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Selakovic: Very important good-neighborly relations between Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina

17 March 2021

Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikola Selakovic met today in Sarajevo with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina Bisera Turkovic.

On that occasion, Selakovic, who is on a two-day official visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina, pointed out that good-neighbourly relations between Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) were very important and that the cooperation between the two countries was the most fruitful in the field of trade and economy.

The Head of Serbian diplomacy underlined that our country was a major foreign trade partner of BiH, but that BiH was also a major foreign trade partner of Serbia.

"Our trade in goods amounted to more than EUR 1.74 billion in previous year, the year of Covid when there was a decline in both exports from Serbia and exports from BiH, but the exchange was maintained at an extremely high level", Selakovic emphasized.

Furthermore, the Minister pointed out that the economic cooperation between Serbia and BiH was also reflected in investments, according to which, as he explained, Serbia ranked third among the countries that invested in BiH.

"These are the essential reasons for Serbia's interest in stability, not only in BiH, but in the entire region", Selakovic noted and added that the economy was the strongest link.

He explained that the region, if it takes the same position, could achieve much more on the EU market, since us in the Western Balkans region individually represented "absolutely nothing" for the EU market of close to half a billion people, and that our products and economies alone cannot be competitive in the Union.

The Serbian Foreign Minister underlined that he was glad to hear that BiH was interested in and that it supported the continuation of all regional initiatives, such as the "mini- Schengen", stressing that it would be very important for BiH to join Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia in that initiative, despite the serious and numerous problems that we "inherited from the past and that we are certainly working to resolve".

Minister Selakovic also said that Serbia respected the territorial integrity of BiH, its structure of government on the basis of the Dayton Peace Accords, and that, as a state signatory and guarantor of that agreement, it had an interest in stability and peace in the region.

"Serbia has respected and will respect every agreement that exists at the level of BiH between both entities and all three constituent peoples - the Federation as well as the Republic of Srpska with which, in accordance with the Dayton Peace Accords, Serbia fosters special relations", Selakovic said.

The Minister emphasized that Serbia was equally willing to develop cooperation with the Republic of Srpska and the Federation, but also with BiH itself, and that his visit to Sarajevo demonstrated the desire to intensify our political dialogue.

Relations between Serbia and BiH are not only maintained in bilateral formats, Minister Selakovic said stressing that the agreement from Antalya was being implemented in the trilateral format of Serbia, BiH and Turkey, which envisaged that the joint trade office in Istanbul would start functioning in full capacity in May this year.

Selakovic said that he discussed with Minister Turkovic the matter of joint investment in the construction of a hydroelectric power plant on the Drina River, and that the meeting in its essence demonstrated how important were the good-neighbourly relations between Serbia and BiH.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina Bisera Turkovic pointed out that Bosnia and Herzegovina was committed to strengthening the good-neighborly relations and working together to connect the entire region.

"This is in the interest of both Serbia and BiH, as well as the entire region, and today's meeting demonstrated the commitment to improving relations", Turkovic said.

She welcomed the decision of Serbia to give its consent for the opening of the BiH consulate in Novi Pazar and assessed that this was another step towards good-neighbourly cooperation.

In addition, Minister Turkovic thanked Serbia for the assistance in the fight against the coronavirus and reminded that BiH, to the extent of its capabilities, had provided help to Serbia in Novi Pazar when it needed it most.

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