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Bosnia, EU Open Talks About First Step To Membership

25 January 2006 -- Bosnia-Herzegovina and the European Union have started the first, two-day round of negotiations on a Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) -- the first step toward eventual EU membership.

The international community's High Representative in Bosnia, Paddy Ashdown, hailed the start of the negotiations as a "major step" forward in the country's "long journey" from postwar recovery to full integration in the "European family of states."

EU foreign ministers authorized the start of the talks in November last November, after Bosnia conducted a number of key reforms, such as revamping its defense and police systems.

Bosnia's negotiating team in the two-day talks is being led by Igor Davidovic. The EU team is headed by Reinhardt Priebe, director of the European Commission's Office for the Western Balkans.

(RFE/RL 30.i.06)

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