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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 June, 2005, 10:42 GMT 11:42 UK
Bosnia sends contingent to Iraq
By Nick Hawton
BBC News, Sarajevo

Bosnia troops
The Bosnian unit is made up of Muslims, Serbs and Croats
Troops from Bosnia-Hercegovina are on their way to Iraq to support the US-led coalition forces.

A Bosnian unit is set to be deployed close to the Iraqi city of Falluja and is to deal with unexploded ordinance and ammunition.

Some 36 soldiers make up the first unit of the Bosnian military which contains members of three main ethnic groups - Muslims, Serbs and Croats.

Recent military reforms in Bosnia have focused on reconciliation.

The Dayton peace agreement, which ended the Bosnian war in 1995, left the country divided into two entities.

One was controlled by the Bosnian Serbs, the other by a Muslim Croat federation. Each entity had its own army, parliament, tax system and police force.

Problems remain

During the last few years the international community has cajoled, persuaded and arm-twisted the various sides to back reforms that would strengthen the central state in order to improve the economy and make it possible for the country to join international organisations like the European Union.

And major reforms have been passed. There is now a state judicial system, a single customs service, a single intelligence service and a single defence structure with a state defence minister - significant developments that have brought the country and its people closer together.

But much still needs to be done. No-one believes national reconciliation has been achieved.

There remain major problems in areas such as police reform where the Bosnian Serbs in particular are refusing to accept a single national structure.

The military unit heading off to Iraq is an important symbol that things are beginning to change, but the process remains slow and painful for many.

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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