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Swiss foreign minister joins Sarajevo stability pact conference

Swiss Foreign Minister Joseph Deiss travelled to Bosnia-Herzegovina’s capital Sarajevo for Friday’s international Balkans stability pact conference, which is aimed at bringing long-term economic peace and prosperity to the conflict-torn region.

This content was published on July 29, 1999 - 18:23

Swiss Foreign Minister Joseph Deiss travelled to Bosnia-Herzegovina’s capital Sarajevo for Friday’s international Balkans stability pact conference, which is aimed at bringing long-term economic peace and prosperity to the conflict-torn region.

The conference – held in the rebuilt Olympic Zetra arena -- brings together representatives and leaders of about 40 nations, including United States President Bill Clinton.

Switzerland is attending the European Union-initiated conference as an observer nation but has offered to chair and finance a working group on pro-democracy reforms in the region.

The Swiss government has, and still is, providing financial aid for Kosovar refugees who return voluntarily from Switzerland to Kosovo. The Federal Refugee Office said Thursday that about 470 ethnic Albanians had returned so far.

Swiss government aid agencies and several non-governmental organisations are also providing building materials and infrastructure support for those trying to rebuild their lives in the Serb province.

In Sarajevo, international leaders will discuss how to bring the nations of southwestern Europe into the economic and political mainstream of the continent in the wake of NATO’s air war against Yugoslavia earlier this year and the 1992-95 conflicts in Croatia and Bosnia.

The U.S. – which played a key role in the NATO bombings against Serb military targets in Kosovo -- was expected to endorse a broad plan for promoting democracy, disarmament and economic recovery in the region.

Immediate financial aid will not be discussed at Friday’s summit. That was done on Wednesday at a separate meeting in Brussels organised by the World Bank and the European Union.

Donors pledged about $2.1 billion in humanitarian and reconstruction aid for Kosovo. The EU also pledged $403 million in economic aid to Yugoslavia’s neighbours Romania, Bulgaria and Macedonia.


From staff and wire reports.

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