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Experts Say Kosovo Making Progress, Bosnia Still Lagging

The U.S. Institute of Peace, funded by the U.S. government to promote conflict resolution, has delivered a mixed report on progress in Kosovo and Bosnia-Hertzegovina.

Larry Rossin, the retired U.S. diplomat who is the number two U.N. official in Kosovo, says the territory is making considerable progress. Assuming there are no fresh outbreaks of violence between Kosovo's ethnic-Albanian majority and its Serb minority, Mr. Rossin says, the U.N. within three months will assess the progress Kosovo has made in satisfying international standards of self-government. Should that assessment be positive, Mr. Rossin says the territory, which is part of Serbia, could move toward final status negotiations in September.

"We do have real progress in Kosovo. And it is all the more reason for us not to be complacent. And for Kosovars not to be complacent. Kosovo is still very fragile," said Mr. Rossin. "And the very high expectations of the majority community concerning standards assessment carries further risks."

Mr. Rossin says Kosovo is a case study of effective U.S.- European Union cooperation.

But the outgoing deputy international administrator, former U.S. diplomat Donald Hays, has delivered a much gloomier assessment of Bosnia-Hertzegovina's progress on its march toward statehood. He said 10 years after the Dayton peace accord ended the Bosnian war there is only the fa├žade of a Bosnian state. There is no constitution and the population remains divided among three quarreling groups, Croats, Muslims and Serbs. The educational system in particular, he says, is a failure.

"Education is the fundamental problem in Bosnia. The schools are separated. They are teaching separation in the schools. They are teaching cultural separation and linguistic separation. And therefore they are not building a state concept," said Mr. Hays. "The three religions are doing the same. The three ethnic parties are doing the same. So basically you have three groups of people all through the culture that are pushing people apart not bringing them together."

Mr. Hays has been in his post in Sarajevo for four years.

On the economy, Mr. Hays says Bosnia is ten years behind the rest of Europe in economic reform. One of the reasons for this, he says, is that most Bosnians remain as apathetic as they were during communism and do not demand accountability from their politicians.