ZAGREB, Sept 27 (Hina) - The ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) wants Croatia to be a competitive, socially responsible, just, European and evenly developed country, HDZ leader Jadranka Kosor said at the presentation of the HDZ's election platform in Zagreb on Tuesday.
Kosor said that the economy was the heart of the party's platform, announcing that in the event of its victory at the next election, the HDZ would immediately propose constitutional changes to limit the budget deficit and the public debt.
The HDZ will insist on strengthening the tax discipline and cutting the state deficit by half by the end of 2013, she added.
The HDZ will not impose any new taxes but will introduce investment facilities for profit tax and will continue alleviating the burden on the economy by reducing para-fiscal taxes.
The programme also envisages an increase in nontaxable part of the income.
The 2011-2015 platform also focuses on job creation with relief for the employment of young people and re-employment of people who have been without work for more than two years. Some examples of the relief are exemption from the payment of contributions to the first pension pillar during the first 18 months of employment and exemption from health insurance contribution payment in the same period.
Kosor announced the strengthening of the public administration with no lay-offs.
If it wins the election, the HDZ will not reduce pensions and will complete the compensation for the failure to index pensions in the past.
As for the population policy, Kosor said that it was a strategic and national matter of vital importance, adding that the Christian values and the family were at the centre of the interest of her party.
As far as the HDZ is concerned, there will be no revision of the accords with the Holy See, she added.
The HDZ leader went on to say that the rights and entitlements of the Croatian Homeland Defence War veterans would not be reduced and that the party would insist on the adoption of a constitutional law to that effect.
The reform of the judiciary will continue and the HDZ will abide by zero tolerance policy for corruption.
As for Croatia's forthcoming membership of the European Union, Kosor recalled that during the first two years of membership, Zagreb could count on access to EUR 3 billion from EU development programmes. She ruled out any possibility of privatisation of natural resources such as forests, water supplies or energy sources.
The HDZ wants Croatia to be evenly developed, with diversified counties and protected environment and cultural heritage, she said.
SDP CHIEF: HDZ HAS HAD A CHANCE OVER LAST 8 YEARS TO DO GOOD
ZAGREB, Sept 27 (Hina) - Commenting on the election platform of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), the head of the the opposition Social Democratic Party's (SDP), Zoran Milanovic, said on Tuesday that the HDZ had a chance over the last eight years to show who they were and to do good things.
The SDP chief said that he had not yet read the ruling party's election programme and that he would do that.
Milanovic said he believed the HDZ's programme incorporated good things as well, but added that the eight years during which the HDZ had had a chance to do good things were gone.
"They have shown who they are and how they manage the country," the SDP leader said.
When asked for a comment on opinion polls that gave the SDP a 17 per cent edge over the HDZ, Milanovic said he was not commenting on opinion polls.
"Elections are ahead of us and we need to win them," Milanovic said, adding that regardless of the latest developments, the HDZ was a strong political party and that the SDP should do its best to win the election.
Earlier in the day, the leader of the Croatian Party of Rights (HSP), Daniel Srb, described the HDZ programme as "wishful thinking".
Labour Party leader Dragutin Lesar criticised the HDZ platform as the continuation of social injustice.
The HDZ is afraid of levying taxes on the rich to the detriment of the poor, Lesar said. As for the economy, the programme will maintain the stagnation, he added.
PRESIDENT EXPECTS 70% SUPPORT FOR CROATIA'S EU ENTRY IN REFERENDUM
ZAGREB, Sept 27 (Hina) - Croatian President Ivo Josipovic has said that he believes that it is possible to achieve support of some 70 per cent for Croatia's EU entry in a forthcoming referendum on the country's EU accession.
"After the coming parliamentary elections, regardless of their outcome, I will ask all politicians and political parties that support Croatia's EU membership to take part in a big pro-European campaign to last a month or a month and a half," Josipovic said in Zagreb on Monday, at a conference on the status of Croatian workers after Croatia joins the EU.
The latest surveys carried out by the Ipsos Puls agency show that if a referendum on Croatia's EU entry were to take place today, 58 percent of citizens would vote for Croatia's EU entry, while 31 percent would vote against. Those 31 percent are mostly afraid of the unknown, Josipovic said, adding that pro-European politicians and parties should help those voters overcome their fear.
He went on to say that after Croatia's EU accession, nothing dramatic would happen on the labour market and that there would be no large-scale departures of workers from Croatia.
Surveys show that only one percent of Croatia's economically active population think about leaving the country, while in the EU, 2-5 percent of employees work outside their home country.
