The chairman of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s presidency on Tuesday proposed the establishment of joint commissions between Bosnia, Serbia, and Croatia resolve all outstanding issues.
Milorad Dodik’s remarks came at the opening of the Southeast European Cooperation Process Summit in Bosnia’s capital Sarajevo.
“Many will agree that the situation in Southeast Europe is not what we want and how we have tried to establish in the last 20 years. Had we not establish this process just 23 years ago with the goal of being a forum where we would solve problems, or at least create conditions in which these problems could be solved?” said Dodik.
Dodik urged Kosovo to abolish trade tariffs against his country.
He said: “We understand that Kosovo wants to solve the issue of traveling from Bosnia.
“We expected this issue to be resolved at the regional level within regional economic areas.
“I do not see why Bosnia would not accept what Serbia has already accepted in its relations with Kosovo. But, the abolition of the tax is an international legal obligation that Kosovo has accepted within the CEFTA agreement.”
A 100 percent customs duty by Kosovo on products imported from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina is in place until Serbia’s recognition of its independence.
For his part, Croat Member of the Bosnian Presidency Zeljko Komsic stressed at the summit that cooperation was critical for the region’s integration to NATO and the EU.
“By developing regional cooperation and good neighborly relations, we send a clear message that this region, Southeast Europe, can be part of integration processes, especially those between Bosnia and NATO and the EU,” Komsic said.
Komsic urged all participants in the summit to find ways to solve disputes for the benefit of citizens.
“It is necessary to maintain stability in the region and through mutual cooperation and common mechanisms to maintain and more easily control the illegal migration flows that have affected almost all our countries. We will only be together more easily and more effectively with the challenges ahead. In this way we will show that this space belongs to the EU and that any country that has not yet gained the status of a member state of the EU can certainly pass all the challenges imposed by the admission procedure for EU membership,” Komsic said.
Bosniak presidency member Sefik Dzaferovic pointed out that the region faces a number of challenges, the most imminent being the migrant crisis.
“The migrant crisis has escalated over the past two years, and the weaknesses in institutional capacities and regional cooperation have been shown. The EU needs to be clearly involved in resolving this problem, because the focus cannot be on the immediate border of the EU and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and also because Bosnia has not caused a migrant crisis,” said Dzaferovic.
Dzaferovic also urged the EU to help Bosnia to solve issues related to the migrant crisis.
“The EU should help Bosnian institutions — strategically and organically — in order to solve the challenges of the migrant crisis because organized crime and human trafficking are also involved in the migrant crisis,” said Djaferovic.
The meeting addressed common issues of SEECP member states and those undertaken during the chairmanship of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The summit was attended by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Montenegrin President Milo Dukanovic, President of North Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski, President of Albania Ilir Meta, Prime Minister of Serbia Ana Brnabic, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and representatives from Croatia, Romania, Greece, Moldova, and Slovenia.
Kosovo took over the chairmanship from Bosnia and Herzegovina for 2019-20.
Southeastern Europe Cooperation Process
The SEECP was established in 1996 with the aim of strengthening political and security cooperation among the countries of the region, promoting economic cooperation and expanding democratic institutions and justice as well as combating illegal activities.
Turkey is among the founder members of the SEECP together with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, and Greece are the members.