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News 07 Sep 17

Vucic Pledges Serbia's Respect for Bosnia’s Integrity

At the start of his two-day visit, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that Belgrade respected Bosnia’s territorial integrity – and he wished both countries to turn to the future.

Filip Rudic
BIRN
Belgrade
Bosnia Presidency Chairman Dragan Covic and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic Photo: Beta/AP/Amel Emric

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic reaffirmed Belgrade’s respect for the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina at the start of his two-day official visit to the country on Thursday.

"I came to say that Bosnia and Herzegovina has a true friend in Serbia. We show that friendship through respect for the territorial integrity of Bosnia, and through strengthening economic and political bonds," Vucic said after meeting Bosnia’s tripartite presidency.

The focus of Vucic’s visit on Thursday and Friday is a number of minor frontier issues between Bosnia and Serbia.

Vucic said Serbia was about to form a commission on borders, which will "dramatically accelerate" the process of defining the frontier with Bosnia.

The chair of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dragan Covic, said that a joint solution to the border issue could be found soon.

"I believe this is the start of a new relationship between the Presidency and Serbia," Covic said, adding that members of the Presidency might soon follow up with a visit to Belgrade.

Asked about the investigation of the attack on Vucic, when he was pelted while visiting Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia in 2015, Covic called the incident a "slap in the face" of Bosnia.

Vucic and Bosnia’s leaders on Thursday mainly discussed joint trade, tourism and infrastructure projects.

The Serbian leader's visit comes as conflict escalates between the main parties in Bosnia, which has created a diplomatic minefield for visiting Croatian and Serbian leaders.

Personal animosity and mistrust among – and between – all the main Bosniak, Croat and Serb parties in Bosnia has reached a new peak in recent months, blocking the work of the state and entity governments, and halting and even reversing important reforms and EU integration processes.

However, the Bosniak member of Bosnia’s presidency, Bakir Izetbegovic, hinted ahead of Vucic’s visit that some delicate issues might be addressed while he was there.

"We will open some questions that may be sensitive. I see Vucic as a pragmatic and competent politician," Iztebegovic told the TV station N1 on Wednesday.

Izetbegovic said he saw the Serbian President as a politician who wished to help fix problems in the Balkans.

Vucic’s Bosnian visit is the first by a Serbian President in six years.

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