"We cannot be satisfied with the current situation on the Croatian labour market considering high unemployment figures, notably among young people, and big regional differences," Josipovic said, adding that the next government and trade unions would have to define a more flexible employment policy without essentially restricting labour rights.
The State Secretary for European Integration, Andrej Plenkovic, also addressed the conference, saying that in the process of EU entry talks, Croatia's labour legislation had been adjusted to the benefit of workers, citing as an example longer holidays.
Upon entry into the European labour market, Croatian workers will be able to compete in a market where 30 million jobs are created annually, said Plenkovic.
The two-day conference, entitled "Croatia in the EU: What workers get and what they lose", was organised by the SSSH trade union federation and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.
CROATIA AND ROMANIA WANT CLOSER BILATERAL COOPERATION
ZAGREB, Sept 27 (Hina) - Croatian-Romanian relations are very good and both countries are interested in developing closer cooperation in all areas of common interest, notably in the economy, Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Jandrokovic and his Romanian counterpart Teodor Baconschi said in Zagreb on Tuesday.
"We have agreed that relations between Croatia and Romania are very good, that there are no outstanding issues and both sides are interested in closer cooperation in all areas of common interest," Jandrokovic told reporters after talks with Baconschi, who is on a return official visit to Croatia and who agreed with Jandrokovic's statement.
One of the main areas of cooperation will be cooperation within EU institutions, after Croatia joins the EU on 1 July 2013, said Jandrokovic.
Another important area of cooperation is cooperation in Southeast Europe, where Romania, as a NATO and EU member, and Croatia, as a NATO member and prospective member of the EU, can together help stabilise the situation and help with their know-how and advice all the countries that are interested in EU membership, said Jandrokovic.
Congratulating Croatia on having completed its EU entry talks and on the forthcoming signing of its EU accession treaty, Baconschi said Croatia served as an example to all countries that were in the process of negotiating EU membership or planned to embark on it.
The two ministers agreed that bilateral trade was not adequate. Trade currently amounts to around 180 million euros, but there are possibilities for enhancing it, and one of the ways to do it would be introduction of direct flights between Zagreb and Bucharest, the two ministers said.
Jandrokovic said a Croatian-Romanian business forum would be organised in the near future and the joint commission for economic cooperation would meet after almost 11 years.
The two ministers said they saw potential for cooperation also in the energy sector, tourism and metallurgy. They agreed that an important area of cooperation was protection of ethnic minorities.
"A small Romanian community lives in Istria. We discussed ways of helping them preserve their identity, and Croatia is certainly interested in protecting and promoting the rights of the Croat minority living in Romania. Both countries are willing to support those minority communities," said Jandrokovic.
ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER MEETS SABOR SPEAKER
ZAGREB, Sept 27 (Hina) - Romania will be among the first countries to ratify Croatia's EU accession treaty, Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Baconschi said at talks with Croatian Parliament (Sabor) Speaker Luka Bebic in Zagreb on Tuesday.
The Romanian parliament has good experiences in harmonising international relations and we are willing to share our experience with Croatia, which we already consider to be a member-country and partner for settling issues that are of common interest in the EU, Baconschi was quoted as saying in a press release of the Croatian parliament's public relations office.
The visiting Romanian minister said that Croatia's completing EU talks and the forthcoming signing of its EU accession treaty was a great achievement and that the country now had a historic duty to maintain the EU enlargement trend in the region.
Describing the two countries' political relations as stable and good, Bebic said that they provided a basis for closer trade relations and greater mutual investments. In that context, he said that tourism and the Danube Strategy offered many cooperation possibilities.
Croatia-Romania trade in 2010 totalled 181.5 million euros, with Romanian exports to Croatia amounting to 120 million euros, and Croatia's exports to 61.5 million. In 2010, around 60,000 Romanian tourists visited Croatia.
Bebic expressed hope that both countries would keep their policy of respect for ethnic minorities at a high level.
Around 7,000 members of the Croat ethnic minority are estimated to live in Romania. Since 2000 they have had their representative in the lower house of the Romanian parliament. There are in Romania seven Croatian daycare centres, eight primary schools and one high school with 600 children and students.
Romania, whose parliament includes representatives of 18 ethnic minorities, can serve as an example in Europe for the protection of ethnic minorities' rights and I hope Croatia will be generous and continue with activities regarding the protection and preservation of the Istro-Romanian language in Istria, said Baconschi.
BOZINOVIC AND DOVGOPOLY DISCUSS COOPERATION BETWEEN DEFENCE MINISTRY AND UN
ZAGREB, Sept 27 (Hina) - Croatian Defence Minister Davor Bozinovic and United Nations Procurement Director Dmitri Dovgopoly met in Zagreb on Tuesday to discuss the possibilities of including Croatian companies in UN procurement projects, the Croatian Defence Ministry said in a statement.
