it would be easier for Republika Srpska just to leave the federation and follow its own path....

Dodik: Whether Republika Srpska proceeds along its own path or not does not depend only on us. But I will tell you that a few months ago, at the behest of some foreign organizations, the Gallup organization conducted a survey here. They asked if our citizens want to remain within Bosnia-Herzegovina. Eighty-eight percent of the respondents in Republika Srpska said they don't want to stay in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

On the other hand, we politicians must respect reality and that reality is international agreements and the arrangement of forces on the international stage. In my opinion, certain foreign representatives also influenced this desire in Republika Srpska to be independent because they never did anything to help make Bosnia-Herzegovina attractive to citizens of Republika Srpska.

On the contrary, with their constant arrogance and accusations directed at Republika Srpska, they created sufficient energy so that now 88 percent of those questioned expressed a desire to live outside of Bosnia-Herzegovina. We cannot make one-sided decisions. However, maybe the question needs to be posed differently: How can we politicians exist and work without respecting the will of those 88 percent?
There is not one event in Bosnian history that is significant enough to bring together Serbs and Croats and Bosniaks to proclaim such-and-such a date a common date of our success.

On the other hand, foreigners see us only as some exotic thing and don't pay attention to the fact that there are three constitutional ethnic groups in Bosnia-Herzegovina but only two common holidays -- New Year's and Victory Day -- nothing more. There is not one event in Bosnian history that is significant enough to bring together Serbs and Croats and Bosniaks to proclaim such-and-such a date a common date of our success -- or perhaps of shared sadness or happiness.

Our Serbs are unhappy about the collapse of Yugoslavia. We were against it, but the Bosniaks and Croats were for division. Bosnia-Herzegovina differed from the other republics of Yugoslavia in that it didn't have its own ethnic group that had an overwhelming numerical majority. Slovenes were the majority in Slovenia. Croats in Croatia. Montenegrins in Montenegro. Macedonians in Macedonia. You can say the same about Kosovo.

But only in Bosnia-Herzegovina was there no ethnic group that made up a majority. According to this principle, we should have continued to live as we did in the former Yugoslavia -- instead of a greater Yugoslavia, it would be a smaller Yugoslavia which, like the bigger one, would prove unsuccessful. This is absurd.

Some people say -- "Enough history! Let's work on the future." But what future? How do we imagine this? Are Serbs supposed to throw off their national identity in order to build a new one? I speak Serbian, but in Sarajevo they say that they speak Bosnian. But there is no Bosnian language. If we call the language Bosnian then they have to ask me, as a resident of Bosnia, if I agree to have my language identified as Bosnian. But I don't agree! For every ethnic group, language is an important symbol of one's identity. And I speak Serbian. If any Bosniak politician agreed to appear at an international conference speaking in Serbian, there would be a huge scandal. But we Serbs are always described at international conferences as speaking in Bosnian. And it is clear that part of the international community, either through ignorance or willfully, is inciting the Bosniaks to fight for their national identity. That is why we are a failed society.

RFE/RL: You were in Moscow just recently to attend the congress of the United Russia party and while you were there you met with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. What were your impressions?

Dodik: He is a decisive state figure, a person who, undoubtedly, deserves credit for the successes of the Russian state in recent years. He is a person who has sufficient charisma and authority to head a state that was in very complex circumstances at the end of the 1990s and the early 2000s.

For us, for people from small states and regions, it is always a great honor to meet with such important, great world leaders. Without doubt, he is a global leader. And without doubt, he is committed to the strengthening and the development of the Russian state, and he encounters a lot of problems on the international level connected with the security system. After all, the main goal of Russia is to ensure the security of its territory. I am pleased each time I get to meet him.

RFE/RL: At the United Russia congress, it became pretty clear that Putin would return to the presidency, possibly for another 12 years. Do you think Russia will continue its strong support for Republika Srpska and will it continue investing in your economy?

Dodik: Judging by all that has happened and that is happening at the present moment, there is clear political cooperation and respect for the position of Republika Srpska, of the fact that Republika Srpska functions as part of Bosnia-Herzegovina as organized by the Dayton principles. In this sense, Russian policy at its essence supports the Dayton agreements.

This corresponds to our interests. We believe that the Dayton agreements must be observed, unlike certain Western conceptions that demand preserving only "the spirit" of Dayton while really insisting on the violation of what was written in this international agreement, which not only ended the war but also created a new organization for a state of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Russian politicians make great efforts in this regard and our positions on this question correspond exactly. It is in the interests of the Russian Federation, as we understand them, to preserve stability and peace and also to preserve the Dayton agreements as the foundation of the functioning of Bosnia-Herzegovina. And the next step is handing over to local government structures responsibility for the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina to discontinue the constant meddling of foreigners, who are binding us with informal decisions by various power centers that are trying to run Bosnia-Herzegovina.

There is another moment -- the investment of Russian capital in Republika Srpska and the arrival of Russian businessmen is happening constantly. This began with Zarubezhneft, which participated in the privatization of the oil industry of Republika Srpska. And now, several years later, we can speak of the success of that project which, first of all, showed the ability of Russian state companies to facilitate complex processes of the reconstruction of industries destroyed during the war, such as our oil refinery. This reconstruction was supported by Vneshekonombank.

And after that we began developing new projects connected with exploring new oil deposits. There are indications that on the territory of Republika Srpska there are certain oil reserves and the exploration of these deposits will be carried out by Russian companies. One of our biggest projects is a natural-gas pipeline. Together with the Energy Ministry of the Russian Federation and Gazprom, we are now developing these ideas and I am confident that this will be a new investment of Russian capital.

Further, it is important that Sberbank purchased Volksbank in Banja Luka. The transition phase will be completed in a couple of months and then Russian financial and banking specialists will begin managing the new bank. For us this is important because we believe that others will come that, together with business criteria of financial support, will also take into consideration our good cooperation at all other levels.

We must also note that together with the Russian Embassy we are rehabilitating the teaching of the Russian language. Our university already has a Russian-language department and we are prepared to expand it. At our university, students also study English, German, French, and other languages, but nor it is important to overcome a certain stagnation that set in with the teaching of Russian.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bosnia Mostar:A grandson of the reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il arrived in Bosnia on Wednesday to study in an international school in Mostar for the next two years, a police source said.

