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Gül: Turkey wants to help Balkans’ EU integration April 27, 2011

Posted by Yilan in Macedonia, Turkey.
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Turkish President Abdullah Gül returned from Serbia on Wednesday after attending a tripartite summit where he said Ankara wanted to help the volatile Balkans to turn into a stable region on track to join the European Union and NATO.

Gül attended a tripartite summit between Turkey, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and met with Serbian President Boris Tadic and Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Presidency Chairman Nebojsa Radmanovic.

“We see the Balkans as a region at the heart of Europe. Our goal is for this area, once a scene of conflicts, to turn into a region of unity with good cooperation,” Turkish President Gül said Tuesday after meeting Tadic and members of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency.

“It is our wish that the three Balkan countries strengthen cooperation and move together toward solving ongoing problems. Once this is done, we hope we can all gather under a wider umbrella of the EU and NATO,” Gül told reporters.

The leaders of Bosnia, Turkey and Serbia met in the former residence of former Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito in northwestern Serbia to discuss the situation in the Balkans, including the political impasse in Bosnia and strained relations between Sarajevo and Belgrade.

The tripartite summit aimed at contributing to efforts to normalize the relations between Serbia and Bosnia, and to build confidence between the two countries.

Turkey mediated at a similar summit a year ago in Istanbul that resulted in an agreement by Belgrade and Sarajevo to improve relations that have been significantly strained since the war over Serbia’s support to Bosnian Serbs during and after the 1992-1995 inter-ethnic conflict in Bosnia.

However, several arrests of Bosnian officials on war crime warrants issued by Serbia as well as Belgrade’s support to Bosnian Serbs’ plan to challenge central Bosnia’s institutions in a referendum, have strained relations between the two former Yugoslav republics.

But Tadic said Serbia wanted the “best possible relations” with Bosnia, adding that Belgrade had no intention of meddling in the neighboring country’s internal affairs. Serbia “would never support a referendum that would lead to the division of Bosnia,” Tadic said.

“I will never repeat the mistakes of my predecessors, made here in Karadjordjevo,” Tadic said, referring to the meetings held here in 1991 when late Serbian and Croatian presidents Slobodan Milosevic and Franjo Tudjman reportedly planned to divide Bosnia and attach its parts to their own states.

The meeting fueled the bloody interethnic 1992-1995 war in Bosnia which left some 100,000 people dead and almost half of the four-million pre-war populations displaced. “Some very bad and tough decisions have been made in this residence, which had painful consequences for all our citizens,” Tadic said.

Zeljko Komsic, a Croat member of Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency, which also includes Muslim Bakir Izetbegovic and Serb Nebojsa Radmanovic, said there was “hope” for new relations in the Balkans.

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