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Wednesday, 3 July, 2002, 12:15 GMT 13:15 UK
US pull-out threats fail to stir Bosnians
A tram picks up passengers in Sarajevo
The people of Sarajevo have other topics to discuss

There is at least one foreign presence in Sarajevo at the moment that everyone is pleased to see.


Its all the same to us - maybe it's time we Bosnians got on with doing things ourselves

Armin Begovic
Cafe owner
It is the time of year when Sarajevo's Old Town puts on its finest to host a whole series of cultural events put on by performers from across Europe.

For the next week, foreign dance troupes, jazz bands, orchestras and poets will display their wares.

While the West debates American threats to pull out of United Nations police commitments in Bosnia, the topic it is not high on the agenda in Sarajevo's cafes.

"It's all the same to us. Maybe it's time we Bosnians got on with doing things ourselves," said Armin Begovic, owner of a coffee shop. "But the UN have done a good job."

Pension relief

The people of Sarajevo have more pressing issues to consider.

Smashed glass lies on the floor after Nato raid
The raid on Karadzic's house has sparked interest
For instance, it was announced on Tuesday that pensions would finally be paid to the thousands of retired people in Bosnia.

In a country where the average monthly income is perhaps $300, that is something that really matters.

Another topic of real interest is the never ending hunt for the former Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic.

Troops from the Nato-led Stabilisation Force (S-For) raided his home in Pale on Tuesday.

No sign of the man himself, of course, but a number of dodgy passports and a couple of firearms were retrieved.

That is not to say that people don't care about the role of the UN in Bosnia.

The collapse of the UN mission would be a blow.

Several useful projects would be curtailed and, of course, there would a symbolic price to pay with the international community seemingly once again forsaking Bosnia.

Mixed feelings

Some people are worried that American threats to pull out of the 1,500-strong police mission could have implications for the much larger peacekeeping force, which has guaranteed the country's security since the end of the war in 1995.

"It would be a shame if the UN left Bosnia but the really important thing is that the Nato troops stay," said 35-year-old Samira Pasic. "That is what everyone really wants."

But for the moment people are reassured by remarks made by the US ambassador in Sarajevo, Clifford Brown, who said American troops would not be withdrawn from the S-For force - even if the UN mission went.

He said the US troops were here as part of the Dayton peace accords and would not be affected.

But of course not everyone welcomed the comments.

A withdrawal of American troops, indeed all foreign troops, would be welcomed by many in the Serb Republic of Bosnia and the more hardline Croat areas in Hercegovina.

But while these are things to consider, for the moment there are the plays and concerts and exhibitions to enjoy as the long summer evenings of Sarajevo set in.


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