A grandson of the reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il arrived in Bosnia on Wednesday to study in an international school in Mostar for the next two years, a police source said.
"A North Korean national, Kim Han-Sol, arrived at 2.20 pm (1220 GMT) at Sarajevo airport by a regular flight from Vienna," local border police spokesman Sanela Dujkovic told AFP news agency.
Dujkovic said the "passenger had a valid visa and passport," thus satisfying all conditions to enter the country.
The United World Colleges UWC in the Bosnian town of Mostar said last month it had accepted Kim Han-Sol as a student.
According to the school, the enrolment of the grandson of the leader of one of the most isolated countries in the world was the result of a special outreach programme for North Korea the UWC network has.
Media reported that the 16-year-old's father is Kim Jong-Nam, the North Korean leader's exiled eldest son.
The pair is said to have lived in Macau since the father fell out of favour with Kim Jung-Il years ago.
Kim Jong-Nam is understood to have once been the frontrunner to succeed the North Korean leader. But the youngest son, Kim Jong-Un, is now being groomed to take over one of the world's most isolated countries.
The UWC is a network of schools and colleges throughout the world, attended notably by pupils from war-affected areas, and aimed at promoting international and intercultural understanding.
The southern Bosnian town of Mostar was the scene of violent clashes between the country's Croats, Muslims and Serbs during its 1992-1995 war.
Sixteen years since the end of the war it still remains a symbol of inter-ethnic divisions in the Balkan country.

Monday, October 17, 2011


The prosecution completed cross-examining former operative of the Uzice office of the Serbian State Security Service (DB) Radenko Novakovic. At the end of the cross-examination, the prosecutor tried to contest the witness’s claim that the role of the Serbian secret service in Operation Spider in 1994 and 1995 did not go beyond intelligence work. They were not involved in any military actions. The prosecution claims that the Serbian service did a lot more than that: it sent special units to Western Bosnia and Krajina. According to the prosecution, Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic, the then chiefs of the Serbian DB, actually ran the operation carried out by the joint forces from Serbia, Republika Srpska and the Republic of Serbian Krajina. The prosecutor contends that this proves the allegations that the police and paramilitary units under the control of the accused were sent to Croatia and BH. The indictment lists a number of crimes against non- Serbs committed before and after Operation Spider.
The prosecutor showed a report of the Serbian DB about the deployment of the Anti-terrorist Unit, also known as the Red Berets, from 10 December 1994 to 1 February 1995 in Operation Spider. The document claims that the unit carried out six missions, including providing escort to military convoys, setting up ambushes, reconnoitering the BH Army positions and ‘day and night sniper actions’ targeting enemy positions.
Confronted with the documents of the service in which he was employed, the witness claimed he knew nothing about that at all. As the witness said, he could only speak about his involvement in Operation Spider. The witness worked exclusively on ‘gathering intelligence’ during his stay in Krajina in late 1994.
In a bid to show that the Serbian DB special units were legitimately used in Operation Spider, Stanisic’s defense counsel Wayne Jordash asked the witness in the re-examination if during his stay in Krajina any crimes were perpetrated and if committing crimes against non-Serbs was stated as their objective. The witness tersely denied it, adding that he had no knowledge of it.
The defense counsel revisited the cross-examination yesterday in which the prosecutor tried to prove that the Serbian service hadn’t done enough to prevent the White Eagles’ actions. The defense counsel showed several intelligence documents which indicate that the group was under surveillance. At the beginning, the unit was not treated as a paramilitary formation because it was not armed. The document drafted in the Serbian State Security Service office in Zajecar in May 1991 refers to the unit as a ‘youth wing of the Serbian Chetnik Movement’ that was not yet a paramilitary group but could become one. The witness said that the Uzice office had similar information. In the cross-examination, the prosecutor tried to establish a link between Milan and Sredoje Lukic and the White Eagles. The defense counsel noted that the judgment for the crimes in Visegrad states that during the trial ‘no persuasive evidence was called’ to prove that Milan and Sredoje Lukic belonged to that paramilitary group.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

KK BOSNA ASA basketball preview for 2012 season!

KK BOSNA ASA is about to kick off the start of another season and it looks like it will be another struggle for them barring a miracle. They played about as well as you could expect last year in the KSBiH domestic league then in the final rounds just collapsed and ended up with a 2-8 record. They will hope to avoid relegation to D2 next year and the team is currently in pretty rough shape.
The team is now led by Hamdo Fraljak who has pretty good international experiance as a player and relied more on his brain than his physical skills to survive and have a long career. Hopefully this will translate in his ability to coach but only time will tell. Hamdo was just hired so he had no imput on the type of players he will coach or what kind of team was built. It looks like they will go with a 3 gaurd alignment and two forwards at the 4/5 position most of the time.
The team is gaurd heavy and lacking in the frontcourt with only one small forward and a combination four power forwards who will play the 4/5 positions. This is a recipe for disaster in my opinion and if a injury hits they will be in real trouble.
The real need is for the team to be privitized, along with the entire league. There are now only two genuine teams in the Bosniak area of the country KK Celik and KK Bosna and both are in terrible shape. It is embarrassing that the Croats have two well run and well funded teams in Siroki and Zrinjski and the Serbs as well and the Bosnians teams are being run like the rest of the country. Tuzla one of the largest cities in the country will not be represented at all this year (they have a team starting at the lowest level called OKK Tuzla).
These years are the darkest in the postwar era and much worse than the one from 1999 that got Drasko Prodanovic fired and players like Ermin Jazvin left the country.
They mention rebuilding for the future and yet the brightest Bosnian stars in Sarajevo Adnan Vrabac, Nedim Buza and Adi Zahiragic are not on the team. They did dispatch Ernad Mujcic who was held up as a player for the future even though if you saw him play you knew he didn't have that type of ability.


SG: 6'4" 21 Sven Smajlagic Bosniak who comes from Croatia hoping to finally live up to his ability, it seems this is unlikely to happen. The results in friendlies so far have not been good.

