Serbian PM Brnabic visits Banja Luka

Serbian PM Brnabic visits Banja Luka
Serbian PM, Ana Brnabić, visited Banja Luka on Thursday to hold several meetings with the highest Republika Srpska and City officials and discuss some of the most important issues with them regarding the energy sector and the opening of the bridge and the border crossing that will connect the cities of Bratunac (BiH) and Ljubovija (Serbia).

Brnabic's host in Banja Luka, Republika Srpska PM Željka Cvijanović, said after the meeting that her Serbian counterpart informed the meeting's participants that intensive final talks between BiH and Serbia on the border crossing and its categorisation will take a place in April.

"We have talked about this today because we have already made quite some building interventions there (as regards to the) construction of a bridge and supportive infrastructure. Also, taking into consideration what people of Serbia and RS need, we insist on the opening of the bridge, something that Serbia has definitely made its priority," added Cvijanović.

She said that today began talks on joint projects, in areas where the co-operation between Serbia and Republika Srpska has not yet been visible, such as the energy field.

"One of the topics that comes to the agenda is joint cooperation and activities in the energy sector, where we have a huge opportunity and potential with regard to the development programme of Podrinje. We slowly fill this area with various tourism facilities, infrastructure and economic activities that increasingly take on a cross-border character," Cvijanović stressed.

The meeting was also attended by RS president, Milorad Dodik, and several ministers from the RS and Serbia's governments.

Serbian PM, Ana Brnabić, emphasised that Serbia and RS are linked by special ties, and that her is feeling close to RS.

"I am extremely pleased that, thanks to fiscal reforms and fiscal discipline, as well as the macroeconomic stability achieved by the previous Government, led by today's President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić, today we have a strong and stable budget and therefore we are able to help Republika Srpska, its municipalities and citizens with fantastic projects," Brnabić said.

She added that she was glad to see stability in RS, as well as the rapid adoption and implementation of projects.

"I hope this will be the future for us, to implement as many joint projects, but also as many big projects, as possible. One of the current priorities is to open the border crossing and the Ljubovija-Bratunac bridge," Brnabić said.

This bridge and border crossing were also one of the topics at the trilateral BiH-Serbia-Croatia meeting, recently held in Mostar. The bridge is finished and waiting the settlement of administrative barriers which prevent its opening. The problem was addressed to at the BiH Council of Ministers, which has to ratify the agreement between the RS Government and BiH Indirect Taxation Authority about the use of the land where the border crossing will be constructed. The agreement said that RS gives the land to BiH ITA on unlimited usage. Previously, the problem was that the agreement was limiting the usage of the land to BiH ITA to 50 years, something that this institution refused. A new agreement re-written, but the bridge has not yet been given to the public. Unofficially, BiH's Council of Ministers demands the agreement with Serbia about the new border crossing in order to safeguard further activities. A long time ago, the Serbian side had said it was expecting Sarajevo's call for a solution.

Perhaps, these administrative barriers will be solved in April. Until then, citizens will have to drive for at least 20 kilometres through alternative routes in order to get from Bratunac to Ljubovija, despite the talks and promises after the Banja Luka meeting..../ IBNA

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