Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias pays official visit to BiH

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias pays official visit to BiH

Bilateral relations between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Greece are excellent, without open issues, but also with significant space for improvement, especially in the field of economy and foreign trade, BiH Foreign Affairs Minister Bisera Turković said today in Sarajevo, following her meeting with her Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias.

The good relations between the two countries, she added, are confirmed by the signed bilateral agreements in the field of economy, investment protection, defence, traffic, culture, education and science.

“These agreements represent the foundation that corresponds to our future efforts to improve cooperation, and I believe that cooperation will continue, especially in the field of energy,” said Turković.

She recalled the business forums held between BiH and Greece in Sarajevo and Athens in the past years, and expressed her willingness and hope for them to continue to be held in the post-pandemic era. Turković said it is in BiH’s interest to improve its foreign trade with Greece in the future, which currently does not meet expectations. In the first nine months of 2020, imports from Greece were at BAM 85 million, while exports from BiH at BAM 9.8 million. She stated that an additional problem was the COVID-19 pandemic, due to which total foreign trade in this period had shrank by as much as 56.7 percent.

“We deeply appreciate Greece’s position that the European perspective of the Western Balkans should be a priority not only for those countries, but also for the EU. In this context, regional cooperation, which has recently been strengthened through the signing of a declaration on the common regional market under the Berlin Process, is extremely important for us,” said Turković.

According to the BiH Minister, in today’s discussion they paid special attention to the crisis that is increasingly burdening BiH, briefing her colleague in detail on the latest developments around the migrant situation.

“We are pleased with the latest messages and moves by senior EU officials who increasingly understand the seriousness of the situation and share our views on resolving the crisis. Our position is that the EU’s involvement must be strengthened in resolving this issue, and that it is not fair that only two cantons in the Federation of BiH bear the burden of the entire migrant crisis. Therefore, I reiterate my position that the burden of the crisis must be distributed to the whole country, and that our border must be strengthened as soon as possible in such manner that migrants will not be able to enter,” said Turković.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said that, during the talks, the need to strengthen bilateral relations in various areas was emphasized. In addition to political dialogue, he said, they discussed boosting economic cooperation in other areas, especially in culture and education.

Dendias underlined the support provided to three hospitals in BiH; the General Hospital, “Prim. dr. Abdulah Nakaš” Sarajevo and the University Clinical Centre of Republika Srpska in Banja Luka each, in the amount of 50 thousand euros each, while 30 thousand euros were allocated to the Clinical Hospital in Mostar.

“Greece constantly supports and is committed to all countries of the Western Balkans joining the EU family. Greece did that some 40 years ago, and we hope that the entire Western Balkans will follow suit. We hope we will be able to support BiH and the Western Balkan region not only on a state level, but also the EU as a whole,” Dendias said.

Finally, according to the Greek Minister, they discussed regional development and the need for good neighbourly relations based on the principle of law.

“Greece and BiH share the same approach to strengthening our relations,” concluded Minister Dendias, who invited Minister Turković on a return visit.

Dendias also met with members of the BiH Presidency. /ibna