SG: 6'5" 21 Eldin Camdzic Eldin has some potential but his outside shooting is soo bad that it negates a lot of the good he can do on the court. If only he would work himself into a decent shooter he could really blossom into a nice player in Europe. We shall she how he looks this season.

SG: 6'3" 17 Edin Residovic The Bosnian version of Carlos Navarro (don't get too excited), he has led a lot of the youth teams in scoring. It seems to be his only real strength and he can shoot you out of games as well as into them. He is undisciplined and that appears to be the reason why he has been left off of the Bosnian youth teams so far.

SG: 6'4" 19 Armin Hot Not really sure what they have in Armin. He is a hard worker but is limited skill wise.

SG: 6'5" 21 Demir Kalic Not really sure who he is or what he is doing to be honest.

SG: 6'6" 26 Ramo Rizvic Recently signed he is the brother of Hasan Rizvic and was a bigtime prospect a few years ago in Slovenia. It didn't work out and he is back in Bosnia. He was the best player on KK Celik last year that included Ogjnen Kuzmic (young center who is now in Spain) and international Ivan Opacak. He is inconsistant in his shooting and that really can hurt you.


PG 6'3" 28 Sindis Demic A professional player who is limited but can help in a backup role. He may actually be a better PG than Dino who lacks some basic PG skills.

PG 6"2" 21 Arijan Radan A kid I have followed for years who just hasn't gotten much better and is very limited. (Has since be loaned to Vogosca)

PG 6'3" 21 Dino Hodzic He at one time was talked about in the same breath as Nihad Dedovic, he hasn't shown the same upside as Nihad but continues to improve. He should be a decent European player in another few years.


C 6'9" 37 Dzenan Rahimic A professional player who has a real hard time defending quality players. He gives maximal effort but is limited with athletic ability, explosivness and quickness.

C 6'10" 23 Edin Alispahic Fled the country as a teenager, declared himself Slovene and now is back in Bosnia after a serious knee injury robbed him of some of his athleticism and explosivness. He has some skills but is limited by injuries and athletic limitations after the injuries.

C 6'10" Esmir Guzonjic An interesting pickup a true paint player who is similar in some ways to Rahimic, he is a crafty post player who knows fundamentals and will help the team for sure. He played in US college and was the best player on KK Triland the last few years.


SF 6'8" 20 Alin Demic He was considered one of the brightest prospects in BiH a few years ago but has seen limited minutes and limited development. This is the year for him to regain some of that previous shine.


PF 6'9" 20 Nermin Buza A hard working lunchpail player, not as talented as his ultra prospect younger brother (Nedim) Nermin has enjoyed lots of minutes last year and is a pretty good defender. He could turn out to be a Mujo Tuljkovic kind of player in the future.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Alley in Ilidza a chance to enjoy the beauty of Bosnia just outside everyday life in Sarajevo

There are so many things to enjoy in Sarajevo one of my favorites is the Alley in Ilidza that leads you to the famous park and mouth of the Bosna river which comes out of the side of the mountain. It is an amazing walk and you can even take a horse drawn carriage.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Traces of Sarajevo's Olympic past reminders of Sarajevo's past glory and future promise

It's one of the most interesting things I find while walking the city of Sarajevo. You can be just walking down the street and you will come across signs and markings for the 1984 Winter Olympics that were held in Sarajevo.
I find the rich, star crossed history of Sarajevo to be interesting and when you come across some markings from the past like this (or a Menorah design in the plaster on the side of an old house) it is like crossing into the past for a brief minute of time...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Bosnia, Sarajevo: Bosnian football fans and officials say a bitter political crisis between Serbs, Croats and Muslims is stoking tension that saw rival fans fighting in the capital Sarajevo on Thursday

Football violence in Yugoslavia presaged the wars that tore the country apart in the early 1990s, most notoriously in the Croatian capital Zagreb in 1990 when rioting erupted between fans of Dinamo Zagreb and Belgrade's Red Star.
Paramilitaries would later draw on the most hardcore football fans to swell their ranks.
Few observers believe there is an imminent danger of conflict, but the political stalemate is the worst in years, and an influential think tank warned on Thursday against further political brinkmanship.
"The agility of leaders and the population's patience need only fail once to ignite serious violence," the Brussels-based International Crisis Group said in a report.
Thursday's friendly between two cult teams - Croatian Hajduk Split and Bosnian Zeljeznicar - was cancelled before kick-off after rival fans turned the streets of Sarajevo into a battlefield, injuring dozens of people and damaging cars.
It was the third such incident in the past two weeks, in what fans and officials say is the direct result of a worsening stand-off between Bosnia's Muslim, Serb and Croat leaders.
A year since national elections, they have yet to form a central government, stoking rhetoric and hurting the economy.
"This makes you think it's not just the end of football but of normal life in our country," said Ivica Osim, Bosnia's most prominent soccer coach and chairman of a committee set up by soccer governing bodies UEFA and FIFA to temporarily lead Bosnia's Football Federation (NFSBiH).
"Some centres of power want to destroy everything leading towards integration and reconciliation," said Osim, who led the former Yugoslavia team to the 1990 World Cup quarter-final. He said the violence recalled the period before the break-up of the former Yugoslav federation.
On Thursday, fighting first erupted inside the stadium when Hajduk fans appeared to attack their Zeljeznicar rivals before police intervened and drove them out. The battle continued outside after Zeljeznicar fans threw stones at a convoy of Hajduk fans, injuring at least six.
One seriously-injured Hajduk fan was operated on in the Sarajevo hospital, medical officials said.
"I see the cause for the frequent unrest at football matches in the current unstable political situation," Gradimir Gojer, president of the Zeljeznicar Managing Board, said late on Thursday.
Fan violence halted two games late last month, the first in the Bosnian Serb republic's main town Banja Luka and then in the ethnically-divided town of Mostar.
"I will never again go to a soccer match," said football fan Dragan Soldo, 52, who said he had never missed a Zeljeznicar match. "I don't understand what is happening," he said on Friday. "I feel awful, disgusted".
Bosnia, which has never qualified for a major international tournament, is hoping to clinch a play-off berth when they meet Luxembourg in a Euro 2012 qualifier on Friday. For many Bosnians, the team carries the hopes of those who wish to preserve a united Bosnia.
In April, UEFA and FIFA suspended Bosnia from all international competitions over the failure of the country's football federation to replace its three-man multi-ethnic presidency with a single president.
The suspension was lifted in June after the committee headed by former Yugoslavia coach Osim was created as an interim body to lead the federation until a vote on the presidency.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Bosnia physical confrontation between leader of KSBiH and KK BOSNA ASA!!!!!!!

