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Fundraising For Bosnian Elections

Copenhagen, April 22 (RFE/RL) - Denmark's veteran politician, Uffe Ellemann Jensen, today starts a new job: to raise 40-million dollars for planned elections in Bosnia.

The money must be in place by May 15, and will be used by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to organise and conduct the Bosnian elections as outlined in the Dayton accords. Uffe Ellemann, who recently spoke with a RFE/RL Correspondent in Copenhagen, has been appointed as the main fund-raiser on behalf of the OSCE by Flavio Cotti, Switzerland's Foreign Minister and current chairman of the organisation.

Having been a successful TV journalist, a Foreign Minister for ten years, a leader of Denmark's Liberal Party and an international figure of considerable renown, Uffe is considered by commentators here to be the ideal person to do the job. He is well connected in political and financial circles, and has already put forward a plan of how effectively to persuade governments around to world to raise money for the Bosnian elections.

What a newspaper in Copenhagen today calls "tour de fund-raising" opens today in Luxembourg, where Uffe Ellemann is meeting the European Union (EU) External Affairs Commissioner Hans van den Broek. The following day Uffe is due to fly to Sarajevo, and Wednesday he will begin a hectic visit to the U.S. and Canada to meet government and private business representatives. He also plans to do some business in Japan.

According to Uffe Ellemann Jensen, the planned elections in Bosnia are perhaps the single most important aspect of the Dayton peace agreement that is absolutely essential for creating peace and democracy in the Balkans. He says, It is also the most complicated episode in European political history since the end of the Second World War. Long-term peace will be impossible to achieve unless there are stable democratic institutions in place, says Jensen.

Some of the challenges facing the planned elections are the election lists, the distribution of election literature, campaigning, and how to define and uphold the voting rights of thousands of Bosnian refugees abroad.

With a tight deadline, Uffe Ellemann Jensen is using all possible means to raise the money. Over the past few days, there has been a flurry of electronic mail coming out of his computer at Christiansborg, Denmark's Parliament. Uffe's party, Venstre, has been the first in Denmark to go on-line. Danish voters can now sit in virtual conference with its representatives on a weekly basis.