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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 February, 2005, 11:55 GMT
Bosnian police reform mapped out
By Nick Hawton
BBC News, Sarajevo

Bosnian Serb police
Bosnian Serb police: Under pressure over war crimes suspects
The chief international envoy to Bosnia, Lord Ashdown, has called for the abolition of the country's two ethnically divided police forces.

He said Bosnia needed a single national police structure which would help in the fight against organised crime and the country's ambitions to join the EU.

Since the end of the Bosnian war the country has been divided into two highly autonomous regions.

The Muslim-Croat and the Serb parts of Bosnia have their own police forces.

Lord Ashdown said Bosnia should be divided into nine police regions, with a separate force for the capital Sarajevo.

The regions would cut across the current ethnic and political divisions in the country and would create in effect a single state police structure.

Strong backing

Lord Ashdown said the current system was too expensive and inefficient, benefiting organised crime gangs operating in the country.

The creation of a national police structure, which is a requirement for the country to join the European Union, follows the unification of the country's defence and intelligence structures.

The Bosnian Serb Republic, or Republika Srpska, has opposed moves to create such national structures.

Lord Ashdown said a single police force did not mean the end of Republika Srpska.

"We are trying to create in Bosnia-Hercegovina a functional state based on a light-level state structure and very significant decentralisation and that means the Republika Srpska retaining all its current powers, except those which are necessary to create a light-level functional state structure so this country can join Europe."

The proposals will now be debated by local politicians, but with Lord Ashdown's influence and his powers under the Dayton Peace Agreement, a significant obstacle to the political unification of the country seems certain to disappear.

Bosnian Serbs voice grievances
10 Dec 04 |  Europe
Country profile: Bosnia-Hercegovina
11 Jan 05 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Bosnia-Hercegovina
11 Jan 05 |  Country profiles

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