Basketball Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina once again the focus of the public over personal conflicts of interest and personal vanity, and arrogant behavior of the officials of this institution.
Naime, izvlačenje parova Lige 13 nije moglo početi dok se ne razrješi lični sukob Generalnog sekretara KSBiH Haruna Mahmutovića i sekretara KK Bosna Stjepana Grubnića - Boška. Specifically, drawing 13 pairs of the League could not start until you resolve personal conflicts of the Secretary General Haruna KSBiH Mahmutović and Secretary KK Bosna Stephen Grubnic - Bosko. Razmirice dva sekretara traju još od jula kada je Grubnić privatno, a slobodno možemo reći i opravdano, kritizirao organizaciju Evropskog prvenstva za mlade košarkaše u Sarajevu. Disputes two secretaries since last July when Grubnic privately, and we can safely say, and justifiably, criticized the organization of the European Championships for young basketball players in Sarajevo. Grubniću, kao posjetiocu prvenstva je naime smetalo što ne može pronaći informacije lokacijama odigravanja utakmica, a usudio se o tome progovoriti i pred Mahmutovićem, nakon čega mu je zabranjen ulaz u prostorije saveza. Grubnic, as visitors of the championship is in fact mind you can not find the information locations match, and he dared to speak out about it and before Mahmutović, after which he was denied entrance to the alliance.

"Rekao mi je da ako mi se ne sviđa kako se radi, mogu da iselim iz BiH.", govori Grubnić. "He told me that if I do not like how it works, I can move out of BiH." Talking Grubnic. "Ne mogu da vjerujem da mi se na taj način obraća predstavnik krovne institucije bh. košarke u kojoj sam aktivan još od 1969. godine. Ovo je moja zemlja i moj grad i nisam ga napuštao ni '92. kada smo se borili protiv mnogo gorih divljaka, pa neću ni sada. Uz to, zaprijetio mi je fizičkim obračunom ukoliko se pojavim u prostorijama Saveza." "I can not believe that we are thus speaking representative umbrella organizations BH basketball in which I was active since the 1969th year. This is my country and my city and I have not abandoned or '92. When we fought a lot worse savage, so I will not now. In addition, he threatened me with a physical fight if it appears in the premises of the Alliance. "

Svoje prijetnje Mahmutović je i ostvario kada fizički napao Grubnića koji je u prostorije saveza stigao kao zvanični predstavnik KK Bosna i pokušao ga silom izbaciti iz sale za sastanke. His threats Mahmutović is achieved when physically attacked Grubnic who arrived in the offices of the official representative of KK Bosna i tried to force him out of meeting rooms.

Da ne trpi bilo kakvu kritiku, te da je ozbiljan u namjeri da spriječi neistomišljenike da učestvuju u radu KSBiH, pa makar i kao ovlašteni predstavnici klubova, Mahmutović je pokazao i na narednom sastanku klubova u KSBiH. Do not tolerate any criticism, and that is serious in order to prevent the opponents to participate in the KSBiH, even as the authorized representatives of the clubs, Mahmutović demonstrated at the forthcoming meeting of the clubs in KSBiH.

Ni tada, prema ubjeđenju generalnog sekretara KSBiH predstavnik KK Bosna nije mogao prisustvovati sastanku klubova na kojem su se izvukli parovi Lige 13. Even then, the conviction of the Secretary General Representative KSBiH KK Bosna could not attend the meeting of the clubs where they get the couples League 13

"Kada neko na silu pokušava biti u mom društvu, mora mu biti jasno da ću i ja odgovoriti silom, rekao mi je Mahmutović", za tvrdi Grubnić. "When a force is trying to be in my company, it must be clear that I will respond with force, he told me Mahmutović," says the Grubnic. "Ipak, zahvaljujući predstavniku kluba iz Mrkonjić Grada, te drugih klubova, izbjegao sam fizički napad i ostao sam na sastanku na kojem sam ispred svog kluba morao obaviti posao. Smiješno je da Mahmutović misli da sam u Savez stigao da bih uživao u njegovom društvu. To je posao koji radim još od vremena prije nego što se on i rodio.", dodaje legenda sarajevske košarke. "However, thanks to the representative team from Mrkonjic City and other clubs, to avoid the physical attack and I was in a meeting where I was ahead of his team had to do the job. Mahmutović funny to think that I came to the League that I enjoyed his company. This is a job that I do from the time before he was born. "adds Sarajevo basketball legend.

"Istina je da sam kritikovao organizaciju EP, rad saveza i sekretara, ali mislim da imam pravo da iznesem svoje privatno mišljenje. KSBiH nije privatna institucija iz koje će se izbacivati svako ko se ne oduševljava stanjem u bh. košarci, a ima nas koji pamtimo daleko bolja vremena.", zaključio je Grubnić koji je sa ekspedicijom KK Bosna učestvovao u osvanjanju titule prvaka Evrope u Grenoblu. "The truth is that I have criticized the organization of the EP, labor union and the Secretary, but I think I have the right to express their private opinions. KSBiH not private institutions out there that will throw anyone who does not delight in the BiH state basketball, and there are those of us who remember far better times. "Grubnic concluded that the expedition took part in KK Bosna osvanjanju champions of Europe in Grenoble.

Vrijedi spomenuti i to da je Grubnić već poslije prvog fizičkog napada uputio zvanični dopis prema KSBiH, ali da povodom njega nije bilo rekacije. Worth noting also that the Grubnić already after the first physical attack has sent an official letter to KSBiH, but that occasion it was no reaction.

