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news 16 Apr 13

OIC Invites Bosnia to Become Full Member

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has urged Bosnia and Herzegovina to apply for full membership as soon as possible, promising it better economic opportunities.

Kenan Efendic
BIRN
Sarajevo

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, OIC, the global association of Muslim countries, said during his April 15 visit to Sarajevo that Bosnia should become a full member of the club.

Ihsanoglu, who met two members of Bosnia's tripartite State Presidency, Bakir Izetbegovic and Nebojsa Radmanovic, on Monday noted that Bosnia currently holds observer status in the organization and called on it to apply for full membership this year.

“There is no special condition [for membership] and some member states are predominantly Christian,” Ihsanoglu observed, seeking to allay suspicions that full membership would inevitably pull Bosnia deeper into a Muslim orbit.

“We are ready to help Bosnia because we respect it as a multi-ethnic and multicultural country,” he added.

He noted Albania as a good example of a beneficiary of full membership, as it built a complete motorway with funds gained through the OIC and the Islamic Development Bank.

Izetbegovic, the Bosniak [Muslim] member of the Bosnian Presidency, said that full membership could indeed be useful for the country.

“Ihsanoglu is ready to help us and he guarantees that Bosnia will become a full member of the organization if we apply by November,” Izetbegovic said.

Ihsanoglu also met the Bosnian Prime Minister, Vjekoslav Bevanda, and the Foreign Minister, Zlatko Lagumdzija, and gave a lecture at the University of Sarajevo.

During his lecture, the secretary general of OIC stressed that “Europe is not host to, but the home of, Islam.

“Islam is the second religion in Europe, after Christianity,” he said, adding: “There would not have been a Renaissance in Europe without Islamic scholars and their works.”

The OIC currently has 57 members. Bosnia and Herzegovina, in which Muslims comprise about 40 per cent of the population, obtained observer status 19 years ago.

Albania, which is around 75 per cent Muslim, is the only full member of the OIC in Europe, apart from Turkey. Russia also holds observer status.

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