30 August 2010
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina Sven Alkalaj attends Bled Strategic Forum in Slovenia
On August 30, 2010, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina Sven Alkalaj participated in a panel discussion on the topic: "Trust (in) the Balkans", at the Bled Strategic Forum held on 29 and 30 August 2010 in Bled (Slovenia), under the title "The Global Outlook for the Next Decade".
On this occasion, Minister Alkalaj recalled that on June 2, 2010, during the EU - Western Balkans High Level Meeting in Sarajevo, the European perspective of the Western Balkans was confirmed and emphasized that this is crucial for the stability and prosperity of the region.
Recalling the EU message that bilateral relations significantly affect the enlargement process, Minister Alkalaj said that the establishment of trust is always difficult, especially taking into account the recent past, however that there is no alternative to cooperation in order to resolve outstanding issues. In this regard, he pointed out that the cultivation of good neighborly relations, regional cooperation and resolving outstanding issues are high among BiH foreign policy priorities and reaffirmed that stable relations with neighbors, based on mutual respect, tolerance, cooperation and understanding constitute a lasting commitment of our country.
He also said that, in spite of occasional aggravating circumstances, the regional cooperation is improving, and stressed that the trilateral consultation mechanism between BiH and Turkey, and Serbia and Croatia has proved successful for the exchange of views on the modalities for resolving outstanding issues and to formulate joint action with a view to further strengthen cooperation, democratization, stability, security, prosperity and economic development in the region. In this regard, Minister Alkalaj assessed a joint session of the BiH Council of Ministers and the Croatian Government as an equally important event, with possible long-term positive consequences.
Besides these positive developments, Minister Alkalaj pointed out that despite everything, some questions remained open, such as the question of succession, borders, property, etc.; he urged all regional countries to show more commitment and courage in order to resolve outstanding issues. He said that finding a sound, solid and long-term solution is possible only through honest and open dialogue between different ethnic and religious groups, and that it is necessary to use the opportunity and create new incentives for further strengthening of regional cooperation as a key political criteria for joining the EU, not only in terms of fulfilling the integration requirements, but also in terms of turning the past into the future of the Balkans, rejection of old prejudices and stereotypes and true acceptance of European values and standards in the region.
Minister Alkalaj expressed the expectation that the European Union will continue to contribute to stability in the region and urged the EU to hold enlargement plans high on their agenda, as well as to continue the promotion of regional cooperation mechanisms in order to further strengthen the integration process in the region.
He said that the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina is in the European Union and NATO and expressed hope that the EU will soon adopt a long-awaited decision on the liberalization of visa regime for BiH citizens. He expressed a special gratitude to Slovenia, for a sincere and continuous support in this process.
At the end of his speech, Minister Alkalaj pointed out: “A peaceful Bosnia is Bosnia in NATO”, at the same time expressing confidence that a multicultural, multi-religious and multi-ethnic spirit of BiH and its unity in diversity will inspire progress of Bosnia and other Western Balkan countries towards European integration and towards being an integral part of the European Union. Panel discussion was held in the presence of a large number of guests and media representatives.
On the sidelines of Bled Strategic Forum, Minister Alkalaj met with Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia Samuel Žbogar, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria, Nickolay Mladenov, Canadian Defense Minister Peter Gordon MacKay, Minister of State for External Affairs of India Smt Preneet Kaur and former U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.
Bled Strategic Forum was organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia and the Centre for European Perspective (CEP). The forum involved a large number of selected invitees, including government officials, representatives of the European Union, United Nations, NATO, OSCE, OECD and the Arab League, as well as businessmen, representatives of academia, the media and others.