"Kada se nasilničko i huligansko ponašanje toleriše unutar organa sportskih saveza, šta da očekujemo od navijača na ulicama. Ja i dalje očekujem neko očitovanje saveza po ovom pitanju.", dodaje Grubnić za kraj. "When you are violent and hooligan behavior tolerated in the body of the sports federations, what to expect from the fans on the streets. I continue to expect an alliance statement on this issue." Grubnic added to the end.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Bosnia funding problems ends popular urban music festival Demofest

Organizers of one of the region’s biggest musical events have confirmed that this year’s festival was the last, citing lack of money and support from the authorities.
Bosnia’s music production industry says urban culture has suffered a terrific blow after the organizers of Demofest, the former Yugoslavia’s biggest music festival for demo bands, revealed that weak financial support has forced them to close shop.
Over four years Demofest hosted some of the biggest stars on the alternative music scene, such as Tricky, Fun Lovin Criminals, Asian Dub Foundation, Kosheen and Stereo Mc, as well as former Yugoslav musicians such as Kiril Dzajkovski, Partibrejkers, Rambo Amadeus, Hladno Pivo, Marcelo.
Approximately 150,000 visitors attended the four festivals, giving over 1,500 demo bands from all the former Yugoslav states a chance to shine on the bitg stage.
The organisers of the last Demofest, which was held from July 21-24  in Banja Luka’s Kastel fortress, say sponsors this year came up with half of the 200,000 euros they needed to stage the event.
They say they tried to commercialize the festival this year by charging an entrance fee of 5 euros per person. In previous years entrance was free. But the new fee wasn’t enough to make up the shortfall.
“Everyone called Demofest a great project and liked it, and every year they promised to find the funds for the festival - but it was all just promises,” Brankica Jankovic, director and founder of the Demofest, told Balkan Insight.
The only consistent institutional support for the festival came from the city of Banja Luka, which provided 30,000 euros for the first two years and 15,000 for the last two. It also offered free use of the Kastel fortress as a venue.
But Jankovic said the Education and Culture Ministry of the Republika Srpska, the predominantly Serb populated entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina, had rejected Demofest’s application this year for the contest in which it allocates funds for cultural projects.
“The day before this year’s festival started, the ministry phoned and said countless journalists had called to ask why the ministry wasn’t funding Demofest, so they’d decided to give us 10,000 euros,” Jankovic recalled.
She said they had turned down the last-minute offer as insufficient.
The ministry blamed budget cuts in culture on the global financial crisis, which had affected Bosnia, and said support for other cultural projects had also been rejected.
Officials noted that in its first two years the ministry had backed Demofest to the tune of 30,000 euro annually, adding that this year they offered 10,000, which, they said, the organizers decided not to accept.
This year’s total budget for cultural institutions in the Republika Srpska is 5 million euros. Programmes in the independent sector received 210,000 euros while programmes in state institutions obtained 200,000. The rest goes on salaries of the employees.
Demofest received no support at state level from Bosnia’s Ministry of Civil Affairs. Festival organisers say the ministry did not reply to their application for funds.
Zorica Rulj, Ministry of Civil Affairs spokesperson, told Balkan Insight that Demofest didn’t get any funding from them because the Bosnian state still hadn’t adopted a budget for 2011.
This was because the country still has no state government, following one year of political stalemate since the last general election.
“The government has only a technical mandate and no funds can be given out until a new government is formed,” Rulj added.
Tourist organizations in the Republika Srpska say they filled all accommodation in the city during the festival and owing to the lack of hotel space many visitors rented rooms in private flats.
“These people put their money in [to the city] but the authorities did not recognize the opportunity,” Jankovic said.
The Ministry of Trade and Tourism of Republika Srpska told Balkan Insight they did not have exact data on the amount of money generated during Demofest, and the Ministry of Education and Culture was in charge of matters related to the festival.
Industry reactions
Meanwhile, people from the music industry have expressed bitter disappointment that Demofest will no longer be around.
Nikola Jovanovic, talent and music manager for MTV in Serbia, told Balkan Insight that it was bad news for the music industry in the whole region. Demofest was a major music festival and MTV had felt full confidence in the team behind it, he said.
“Bearing in mind that entrance was free for years, we can understand that it was hard to find money each year for the festival,” he said, adding that he hoped the organizers could find some way to keep Demofest alive.
Demofest was listed this year on the UNESCO list of projects that bring together the different cultures of the countries of former Yugoslavia.
Well known DJ Dejan Ilic, alias “Woodie”, a regular participant at Demofest, said the organizers had made superhuman efforts to realise the project but it had become impossible to do it without outside help.
“I’m very sorry about it,” he said. Discontinuing the festival would be a shock for urban culture fans, and much time would probably pass before something similar was organized again, he added.
“This festival was an opportunity for all young musicians from Ex-Yu to represent themselves to audiences for free,” he recalled.
“It was an opportunity that you wouldn’t want to miss in this region. Playing in front of 20,000 or 30,000 people in Ex-Yu is a very serious matter,” Ilic added.
Marko Ristic, editor of Nocturne music magazine, in Belgrade, said the closure of the festival was another sign that urban culture in the Balkans was crumbling. Demofest had become the most professional festival in which young performers in the region could perform, he noted.
“It’s shameful that those who could have supported the continuation of this event have allowed Demofest to be switched off,” Ristic said.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Bosnian Serbs splash out on lobbying in US in attempt to curry support and favor

