Transcript of the High Representative’s Press Conference following Meeting with Mostar Officials

The High Representative, Christian

Thank you for coming here today.

We have just had a constructive discussion. We have reviewed progress since
our last meeting; we’ve set out future targets; and we’ve discussed recent
violent incidents in Mostar.

When we met on 25 May, I set out three items on which substantial progress
needed to have been achieved by 20 June, before the meeting of the Peace
Implementation Council.

These were the City budget, the systemization of the City administration, and
the establishment of a single public utility company.

The budget was adopted on 29 May. However, it was linked to the task of
harmonising the

HTV, the cultural
institutions and the public kitchens, to bring them in line with the

On 21 June, the City Council adopted the systemization plan, allowing for the
opening of a number of external Civil Service vacancies. Since there is still a
conflict over the issue of the Urban Planning Institution, it was also decided
that the vacancies planned for the Urban Planning Department would be suspended
until that conflict is resolved.

While I’m pleased that a temporary solution has been found, I am concerned
that the conflict itself has not been resolved.

Also on 21 June, the City Council adopted the plan for dealing with surplus
workers. My concern is that the plan relies on World Bank credits that have yet
to be approved by the Federation Parliament.

Certain effort has been put into the public utility companies. However, there
has not been sufficient progress towards the establishment of a single public
utility company.

After our discussions today expect the following:

  • Firstly, an immediate announcement of the 35
    undisputed civil service vacancies in cooperation with the Civil Service
    Agency, and decisions according to the timeline stipulated in the law.
  • Secondly, a timeline for the downsizing of surplus
  • And thirdly, a plan of action concerning the establishment of a single
    public utility company.

I expect the information on points 1 and 2 to be delivered to our office in
Mostar not later than 11 July. Each item should also be acknowledged in the City

We agreed that information on point 3 would be presented by 31 July.

I also expect a progress report on the harmonisation of the statutes of

HTV, the cultural institutions, and the
public kitchens, by the deadline that the City Council set for itself, namely 1
August. After that, we will set a date for another meeting.

I’m sure that meeting will happen; I am very satisfied that we are talking
now in a constructive atmosphere.

I am also encouraged that the City Council unanimously condemned violence in
and around Mostar in recent weeks, including the riot following the
Brazil-Croatia football match, the assault on the Imam in Balinovac, and the
recent incident in Potoci.

The City Council’s reaction was responsible and  I urge all Mostar
political and religious leaders to take a stance on this issue and categorically
condemn all violence.

Given Mostar’s past it is incumbent on all religious and political leaders to
be clear that this is not Mostar’s future. A change in people’s consciousness
will come, but Political and Religious leaders must make clear public statements
to underline that this is not acceptable.


The Mayor of Mostar, Ljubo Bešlić:

First, I have to say that Mostar is now known for the many incidents that
have occurred in the city in the past, however I firmly believe that Mostar will
find the strength to come up with a new, positive approach. We have proven, in a
very short period of time, that Mostar has the strength to improve the situation
in the city, the situation can get better, and we can work together in the best
interest of the people of Mostar.   

As the High Representative said earlier, we came here today to discuss
several items set out during our last meeting. We informed the High
Representative that we have made substantial progress regarding those items and
that we will be carrying out specific reforms in the city – in accordance with
the decisions made by the City Council – by the end of this year. This applies
to the issue of the Civil Service vacancies and the issue of the downsizing of
surplus workers.Concerning the public utility company, I have to say that we
have made progress and that we are close to resolving the issue of registering a
landfill site for the disposal of solid waste under the name «Uborak Mostar». We
will take this strategic decision by the end of this month. I believe that we
will find the proper solution to these problems. 

I must also emphasize that we also discussed the current safety situation in
the city of Mostar and that we were all, indeed, in agreement that the situation
in Mostar must be stablised and that we condemn all of the incidents that have
occurred in Mostar. We also ask that the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the
Judiciary, especailly the Prosecutor’s Office, undertake stronger measures so
that the offenders are duly punished and others, who might share that  way
of thinking, are discouraged from doing the same.

I hope that the positive atmosphere here today will be carried on in the work
of the City Council and I believe that the atmosphere during our next meeting
will be just as good. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the High
Representative and International Community for taking an interest in the
situation in Mostar. I believe that we have enough strength – of course with a
little help from the International Community – to make great progress. Thank you
very much.   



Dragan Simović, News Agency SRNA:

A question for both the High Representative and the Mayor of Mostar. Are you
satisfied with the level of return of citizens who lived in Mostar before the
war and who are neither Croat nor Bosniac?

The High Representative, Christian Schwarz-Schilling:

Is this a question for the Mayor?

Dragan Simović, News Agency

Well, since the Mayor was speaking he can answer this question also. So, how
many Serbs are employed in the City Administration and how many Serb returnees
are there in Mostar?

I have one more question – about sport…What is going on with the sports
stadium «Bijeli Brijeg», when will this issue be resolved? 

The Mayor of Mostar, Ljubo Bešlić:

Regarding the return of Serbs to Mostar I have to say that personally I am
satisfied with the recent level of return of Serbs to Mostar. We estimate that
around 7500 Serbs are living in Mostar now. A year ago that figure was around
4500, therefore I think the situation now is quite good.   

With regard employment in the City Administration: During our meeting today
we discussed the possibility of employing a certain number of Serbs in the Civil
Service in order to improve ethnic balance and I believe that we will better the
situation with the help of the Federation Civil Service Agency. I am not saying
that the situation will become ideal, but I think that Mostar surpasses all of
the other cities in

Bosnia and Herzegovina

in terms of multi ethnicity in the
City Administration. I believe that the City Administration of Mostar has the
most multiethnic structure as far as higher level positions are concerned and I
believe that we will now also improve the ethnic balance for lower level
positions as well.       

Regarding the issue of the sports stadium «Bijeli Brijeg» – we are discussing
it and I think we are heading in the right direction. However, certain contracts
and obligations exist, and we are looking for a way to come up with a solution
for these matters. 

Mostar City Council President, Murat Coric:

As an official of the City Council of Mostar I would like to say that the
recent positive initiatives and positive atmosphere in the City Council will
certainly prevail in the future. In contrast to several earlier meetings, the
Council has now demonstrated that it is responsible and completely dedicated to
passing decisions that are in the best interest of all of the citizens of Mostar
and, by doing so, contributing to the progress of the city as a

Concerning the deadlines that have been set today, the Council will most
definitely work in accordance with the suggestions that we receive form the
Mayor’s Office and in doing so will meet the deadlines the Council itself has
set regarding the items we discussed here today.   

I would also like to emphasize the responsibility of the other levels of
government, especially with regards to the safety situation in the city. They
have to do their part of the work, and the City Council will, by holding a
special meeting that has been confirmed here today, analyse the overall
situation in the city, determine the measures it must undertake and the
responsibilities of those who must do everything they can in order to prevent
any excessive behaviour or unwanted incidents from occurring in the city of
Mostar. By doing so we hope to contribute to improving the quality of the
tourist season in Mostar, as well as bettering the overall relations between the
people in the city.    

The High Representative, Christian Schwarz-Schilling:

Thank you very much. I think that we should now let them go back to Mostar
because they also want to see the football match. I think I should not be the
one to stop them from watching the




game. So,
thank you very much.