It was agreed that a framework would soon be established for more direct cooperation between the Defence Ministry and the United Nations, which was expected to encourage Croatian companies to do business with the UN and facilitate the placement of Croatian products.
Bozinovic said that Croatia had a tradition of manufacturing weapons and military equipment, and that it could also offer products from other areas, such as the food sector, to meet the UN needs.
The minister thanked the UN for its quick response to Croatia's invitation to attend a presentation of Croatian companies, which had been agreed two months ago in New York.
Dovgopoly said that he had visited several manufacturers in Croatia, namely Kroko, Doking and Sestan-Busch, and that he had seen top-quality products there. He said he was confident that Croatia had an opportunity to join the leading suppliers for UN.
At a lecture on how to do business with the UN, which was held in Zagreb on Monday, representatives of about 70 companies were given information on how they could compete in UN tenders.
In 2010, the UN earmarked USD 14.5 billion for equipment and supplies; over USD 7.5 billion was set aside for the costs of peace-keeping missions alone, including USD 3.1 billion for equipment and supplies.
PROJECT TO ENHANCE CAPACITY FOR EFFECTIVE MANAGEMENT OF EU COHESION POLICY FUNDS LAUNCHED
ZAGREB, Sept 27 (Hina) - In the first six months of its EU membership, until the end of 2013, Croatia will have at its disposal, for development projects, 449 million euros from the EU's structural funds, a state secretary at the Central Office for Development Strategy and Coordination of EU Funds, Hrvoje Dolenec, said in Zagreb on Tuesday.
It will be possible to use that money over a period of three and a half years, and in the next budget period, from 2014 to 2020, the funding will be many times higher, Dolenec said at a presentation of the twinning project "Enhancement of Capacity for Effective Management of EU Cohesion Policy Funds", in which Croatia will be cooperating with partners from Lithuania and Hungary.
The two-year project, amounting to two million euros, is designed to contribute to efficient implementation and management of the EU cohesion policy funds in Croatia in line with EU requirements, Dolenec said.
The EU Cohesion Policy encourages economic growth and contributes to reducing differences in the level of development of the member-countries. Croatia will start implementing that policy when it joins the EU on 1 July 2013.
Croatia is preparing for that process through the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) programme, which to a considerable extent follows the principles of the EU's structural funds and cohesion policy.
The beneficiaries of the project are the Central Office for Development Strategy and Coordination of EU Funds and the Finance Ministry.
AZTN APPROVES RESTRUCTURING PROGRAMME FOR BRODOTROGIR SHIPYARD
ZAGREB, Sept 27 (Hina) - The Croatian Competition Agency (AZTN) has approved a grant for the restructuring of the Brodotrogir shipyard as part of the restructuring programme drawn up by the company Jadranska Ulaganja d.o.o., the agency said in a statement on Tuesday.
The grant, worth slightly over HRK 2.8 billion, has been approved for the period from March 1, 2006 until the end of 2016, covering subsidies, state guarantees, and debts to be written off or taken over by the government, the statement said.
The restructuring programme provides for the restructuring costs of slightly over HRK 4.6 billion, of which HRK 1.8 billion, or 40%, will be contributed by the shipyard.
The agency's ruling laid down conditions and time lines for the implementation of the restructuring programme.
The shipyard must reduce its production capacity within a year of the signing of a privatisation agreement.
Also within that deadline, the Ministry of Economy, Labour and Entrepreneurship must present to the AZTN and the European Commission proof that the shipyard has reduced its production capacity, and must submit biannual and annual progress reports on the implementation of the restructuring programme, no later than January 15 and July 15 for the previous six months. The ministry will also have to submit annual financial reports on Brodotrogir.
For the duration of the restructuring programme, Brodotrogir may not receive grants other than those provided for in the restructuring programme, and will not be entitled to a new grant for restructuring within ten years of the signing of a privatisation agreement, the AZTN said.
INA NOTIFIED ABOUT ARBITRATION PANEL APPOINTMENT IN ITS DISPUTE WITH EDISON
ZAGREB, Sept 27 (Hina) - Croatia's leading oil company INA said on Tuesday that it had received a notification about the appointment of the president of the arbitration panel in the arbitration procedure initiated by the Italian company Edison International S.p.A against the Croatian company, concerning the Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) in the Contract Area of the Republic of Croatia Offshore Adriatic Sea Izabela and Iris/Iva blocks.
