Bosnia hosts annual Balkan presidents' meeting

Bosnia hosts annual Balkan presidents' meeting

Serbia says it has no intention of joining any military alliance, unlike its neighbors, which hope to join NATO

BELGRADE, Serbia (AA) – At a two-day weekend meeting of presidents from southeastern European Balkan countries hosted by Bosnia’s capital Sarajevo, the emphasis was on building stable ties between the participating countries.

Speaking at the end of the annual Brdo-Brijuni Leaders Process conference on Sunday, host country Bosnian President Izetbegovic said, "We agreed that without stability there is no progress,” adding "We cannot change the past but we can change the future."

According to him, the presidents of countries in the region agreed that bilateral relations "are not built only from summit to summit."

Brdo-Brioni was launched in Slovenia and Croatia in 2013 for convening heads of state from southeastern European countries within the European Union regional cooperation and enlargement policies.

The conference was attended by Slovenian President Borut Pahor, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic, Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic, Kosovar President Hashim Thaci, Macedonia President Gjorge Ivanoc, and Albanian President Albania Bujar Nishani, the host country Bosnia's three-man Presidency, and the guest of honor, Italian President Sergio Mattarella.

Evaluating the gathering, Bosnia’s Izetbegovic said, "We are committed to build honest dialogue in order to resolve our differences, we support the EU integration process, we will take concrete actions to resolve outstanding issues, we look for solutions to the issues that affect us, such as terrorism and the refugee crisis, we will work on improving educational opportunities in order to prevent brain drain, [support] infrastructure projects and others, we will continue with the introduction of EU standards."

Izetbegovic added that he hopes to see Serbia’s Nikolic pay an official visit to Bosnia this fall.

Last year Nikolic cancelled a visit to Bosnia due to Serbia’s arrest of a former Bosnian Muslim fighter, Naser Oric, for war crimes.

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic stressed Sunday, "Croatia does not block nor wants to block access to Serbia's EU integration"

She also expressed support for Montenegro's NATO integration.

"The good news is that Montenegro signed an agreement on accession to NATO. We also want to see Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and all other countries make progress towards joining the EU. In the spirit of mutual cooperation and neighborly relations, we want to continue to support the political process of enlargement. We and others want cooperation in the area of security, migration, and other issues," said Grabar-Kitarovic.

But Serbia’s Nikolic said that his country no intention of joining any military alliance.

"The differences are about membership in NATO, and it is a matter for each country. Serbia has no intention of approaching any military alliance," said Nikolic.

After the conference, Kosovo's newly elected President Thaci visited a memorial to fallen children of Sarajevo.

"We remember those people who have fallen and also condemn the genocide that was committed by Serbia in Srebrenica and Kosovo," said Thaci.

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