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Monday, 18 February, 2002, 18:39 GMT
EU paves way for Bosnia police force
S-for soldiers
The UN has been working in multi-ethnic Bosnia since 1995
Foreign ministers from the European Union are reported to have agreed on the financing of a 500-strong police mission in Bosnia-Hercegovina.

If the mission is officially approved, officers from EU countries will take over policing as of January next year from the UN's International Police Task Force (IPTF), which numbers 1,800 officers.

It would be the first deployment of the EU's Rapid Reaction Force, declared partially operational at the end of last year, which is designed to add military strength to the EU's political weight.

The IPTF, deployed in 1995 under peace accords which concluded the Bosnian war, has primarily been involved in monitoring and training police in Bosnia's two ethnic entities: the Muslim-Croat Federation and the Serbs' Republika Srpska.


Like the IPTF, the EU's force would work alongside of the Nato-led Stabilization Force (S-For), which currently numbers 18,000 - of which 3,000 are Americans.

American Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
The US defence secretary wants to cut commitment in Bosnia
The United States, which has little strategic interest in Bosnia, has made clear it would like to reduce its presence in the region, and transfer some military functions to a European-led police-force.

The Bosnian deployment, if it goes ahead, would cost an initial 14m euros to set up and a further 38m euros per year to maintain.

Sven Federiksen, a Dane who headed a similar police operation in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo, has been mentioned as the mission's first chief.

According to a report recommending the deployment, published last month, the police force may find themselves taking on problems such as migrant smuggling, customs evasions as well as dealing with the tensions raised by the return of refugees.

The report also warned of the dangers of rising social unrest in the country if its economy continued to deteriorate.

See also:

06 Feb 02 | Europe
Petritsch upbeat on Bosnia future
16 Jan 02 | Europe
Bosnia opposes Nato force cuts
12 Dec 01 | Europe
The EU gets teeth
15 Mar 01 | Europe
US plans to slash Bosnia force
06 Jul 01 | Europe
Timeline: Bosnia-Hercegovina
30 Jul 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Bosnia-Hercegovina
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