Bosnia Presidency members call for further cooperation at SEECP Summit

NEWS 09.07.2019 12:26
Source: AFP

Opening the second day of the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) Summit in Sarajevo, on Tuesday, Bosnia's tripartite Presidency members called on Summit participants to work on key issues like regional stability, security, the migrant crisis, youth migration from the region and unresolved border issues between Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia.

In his opening address at the “Better connectivity for better life” conference, Bosniak Presidency member, Sefik Dzaferovic said that the SEECP was “set up with the goal of strengthening regional cooperation and promoting security and stability. The processes of integration in the EU and NATO still have key importance in the future of the region and its security and progress, promoting relations, as well as the fight against terrorism, organised crime, cyber threats and joint regional transport policy,” Dzaferovic said.

“Our region is still facing numerous challenges, with the leading one being the migrant crisis which is escalating throughout the past two years. Facing the migrant crisis has shown the weaknesses of institutional capacities and regional cooperation,” he argued.

“Bosnia did not cause the intensified migrant processes and cannot bear the burden for solving this issue alone,” he stressed, adding that Bosnia expects support for its institutions above all from the EU.

He said that a significant part of the population in the region “is leaving for developed European countries which are facing a deficit and the need for a new workforce.”

“Challenges in the sphere of security, economic development and emigration of the youth represent joint issues which can be solved with joint efforts,” he said, adding that regional cooperation has slowed down.

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Inflammatory rhetoric and intensified armament are threatening the security and stability of the region. There's no doubt that the European perspective remains the fundamental initiator of reforms in the Western Balkans and breakthroughs like the Montenegrin accession to NATO have brought in new energy into the region when it comes to its Euro-Atlantic integration,” Dzaferovic noted.

The Croat Presidency member, Zeljko Komsic, said the SEECP was initiated with the aim of creating an atmosphere of trust and neighbourly relations in the region.

“We're sending a positive message that the region can be part of integration processes, especially those leading Bosnia into the EU and NATO,” Komsic said and recalled some of the goals which were worked on, like the development of security and neighbourly relations, intensification of regional trade relations, improvement of trade and other forms of cooperation.

“When we look at all these goals, we can conclude that cooperation between the states is very good,” he added.

The Croat Presidency member called on all the guests to jointly work on solutions to open issues for the benefit of all the citizens from the region and to respect the verdicts of the International War Crimes Tribunal for genocide which would contribute to building trust.

The Serb member and Presidency Chairman Milorad Dodik proposed that Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia make a joint statement which would establish commissions that would work on the issue of borders.

He called on the SEECP member states to use the opportunities which the Summit provides and “get some things going.”

“Let's use the opportunities and the EU support for the good of our countries and the region. The South-East European countries are either in the EU or aspiring to join the EU. It would not be right if we were to just talk politely today, and then go on our separate ways,” Dodik stressed.

We often talk of unresolved border issues between our Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia. I would like to suggest a joint statement in which we would determine a commission that would work on the issues like the Neum Bay and Bosnia's state property in Croatia.

Speaking about the migrant issue, Dodik said: “there's no need for explanations on how big the problem is, but how to solve it.”

“I have some doubts about the European Border Agency and Croatia's Border Police hermetically sealing the border between Bosnia and Croatia. I'm also against deploying Bosnia's Armed Forces along the Bosnian border with Serbia and Croatia. That is not a good message for the region,” Dodik said and added:

“I propose that European experts meet with representatives of competent ministries and propose some solutions to the issue.”