Determined to reset its poor image abroad, the Republika Srpska has spent $13 million on lobby firms in the US since 2007. What it has achieved is unclear, according to a valuable report from BIRN.
 As Bosnia faces its worst crisis since the 1992-1995 war -- more than a year since October 2010 elections it still has no state government -- Bosnia’s smaller entity, the Serb-run Republika Srpska, is spending millions of dollars each year on lobbying in the US.   According to mandatory disclosures provided to the US Department of Justice under the Foreign Agent Registration Act, the Republika Srpska spent almost $5 million in the US in 2010 and a total of almost $13 million from 2007 and 2011.   In the first half of 2011 the government spent over $1.7 million on one firm, Picard Kentz and Rowe.
Analysis by The Sunlight Foundation (, a non-governmental organization that digitizes and processes government data, shows that in 2009 the Republika Srpska was the third highest spender on lobbying in the US of all foreign governments.   It says that the Cayman Islands came top that year, spending $7.8 million, mainly on boosting tourism.
The United Arab Emirates, the UAE, came in second, spending $5.3 million, lobbying primarily for economic interests. Republika Srpska came third with over $4.6 million.   ‘It is rare for a sub-state actor to have such large expenditures in Washington,’ Bill Allison, editorial director of the Sunlight Foundation, told Balkan Insight.   ‘You will see places like the city of London or Hong Kong spending money to boost tourism but ... they are generally not contacting a lot of government officials. You don’t see the same things that are going on with the Republika Srpska.’   By contrast, the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Muslim and Croat-dominated larger political entity, spends almost nothing on lobbying in the US.   Allison acknowledges the power that these expenditures can have on influencing the opinions of US government officials.   ‘Given the amount they are spending, they obviously have an agenda and are obviously working the halls of Congress,’ he said.   ‘Because they are the only ones there [in the US from Bosnia], that can be very effective when you don’t have the same level of involvement from other parties,’ Allison added.
The presence of Western PR advisers can help to avert crises in some circumstances, a former senior international official who served in Bosnia told Balkan Insight.   ‘Lobbying can work both ways,’ he explained. ‘When I wanted to get a message to [Bosnian Serb leader Milorad] Dodik, I could approach some of his representatives in Washington and use them as a channel if I needed to get something done,’ he said.   The official said lobbyists could alert Bosnian Serb officials as to how a potential course of action could be perceived in Washington, which could have a moderating effect on a planned action.   The same official said that the lobbyists probably had not succeeded in ‘improving the image of Republika Srpska,’ but the entity’s leaders may have benefited in other ways from lobbyists’ advice and advocacy.
In late 2009, for example, the US reversed its previous stance that international judges and prosecutors focusing on organized crime should continue to work in Bosnia.   In a move that alarmed Bosnia’s former Chief Prosecutor, Milorad Barasin, and the President of Bosnia’s State Court, Medzida Kreso, international judges and prosecutors working on organized crime and corruption were relegated to adviser status in an agreement brokered by the international community.   Foreign prosecutors had to turn over all their pending investigations and cases to local judges. Only international judges and prosecutors working on war crimes trials were allowed to remain in place.   After this development, investigations into Dodik - then Bosnian Serb Prime Minister - concerning conflicts of interest, fraud and embezzlement, which the State Investigation and Protection Agency had initiated in February 2009, were moved from the State court to a lower court in Republika Srpska.   These cases were not likely now be resurrected, the official said.
The same Western diplomat recalled that calling off these probes had been a priority for the lobbyists, who for months had raised the issue of the courts’ ‘so-called persecution of Serbs and Dodik in particular.   ‘They were sowing a seed that the international community was ‘out to get Dodik’ because of his nationalist agenda and that this lay behind the international criminal investigations into him,’ the official said.   He said the firm representing the Republika Srpska at the time had circulated copies of a document that supposedly contained information from the investigation, showing no evidence existed against him.
Since May 2009, Picard Kentz and Rowe LLP has represented the Republika Srpska government in the US according to the US Foreign Agents Registration Act, FARA.   This act requires all firms who lobby on behalf of a foreign government to disclose the activities they undertake for clients and the financial compensation they receive for their services. These filings also list interactions with US government employees on behalf of clients.   In their filing, Picard Kentz and Rowe write that services rendered for the Bosnian Serb entity include ‘government relations services, developing a comprehensive US media strategy, overseeing the government relations strategy with respect to the European Union and the United Nations, and developing communication strategies.’
The firm publishes a website,, which it describes as a ‘clearinghouse of news, commentary, scholarship, and key documents about Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Dayton Accords.’   The site collates articles from news outlets that are critical of the Office of the High Representative (OHR), the international administrator tasked with overseeing implementation of the Dayton Accords, the 1995 agreement that ended the 1992-1995 war.   The site also publishes its own editorial-style content criticizing state-level institutions and promoting a decentralized vision of Bosnia in which the entities would gain more powers over fields now covered by central state institutions.
Quinn Gillespie & Associates LLC, also based in Washington, represented the Republika Srpska government from January 2007 to the end of 2010.   Among others, this firm employed the Democratic Party fundraising heavyweight, John Quinn, and Ralph Johnson, who served as Bosnia’s Deputy Principal High Representative from August 1999 until July 2001.   In the second half of 2010 Johnson billed more than $34,000 for travel expenses to Washington, New York, Vienna and Belgrade on behalf of the Republika Srpska.
While Picard Kentz and Rowe continues to represent the Bosnian Serb government, the entity’s Ministry of Economic Relations and Regional Cooperation engaged another firm in 2011 to undertake services, Laurus Group LLC, which had previously been subcontracted by Quinn Gillespie and Associates LLC from February and the Myrmidon Group LLC from August.   The Republika Srpska economy ministry has paid Larus Group $495,000 to work for 11 months. The contract stipulates that the firm will ‘brief US government policymakers, oversee government relations strategy with respect to the international community, and develop communication strategies’.   The ministry meanwhile also paid Myrmidon $275,000 for five months to ‘focus on materially increasing FDI [Foreign Direct Investment] and other types of capital flows into Republika Srpska,’ according to the contract.
For its representation in Europe, the Republika Srpska government contracted Hill & Knowlton from 2007 until December 2010.   The firm’s clients at that time also included such large multinational corporations as Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and Visa, but no countries or government entities.   The firm is not required to disclose the payments it receives from clients, but a spokesperson for the firm in Brussels, Malgorzata Figwer, told Balkan Insight that the Republika Srpska ‘account budget constituted less than 10 per cent of H&K’s Brussels annual fees.’  
The firm last year solicited Florian Bieber, a Balkan expert at the Center for South East European Studies at the University of Graz, for his opinions on Republika Srpska.   Bieber told Balkan Insight that the Bosnian Serbs were spending money ‘to promote the image that the RS is the ‘more successful entity,’.   The idea was to ‘suggest that the RS is functional while the rest of B-H is dysfunctional,’ he said.   ‘What is missing in this image is that a large contributor to the dysfunctionality of the B-H state is the leadership of the RS,’ Bieber added.   Bieber said the Bosnian Serbs would probably be better off spending money abroad on promoting tourism or business, rather than pushing a political agenda.
There is nothing illegal in principle in spending money on foreign lobby firms.   In July 2009, Bosnia’s Constitutional Court dismissed an accusation from the then chair of the State Presidency, Haris Silajdzic, that Republika Srpska budget allocations to pay for ‘representation abroad’ and for agreements between Republika Srpska and foreign registered agents, were unconstitutional.
But Svetlana Cenic, a former finance minister in the Serb-run entity, who has investigated the entity’s budgets, says the sources of the funding are not as transparent as they ought to be.   ‘The majority of the funding was not approved by the RS National Assembly,’ she told Balkan Insight. ‘If you look through the budget, the majority or more than a half of the amount [spent on lobbying] is not transparently shown. I am not sure that the RS approved it.   ‘And as far as I can remember, some of the amount [spent on lobbying came] from budget reserves,’ she said.
The government of Republika Srpska did not respond to repeated requests for comment via email and telephone.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

