The recent visit by Serbia Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic to Sarajevo underscores positive shifts in relations between the two countries.
By Bedrana Kaletovic for Southeast European Times in Sarajevo -- 28/05/14
Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic of Serbia (left) is welcomed to Sarajevo by Vjekoslav Bevanda, chairman of the BiH Council of Ministers, on May 13th. [AFP]
Serbia Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic's recent visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) showed a strong political approach to reconciliation and is a positive sign for the region, experts said.
"The fact that Vucic chose Sarajevo for his first visit as prime minister is evidence of his support for the reconciliation process, and is a good signal for the entire region," Predrag Simic, a professor at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade, told SETimes.
Relations between BiH and Serbia have improved, but many experts say BiH's Serbian entity, Republika Srpska, has left the country divided due to its desire to secede.
During the May 13th visit, Vucic met with officials in Sarajevo to discuss the importance of co-operation in trade exchange, tourism and goods, as well as other projects between the two countries.
"After we resolve some political disputes, the BiH company Prevent will purchase the foundry in Prijepolje and will hire an additional 500 employees. Serbia has invested 842 million euros in BiH since 2012," Vucic said, noting that the constant growth of trade between the two countries is evident.
Serbia and BiH are major trade partners. Trade exchange between the two countries grew by 20.9 percent in the in first quarter of 2014, compared to the same period in 2013. Exports from BiH grew by 28 percent, and exports from Serbia to BiH grew by 18.1 percent.
"We should look toward progress and closing the wounds from the past. The joint conclusion is to have fair and clear relations on all fields between BiH and Serbia," Vjekoslav Bevanda, chairman of the BiH Council of Ministers, told SETimes.
Experts said the political parties in BiH also welcome Vucic and his views toward the country.
"Political parties have mainly shared positive feedback about Vucic's victory at the elections, because they believe that he radically changed the hypocritical politics of [former Prime Minister] Boris Tadic toward Bosnia and Herzegovina. For that reason, his visit was seen as the important contribution to the stabilisation of the situation in the region," Enver Kazaz, a professor at the University of Sarajevo, told SETimes.
"I wish to build the trust and better relations with all citizens in BiH," Vucic said during his visit. "I strongly believe that BiH citizens wish the same. To be able to do that, we need to respect each other, and you can be sure that you have that from the Serbian side. Without any hidden agenda or hypocrisy, that is the best that Serbia can do and can expect from BiH."
"The entire tone of his visit, and the messages he shared, support the reconciliation process and future relations," Simic said.
Correspondent Bojana Milovanovic in Belgrade contributed to this report.
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