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18th Jan 2020

Serbia and Bosnia hold joint ministers' meeting

  • Sarajevo: 'Bosnia is our most important partner in the region,' Serbia's Vucic said. (Photo: Clark & Kim Kays)

Governments from Bosnia and Serbia held a joint session in Sarajevo on Wednesday (4 November).

The meeting, organized amid tensions in the Balkans due to the migrants crisis, was the first of its kind since the former Yugoslavia wars in the 1990s.

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The two governments agreed to reinforce border controls to prevent illegal entries and improve police cooperation.

But the focus of the talks was economic ties between the two countries.

The chairman of Bosnia's council of ministers, Denis Zvizdic, and Serb PM Aleksandar Vucic signed several memoranda - on cooperation in telecommunications and environment, electrical cross-border interconnection, and export and import of arms and military equipment.

The two counties also discussed infrastructure projects, such as the Belgrade-Sarajevo railroad or a Bosnia-Sabac-Novi Sad road, as well as joint planning and realisation of future EU-financed projects.

Two memoranda were also signed on search of missing persons from the war and on the protection of the famous bridge on the Drina river in Visegrad.

The joint session was "a reflection of our mutual efforts to build good neighborly and regional cooperation," Zvizdic said.

“It symbolises our trust in regional cooperation, and this is very important at a moment when Europe is once again worried about the future of the Western Balkans,” he added.

"Bosnia is our most important partner in the region,” Vucic said.

"I believe that the message of solving problems together, understanding ... and opposition to any hate and conflict in this region is a good message for all of our people."

The meeting came days after German chancellor Angela Merkel said that the massive arrival of migrants and border closures in the Balkans could cause "disruptions."

“I do not want military conflicts to become necessary there again,” she said on 2 November to members of her CDU party.

The meeting of the two governments in Sarajevo also came as this month marks the 20th anniversary of the Dayton agreement, which put an end to the war in Bosnia.

Despite Belgrade and Sarajevo getting closer, the political situation in Bosnia is still fragile, however.

The Bosnian-Serb part of the country, Republika Srpska, continues to dispute the legitimacy of the Sarajevo government and courts.

“Bosnia and Herzegovina doesn't have a government," Republika Srpska's leader Milorad Dodik told Serbia's Dnenvik newspaper.

“Serbia is trying to promote regional cooperation, and this is good. However, the Serbian government has chosen the wrong partner."

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