"Bosnia and Serbia should improve their relationship"

Source: TANJUG/Dragan Kujundžić

There are many reasons for Bosnia and Serbia to improve their relationship, the Serb member of Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency, Mladen Ivanic, said after meeting with Serbia’s President, Aleksandar Vucic.

The two met in Belgrade to discuss a variety of issues, including regional relations and the announced construction of a highway between Sarajevo and Belgrade, which Turkey is to finance.

“We expect the country which got the most involved in this, Turkey, to present a financial structure,” Ivanic said.

According to a press release from Vucic’s office, Serbia is committed to improving relations with Bosnia.

“Good neighbourly relations are of vital importance for the Serb people in Republika Srpska (Bosnia’s Serb-dominated part) and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as for the Bosniaks and Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also for peace and stability in the region,” Vucic said.

He reiterated that Serbia fully respected the 1995 Dayton Peace Accord that de facto ended the Bosnian 1992-1995 war, and divided the country into two entities.

However, Vucic fell short of publically criticising Milorad Dodik, the RS president, who is regularly meeting Vucic and who insists that his entity and Serbia should become one state, directly undermining the Dayton Agreement.

Ivanic said it was a routine meeting between them, where the Serbian President informed him of developments regarding Serbia’s issues with Kosovo.  

The two, however, did not touch upon the issue of the unresolved 40 kilometres of the border that Bosnia and Serbia share after the breakup of Yugoslavia.  

“We did not discuss it because it is not realistic to expect that, in these four months until the election, it could come to an agreement,” Ivanic said, adding that he thinks it would benefit both countries if they would agree on a couple of “things that are not too difficult” to agree on, and that it would represent a good model in the region.

“Bosnia and Herzegovina is important to Serbia, not only politically, but also economically, and there are many reasons for why their relationship should improve,” he said.

The Serb Presidency member criticised the international community, saying they have “favourites” when dealing with issues in the region.

“International institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina make their biggest mistake when they, from time to time, have their favourites. Then they try to affirm their favourites in Bosnia, and they criticise the others,” he said.

Bosnia’s Serb-dominated semi-autonomous Republika Srpska (RS) entity, he said, was often criticised. He named the Peace Implementation Council (PIC), an international body tasked with implementing the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, which stopped the war in Bosnia, saying that he hopes the PIC will “as long as it exists, start to take over a more neutral position and that it will not have its favourites.”