Bosnian FM: Belgrade-Sarajevo Relations Stagnating

Bosnian Foreign Minister Sven Alkalaj has characterized bilateral relations between Sarajevo and Belgrade as oscillating considerably, but generally facing a state of stagnation.

Alkalaj said that concrete progress in improving relations between the two countries depended on the state of political cooperation.

“Institutional cooperation between the competent bodies of Bosnia and Serbia is satisfactory, but the operationalization of cooperation and concrete progress in improving relations is regularly determined by political circumstances,”  he said.

He went on to say that Serbian interest in the situation of Serbs living in Bosnia was legitimate but expressed his concern over the methods by which Serbia tries to influence the issues that are Bosnian domestic issues.

“The public appearances of certain Serbian officials who are trying to deny the legitimacy of international law and the sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina does not contribute to the further normalisation and development of good neighborly relations between the two countries,” the foreign minister said.

After almost three years without an ambassador to Serbia, Bosnian Ambassador Borisa Arnaut submitted his credentials to the Serbian Minister of Foreign Affairs in Belgrade on March 3, and the Serbian Foreign Ministry accepted his credentials.

Arnaut named his main priorities as the development of good-neighbourly relations, the elimination of differences and the search for common interests between the two countries.

“We should always work on improving our relations so we can join the EU as good neighbours and not with quarrels and differences. We should try to find common interests and points where we can understand each other, and we should establish firm and direct links between Sarajevo and Belgrade,” he said in March.

Alkalaj also said that border issues remained unresolved, as well as cooperation with the Hague Tribunal and the issue of properties owned by Bosnian companies that are located on Serbian territory.

New issues that burden bilateral relations have been opened after the recent arrest of Ejup Ganic, a member of Bosnia’s wartime presidency. Ganic was arrested in London on March 1 at the request of Serbia. He was released on bail under “stringent conditions” after spending 10 days in prison, and Serbia’s request for his extradition is currently being processed by UK courts.

Citing regional cooperation as a priority of Bosnia’s foreign policy, Alkalaj said that his country does not back any changes to borders in the region.

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