INA received the notification about the decision on 26 September regarding the appointment of arbitration panel president in the arbitration procedure initiated by the Italian company Edison, which represents the finalisation of the procedure of arbitration panel appointment and formation.
"The seat of the arbitration procedure shall be in Vienna, in accordance with the arbitration clause, and the procedure shall be conducted in line with UNCITRAL rules," reads a statement issued by INA.
Edison International bases its arbitration notice "on the allegations that INA, d.d. did not fully comply with its contracting obligations as per the Agreement and it in the same notice claims damage compensation from INA, d.d. in the amount of cca EUR 140 million, as well as compensation for lost profit."
"INA, d.d. delivered a response to the arbitration notice in which it fully contests the allegations of EDISON INTERNATIONAL S.p.A., and it also submitted a counterclaim against the company EDISON INTERNATIONAL S.p.A," reads the statement.
The Croatian and the Italian companies entered into the Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) in the Contract Area of the Republic of Croatia Offshore Adriatic Sea Izabela and Iris/Iva blocks in 2002.
The agreement regulates the production and exploration in Izabela and Iris/Iva gas holdings blocks in the northern Adriatic.
KONCAR INSTITUTE OF ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING MARKS 50TH ANNIVERSARY
ZAGREB, Sept 27 (Hina) - The Koncar Institute of Electrical Engineering marked the 50th anniversary of its operation on Tuesday, and the ceremony was attended by the President of the Republic, Ivo Josipovic.
Josipovic praised Koncar as an exporting, innovative and successful company which could serve as a model to others. "Koncar shows how knowledge, commitment and vision can benefit all employees and entire Croatia," he said, adding that the company had realised that its future lay in investing in human resources and young scientists.
The chairman of the Institute's board, Stjepan Car, said that the company's strength lay in its people and know-how.
The Institute of Electrical Engineering currently has 170 employees. It generated over HRK 90 million in revenues last year and expect further growth this year. In the last ten years, it has invested HRK 12 million in training and HRK 45 million in the modernisation of research infrastructure.
Within Koncar Group, the Institute has the status of an independent company that retains its entire profit. In cooperation with the other affiliates, it has developed a series of high technology products such as three generations of digital voltage regulators, electronic and energy equipment for several types of railway engines, complex energy, electronic and IT communications components for low-floor trams and for electric and diesel-powered trains.
Koncar Group employs 4,000 people.
EXPORTERS CLUB HOLDS FIRST MEETING
ZAGREB, Sept 27 (Hina) - The first meeting of a dozen export-oriented companies, members of the newly-established Exporters Club, was held in the offices of the TZV Gredelj rolling stock company in Zagreb on Tuesday.
The Exporters Club includes TZV Gredelj, Eurocable Group, Jadran Galenski Laboratorij, Badel 1862, Djuro Djakovic Holding, Podravka, Elektrokontakt, Kras, Kotka, Pliva, Saponia and the postal bank Hrvatska Postanska Banka (HPB).
The first meeting of the executives of these companies focused on the export climate.
AT Kearney agency's consultant, Filip Glavan, presented a new tool for measuring the export climate. He said that a survey had shown that out of nearly 91,000 companies in Croatia, a mere 7.5 per cent were export-oriented, making up more than 10 per cent of earnings from exports.
Those companies earn 31 per cent of the total revenues of all Croatian companies, account for 46 per cent of total net profits and are more profitable, according to Glavan.
The Exporters Club was initiated by Lider business weekly.
ZAGREB BUSINESS WEEK OPENS
ZAGREB, Sept 27 (Hina) - The Zagreb Business Week opened at the Trade Fair Centre on Tuesday, comprising three shows: the EMAT International Environmental Protection, Eco-technology and Utilities Equipment Fair, the International Energy, Electronics and Automation Fair, and the Interprotex International Personal and Property Protection Fair.
The shows brought together 176 exhibitors from 26 countries, and will close on September 30.
The State Secretary with the Ministry of Economy, Labour and Entrepreneurship, Ivan Bubic, said in his opening remarks that the three fairs were presenting advanced technologies and the technologies of the future, stressing the importance of renewable energy sources as ecologically desirable.
Bubic said that investors had shown a great interest in projects based on renewable energy sources, adding that in the last four years over 850 such projects had been put forward to the ministry and that 565 of them had been approved.
He said that once Croatia joined the European Union it would be entitled to use EU funds, specifying that in the first six months Croatia would have access to 800 million euros and in the first two years 3 billion euros.
Bubic said that business owners should make the most of the pre-accession period by investing in training, development of new products and product branding.
