Balkan states to take over Stability Pact

SOFIA (Reuters) – The international initiative designed to help rebuild the Balkans after its bloody wars last decade will shut down in 2008, its coordinator said yesterday. Erhard Busek, the special coordinator of the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe, said EU enlargement had helped the region mature to where it could take over the task of easing the hostilities that emerged with the breakup of former Yugoslavia. «The Stability Pact is going to work to an end. The region is mature enough to take over,» he told reporters during a visit to Sofia. «We intend to finish the Stability Pact in mid-2008.» Busek said the initiative would be transformed into a regional council of cooperation, which should be drawn up by the middle of next year. The council will continue activities including improving the investment climate in the region and coordinating efforts to fight corruption and organized crime. The Stability Pact involves countries of the Balkan region as well as the European Union, the US, Russia and other countries and international institutions.