REGION: Turkey, Croatia Agree to Join Forces for Bosnia and Herzegovina
14.12.2009 Bosnia and Herzegovina | Croatia | Politics | Turkey
FM Davutoğlu and Croatian Minister for Foreign Affairs and European Integration Jandrokovic addressed the media in Zagreb on Saturday. Turkey and Croatia have agreed to intensify contacts to draw up and implement common policies regarding Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is plagued by simmering tensions over governance and power-sharing issues.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu paid an official visit to Croatia on Saturday and had talks with the country’s president, prime minister and foreign minister focusing on the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina. If Bosnia and Herzegovina’s consent is also given, then Turkey, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina could hold trilateral discussions on the issue in a similar way to what Turkey, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina have been doing for a while, Davutoğlu said.
In time, these two trilateral processes may be united and a quadrilateral process for talks on the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina may then emerge, Davutoğlu also said.
In October, Davutoğlu paid consecutive visits to Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, reflecting Turkey’s intense interest in the region, an interest that is being further cemented by Ankara’s ongoing chairmanship-in-office of the South East European Cooperation Process (SEECP).
Also in October, a trilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Turkey was hosted in İstanbul by Davutoğlu. On the sidelines of a SEECP ministerial-level meeting, Davutoğlu brought together Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic and his Bosnian counterpart, Sven Alkalaj.
In Zagreb, Davutoğlu said the embassies of Turkey and Croatia in Sarajevo have been informed that the two countries would from now on coordinate their efforts regarding Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Speaking at a joint press conference following his talks with Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Jandrokovic, Davutoğlu stated that the Turkey and Croatia’s cooperation over Bosnia and Herzegovina had played an important role in the 1990s for maintaining stability and peace in the region, adding that today’s situation requires such cooperation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Not only do Turkey and Croatia have histories in common, their perspectives for the future are also common, Davutoğlu said, in an apparent reference to the two countries’ bids for becoming members of the European Union. Turkey considers Croatia as a neighbor despite having no borders with this country, he added.
During a conversation with a small group of journalists accompanying him during the visit, Davutoğlu underlined the importance Turkey attaches to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s membership in NATO, saying that such membership would secure this country’s borders. NATO entry will also be helpful in reaching reconciliation on constitutional reforms and the state’s structure among different segments of the society.
In early December, NATO said it was not yet ready for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s membership, while it took another step toward expanding in southeastern Europe by putting Montenegro on the path to membership.
The transatlantic military alliance, which waged two bombing campaigns in the Balkans as Yugoslavia disintegrated in the 1990s, said Bosnia is handicapped by political strife between its Serbian and Muslim-Croatian factions.
During the same NATO meeting, Turkey exerted intensified diplomatic efforts to persuade NATO to offer a Membership Action Plan (MAP) -- an essential stepping stone toward membership in the alliance -- to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Davutoğlu then introduced a draft that proposes giving a MAP to Bosnia and Herzegovina on the condition that the Balkan country continues its reforms.
“A mistake in the process should be avoided on the issue of Bosnia and Herzegovina, whose people have been subject to much trauma and need psychological support. Instead of the approach of ‘first the stick, then the carrot,’ the approach of ‘first the carrot, then the stick’ should be assumed,” Davutoğlu was quoted by the Anatolia news agency as telling his NATO counterparts during meetings seeking support for the draft. In an interview with the BBC, Davutoğlu underlined that Bosnians feel left out by the EU, which has recently extended visa-free travel to Serbia and Montenegro. “If they now feel isolated from the support of NATO, it will be a big problem,” Davutoğlu said.
Three Balkan states -- Slovenia, Croatia and Albania -- joined NATO after the wars of the 1990s. A fourth, the Republic of Macedonia, has been offered membership once it resolves a dispute with Greece over its name. No timetable was set for Montenegro to join or for Bosnia to be declared eligible.
As of Sunday, following his visit to the Croatian coastal resort of Dubrovnik, Davutoğlu departed for Sarajevo where he was scheduled to attend a ministers’ meeting of the Alliance of Civilizations’ Regional Strategy for Southeast Europe scheduled for Sunday and Monday.
While in Sarajevo, Davutoğlu is also expected to attend a new trilateral meeting with his counterparts from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia.
Source: Today's Zaman