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Bosnia: OSCE Chair Calls For Undisturbed Elections

Vienna, 22 July 1997 (RFE/RL) -- The OSCE top official says that the present political crisis in the Republika Srpska must not be allowed to jeopardize preparations for municipal elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina in September.

OSCE is responsible for organizing the elections. Its current chairman, Danish Foreign Minister Niels Helveg Petersen, said in a statement issued in Vienna that the Bosnian elections are, in his words: "far too important for the peace process as a whole" to be permitted to be detoured by the events in the Republika Srpska.

Petersen said technical preparations for the Bosnian elections are proceeding according to plan. But in some other areas, he said, he is less than satisfied.

He described one dissatisfaction this way: "The political climate is still a cause for concern . The atmosphere of insecurity and mistrust continues to play in favor of ethnically-dominated political parties. This is not the way forward." He said greater efforts are needed to overcome the negative atmosphere.

Petersen also criticized some major OSCE countries -- which he didn't name -- for failing to help finance the elections. He said more than $6 million still is needed. The OSCE chairman said Japan contributed $1.5 million and Saudi Arabia $500,000.

He noted that all OSCE members had accepted commitments to provide whatever funds were needed. In his words: "Lack of funds will seriously hamper the preparations for high-quality elections and for their conduct."

Petersen also renewed previous OSCE offers to monitor the elections to be held in Serbia in September. He urged Belgrade to accept international monitors.