ZAGREB HOLDING DIRECTOR SUPPORTS MAYOR'S PROPOSAL FOR AUDIT
ZAGREB, Sept 27 (Hina) - The Zagreb City Assembly started its session on Tuesday with Question Time, with most deputies inquiring about the operations of the municipal services provider Zagreb Holding, which is owned by the city. Answering questions, Zagreb Holding director Ivo Covic said the company's loss in 2010 of 500 million kuna was not as worrying as one could conclude listening to discussions in the City Assembly.
"In the last five years two business policies have existed in Zagreb Holding and initially, in only two years, significant long-term obligations in the amount of HRK 7.5 billion were incurred, and it was not defined by contract who would be fulfilling them, so the bulk of those obligations fell on Zagreb Holding," Covic said, proposing that the company's loss of 500 million kuna be redistributed over the coming business years.
Covic supported Mayor Milan Bandic's request for an audit of Zagreb Holding's operations, adding that the job would not be difficult as it had already been established that the public transportation company ZET, sports facilities and investments in real estate had generated most of the loss.
He said that the city government was still avoiding to tackle the problem of ZET, and that Zagreb Holding, with revenues from bus and tram tickets of less than 300 million kuna and the current level of city incentives, was unable to cover its operating costs.
Asked by Social Democrat Ivana Mlinar Horvat about reports of numerous scandals that were being revealed in Zagreb Holding, Covic said that there were not many scandals, but rather many reports of suspected wrongdoing which he said eventually did not lead to criminal proceedings.
He added, however, that a recent case of illegal connection of households to the public water supply system, which Zagreb Holding reported to the Office for the Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime, showed that that long-lasting practice had come to an end.
"Three employees were suspended and the procedure was launched to fire them, and there will be more dismissals because I don't believe that only three people were involved," said Covic.
BENKOVAC TOWN COUNCIL INVITES BIDS FOR PURCHASE OF FARMLAND
BENKOVAC, Sept 27 (Hina) - The Town Council of Benkovac, in the Zadar hinterland, has adopted a draft proposal to invite bids for the purchase of state-owned farmland in the cadastral municipalities of Smilcic, Tinj, Biljane Gornje and Biljane Donje.
The local Serb community has contested the state ownership of parts of the farmland. Milorad Pupovac, president of the Serb National Council and member of Parliament from the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS), recently accused Benkovac Mayor Branko Kutija of selling land owned by Croatian Serb citizens.
The decision on the sale of the farmland was opposed on Monday evening by two SDSS members of the Benkovac Town Council, a councillor of the Democratic Party of Serbs (DPS), and independent councillor Miljenko Marinovic.
SDSS councillor Rajko Kukavica said citizens had not registered on time ownership of the disputed farmland, but the town authorities should not be selling land the ownership of which he said was disputable.
Mayor Branko Kutija of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) reiterated that private property was not being sold and that the Agriculture Ministry would not have given the necessary permits if the farmland in question were privately owned.
The farmland in question has an area of 121 hectares, mostly orchards, pastureland and vineyards. In 2006 the state leased out the land for a period of 25 years.
SEVERAL PEOPLE INJURED IN CLASHES BETWEEN KOSOVO SERBS AND KFOR PEACEKEEPERS
BELGRADE, Sept 27 (Hina) - Six Kosovo Serbs and four members of the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping mission were injured in clashes at the Jarinje border crossing between Kosovo and Serbia on Tuesday afternoon, media in Belgrade and Pristina said.
The clashes broke out shortly after 1300 hours when, according to KFOR, peacekeepers responded in self defence, firing rubber bullets at Serb demonstrators who were throwing stones at them.
According to Belgrade media, six injured Serbs received medical attention in Kosovska Mitrovica. The head of the town hospital, Milan Jakovljevic, was quoted as saying that the six people had been admitted with gunshot wounds inflicted by live ammunition.
KFOR spokesman Kai Gudenoge said that Serbs had been throwing stones at KFOR German troops, and after one soldier was hit, the peacekeepers were forced to fire rubber bullets in self-defence.
Albanian-language media in Pristina quoted Gudenoge as saying that four KFOR troops had been injured in the clashes, including one seriously. Gudenoge said that gunshots had been heard from the crowd of Serbs, but the attacker was not identified.
On Tuesday afternoon Serbian President Boris Tadic called for the defusion of the situation saying that maintaining peace and dialogue "are the only way to solve problems".
According to a statement from his office, Tadic called on KFOR to exercise maximum restraint.
The Serbian Minister for Kosovo, Goran Bogdanovic, told the Serbian news agency Beta that it was "totally unacceptable" that the KFOR personnel had fired on the unarmed people at the barricades. He said that KFOR did not have the right to shoot at unarmed people and put people's lives in danger "for the sake of someone's personal interests or the interests of some groups in Pristina."
