UPDATES WITH MORE DETAILS FROM TURKISH DEFENSE MINISTER'S VISIT AND REMARKS BY BOSNIAN DEFENSE MINISTER
By Talha Ozturk
BELGRADE, Serbia (AA) – The recent upsurge in separatist talk in the multi-ethnic nation of Bosnia and Herzegovina serves no party, said Turkey’s national defense minister on Monday.
"We believe the separatist rhetoric in Bosnia and Herzegovina benefits no one,” Hulusi Akar told a joint press conference with his Bosnian counterpart Sifet Podzic in the capital Sarajevo, on an official visit.
“We see the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a whole,” he added, referring to its Bosniak, Croat, and Serb peoples making up one nation.
“We’re following the situation closely. We invite the relevant parties to think reasonably, sensibly, and act prudently. Existing and potential problems can also be resolved through negotiations and peaceful means.”
Stressing that Turkey is standing by to help, he said: “I want you to know that we’re ready to do our part on every issue, including mediation, when requested.”
Podzic, for his part, said 89 members of the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina are currently getting training in Turkey and that relations with Turkey are getting stronger and better each year.
"In addition to being a NATO member, the Republic of Turkey is a friendly country for Bosnia and Herzegovina," said Podzic.
Beginning his visit, Akar was welcomed with a military ceremony by Podzic at a parade guard.
Akar later met with Lt. Gen. Senad Masovic, the Bosnia and Herzegovina chief of General Staff.
- Political dispute in Bosnia-Herzegovina
Bosnia-Herzegovina has seen a separatist push since Milorad Dodik, the Serb member of the country’s tripartite presidency, blasted legal changes banning the denial of genocide and the glorification of war criminals.
Dodik pushed for the Republika Srpska parliament to take separatist steps in the army, judiciary, and tax systems if the changes are not reversed.
The steps have been internationally criticized for violating the 1995 Dayton Accords and undermining the country's Constitution.