Balkan foreign ministers want more cooperation in region

The foreign ministers of Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia agreed to intensify cooperation.

This would come with the aim of solving the problem of refugees and internally displaced persons, a problem which has not been resolved in any one of those countries, a joint statement said.

The statement issued after the conference in Belgrade on Thursday reads that the foreign ministers of Bosnia, Sven Alkalaj, Croatia, Gordan Jadronković, Montenegro, Milan Roćen, and Serbia, Vuk Jeremić, agreed to hold a regional review conference at the beginning of 2011.

Further consultations with the international community were announced in the aim of organizing, within nine months, an international donor conference to aid the return process or the local integration of refugees and internally displaced persons, closing communal refugee centers and helping the most threatened.

The ministers, continues the statement, concluded that the refugee and internally displaced persons problem had not been completely solved in any of the countries and that it was necessary to intensify regional cooperation with the aim of reaching a correct, comprehensive and lasting solution.

They agreed that cooperation would be intensified over the coming period through the appropriate national expert services which would meet two times a year, and more often if required.

The foreign ministers agreed that it was a necessary priority to solve the issue of looking after and helping refugees and internally displaced persons still living in refugee centers, as well as people who are in a particularly difficult social situation.

The statement says that the ministers “affirmed the respect, enjoyment and availability of rights to all refugees regardless of their current status or their decision on returning or integrating locally, in line with international standards.”

The international conference, titled “Lasting Solutions for Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons – Cooperation Between Countries of the Region,” was held in Belgrade on March 25 and was sponsored by the Serbian Foreign Ministry.

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