On Tuesday morning, KFOR troops closed a road near the Jarinje border crossing and, using tear gas, removed a barricade that had been manned by local Serbs over the past few days. Several Serb protesters were arrested.
The Belgrade media reported that the now closed road was the only road connecting Raska in the south of Serbia with northern Kosovo. NATO-led KFOR troops blocked several hamlets in the north of Kosovo using barbed wire. This morning, an incident occurred when local residents stoned KFOR troops, to which they responded by using tear gas.
The Serbian news agency Beta said US and German KFOR troops were removing barricades put by Serbs over the past week, and restricting access to the area. According to local residents, no one dared approach the barbed wire for fear of being arrested.
After they were detained in a KFOR base for several hours, the arrested protesters were released.
A spokesperson for the European rule of law mission in Kosovo (EULEX), Irina Gudeljevic, told the news agency Tanjug that this was a joint operation of KFOR and EULEX. EULEX supports KFOR's operation and believes that all barricades must be removed, said Gudeljevic.
The latest developments in Kosovo came after the Kosovo government on September 16 started an operation to deploy customs and police officers at the border crossings Jarinje and Brnjak in the north of Kosovo, on the border with Serbia.
Serbs living in the border area set barricades on roads, blocking them at several places in the northern municipalities of Leposavic, Zvecan, Kosovska Mitrovica and Zubin Potok and near the two border points, in protest against the establishment of the Kosovo customs and border police service on the border with Serbia.
ETHNIC BOSNIAKS LIKELY TO IGNORE FORTHCOMING CENSUS IN SERBIA
BELGRADE, Sept 27 (Hina) - The Bosniak National Council (BNV) in Serbia has decided to call on ethnic Bosniaks to boycott the forthcoming population census in Serbia, Grand Mufti Muamer Zukorlic was quoted by the Belgrade media as saying on Tuesday.
Serbia will hold a census from 1 to 15 October.
The BNV blamed the Serbian authorities for constantly forging the number of ethnic Bosniaks and the Islamic faithful in an attempt to downplay their number.
The Council is dissatisfied with the fact that the census question forms are printed only in the Serbian language and the Cyrillic script.
According to Zukorlic, the boycott would be suspended if the question forms were printed in the Bosniak language and in the Latin script.
According to the Belgrade media, ethnic Albanians in the south of Serbia might also boycott the census for the same reasons.
PAROLE BOARD REFUSES REQUEST FOR RELEASE OF ABDIC
ZAGREB, Sept 27 (Hina) - The Croatian Justice Ministry Parole Board has refused to release Fikret Abdic and will again consider the request for his provisional release in three months, members of Abdic's family told Hina on Tuesday, expressing dissatisfaction at having learned about the decision from the press rather that from relevant state institutions.
"It's scandalous that no prison official informed my father of the decision, but he had to learn about it from reporters," Abdic's daughter Elvira Abdic Jelenovic, who is a member of the parliament of Bosnia's Croat-Bosniak entity, told Hina.
Officials at the Justice Ministry would not comment on the case, with spokeswoman Vesna Dovranic saying the ministry could not comment on Abdic's status as long as he was in prison.
Abdic is in Pula serving a 15-year prison sentence for war crimes committed in western Bosnia and Herzegovina. After he served two-thirds of his sentence, his family in June this year requested that he be released on parole.
The Parole Board discussed the request on Monday evening for three hours, but would not reveal its decision. Pula County Court president Iztok Krbec said that the case was a professional and official secret and that the public would be informed of the decision at a later date.
The request for Abdic's release states that he will soon be 72, that he has health problems and that his conduct in prison has been exemplary. It also states that he was never on the run and did not use any benefits a prisoner is entitled to after having served a half of their sentence, like the possibility to leave prison for weekends or holidays or be transferred to a prison with a less strict security regime.
The Karlovac County Court in July 2002 sentenced Abdic for war crimes to a maximum prison sentence of 20 years, and the Supreme Court reduced the sentence to 15 years. Abdic was found guilty of having declared, contrary to the Bosnian constitution, the Autonomous Region of Western Bosnia, and of having organised, in his capacity as the supreme commander of local forces, prison camps for people who were against the establishment of the Autonomous Region of Western Bosnia. Around 5,000 people were detained in those camps and at least three died as a consequence of the torture they were subjected to there.
INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY DISAPPOINTED WITH LACK OF AGREEMENT IN BOSNIA
MOSTAR, Sept 27 (Hina) - The Office of the High Representative (OHR) and the US Embassy to Bosnia and Herzegovina said on Tuesday they were disappointed by the failure of the leading Croat, Serb and Bosniak political parties to agree on a new Council of Ministers at Monday's meeting in Brcko.
