Serbian PM’s Bosnia Trip Highlights Economic Ties

Author : Mircea Birca | Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Posted in category Balkans, Bosnia Hertegovina
Comments Off on Serbian PM’s Bosnia Trip Highlights Economic Ties

Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic paid his first official visit abroad to Sarajevo on Tuesday, aiming to foster economic and political ties with the neighbouring country.

Two weeks after Vucic took office as Prime Minister on April 27, paid a one-day visit to Sarajevo on Tuesday where he met Vjekoslav Bevanda, head of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and members of the country’s Presidency.

Vucic said that he came as a friend, dismissing claims in the Bosnian media that the Serbian Progressive Party’s agenda included the unification of Serbia and Republika Srpska.

“Serbia and Bosnia are among the most important to one another,” Vucic said.  

Bevanda said that he talked to Vucic about regional cooperation and emphasized the importance of being good neighbours. He added the two PMs discussed economic issues, and that would be the priority for the two countries.

‘We are neighbours and that is a fact no one can erase – a neighbour is always the closest,’ Bevanda said.

According to Vucic, a large investment from Bosnia in Serbia would be finished soon – a project of the Bosnian company Prevent, which bought a company in Prijepolje, in Serbia, and plans to employ 500 workers there.

Vucic also said that tourism was important and encouraged Bosnians to come to Serbia and Serbians to visit Sarajevo.

‘To everyone who has tried to make an enemy of Serbia in BiH, I say they will not suceed,’ Vucic said. ‘I could also speak about the pasts of many politicians but I will not. That is not good. I respect the people who chose those politicians,” Vucic said.

‘There does not have to be love between BiH and Serbia but there has to be respect,’ Vucic added, noting that there was respect from Serbia already.

He also reiterated that he respected the integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Ahead of the trip, Vucic cited three reasons why he had chosen Bosnia for his first official visit abroad.

“Bosnia is Serbia’s major trade partner, one-and-a-half million Serbs live there and Serbia wants regional stability,” Vucic said.

Nebojsa Radmanovic, the Serbian member of Bosnia’s three-man presidency,  said ahead of the visit that the two countries should intensify economic relations.

“Relations between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia are important, as Serbia is our third most important economic partner,” Radmanovic said.

During the visit, Vucic is also due to visit the Serbian Orthodox cathedral in Sarajevo and speak to believers. He is also set to visit the Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque and the old centre of the city known as Bascarsija.

Analyst Dusan Janjic said Vucic was right to choose a regional country for his first foreign visit.  

“It says that Serbia will respect Dayton [the 1995 Peace Accord that ended the Bosnian war] and will cooperate with Sarajevo, and not, as has been the case until now, primarily with Banja Luka,” Janjic told Radio Free Europe.

He was referring to Serbia’s close ties to the mainly Serbian entity in Bosnia, Republika Srpska.

The former Democratic Party-led government in Serbia from 2008 to 2012 nurtured close ties with Republika Srpska whose president, Milorad Dodik, openly backed Democrat leader Boris Tadic in the presidential race in Serbia in May 2012.

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