Leaders of Turkey, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina on Tuesday vowed to intensify cooperation and to help each other in efforts to join the European Union, which is a common goal of all three countries.
At a trilateral meeting in a Serbian hunting resort Karadjordjevo, north of Belgrade, Serbian president Boris Tadic hosted his Turkish colleague Abdulah Gul and three members of Bosnia’s rotating state presidency Nebojsa Radmanovic, Bakir Izetbegovic and Zeljko Komsic.
The countries signed a declaration in Istanbul last year to intensify cooperation, without interfering in each other’s affairs. The move was criticized by Serbian opposition for allegedly opening the door to Turkey, which had occupied the Balkans for over five centuries, to play a key role in the region again.
Some Bosnian leaders opposed the site of the meeting. Karadjordjevo is where former Croatian and Serbian presidents Franjo Tudjman and Slobodan Milosevic discussed the partition of Bosnia during 1991-1995 war that followed disintegration of the former Yugoslavia.
But the meeting was held in a constructive and friendly atmosphere, Tadic said. He pointed out that the region had been an area of conflicts in the past, which has to be replaced by mutual trust and cooperation.
“We must jointly fight the prejudices of the past, otherwise we will be confronted by numerous problems in the future,” Tadic said. He vowed to oppose referendum on independence threatened by Bosnian Serbs, which was pleasing to ears of Muslim and Croat members of Bosnia’s presidency Izetbegovic and Komsic.
“We want the entire region to be integrated into the EU as soon as possible and that is the most important political goal which will bring benefits to all citizens, Tadic said.
“Our goal is to transform this area, once the scene of conflicts, into a region of togetherness which should lead us in the future,” Gull said. Serb member of Bosnian presidency, Nebojsa Radmanovic, said “all three countries were EU aspirants and determined to help each other on that road”.
“It seems that we have managed to defeat evil ghosts and vampires of the past and there is hope that we can expect new relations in the region,” Komsic said.
Izetbegovic said Tadic’s position on Bosnia’s integrity has shown that “it was worth coming to Karadjordjevo”, once favored hunting grounds of former Yugoslav president Josip Broz Tito.
“Disintegrations in the Balkans are over, now is time for integrations,” Izetbegovic concluded.
It was agreed that the next meeting should be held in Bosnian capital Sarajevo next year.