Bosnia, NATO sign security deal

SARAJEVO -- NATO and Bosnia signed an agreement on security cooperation last week.

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and Bosnia's Security Minister Tarik Sadoviæ signed a security agreement concerning the exchange of classified information.

Bosnia-Herzegovina signed the agreement, aimed at giving guidelines on how to manage and share classified information among the countries that wish to engage in cooperation with NATO, nearly four months after NATO invited the country into its Partnership for Peace Program.

The invitation, according to Scheffer, was a new important take- off for Bosnia-Herzegovina, as the first step towards eventual full NATO membership.

Before that actually happens, Scheffer said, Bosnia still has to fulfill certain conditions and conduct reforms, such as police and constitutional reform.

"That will not be an easy road. That will be a long and winding road, but as far as NATO is concerned, NATO will assist and help Bosnia-Herzegovina on that road," Scheffer told journalists after meeting with Bosnia's tripartite state Presidency in Sarajevo.

Another obligation, he said, remained among the tasks for Bosnia was better cooperation with The Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Urging Bosnia's authorities to continue with reforms and push the country towards the EU and NATO, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said NATO was willing to help.

"There is only one recipe for lasting security and stability in this region and that is Euro-Atlantic integration, but you have to make it happen and NATO will assist you, NATO will help," said Scheffer.