First women to face war crimes trial in Bosnia for her role in the war fighting with the Croat HVO

If Albina Terzic is found guilty, she will only be the fifth woman in the world to be convicted of such an offence.
Almost 16 years after the war ended in Bosnia and Herzegovina, no woman has been tried for war crimes in the country, until now.
The trial of a woman who served in the Croatian Defence Council, HVO, accused of inhuman treatment of prisoners in northern Bosnia, began on Tuesday before Bosnia’s State Court.
If she is convicted, she will be the first woman convicted of war crimes in a Bosnian court and only the fifth woman convicted in the world for war crimes.
Albina Terzic, a former member of the Military Police within the HVO is charged with having participated in the inhumane treatment of Serbian detainees near the town of Odzak between May and mid-July 1992.
The indictment says Terzic “used to hit them with a police baton on their necks, shoulders and heads, slap them, encouraged dogs to attack them, tortured, abused, humiliated and insulted them in various ways, by, among other things, forcing the detainees into having sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual violence.”
Terzic has entered a plea of not guilty. 
Only one woman has been convicted of war crimes in Bosnia, and that was in The Hague.
Biljana Plavsic, who served as wartime vice-president of the Bosnian Srb emtity, Republika Srpska, pled guilty to charges of crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY.
She was released in 2009 after serving two-thirds of her 11-year sentence.  She was the highest-ranking Bosnian Serb official to be sentenced by the Hague tribunal.
Currently, approximately 20 to 30 women are being investigated by the State Prosecutor’s Office for war crimes, Boris Grubesic, spokesman for the Office, confirmed to Balkan Insight. Another ten to 15 are being investigated by lower level prosecutors’ offices.
There is very little data about the number of women fatalities in the war in Bosnia. According to a 2010 ICTY report, only 526 of the 62,626 combatants who died on all sides were women. 
Of the 90-90,000 troops serving in the Bosniak [Muslim] dominated Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, ARBiH, 5,360 were women, according to the website of the Patriotska Liga, a veterans organisation. 
Several thousand women are estimated to have been part of the Croatian Defense Council, HVO, which numbered 64-70,000 troops, and the Army of Republika Srpska, VRS, which had an estimated 100,000 soldiers. 
The Bosnian Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Veterans told Balkan Insight they did not have estimates of the number of women who participated in the HVO or VRS, and veterans organizations did not respond to requests for comment.
While Terzic is the only woman to be indicted in Bosnia, two women accused of having committed war crimes on Bosnian soil were apprehended in the Unites States this spring.
Azra Basic, who assumed the first name “Issabell” during her time in the US, was arrested in May in Stanton, Kentucky, for crimes committed in detention camps in Cardak, a predominantly Bosnian Serb settlement in the northern town of Derventa. 
According to the Doboj Prosecutor’s Office investigating Basic’s case, she was a commander in the 108th Rijeka Brigade of the Croatian Army.  She is charged with participating in the abuse and murder of civilians from April to July 1992 in detention camps in Derventa.
Rasima Handanovic, 39, was arrested in April in the state of Oregon and accused of helping the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina lead an attack on the village of Bosnian Croat Trusina, near the town of Konjic in central Bosnia, which resulted in the deaths of 16 people and serious injury of four others. 
An extradition request issued by the State court of Bosnia and Herzegovina alleges that Handanovic shot and killed a woman and an elderly death in Trusina. The extradition request also accuses her of participating in “firing squad style executions” on the same day on unarmed Croatian soldiers and civilians in another village.
“After the members of the firing squad concluded their shooting, Handanovic allegedly approached the individuals on the ground and fired additional shots at close range into the bodies of those who still showed signs of life,” according to a press release from the US Attorney’s office.  
TRIAL Watch, a Swiss organization monitoring global human rights abuses, lists only four convicted female war criminals in the world, three from Rwanda and Plavsic from former Yugoslavia.
Boris Grubesic, of the State Prosecutor’s Office, told Balkan Insight that the small amount of investigations into women suspects reflected the small amount of women who had served in the various armed formations in former Yugoslavia. 
“Women are not usually included in warfare. During the war [in Bosnia], it was unusual for women to participate in the police or in armies,” he maintained.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Bosnian basketball players in NCAA basketball 2011-12 season preview!

Nemanja Mitrovic (left) Admir Sahbegovic (right)

Bosnians in the college basketball has seen an increase this year thanks to large influx of freshman from Australia. These Bosnians were displaced mostly through the war and now call for the most part, Australia home and not BiH. Igor Hadziomerovic is one of these youngsters who has built an international reputation and will be playing for Boise State this year after a successful summer representing Australia at the World Championships U19 this summer.
 Nikola Gajic moved from the ranks of the unknown to playing a successful role with Bosnia's U20 squad this summer and shows great promise as a defender and quality all around player. Nikola is one of the few Bosnians who actually came directly from Bosnia to college basketball this summer. There are many strong prospects from BiH but many end up in other European League youth selections or don't have strong enough English language or academic standards to make it into a college university. I have long argued that there is a untapped potential in BiH basketball talent as many strong kids still are underrepresented in the country. The domestic officials in Bosnia do a poor job identifying and developing young talent. Others seek to minimize the talents in Bosnia, so they can sneak them out of the country and move them onto a third country for a hefty finders fee. Strong players like Emir Preldzic, Mirza Begic and Alen Omic have all moved to other teams this way in the last few years.
Nemanja Mitrovic from Sarajevo is primed for a big senior year in Portland. He has good size at 6'5" 200lb SG with great range (he shot over 45% from three and 85% from the free throw line) who averaged over 13ppg who figures to add to that average this year as he will likely be the main focus of the offense.
Bosnian basketball officials should develop an internship program with these and other young professionals who want to be involved in basketball but don't have the ability to be professionals in the European level.  They would reap the benefits of their international and domestic experiences these young professionals have accumulated in their travels around the world.

