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Prime Minister pays an official visit to BiH: We are driven by the desire for the progress of the entire region

On 13 March, Prime Minister Dr Robert Golob paid an official bilateral visit to Sarajevo. The Prime Minister’s visit follows the European Council’s decision in December to grant Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) candidate status for membership of the European Union. It was Slovenia, including Prime Minister Golob, which actively endeavoured to confirm the geostrategic decision of the European Council last year.

The Prime Minister first met his host, the Chairwoman of the Council of Ministers of BiH, Borjana Krišto. He thanked his hosts for the opportunity he received in Sarajevo to also personally address the question of how to advance Bosnia and Herzegovina’s European perspective. As he specifically pointed out, Slovenia’s foreign policy has changed: “A change that insists on the strict application of the principle of solidarity between nations if we really wish to achieve political stability in the world. Because only if we achieve political stability will we be able to talk about economic development and prosperity for all people.” According to the Prime Minister, it is BiH, because of its past, that needs solidarity the most. “There is no hidden agenda, we are driven by the desire for the progress of the entire Western Balkans region because it also helps Slovenia to prosper,” he stressed.

Dr Golob explained how the Russian aggression against Ukraine has changed the perspective on the process of European integration in BiH. According to him, after 20 years of the EU enlargement process being slowed down by technical and administrative issues, today marks a historic change: “The first message to Bosnia and Herzegovina at this historic moment is to take advantage of the changed circumstances to accelerate the pace on the European path.” Slovenia wants to be not only a friendly country on BiH’s path to the EU, but also its biggest ally, and will therefore offer various forms of assistance; professional and technical assistance as well as financial resources. The Prime Minister also expressed his preference for a phased approach to BiH’s European integration, according to which progress even before EU accession can translate into concrete benefits for the candidate country, for example in the fields of education, youth, and economic development.

Later in his visit, the Slovenian Prime Minister met with the Chairpersons and the Collegiums of the House of Representatives and the House of Peoples of the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH, Dr Nikola Špirić and Dr Denis Zvizdić, as well as with the Deputy Chairpersons, Kemal Ademović and Dragan Čović. This was followed by a discussion with the Chairwoman and Members of the Presidency of BiH, Željka Cvijanović, Željko Komšić, and Dr Denis Bećirović. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of BiH, Elmedin Konaković, and the Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of BiH, Staša Košarac, then joined the working lunch with Chairwoman Krišto.

In Sarajevo, the Prime Minister confirmed Slovenia’s continued strong support for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s EU membership. As far as bilateral relations are concerned, the two sides agreed that they are excellent, intensive, and traditionally friendly. BiH is Slovenia’s second most important economic partner in the region and the largest single recipient of Slovenian development aid. The talks were therefore focused on upgrading relations between the two countries and seeking additional business opportunities. For example, BiH has great potential in the field of renewable energy sources, in which Slovenia or its investors would like to invest.