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Mediator Presents Bosnia Currency

January 21, 1998

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ Bosnia’s top international mediator on Wednesday presented a currency for all of the country, designed to be used by Serbs, Croats and Muslims alike.

The mediator, Bosnian High Commissioner Carlos Westendorp imposed the new currency on Tuesday, after the three ethic groups failed to meet a Jan. 20 deadline for agreeing on the money.

Although the Bosnian war ended in 1995, disputes over symbols by all groups and separatist tendencies among Serbs and some Croats have blocked agreement on a common currency, which would be a symbol of Bosnian unity.

The new currency will be printed in France and is expected to start circulating in late April. Printing costs of around $15.6 million will be borne by France, said Westendorp.

The so-called convertible mark has two separate but similar designs, one for the Croat-Muslim federation and the other for the Serb substate making up the other half of Bosnia.

One side will have portraits of Bosnian Serb, Croat and Muslim writers, and the reverse side will have images of musical instruments, trees and common historic monuments.

In the Bosnian Serb version, Cyrillic writing will dominate, while in the version to be used in the federation, Latin letters will be above the Cyrillic.

The currency is meant as an interim solution. A permanent currency, which will be the same for all of Bosnia, will be decided on by the end of the year, Westendorp said.

The present use of three different currencies obstructs financial transfers within the state and credit lines with international financial organizations.

Westendorp, the most senior international official in Bosnia, already has imposed laws on citizenship and passports. He was authorized to decree interim solutions to long-term disputes by an international conference on Bosnia last month.

Jacques Klein, the U.S. deputy to Westendorp, said that after the inauguration of the new currency, his office will start working on other problematic common items, such as a common flag and license plates.

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