Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić landed this morning at the Sarajevo International Airport to hand over 10,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine intended for the vaccination of priority groups in the Federation of BiH. Serbia had previously donated 5,000 doses of the vaccine to the Republika Srpska, in addition to the more than 3,500 doctors from the RS who got vaccinated in Serbia.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is terribly late in the procurement of vaccines and actual mass vaccination is not even seen on the horizon. The first COVAX vaccines are expected to arrive in the country in due time, but the process has been blocked for several administrative reasons. The RS procured 20,000 vaccines from China and additional quantities were ordered. However, BiH was able to procure the Russian Sputnik V vaccine on its own but, according to BiH Ambassador to Moscow Željko Samardžija, no one from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reacted to his information. Bisera Turković is head of the Ministry, who however opposed the donation of vaccines from Serbia!
Her position is that the vaccines donated by Vučić at the airport were produced in India under the AstraZeneca license and are not registered in the EU. What is more, she claims they do not have a permit for use in BiH and the competent institutions must first approve it and then start vaccination.
During the vaccine delivery ceremony at the airport, the Serbian member and Chairman of the Presidency of BiH Milorad Dodik described this statement by Minister Turković as “stupid and unnecessary.”
“When the Presidency of BiH, which is the only one in charge of foreign policy, talks here with the President of Serbia, a minister shows up and gives a stupid statement, which is not something new. She is very well known for the way she reacts to the issue of relations of BiH,” said Dodik.
Šefik Džaferović, Bosniak member of the BiH Presidency and party colleague of Minister Turković, had a completely different position on the donation.
“Today’s meeting and the arrival of Vučić is not just a handing over of a donation; it is something more than that for me, and I explained why. For once, we have to start with the normalization of overall relationships. People are fleeing BiH and Serbia for better-regulated systems to the West. It is time we commence our dialogue based on these principles. Enough with tension, enough of fruitless discussions. BiH is a complete state and we will build it in the interest of all its people, nations and citizens. BiH consists of two entities and the Brčko District which are multi-ethnic, and that is how we will build them,” Džaferović said.
At the ceremony, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said that he would be happy if 5 or 20 lives were saved with the 10,000 AstraZeneca vaccines Serbia donated to BiH. He explained that the vaccines donated by Serbia today are intended for the Federation of BiH and that Serbia is ready to deliver any of the four types of vaccines it has at its disposal.
Vučić wished good health to the people of BiH and expressed his belief that doctors who receive vaccines will feel more liberated and their lives will be more protected.
“At the meeting I just held with the members of the Presidency of BiH, I asked them to think about the idea of holding a big Summit of Cooperation and Trust between Serbia and BiH in Belgrade at all levels of government and the economy,” Vučić said.
He added that the goal of that summit should be an agreement on the greater opening of borders in the future, in order to increase trade and elevate the living standards of citizens.
“We can surge from 1.9 billion euros worth of trade in 2019 to three billion euros if we work smart,” Vučić believes.
He pointed out that the practice of firing shots against each other in front of foreign officials employed by politicians of both countries should be abandoned, “because we need each other the most”.
“Even today, when we all expected help from people who are much more powerful than Serbia and BiH, we rely on each other because we in Serbia cannot be happy if people in Sarajevo, Banja Luka, Tuzla or Bijeljina are not happy,” he said. /ibna