Bosnia's Presidency Chairman Milorad Dodik and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed the revised Free Trade Agreement between the two countries and a Memorandum of understanding on the construction of Sarajevo-Belgrade highway, in Ankara on Friday.
We (the Presidency members) came here with high expectations regarding the Free Trade Agreement, and it was my great pleasure that I signed it with President Erdogan. So, our relations are stronger, and we also signed the first formal agreement on the construction of the Sarajevo-Belgrade highway,” Dodik said.
He pointed out that Turkey showed clear support for the faster formation of the government in Bosnia and that he familiarised Erdogan with the position of Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity of Republika Srpska (RS) regarding Bosnia’s NATO accession and that institutional cooperation with this alliance already exists.
Unlike Bosnian Croats and Bosniaks living in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) entity, Bosnian Serbs and the politicians from the RS parliament are against Bosnia’s NATO membership. The RS parliament has even gone so far as to pass a Declaration om Military Neutrality of the RS, saying they are against joining any military alliance and that this entity will follow Serbia’s lead on this matter. This has been the stumbling block in the talks on the formation of the government ever since the prime minister-designate, coming from the RS and Milorad Dodik’s party – the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, said he would not focus on Bosnia’s NATO path, but on its EU accession and economic reforms.
For this reason, the Bosniak and Croat members of the tripartite Presidency never approved his election in office.
Dodik said the Presidency was happy about the talks on Bosnia’s inclusion in the project ‘Turkish Stream’ which would help alleviate Bosnia’s air-pollution during winter months.
He concluded saying he was grateful to Erdogan for his support for peace and stability in Bosnia and the region.
“I want to congratulate our brothers and friends on the maturity they showed during the election, and I wish them a fast formation of the government. I hope they will make up for the lost time and start implementing the reforms which would speed up their paths to EU and NATO integrations,” Turkish President Erdogan said.
He noted that Bosnia is a mosaic in the Balkans which is why “peace and stability in Bosnia are of great importance for the region and Europe.” He stressed that good relations with Bosnia are a priority for his country.
“We’ve had constructive talks with Bosnia’s Presidency members, and we discussed ways of improving the already fantastic relations. We discussed strengthening trade and economic relations to improve the internal political unity in Bosnia and to contribute to its integrity,” Erdogan said at the press conference, adding they concluded that the trade volume had already increased.
According to him, the Sarajevo-Belgrade highway will contribute to the development of Bosnia and the entire region.
Noting that Bosnia has a special place in their hearts, Erdogan concluded that they are making additional efforts to solve all the challenges Bosnia is facing as if they were their own.
The meeting was attended by the Serb and Bosniak Presidency members, Milorad Dodik and Sefik Dzaferovic, while the Croat Presidency member was unable to attend due to health reasons.