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The European Administration of Mostar
ICG Bosnia Project, 13 June, 1996

Some of the worst fighting and destruction in Bosnia and Herzegovina took place in Mostar. Efforts, made to bring the different sides together before the Dayton Accords, were agreed in November 1995. This took the form of a Memorandum of Understanding signed with the European Union in Washington on 18 March 1994 by the President of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the representative of the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Mayors of Mostar West and of Mostar East. This memorandum provided the basis for establishing the European Union Administration of Mostar (EUAM) which came into being on 23 July 1994.

The EUAM has a mandate:

  1. to unify Mostar

  2. to reconstruct Mostar

The obstacles placed in the way of the EUAM over the past two years have been and remain formidable, particularly with regard to reunification. Such progress as has been made has depended very largely on the presence and intervention of the EUAM. For example, the limited freedom of movement that exists between East and West Mostar is highly unlikely to be maintained without the EUAM.

More has been done towards the reconstruction of Mostar: water and power supplies have been repaired in most parts of the city; five out of the twelve bridges that were destroyed have been reconstructed; housing is being repaired though repatriation remains extremely difficult; seven kindergartens and twelve health centres have been opened; and a start has been made on repairing the railway station and railway lines.

Priority has been given by EUAM to support for local enterprises and the creation of employment. Over 60 medium-sized companies have received financial support and 450 smaller businesses. The EUAM has organised exchange programmes throughout Europe with over 1,000 children taking part. Other initiatives, such as the building of a new youth centre, the building of a sports hall, sports fields and playgrounds, have focused on young people.

The overall budget of the EUAM during its two-year mandate is DM 264,300,000, of which DM 208,102,846 was committed and spent by April 1996. In addition, funds have been made available from the World Bank, for example to repair the hydro-electric plants near Mostar. More than DM 30 million has been devoted to the support of local economic initiatives.

The EUAM's two-year mandate expires on 22 July 1996. This is three weeks after the elections to be held on 30 June.

The International Crisis Group (ICG) has had a team of 15 in Bosnia since the beginning of the year monitoring the non-military aspects of the Dayton Peace Accords. One of the ICG team is permanently based in Mostar.

In ICG's view it is essential that the EUAM's mandate be extended beyond July 1996. Why?

  1. The EUAM's task (to unify and reconstruct Mostar) is far from complete;

  2. There is no comparable and authoritative body to replace the EUAM (indeed it is highly unlikely that the June elections, which ICG argued should be postponed to September, will produce a more stable environment);

  3. The EUAM has made more progress in the past six months than in the previous eighteen. Hard-fought negotiations (for example with regard to the formation and maintenance of the unified police force) continue. To remove the EUAM now with its experienced personnel would jeopardise the progress that has been made.

  4. The continuing presence of the EUAM is vital for the future management of donors' grants, in particular the World Bank's $(US) 6.5 million grant towards the reconstruction of buildings.

  5. Mostar remains a divided town where violence is still commonplace.

In summary, it is ICG's view that it is quite unrealistic to expect the EUAM to be able to hand over in an orderly manner three weeks after an election to a new administration whose members will have had little experience of dealing with Mostar's problems in a post-war era. To do so is to risk jeopardising the progress and the considerable investment that has been made.

Mostar is the touchstone for achieving the peaceful reintegration of the whole country. This is too valuable an objective for the EU and NATO to risk losing.

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