07/22/2021 | Press release | Archived content
'We, in Slovakia, also still remember the bloody conflict of the first half of the '90s of the last century which claimed tens of thousands of human lives. Sarajevo, a city where civilizations meet and where you can still sense the scent of war, is a proof of the importance of a clear guarantee of peace and stability. These existential guarantees can be brought to Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the whole of the Western Balkans, first and foremost by the progress in the European integration process. There is nothing more important for Slovakia than to have a safe and prosperous neighbourhood, with many opportunities for our citizens as well. That is why we support politically, diplomatically, and militarily Bosnia and Herzegovina's efforts to increase its internal stability and to make progress in reforms.'
This was announced by the State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, Martin Klus, on Wednesday, July 21, 2021, in Sarajevo, during his official visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition to bilateral relations, the main topics of the talks were the maintaining of stability and peace, the advancement in the EU integration process, and also migration, security issues and the developments in the Western Balkans region.
During his working visit, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, Martin Klus, also met with the command of the Slovak contingent in the EU military operation EUFOR Althea. He expressed his high praise for the work of dozens of our soldiers, men and women, which is an expression of Slovakia's strong commitment to the security and stability of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the wider region and the whole of Europe.
'In the interest of maintaining peace, the Slovak Republic will continue to fully support the transformation and integration efforts of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Our friends in Sarajevo made it clear to us that they have been interested in EU membership. We care about a peaceful and prosperous future for this country; therefore, we are glad to offer a helping hand. By approving the increase in the number of troops of the Slovak military contingent in the country and the reserve forces of Operation EUFOR Althea in January 2021, we demonstrated the readiness to assume even more responsibility for the peaceful future of the country,' stated State Secretary Martin Klus.
As part of the bilateral consultations of the State Secretary of the Slovak Foreign Ministry and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Josip Brkić, the partners evaluated the current state of cooperation and identified several possibilities for its further enhancement, with an emphasis on investment and development projects.
'Slovakia is very much interested in maintaining an intense and balanced political dialogue with the representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In this context, I welcome the decision to establish your country's diplomatic mission in Bratislava, and I see it as a reflection of the long-standing quality of our bilateral relations and as an effort to make them stronger,' Martin Klus told his partners. On this occasion, he also passed over to them a verbal note, which may significantly accelerate the establishment of the representation mission.
Slovakia was one of the first EU countries to include Bosnia and Herzegovina on the so-called 'green list' in connection with travel restrictions. Recently, tens of thousands of Slovak believers took the opportunity and visited this Balkan country, which has long been popular among Slovaks, as part of the 40th anniversary of the Apparition of the Virgin Mary in Medjugorje.
The State Secretary of the Slovak Foreign Ministry also expressed his appreciation for the positive trend in Slovakia's trade and investment cooperation with Bosnia and Herzegovina, including in the green energy sector and agriculture. The projects under the SlovakAid umbrella continue to be successfully implemented. The assistance under these projects has been focused on sustainable development, support in the area of housing, culture and sports, but also, for example, in the transparency of public finances.
'Of course, I am using my visit to Sarajevo to reaffirm that the region of the Western Balkans remains a priority of the Slovak foreign policy,' said Martin Klus. He also added that the European project will not be complete unless the countries of the Western Balkans are part of it. Therefore, Slovakia, together with some other EU member states, supports the inclusion of the Balkan partners in the Conference on the Future of Europe.
During his very first official visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, Martin Klus, was also received by the Mayor of Sarajevo, Benjamina Karić, who had set as her goal to unite the society in the metropolis where different cultures, ethnicities and religions meet for centuries. They discussed the possibilities of mutual cooperation, support and of sharing know-how in various municipal projects, also with the contribution of the Embassy of the Slovak Republic in Sarajevo. Martin Klus expressed his support for the vision of Sarajevo as a modern, greener and fast-growing city that promotes diversity, which all are the values that the countries of the European Union share.