Bosnia’s Foreign Minister, Igor Crnadak, told N1 that his Ministry will approve visas for the Kosovo U16 basketball team so they can compete at the U16 European Championship in Sarajevo. The team was supposed to arrive in Bosnia, but the Foreign Ministry did not issue their visas on time.
"The Ministry hasn’t made the decision yet, but after Spasojevic’s statement, we can make one. We received a letter from the Bosnian Basketball Association (KSBiH) which didn’t have his signature and approval. I spoke with him after my associates did. He explicitly told me he was against it and that he is opposed to Kosovo's team playing," Crnadak told N1.
Bosnia and Herzegovina does not recognise Kosovo as an independent state and previously, all representatives and institutions in the Serb-dominated semi-autonomous Republika Srpska (RS) entity rejected the possibility of Bosnia ever doing so.
Boris Spasojevic, a member of the KSBiH Management Board and Head of the RS Basketball Association, told N1 that the Association is not competent to decide whether the Kosovo team can get their visas or not.
He said that, as far as he was concerned, the team could have gotten their visas two days ago, stressing that it was Crnadak's decision to withhold them.
Crnadak, however, rejected these claims.
"I don’t know why Spasojevic changed his mind. He could have told me all of this three days ago and we could have avoided this circus," he said. "He was obviously pressured, or he maybe changed his mind on his own – you’ll have to ask him that.”
"Now that we have the conditions and the approval of the president and vice president of the KSBiH Management Board, we can approve the visas for the Kosovo team. Now the situation is clear and the Association reached a consensus,” he said.
"After Spasojevic’s public statement to N1, we will approve the Kosovo team the visas," Crnadak pointed out in a telephone statement to N1.
Moments prior to this article, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) published an ultimatum to Bosnia and Herzegovina to issue visas to the team by 8:30 p.m..
The Foreign Minister reacted.
"It’s not right that the Ministry should get any deadlines from any world federation. I received FIBA’s letter and they will receive the answer in which we will state the entire case, from the beginning till the end," he said.
"We reject any decision or ultimatum. It is not in line with diplomatic practice," Crnadak concluded.