TIRANA, October 5 (FENA) – Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Šefik Džaferović met today in Tirana with the President of the Republic of Albania Ilir Meta with whom he discussed bilateral relations between the two countries, the so-called “mini Schengen” and economic cooperation, writes FENA’s reporter from Tirana.
The BiH Presidency made an earlier decision to open the Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Tirana, and that was one of the topics of the meeting, which should further facilitate bilateral cooperation between the two countries, which have no outstanding issues.
A number of agreements and memoranda have been signed, and several more are currently being drafted from various fields, which should also be signed soon.
The two countries’ relations have also shown to be really good during the floods that hit BiH in 2014 when Albania assisted BiH, and the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina decided to help Albania when the country was hit by a strong earthquake last year.
Bilateral visits are ongoing as top BiH officials have visited Albania, and vice versa, including meetings at the parliamentary level.
Albania being in an accession phase of negotiations with the European Union supports BiH on its European path and expresses hope that this path will intensify next year, especially after the last meeting of the BiH Presidency members with EU officials.
Džaferović mentioned that it is necessary to strengthen relations between the countries that are linked by Euro-Atlantic integration, and he believes that cooperation between the two countries, which are part of the same region of the Western Balkans, is very much needed.
“Relations in the region are not burdened with open issues, but it can always be better. We did not use all the possibilities, especially when it comes to the economic aspect. Maybe the reason for that is the fact that BiH does not have an embassy in Tirana, nor does Albania in Sarajevo,” said Džaferović.
He underlined that the BiH Presidency approved the agreement in cooperation in the economic field, and expressed hope that it would help bring economic cooperation to a higher level.
In the first three months of this year, the volume of trade was at the level of 12 to 13 million KM, which, says Džaferović, does not reflect the opportunities that exist between the two countries and something must be done to improve cooperation in the economy, food production, construction sector and others areas.
He added that the investments made by Energoinvest here in Albania showed that BiH is capable of doing large projects, and there are untapped opportunities for tourism, and stronger engagement in that sense is necessary.
He thanked Albania for granting the Bosniak people the status of a national minority because they are good citizens, they respect the country’s integrity, and he congratulated Albania, which will start negotiations for membership in the European Union together with North Macedonia.
“This is important because this integration is important for the entire region. BiH expects a candidate status next summer. The perspective of all the countries of the Western Balkans is membership in the European Union, and this has never been a dilemma for me,” Džaferović reminded.
He believes that each country has its own processes and uniqueness, and the most important lesson from BiH’s accession path is that in 2006, BiH was side by side with some countries that are members of the EU today, and BiH is still waiting for a candidate status today.
The lesson learned for every country, even for BiH, says Džaferović, is not to waste time and to make every effort to reach a solution. It is a waste of time and only hopelessness arises from it.
He noted that BiH supports the dialogue in Washington and Brussels between Serbia and Kosovo and wants an acceptable and sustainable solution, saying that what BiH has in terms of relations with Kosovo is unacceptable because we have the most rigid regime of movement of people and goods in both directions.
“We want to improve this so that people can communicate normally and that trade takes place in the most useful way,” Džaferović underlined.
Meta pointed out that the two officials discussed all issues during the cordial meeting, bilateral relations as well as regional and international relations, but stressed the need to improve road infrastructure and make every effort to develop air traffic to improve tourism.
The presidents agreed, Meta says, that relations must be strengthened at a new pace between the two countries, but also with other countries in the region so they can offer a quick prospect of recovery and stopping the departure of people.
It is necessary to improve trade with other countries and help build ties between countries. Agreements on the recognition of driving licenses and economic cooperation and foreign chambers of trade will be signed, and joint activities such as economic and business forums will be organized.
He confirmed that before the coronavirus pandemic, there were more visitors to Albania from BiH and that both countries should promote and emphasize their tourism potential, revive not only economies but also better cooperation such as building a green corridor to have a barrier-free flow of goods.
The exchange of medicines and medical products between the two countries is an outstanding example of this, Meta says.
He reiterated that everyone benefits from the European path and that it is important to work on reforms, expressing hope that Albania would start negotiations during the German presidency of the EU and that BiH would meet its priorities in order to obtain a candidate status.
After meeting with Meta, Džaferović will meet with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Albania, Edi Rama, and then lay wreaths at the “Mother Albania” memorial at the National Heroes Cemetery, in the presence of the Commander-in-Chief of the National Guard of the Albanian Army.