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Bosnia: Council Of Europe Assembly Votes For Acceptance

Strasbourg, 22 January 2002 (RFE/RL) -- The Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly today recommended approval of Bosnia's application to the organization. Nearly all of the assembly's members voted in favor of making Bosnia the 44th member of the pan-European human rights group.

If Bosnia's application is approved by member national governments -- expected within a few months -- the Council will issue a formal invitation.

At the Strasbourg session, Laszlo Surjan, a Council of Europe parliamentarian from Hungary, spoke in favor of Bosnia's membership.

"The several century-long occupation by the Ottoman Empire, by the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, have changed Bosnia from a state to a province. Foreigners treated Bosnia as a child who needs advice, who should obey," he said. "The invitation of Bosnia-Herzegovina into the Council of Europe means that this behavior is over. Bosnia is no more a child, she is an adult member of our European family. Please don't hesitate to give this signal to the people of Bosnia."

The assembly issued a statement saying that Bosnia is moving toward a democratic system and a market economy, and is completing a process of ethnic reconciliation a short time after ending its 1992-95 war.

But the assembly added that Bosnia will have to adhere to a long list of conditions, including cooperating with the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague, in order to ensure its membership.