From a security point of view, how do you see situation in Bosnia?

BiH has achieved a historic milestone: 10 years after the end of the war, BiH has transformed itself; and it will continue thanks to the Stabilisation and Association process. This is a long-awaited transition. The focus is now on how to secure prosperity, development and good governance.

Among the new key challenges that BiH faces now, there is the strengthening of the state level security institutions such as SIPA and the State Border Service. BiH must also create a police force at the state level that is fully functional, and better able to fight crime.

This will improve the BiH security environment, and bring BiH closer to the European Union.

What are the issues that most worry you in that (security) regard?

I am not concerned that BiH will slide back into violence. That time has passed.

But there is no doubt that BiH faces many challenges. There is too much crime, in particular organized crime. This is not limited to BiH, this is a regional problem that must be addressed together with the neighbouring countries. That is why the security structures in BiH must be strengthened and must be made more effective.

Negotiations on Kosovo’s status are about to start. Are you concerned about regional implications?

No. Any attempts to link the Kosovo talks to any other regional issues will be firmly and strongly rejected by the whole international community.

Some Serbian politicians warn of instability and changing of boarders was Kosovo to gain independence. They are asking for parts of Bosnia (Republika Srpska) as compensation. What is the position of the EU?

BiH’s borders are internationally recognized and they will not be put into question. This is crystal-clear and this is a position that is shared by both the RS and the Serbian President and all other serious politicians in the region.

EUFOR Commander General Leakey is ending his mandate. How do you see the performance of EUFOR?

General Leakey has done an extraordinary job. EUFOR has shown it is a credible force capable of maintaining a safe and secure environment and I think the military commitment has been more than fulfilled. Under Major General Leakey EUFOR now play’s a key role in supporting BiH’s security forces in the fight against organised crime.

EUFOR’s successful engagement has demonstrated that Europe today possesses the political will and the organizational capacity to support Bosnia.

Are there going to be any changes to EUFOR’s mandate?

No

What about EUPM? It is going to be extended with a refocused mandate. How do you see its role changing?

Yes. EUPM will stay on beyond January 2006. It will focus on two key areas. Firstly, it will take a leading role, in co-ordination with the EUSR and other international agencies in BiH, in establishing a professional police force that can operate in accordance with European standards.

Secondly, under the direction of the EUSR, EUPM will take the lead in coordinating Brussels policy in the fight against organized crime. This is a crucial mission.

The public in Bosnia sees EUPM as inefficient. How do you respond to that?

I think this is indicative of a general lack of trust in their own police forces and their ability to respond effectively to the needs of BIH citizens, and therefore look to EUPM to stand in as a replacement. This is not the mandate that the EUPM has, which is to mentor the BiH police rather than take over from them. This is not an easy task. EUPM’s job isn’t to solve crimes or to make arrests, but to provide know-how in building the structures of a modern European police force.

EUPM has done an excellent job in getting SIPA, the State Information and Protection Agency, a more robust mandate and in helping this fledgling law enforcement agency to get off the ground. EUPM are playing a crucial role in developing effective management in the SBS and police reform.

Should the deadlines for implementing that police reform be shorter?

Police Reform should move as quickly as possible and certainly within the deadlines that the agreement approved by Bosnia’s Parliaments and the EC have set.

This means that the Council of Ministers must set up a Directorate for the implementation of the EC approved plan for police reform by the deadline that they themselves set up ? December 31. The draft that has been proposed by the Council of Ministers is a good one.

What does the opening of SAA negotiations mean for Bosnia?

It means a huge step forward. It gives BiH a clear vision of the way forward. But it above all means that BiH’s leaders must take on a greater responsibility and initiative in delivering the reform that are necessary in order to get closer to the EU.

The reforms necessary to move towards the EU are necessary to create a state that works for its citizens first, not its politicians. They are about improving citizens? standard of living, they are about cutting the cost of government, improving hospitals and schools.