PM meets with Bosnian leaders, hails fresh start
Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said after his meeting with Bosnian Presidency members that "a new leaf in the future together" had been turned over.Source: Beta, Tanjug
He told a news conference that the meeting was "open and sincere," and that such discussions "are the best."
According to Vucic, they spoke about concrete projects and economic issues, while it was also agreed to hold a joint session of the two governments in September.
"As Serbia, we want best possible relations with Bosnia-Herzegovina," said Vucic.
He added that he has "forgotten" the attack against him in Potocari on July 11, during the commemoration of the victims of Srebrenica, and was looking to the future "in a friendly tone":
"What happened was unpleasant and difficult, but it is nothing compared to what happened to Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks who have lost their loved ones. If these people are willing to look to the future, it would be funny and dumb for me not to."
Vucic said that he harbors "no animosity towards Bosniak presidency member Bakir Izetbegovic."
"I do not consider him either a bad man or an enemy. The hand Serbia is outstretched and always will be," said Vucic.
He added that Serbia finds the stability and security in Bosnia-Herzegovina extremely important, as well as in other neighboring countries, and will do everything for its part to contribute to this.
Asked by reporters if he feared for stability of the incident in Srebrenica, Vucic said that "nothing against Bosnia-Herzegovina could ever be heard from Serbia."
"We will do our best to, if we can, help with our policy, without meddling in internal affairs of Bosnia and the RS. But if we can contribute to stabilization, we will always do that," Vucic said.
Responding to questions, the prime minister said that the situation in the region was very fragile and that much energy was needed to preserve stability, but also stressed there was "no better answer" that creating more trust between Serbs, Bosniaks, and Croats.
"There's much we must do. What we spoke about are important things. We spoke about billions and hundreds of millions of euros, about jobs, about essential, true and sincere, gradual creation of greater trust between Serbs, Bosniaks, and Croats," Vucic said, and asked, "what else is there - should Serbia attack Bosnia, or should Bosnia attack Serbia and the Serb Republic (RS)?"
"What's the point it that? What good will it bring? Once both sides realize there is no other policy except having the closest and best possible relations, then we will be on the right path. If you put things brutally rationally, there's no better question than that and no better answer than the one we are giving here today," he concluded.
Speaking about the crime in Srebrenica Bakir Izetbegovic said that "regardless of whether a crime was committed in Srebrenica more than 8,000 times, or eight times elsewhere, each perpetrator will be put on trial."
He then said that "Sarajevo suffered horrors in the war, and one in three of its residents was shot and wounded, and one in ten died, but still found the strength to stop the crime against Serbs."
"What was stopped in Sarajevo, what was done by some rebel commanders against Serbs, is proof that we were not a party that systematically encouraged crimes", emphasized Izetbegovic.
He also said that he insisted that the meeting with Serbian Prime Minister be held in Belgrade, and not in the resort of Karadjordjevo, and that they should "take a walk through Knez Mihailova street."
Croat member of the Bosnian Presidency and its current chair Dragan Covic said that the past between Serbia and Bosnia should be left to historians, and that authorities need to look forward and to raise cooperation to the highest possible level.
Covic pointed out that the visit to Belgrade by members of the Presidency is “an exceptionally good move” and thanked Vucic for inviting the top state officials of Bosnia for a meeting in Belgrade, after being attacked during the Srebrenica commemoration.
“Ten days after Srebrenica, we are here today talking about completely different topics,” Covic said at a joint press conference after the meeting.
He stressed that the focus should not be on those who want bad relations, but on the “vast majority who want a different future” for the two countries.
Covic said that he expects the Western Balkans' conference, scheduled for August 27 in Vienna, to present an opportunity for the two countries to strengthen their cooperation, and underlined that Bosnia will strongly support the joint projects initiated by Prime Minister Vucic.
A joint session of the Serbian government and the Bosnian Council of Ministers will be held in September, said Covic, adding that the president of Serbia will be invited to visit Sarajevo in October.
“That is the path, there is no other path,” stressed Covic.
Dodik and stability
Serb member of the Bosnian Presidency Mladen Ivanic addressed the same news conference to say it was in the interest of Bosnian Serbs to be on the path toward the EU under stable conditions, together with the other two nations in the country.
Ivanic - who leads an opposition party in the Serb Republic (RS) - was asked about the recent accusations leveled against him by RS President Milorad Dodik. Speaking in Belgrade, Dodik said Ivanic was conducting a treasonous policy that was not in line with the Serb entity. Ivanic said on Wednesday he "did not see the Serbian capital as the place where Serbs from the RS should have their political fights."
He stressed that his policy as a member of the Bosnian Presidency was to represent interests of the Serb people, and that this policy "does not include the need to engage in conflicts every day."
"It is in the interest of Serbs to be on the path toward the EU under stable conditions, together with the other two nations. We have more or less defined the essential things in Bosnia-Herzegovina. A stable Bosnia-Herzegovina, of which the RS is a part, is in the interest of the Serb nation and I will dedicate my mandate to that," Ivanic stressed.
He repeated he would "not use Belgrade for his internal-political conflict with Dodik" and added that "what the RS president is saying speaks only about him."
Vucic commented to say that "whenever somebody speaks either good or bad, they speak about themselves and for themselves."
"I respect very much Milorad Dodik, Mladen Ivanic,and Dragan Covic. You won't hear me say anything bad about Dodik today, just as I said nothing bad about Ivanic then," he explained, and added that as the leader of the convincingly strongest party in Serbia "we never for one moment interfered in elections in the RS."
"Serbia will always respect the will of the people both in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in other countries. That is Serbia's serious and responsible policy, one we will continue in the future," said Vucic.
Aleksandar Vucic stated on Wednesday that there is room for expansion of the economic cooperation between Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina in numerous fields, particularly infrastructure, energy, tourism and defense industry.
In the field of defense industry, the current cooperation could be stepped up to a considerably higher level, Vucic said at a joint press conference with the members of the tripartite Bosnia-Herzegovina Presidency.
He said that in this fields, the two countries could appear together in the third markets, adding that an agreement has been reached in Belgrade to have working groups in Sarajevo and Belgrade that will work on this in the forthcoming days.
As for cooperation in the field of energy, Vucic said that the meeting also tabled the electricity interconnection between Bajina Basta (Serbia), Visegrad (Bosnia) and Pljevlja (Montenegro).
The prime minister said that Serbia and Bosnia can cooperate in the field of tourism, promote interesting destinations and create a similar visa that is visa-free regimes to attract tourists from various parts of the world.
Competent ministries and expert working groups will in future be tasked with fostering cooperation in this field, the Serbian prime minister said.
After the news conference, Aleksandar Vucic presented his guests with gift baskets which contained "domestic products" - coffee, brandy, jars with jam and ajvar relish, and wine.
It has been noted that one of the baskets did not contain alcohol - instead, it had Rtanj tea.
Members of the Bosnian Presidency are planned to take a walk together with Vucic down Belgrade's Knez Mihailova street and visit the Belgrade Fortress where they will be welcomed "with refreshments and folklore."