They said they expected the talks to continue and the parties to show willingness to reach a compromise nearly a year after parliamentary elections.
Despite some political leaders' efforts to reach a compromise, the dangerous political standstill continues. All party leaders must rise above individual political interests and form the Council of Ministers, the US Embassy said.
It called for resuming talks on the new government as well as on reforms essential for Bosnia's NATO and European Union accession.
The OHR said the Brcko talks showed there was room for a compromise.
The obligation and responsibility of the six party leaders to agree on the Council of Ministers still exists. In that respect, nothing has changed, although the first anniversary of general elections is coming up, the OHR said.
At the Brcko meeting, the organisers from the Serb Democratic Party proposed a solution on the new Council of Ministers, but SDP BiH leader Zlatko Lagumdzija rejected it.
Previous meetings in Mostar and Sarajevo led to closer positions on reform laws required for European integration, but no new meeting of the six parties was scheduled after the one in Brcko.
October 3 will mark one year since the parliamentary election during which time the country has still not formed a new government.
THREE MEN GO ON TRIAL FOR TERRORIST ATTACK IN ZENICA
SARAJEVO, Sept 27 (Hina) - Two former members of the Progress Through Work (NSRzB) party, which is a member of the ruling coalition, and a third man went on trial before the State Court in Sarajevo on Tuesday for a terrorist attack on officials of the leading Croat party HDZ BiH this spring.
According to the indictment, the attack was commissioned by the accused Zijad Dervisevic, who headed the NSRzB slate in Central Bosnia Canton in last year's elections. He hired the two other accused Amel Sefer, who was also on the NSRzB slate, and Sasa Bonic, who obtained a pressure-activated anti-personnel mine and planted it under a wheel of the car of Pero Mamic, an HDZ member of the Zenica-Doboj Canton Assembly, in the Assembly's car park in central Zenica. Ivo Tadic, an HDZ member of the Bosnian Federation's upper house of parliament, was in the car with Mamic at the time of the explosion.
The two HDZ officials remained unscathed by the blast and the car was only slightly damaged.
"With the terrorist act of planting an explosive device, the accused attempted to seriously intimidate the population, to undermine and destroy the basic political and social structures of Bosnia and Herzegovina by obstructing the formation of government in the Federation, and to influence the formation of government in the Federation and in Bosnia and Herzegovina after the elections by attacking people's lives, which could have caused their death," the State Prosecutor's Office sad in the indictment.
FEDERATION'S PRESIDENT PUSHES FOR NEW DISTRICT IN NORTH BOSNIA
MOSTAR, Sept 27 (Hina) - During his visit to the United States, the president of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Zivko Budimir, outlined his proposal for the establishment of a separate district in northern Bosnia and Herzegovina, with modifications of the current boundaries between the Serb entity and the Croat-Bosniak entity, the Office of the President of the latter's entity said in a press release on Tuesday.
The Bosanska Posavina district would not mean the abolishment of the Serb entity, and that district would include areas from both entities, reducing their size, reads the press release.
Budimir presented his proposal at his talks with Jennifer Brush, Director of the Office of South Central European Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, and other US officials as well as with Zvonko Labas, an official of the National Federation of Croatian Americans.
He also acquainted them with the deteriorating position of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
STRIKE CAUSES TRAFFIC COLLAPSE IN SARAJEVO
SARAJEVO, Sept 27 (Hina) - Workers of Sarajevo's public transport company on Tuesday went on strike, causing a traffic collapse in the Bosnian capital as tramways, trolleybuses and buses did not operate all day.
A local private taxi service provider also refused to transport passengers in a show of solidarity with workers of the city's GRAS company.
The reason for the strike is the employer's failure to pay workers' pension and health insurance contributions in the last four and a half years. The workers also have not yet received salaries for August.
If no agreement is reached with the Sarajevo cantonal authorities, the protesters said they would block crossroads in downtown Sarajevo on Wednesday.
KIM JONG-IL'S GRANDSON REPORTEDLY ENROLLED IN MOSTAR SCHOOL
MOSTAR, Sept 27 (Hina) - The grandson of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, Kim Han-sol, has enrolled in an English-language international secondary school in the southern Bosnian city of Mostar, according to Bosnian media.
Media reports say that Kim Han-sol will begin his studies at the United World College (UWC) this year, but the school has declined to comment.
"No comment," UWC spokeswoman Meri Musa told Hina when asked for a comment on the media reports.
