Leaders of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia have held their first trilateral meeting in six years to discuss borders, security, and other issues that have undermined relations since the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
The members of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency — Dragan Covic, Bakir Izetbegovic, and Mladen Ivanic — met with Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in the Bosnian city of Mostar on March 6.
One of major topics on the agenda of the talks was a new European Union strategy for the Western Balkans, which requires the six countries in the region that remain outside the bloc to end their disputes before they can join.
Following the talks, the leaders voiced a desire to overcome their countries’ outstanding problems.
“Our discussions are never sweet or simple, there are many problems we inherited,” Vucic said. “Today we have the peace and stability and the strengthening of our trade relations.”
One of the most pressing issues to resolve, Vucic added, was to remove a major obstacle to investors by harmonizing tax and customs fees with Bosnia.
“This is a matter of life and survival for us,” he said.
The meeting provided an opportunity to discuss “major problems, such as emigration of young people, reconciliation, the halt of inflammatory rhetoric, reforms and security cooperation,” said Bakir Izetbegovic, the Muslim Bosniak member of Bosnia’s three-member presidency.
The countries agreed to continue to try and solve border disputes through bilateral agreements.
Officials at the meeting said that EU-member Croatia agreed to help Bosnia and Serbia in their aspirations to join the bloc.