A BiH-Croatia cross-border conference was held on Friday in Osijek on how to enhance the regional cooperation of Croats from Bosnia and Herzegovina with Croatia.
This is a project aimed at improving regional cooperation and exchange of experiences in the implementation of cross-border projects, which the Development Agency in Zepce, central Bosnia, is implementing in partnership with the County Development Agency of Osijek-Baranja County and 11 local self-governments in BiH areas predominantly populated by Croats.
The director of the Zepce Development Agency, Branka Janko, underscored that the agency has been operating since 2010, and so far they have implemented three cross-border projects, which are mainly related to the competitiveness of the economy and the development of rural areas.
Every new acquaintance with regional agencies in Croatia is useful to us, and our goal, considering that it is mostly about rural areas, is to raise them to a higher level of development using EU funds, which will be opened for BiH, said Janko, adding that they are interested in economy, tourism and renewable energy sources.
Zepce Municipality realised long ago that municipal budgets were not sufficient for faster development, said Mayor Mato Zovko and added that tit was a success when, as a small municipality, they managed to implement the third cross-border cooperation project – Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. These projects range from €600,000 to 1 million and 75% is financed by the EU.
We have strengthened the Development Agency so much and can hardly wait for BiH to receive EU candidate status. With our example, we have shown other municipalities what it's like to be ready for the future, said Zovko.
Osijek-Baranja Deputy County Prefect Josip Miletic, spoke about the exceptional importance of cross-border cooperation with Bosnia and Herzegovina, stating that the county had previously recognised the needs of Croats outside of Croatia directly with the means of the county.
With our example and logistics, we will help them to submit quality projects and receive these funds, and we will continue to provide support to Croats regardless of cross-border cooperation, said Miletic.
The director of the Osijek-Baranja County Development Agency, Denis Ćosic, announced that experts from Croatian agencies will go to BiH to train their employees, who will work on project proposals and their implementation.
Our goal is to create not only a knowledge base, but also to present project proposals that could be submitted through other tenders, through the Ministry of Regional Development and the Central State Office for Croats Abroad, he said.