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AA 09/03/21: Bosnia: Turkey is vital for stability in West Balkans

Three-man Bosnian Presidency to discuss infrastructure, economy with Turkey in coming visit.


Turkey is an important stability factor in the Western Balkans, Bosnian leader Sefik Dzaferovic said Monday.

Dzaferovic, the Bosniak member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, was commenting ahead an official visit by members of the Presidency to Turkey, which will take place on March 16.

"Turkey is an important country in the world but also an important stability factor in the Western Balkans. Turkey has good relations with all Western Balkan countries, and this is very important for Bosnia and Herzegovina," he said.

Dzaferovic speaks during an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency ahead of his visit to Turkey

Dzaferovic said they will address many topics during the visit, adding there are two main issues to highlight.

"One of them is cooperation in the field of infrastructure. In this context, the framework agreement between the two countries on the Sarajevo-Belgrade Highway Project is likely to be signed. The second issue is the effective use and development of the Free Trade Agreement, which was revised in Ankara in 2019.”

Trade volume targeted above $1 billion

Dzaferovic said Turkey's support for the Sarajevo-Belgrade motorway plays an important role for Bosnia and Herzegovina to have a better connection with the countries of Southeast Europe.

"When this highway is built, the north and east and southeast directions of Bosnia and Herzegovina will have shorter access to Western European countries and its neighbors. This is important for the region and Europe as well as for Bosnia and Herzegovina," he said.

He stressed that the revised new Free Trade Agreement between Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina will contribute significantly to the development of trade.

"It's a very comprehensive deal. The purpose of this agreement is to increase our trade volume above $1 billion per year. This is not unattainable because our current trade volume is at the level of $750 million. This figure can go over $1 billion," said Dzaferovic.

Combating migrant crisis and pandemic

Dzaferovic also said that Bosnia and Herzegovina was forced to deal with the migrant crisis alone.

Stating that immigrants use Bosnia and Herzegovina as a transit country and do not want to stay there, he pointed out that immigrants who cannot enter Croatia, a member of the European Union, are stuck in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"There are two solutions. One is for these people to go to the EU, the other is to send these people back to their countries of origin, saying that the EU does not want immigrants anymore," he added.

Bosnia and Herzegovina's three-man Presidency Council will meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during their official visit to the Turkish capital Ankara on March 16.

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