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President Pahor and members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its European prospects

Ljubljana, 4. 12. 2019 | press release

At the invitation of President Borut Pahor, the members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Željko Komšić, the chairman, Šefik Džaferović and Milorad Dodik, are making an official visit to Slovenia today and tomorrow. The visit is a continuation of the regular meetings between the two countries at the highest political level, and is further evidence of their traditionally good, friendly relations.

After an official reception with military honours, the three members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina together laid a wreath on the monument to all victims of wars and war-related violence in Congress Square in Ljubljana. President Pahor and the members of the presidency then unveiled a bench of friendship between Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina on Congress Square.

President Pahor and members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its European prospects
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

They then proceeded to a private meeting, which was followed by plenary discussions between the delegations of Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The traditionally good, friendly relations between the two countries were reiterated in the discussions. President Pahor noted that Slovenia appreciates that the visit was made by all three members of the presidency, which is not the usual practice. “We also appreciate that in their previous and current terms the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina chose Slovenia as one of their first official visits,” he said. He added that he himself takes any opportunity to meet them, and reminded them that they had met earlier this year, when he visited Sarajevo in April and took part in the Sarajevo Business Forum at their invitation.

Discussions were also held on regional and multilateral cooperation, with a focus on the Brdo-Brijuni process. President Pahor reiterated that Slovenia remains committed to a European future for Bosnia and Herzegovina, and gave assurances that it would work towards this in the future. He announced that he would discuss the issue with the new leadership of the EU institutions, and would warn them of the importance of safeguarding a European future for the entire western Balkans region, and Bosnia and Herzegovina in particular. President Pahor said that he welcomes initiatives for closer cooperation in the region, and restated his view that the initiative to strengthen regional cooperation between Serbia, North Macedonia and Albania is not an alternative to the enlargement process, but instead complements it, which the members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina agreed with.

President Pahor and members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its European prospects
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

In their talks President Pahor and the members of the presidency also touched on the problem of migration on the western Balkan route, and security issues in the region. They expressed concern for the rapid rise in illegal border crossing attempts on the western Balkan route, while the situation elsewhere in Bosnia and Herzegovina is also worrying, as currently there are more than 10,000 recorded migrants there, with between 100 and 150 arriving every day. They emphasised that effectively combatting illegal migration needs tighter controls of the EU’s external frontier. They noted that migrants are coming to Bosnia and Herzegovina via EU Member States. President Pahor reiterated that the new European Commission will have to address migration policy as one of its priorities. This should involve tightening controls of the EU’s external frontier, thereby preventing illegal migration.

The official talks also highlighted intensive economic cooperation. Merchandise trade is growing, and reached EUR 1.34 million last year, while firms under majority Slovenian ownership provide more than 15,000 jobs in Bosnia and Herzegovina. As far as cooperation on development is concerned, the leaders agreed that it is important for Slovenia to continue its support for Bosnia and Herzegovina, and to provide bilateral development assistance. President Pahor highlighted that Bosnia and Herzegovina is the largest individual recipient of development assistance from Slovenia. He pointed out that most of the assistance consists of scholarships and school fee waivers, and added that we are seeing growing interest on the part of students and pupils from Bosnia and Herzegovina in studying in Slovenia: there are almost a thousand of them in Slovenia this academic year. The members of the presidency noted that many countries in the region, Bosnia and Herzegovina among them, face serious demographic issues, in particular high levels of youth emigration. They agreed that much work needs to be done to overcome these trends.

Today’s programme for the official visit saw the members of the presidency continue their discussions with the president of the National Assembly and the foreign minister, and a visit to the headquarters of the ITF Enhancing Human Security. The evening concluded with a gala dinner at the Presidential Palace.

As part of their official visit, the members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina will meet the prime minister tomorrow, and together with their host, President Pahor, will also take part in discussions in a New University academic forum entitled A look at constitutional law issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

President Pahor and members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its European prospects
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA