SARAJEVO/VIENNA, September 25 (FENA) – Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina Bisera Turković met today in Vienna with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Austria Alexander Schallenberg to discuss the extension of the agreement on free education for BiH students in Austria, dual citizenship, meeting the 14 priorities, the migrant crisis and other important topics.
Turković and Schallenberg exchanged information on the situation in both countries caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic and commented on the number of infected people, testing mechanisms, the opening of borders and the economic situation.
Minister Turković said that BiH has joined the joint statements and principles of the European Union foreign policy, but that there were certain differences of opinion in the cases of Belarus and the fight against cybercrime. She pointed out that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs strictly follows the adopted foreign policy strategy, and that it will adhere to this strategy as long as it is in force.
Turković also spoke about the visit to the IAEA and the problem of the proposed nuclear waste disposal site at Trgovska Gora and the fulfillment of the 14 priorities from the European Commission’s Opinion, as some of them have already been met.
She stressed that she hopes the seven priorities will be met by the end of this year. She concluded that the processes are moving forward, that the pace must be maintained, and that BiH expects Austrian support because our country needs a close ally at the EU level.
Considering that 170,000 citizens of BiH origin live in Austria, and that half of them have already acquired Austrian citizenship, Minister Turković asked Minister Schallenberg to make inquiries into whether there are possibilities for these persons to preserve the right to dual citizenship.
Minister Schallenberg said that he would investigate the case, but added that it would be difficult to achieve it without comprehensive reform, because citizenship in Austria is granted at the level of federal units, and there is a difference in approach to this problem.
The extension of the agreement on free education for BiH students in Austria was also one of the topics.
Minister Turković asked her colleague to check whether something could be done so that students from BiH would again have the opportunity to study for free in Austria, since the agreement between BiH and Austria has expired.
Minister Schallenberg promised that he would discuss this issue with his colleague and that he would be in coordination with the Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Vienna on this issue.
Minister Turković also pointed out the problem of the rising migrant crisis in BiH, adding that border control is weak in the eastern parts of the country. Regarding the engagement of Frontex, she explained, that currently there is no consensus in BiH on this matter.
Minister Schallenberg also commented the “mini Schengen” initiative. He said that any regional initiative, which would connect the countries of the Western Balkans, is considered as something positive in Austria.
He also pointed out that everyone must reconsider every step in this regard, to see if the new initiative means synergy or perhaps it could cause some divisions within the region because the countries are currently in various stages of EU integration,” said the Public Relations Office of the MFA of BiH.