The Sarajevo-based newspaper Dnevni Avaz, citing unnamed sources, said that the 16-year-old heir to the North Korean dictator would attend the UWC and that his arrival in Mostar was expected.
The UWC in Mostar is attended by students from around the world, and the school year has already started. On the school's website, among the 74 students enrolled, the name of Kim Han-sol is listed under number 33.
Dnevni Avaz said that the UWC in Mostar was keeping the information secret because he is "a descendant of the infamous North Korean dictator."
REUTERS SAYS SERBIA MAY WIN EU CANDIDATE STATUS, NO TALKS YET
BRUSSELS, Sept 27 (Hina) - The European Commission wants to offer Serbia the status of EU membership candidate in October but will recommend entry talks are postponed until Belgrade improves its relations with Kosovo, EU diplomats said on Tuesday, Reuters reported.
In its annual report on countries aspiring to join the bloc, due next month, the European Union executive will want to reward Serbia for bringing remaining war crimes fugitives to justice this year, they said.
It will also want to recognise efforts Belgrade has made in reforming state institutions and combating corruption and crime, seen as important steps towards ensuring Balkan states such as Serbia are ready for the EU.
But concerns over tensions with Kosovo, Serbia's former province, mean the EU is not ready to launch actual membership negotiations, a process likely to take years before Serbia can become a member, said Reuters.
"It's quite sure, the Commission will recommend candidate status for Serbia but set conditions for opening negotiations," an EU diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Serbia applied to join the EU in 2009 but struggled to make progress in its bid because of its failure to apprehend fugitives wanted by the Hague war crimes tribunal. It caught Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb general accused of instigating ethnic cleansing during the 1992-95 Bosnian war, in May this year, and apprehended Croat Serb leader Goran Hadzic in July, after both spent years in hiding.
Serbia's relations with Kosovo have deteriorated in recent weeks, amid disagreements over trade and border crossings that have turned violent on several occasions.
On Tuesday, at least 16 Kosovo Serbs and four NATO peacekeeping troops were injured in clashes at a disputed border crossing.
Serbia, along with five EU members, refuses to recognise Kosovo as an independent state. It lost control over Kosovo in 1999, when a NATO bombing campaign halted a Serb counter- insurgency war against ethnic Albanian rebels. With Western backing, Pristina declared independence in 2008.
Many EU officials hope that pushing Serbia along the EU path will help anchor the country on a reform path, but some EU capitals are angry over its refusal to recognise Kosovo and want to see more progress in EU-mediated talks on practical cooperation between the two.
"The Commission could split its recommendation into two parts," another senior EU diplomat said. "It could start with candidate status but postpone its recommendation for a date to start talks."
"Serbia has made an overall positive effort on reforms ... the problem is the Kosovo issue," the diplomat said.
Such a recommendation from the European Commission could still run into opposition from EU member states, which have to give it their backing. Diplomats said Germany, among others, may still refuse to approve it without further progress on Kosovo.
Others said Commission plans could still change in the coming weeks if the situation between Kosovo and Serbia deteriorates further.
If it does not, Serbia could be asked to fulfill a set of specific conditions before EU governments review the possibility of launching talks. Showing results of cooperation talks held in Brussels are fully implemented could be one such condition, diplomats said. Others could include further anti-corruption reforms.
Serbia is lagging behind Slovenia, which is already an EU member, and Croatia, which finished accession talks earlier this year and expects to join in July 2013, Reuters said.
IN OTHER NEWS
ZAGREB, Sept 27 (Hina) -
Croatian President Ivo Josipovic on Tuesday sent a message to members of the Jewish community in Croatia with best wishes for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Josipovic extended best wishes with the traditional greeting "L'shanah tovah tikatev" on the year 5772 according to the Jewish calendar. Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor and Zagreb Archbishop Cardinal Josip Bozanic sent their separate messages for the forthcoming Jewish holidays later on Tuesday.
ZAGREB, Sept 27 (Hina) -
The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices -- the Crobex and the specialised Crobex10 index -- on Tuesday rose by 0.79 per cent to 1,865.02 points and by 0.71 per cent to 1,030.63 points respectively. Today's regular turnover of HRK 35.5 million was twice as high as Monday's. As many as six stocks made turnovers exceeding the one million kuna mark. The HT telecom company made the highest turnover of HRK 4.1 million, ending the day at HRK 244 per share, a rise of 0.42 per cent from Monday. The other five stocks with turnovers above one million kuna, were the preferred shares of the Adris Group, Podravka, Koncar Electrical Industry, Dalekovod, and Atlantska Plovidba. (EUR 1 = HRK 7.48)