International community High Representative Miroslav Lajcak said on Thursday (July 19th) that the foreign military presence in BiH must be maintained. “EUFOR must stay in theatre until security in BiH becomes fully self-sustaining,” Lajcak said after a meeting with British General John Reith, the operational commander of EUFOR and deputy supreme allied commander for Europe. Lajcak, who also represents the EU in BiH, argued that the presence of the EU force also strengthens his mandate. The improved situation in the country prompted a downsizing of troops from 6,500 to 2,500 earlier this year.Also visiting Sarajevo on Thursday was Doris Pack, head of the European Parliament’s (EP) Committee for Southeast Europe. She told BiH Prime Minister Nikola Spiric and members of the BiH parliamentary caucuses that the EP would urgently press politicians to hammer out a compromise on police reform. That, in turn, would clear the way for the signing of a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU.
In other news, tensions flared Thursday during a UEFA Cup match between local team Zrinjski Mostar and Serbia’s Partizan Belgrade. Rival fans pelted each other with rocks and flares and fought with riot police.