Sarajevo citizens will remember the first visit of United Kingdom Foreign Minister, Boris Johnson, as he was the first, and probably last, foreign highest rank politician who jogged through the center of the BiH capital.
Johnson came on an official visit in BiH just a few days after BREXIT officially begun, and on all meetings with BiH officials emphasized the UK support to BuH path in EU. Johnson had several meetings with officials on all levels in BiH and, on Thursday, met Bosniak member of BiH Presidency, Bakir Izetbegovic. As it was announced from Izetbegovic’s office, the BiH Presidency member expressed his gratitude to the United Kingdom for its support to BiH, especially in the process of Euro-Atlantic integration. He stressed his hope that the United Kingdom will continue to support the reform process in BiH and stressed that state, in the context of its reform path and achieving candidate status, committed to continue implementation of the measures from the Reform agenda.
Izetbegovic also emphasized the importance of the British-German initiative and added that, for the country, one of the most important conditions is integration of the entire Western Balkans, both for political and economic stability and security throughout Europe. Johnson pointed out that BiH will continue to be on the list of foreign policy priorities.
He stressed that the UK supports the commitment of BiH membership in the European Union and NATO. He expressed his readiness to support BiH in economic and political segment, especially in the implementation of the Reform Agenda and the strategic document “Defense Review”, which was adopted by the BiH Presidency. He also expressed the hope that the 2nd Trade and Investment Forum in September this year in London, will contribute to the further economic development and significant investments in BiH.
Very similar messages were sent from Wednesday afternoon’s meeting of Johnson with BiH Council of Ministers Chairman, Denis Zvizdic. Accent of discussion was also on the BiH path to Euro-Atlantic integrations and the current economic and political situation in BiH and the UK.
Zvizdić and Johnson also discussed the economic cooperation between two countries and agreed that there is great potential for further improvement, especially in the economic exchange.
Johnson said that the United Kingdom is fully committed to the prosperity and stability of the Western Balkans and emphasized that UK will not leave Europe and that will be fully committed to peace and stability of the region.
Johnson also had a meeting with Republic of Srpska PM, Zeljka Cvijanovic, and Federation BiH PM; Fadil NOvalic. Cvijanovic said after the meeting that she sent a clear message to Johnson that entities in BiH are the engine which enable the movement of BiH towards the European Union.
“Great Britain shows interest in our European path, but it alone is at the exit door. Minister Johnson ecen made a joke that they were making a place for us to more easily access the EU, Cvijanovic told reporters in East Sarajevo after meeting with the UK Foreign Minister.
She added that Johnson showed interest in real life in BiH and that the meeting was an opportunity to point out that results achieved at the entity level are blocked at the state level because there is no parliamentary majority and the state level fails to show the capacity, integrity and credibility. It, as she explained, means that the reforms being implemented at the entity level are being opposed at the BiH level, which complicates the process.
“Cooperation between the entities will continue. We understand the role of the UK. Although the UK is not a member of the EU, it is absolutely interested in everything that happens in the Western Balkans, is what Minister Johnson clearly and openly said”, Cvijanovic stated.
She added that, at the meeting, she expressed her hope that EU will in the future look BiH more through the prism of economy rather than the prism of politics. Just RS, as she said, exploits 30 percent of its hydropower potentials and the other 70 percent is ready for investments. RS PM said to Johnson that, along with this potentials, RS have opportunities for investments in mining, agriculture and other branches of the economy./IBNA