- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- All Balkan Countries
Speaking at the opening of an international conference in Belgrade dedicated to the subject, Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said that Serbia, with some 86,000 registered refugees, was among the top five countries in the world when it came to refugees.
"We are ready to do everything so that the human and civil rights of all refugees and displaced persons are respected to the letter," Jeremic said, adding that refugees and displaced persons must not be hostages of political differences and must not face discrimination.
The conference, entitled "Lasting solutions for refugees and displaced persons: regional cooperation in the Euro-integration process", was held in Belgrade on Thursday. Regional foreign ministers including Gordan Jandrokovic of Croatia, Milan Rocen of Montenegro, Vuk Jeremic of Serbia and Sven Alkalaj of BiH were present, as well as representatives of the European Union, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, OSCE, and the Council of Europe.
The ministers agreed that the refugee problem in the region has not been completely solved and that the only solution is the cooperation and participation of all regional states.
Fifteen years after the war in the former Yugoslavia ended, some 250,000 refugees and displaced persons still do not have basic living conditions.
Bosnian FM Alkalaj said that after all those years states had a "moral and political obligation" to offer people the option of returning to their pre-war homes or integrating into the state to which they fled.
He went on to say that the majority of requests for the return of property in Bosnia have been met, adding that 320,000 out of 450,000 houses have been reconstructed. However, there are still 500,000 refugees outside Bosnia, mostly in Serbia and Croatia, he added.
According to Rocen, resolving the problems of refugees and displaced persons must be free of any politicisation.
"We must not allow the fate of these people to serve as currency for one's political or any other interests," Rocen said.
Croatia's Jandrokovic claimed that his country had done much in this field and had "created the conditions for return of all who wish."
Representatives of the international institutions present at the conference expressed their readiness to assist all the countries in the region in resolving the problem of refugees and displaced persons.
The Serbian paramilitary who became a key prosecution witness at his former comrades’ trial for war crimes in Kosovo says he had to speak out about the brutal massacres his unit committed.