The political leaders of three key Western Balkans nations Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) held their first meeting in six years in the Bosnian city of Mostar on March 6 to discuss trade, peace, and regional cooperation.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and the members of the tripartite Presidency of Bonsia and Herzeovina (BiH) – Dragan Covic, Bakir Izetbegovic, and Mladen Ivanic – gathered in the southern Bosnian city of Mostar to discuss economic issues and regional cooperation.
Though the meeting did not bring any particular breakthroughs, the very fact of the meeting as well as a choice of the place, indicate that Croatia, Serbia and BiH, intend to overcome the bitter wounds of the 1990s wars when Yugoslavia tore itself apart with the collapse of Communism.
Speaking at a press conference after the meeting, Vucic said that talks between officials of the three countries are “never sweet and simple”, but important as a mechanism to maintain peace in the historically volatile region.
The three countries have been pushed by Brussels to resolve all outstanding disputes and territorial issues before EU accession talks can begin. Vucic has, in the last three months, visited both Croatia and Kosovo, two countries with whom Serbia enjoys the worst relations following the post-Yugoslav wars.
Vucic’s attempts to normalise ties with Serbia’s neighbours is a key gesture to the European Commission, who have demanded that Belgrade current front-improve relations with its former foes before possibly joining the EU as early as 2025.