Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bosnian Serb Entity Gets International Post Code

The awarding of an international postal code to the predominantly Serb entity Republika Srpska has raised eyebrows in Sarajevo, but the postal service says the move is about efficiency.

Representatives of Poste Republike Srpske, meanwhile, have said this is only a technical solution aimed at facilitating postal services, local media reported on Tuesday.

The Universal Postal Union, UPU, has decided that the public postal operator in the Serb entity should be able to use a separate international code as of January 1.

Some politicians, such as Semsudin Mehmedovic, a deputy in the Bosnian parliament, believe this step could lead to the disintegration of the state, noting that a separate code was previously given to the Hrvatske Poste postal operator in Mostar.

"The awarding of three international codes to the three operators in Bosnia and Herzegovina is nothing but an attempt at steps that could lead to the destruction of the state," Mehmedovic was quoted by Oslobodjenje daily as saying.

Apart from the Bosnian Serb and Bosnian Croat postal companies, Bosnia is also home to the public postal operator BH Posta, based in Sarajevo, which has a separate international code.

BH Posta issued a statement saying that there is a general rule that one state has one international postal code and that that rule was adopted by the UPU.

Regardless of requests from the Serb entity that it be given a separate postal code, this should not have been done without the consent of the State of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and it is unclear at present whether the consent was given, and if so, by whom, the postal operator said.

The Bosnian Ministry of Transport and Communications has not commented on the problem, but officials of Poste Republike Srpske said the only reason they submitted the request for a separate postal code was to improve postal services.

The company's director, Jasminka Krivokuca, told Banja Luka-based Nezavisne Novine the separate postal code would make it possible for mail from abroad to reach recipients in three days instead of travelling a week or longer.

With the new code, mail addressed to residents in the Serb entity no longer has to go first to Sarajevo, but is sent directly to Banja Luka, said Krivokuca.

She added that the three postal operators in the country had the same status and that the awarding of separate codes to each of them was also envisaged by the law on postal services adopted by the state parliament in 2005 on the basis of an international convention adopted in Budapest in 2004, when it was decided that more than one postal company could operate in a single country.

Under the 1995 Dayton peace agreement, which ended the 1992-95 war, Bosnia was divided into two entities, the Bosniak-Croat federation and the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska.

Each entity has its own government, parliament and presidency, but the two are linked by weak central institutions whose tasks include agreeing and implementing reforms required by the EU.

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