Igor Hadziomerovic 6'5" SG An interesting prospect who was a major contributor to the Australian U19 National Team this summer. Inconsistent, not a major surprise considering his age and overall skill. Could turn out to be a quality professional in Europe in a few years.

Branimir Mikulic 6'9" SG/SF Has nice size and decent shooting touch, doesn't appear assertive enough to have a major impact in the NCAA.

Srdjan Pejicic 6'6 SG A low level prospect who has signed in the NCAA. Some consider him to have an upside, I haven't seen enough of him to confirm that fact.

Boris Hadzimuratovic 6'9" C Signed with a Canadian university even though he drew interest from mid level colleges in the US.

Nikola Gajic 6'5" SG Nikola was a key player on Bosnia's U20 team this summer. The team play fell of dramatically after his injury. He is a good defender and all around player who needs to develop his outside shot. If he is able to do that he could have a nice career as a professional in Europe.

Admir Sahbegovic 6'6" F Had a stellar HS career, ranked in the top 50 of Florida basketball players. Has good potential as a pro is he works on his game and continues to improve.

Edis Dervisevic 6'8" F Edis played limited minutes last year as a Jr. Is being counted on to play a bigger part with the team this year.

Igor Nujic 6'8" F A post player who played limited minutes as a freshman last year.

Neven Raspudic 6'7" F Basketball doesn't seem to be in his future after college but he would be a good candidate to get involved in coaching or the front office administration in the future.

Fahro Alihodzic 6'10" F/C A member of the British U20 National Team, Fahro appears to lack the commitment to basketball to be a professional in the future. He has some skill, talent and upside.

Dragan Sekalija 7'0" C A transfer from Baylor Dragan has size and should evolve into a solid rebounder and defender.

Halil Kanacevic 6'8" F A quality post player who can rebound, defend and block shots. He would make a valuable addition to a professional team eventually.

Nemanja Mitrovic 6'5" SG Primed for a big time senior season, Nemanja is better than Diego Kapelan and would have been a great resource with his outside shooting to BiH national team. He also would make a quality shooting guard on a team like KK BOSNA.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Bosnia: Karadzic trial at the Hague THE ‘WAILING WALL’ IN PRIJEDOR

Former police officer and cameraman from Prijedor Nusret Sivac testified at the trial of Radovan Karadzic about the ‘Wailing Wall’ in the Omarska prison camp. According to the indictment, about 150 villagers from the Brda area were killed there around 20 July 1992. In the cross-examination, Karadzic brought up Sivac’s book where Sivac called him the ‘werewolf from Mt. Durmitor’. Karadzic suggested that Sivac had an anti-Serb bias and argued that this disqualified him as a witness

Among the incidents listed in the indictment against Radovan Karadzic is the Omarska prison camp massacre in which about 150 persons from the Brda area in Prijedor municipality were killed. Prijedor municipality was one of the eight BH municipalities where the persecution of non-Serbs reached the scale of genocide, the prosecution alleges. In his evidence today, Nusret Sivac, former police officer and cameraman from Prijedor, spoke about the incident. In 1992, Sivac was detained in the Omarska prison camp.
In the examination-in chief, Sivac said that he and other Omarska prisoners learned in late July 1992 that the Serb forces had ethnically cleansed the areas on the left bank of the Sana river. On or around 20 July 1992, twelve buses came into the Omarska camp, with the men captured in the Brda area: this is what the residents of Prijedor called the villages of Hambarine, Zecovi, Trakovcani, Rizvanovici and Sredice. On their arrival in the prison camp, the prisoners were lined up against a wall. There they were abused and killed. ‘We in Omarska called this wall our Wailing Wall’, Sivac said. He said that two prisoners he knew were taken out to clean blood and other evidence of physical abuse with a fire hose.
The witness’s evidence at Milomir Stakic’s trial in 2002 was admitted into evidence. At the Stakic trial and in some other trials before the Tribunal, Sivac recounted how the Serb forces took over power in Prijedor in April 1992. He also described the ensuing ethnic cleansing of the non-Serb population. Sivac testified about the inhumane conditions, beatings and murders of prisoners in Omarska where he was held captive after his arrest on 20 June 1992. In August 1992, Sivac was transferred to Trnopolje and then released.
In the cross.-examination Karadzic brought up excerpts from the witness’s book in which he described the non-Serbs’ ordeal in Prijedor. The fact that the witness called him ‘the werewolf from Mt. Durmitor’ in his book irritated Karadzic so much that he claimed it ‘disqualified’ Sivac from testifying against him. Sivac disagreed, saying that ‘a lot of people in BH thought that’ of Karadzic.
Sivac disagreed with Karadzic’s claim that in the summer of 1992, the communications between Pale and Prijedor were completely disrupted. As Sivac explained, a colleague of his described to him Karadzic’s meeting with the politicians from Prijedor after the Serb Assembly session on 12 May 1992 in Banja Luka. After Karadzic commended Srdja Srdic and other Serb officials from Prijedor for their successful seizure of power, he then suggested, ‘you should do everything you can to reduce the non-Serb population to a reasonable number’. The witness didn’t want to reveal the identity of his colleague; he merely said he was a Serb, no longer alive, whose family still lived in Prijedor.
The accused will most probably continue cross-examining Nusret Sivac next Monday, because another witness is scheduled to testify via video link on Friday when the trial continues.