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UN official urges reduced military expenditure in Bosnia and Herzegovina

UN official urges reduced military expenditure in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Excessive military spending in Bosnia and Herzegovina is bankrupting the State and preventing economic growth, a senior UN official said today.

"BiH cannot pay police salaries and pensions with machine guns, or buy school text books and medicine with bullets," Jacques Paul Klein, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative in the country told a meeting on military expenditure sponsored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

He suggested that funds currently used to maintain three armies be redirected towards efforts to address unemployment, to attract foreign investment, to pay salaries and pensions and to improve the education system.

The three armies currently operating in Bosnia and Herzegovina are the army of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Bosnian Croat HVO and the army of the Republika Srpska.

In addition to representing the UN Secretary-General in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr. Klein is the head of the UN Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH). UNMIBH's mandate is to contribute to the establishment of the rule of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina by assisting in reforming and restructuring the local police, assessing the functioning of the existing judicial system, and monitoring and auditing the performance of the police and others involved in the maintenance of law and order.