On April 9 – 10th PM Boyko Borissov was in Mostar, Bosnia with the purpose of participating in the 21st International Economy Fair. When a fair in a small country hosts leaders of other states from the region one thing is obvious – it’s all about political chats. A joint dinner was held in Mostar of Presidents of Serbia and Montenegro Aleksandar Vucic and Filip Vujanovic, Prime Ministers of Bulgaria and Croatia Boyko Borissov and Andrej Plenkovic ; also Presidents of Republika Srpska and Bosnia and Herzegovina Milorad Dodik and Marinko Čavara, alongside Borjana Krišto – chair of the House of Representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s parliament. Boyko Borissov had bilateral talks in both his roles of a Bulgarian premier and a representative of the current rotational Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU. This all happened in a moment of serious political tension between Serbia and Kosovo and of harsh domestic controversies in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It also happened a bit more than a month before the EU – Western Balkans Summit, scheduled within the program of the Bulgarian Presidency for May 17th.
The tensions between Belgrade and Pristina occurred during the proclaiming of Kosovo’s independence. The EU member-states have differences on it as well. Madrid has stated its refusal to sit on the same table with a Kosovo representative – that would mean recognition of the Catalonia cause’s legitimacy. Romania and Cyprus show solidarity with the Spanish position. Brussels sources claim that the three states have warned that they would not participate in a meeting where Kosovo is treated as a state with common European perspective as the rest from the region. There are two other EU member-states which haven’t recognized Kosovo’s independence – Greece and Slovakia. This makes some observers show skepticism in regard to any eventual progress towards the common integration of the Western Balkans. Some even assumed that there would be no EU – Western Balkans Summit in Sofia in May. However, PM Borissov confirmed that the meeting was still a priority of the Bulgarian EU Presidency. An EC spokesperson upheld Borissov by stating at once that the commission had been working with its Bulgarian partners for the organizing of such a meeting. At the same time the spokesperson reminded that the priorities of the Bulgarian Presidency had been discussed with the premiers of the 6 Western Balkan states in the presence of their Bulgarian colleague Boyko Borissov, of High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and European Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn. Furthermore, in February President of the EC Jean-Claude Juncker visited all the 6 states from the region.
In early March, after his Balkan tour Juncker stated in Sofia that he would return in Brussels with the confidence that the Balkans belonged to the EU. Now, a month later, PM Borissov pointed out in Mostar that there were conflicts in the region which caused concern to everyone due to the very fresh wounds of the sanctions against Yugoslavia. He added that he had that feeling on something bad in the air “and it wasn’t like that a few months ago”. Borissov definitely talked about the recent tension between Serbia and Kosovo which had escalated and the danger of a failure at the adoption of a new election code in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In case this happens, it will “block in a sustainable manner” the overall accession process of the country.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic commented in Mostar after his talks with Borissov that there was plenty of time remaining till the EU – Western Balkans Summit in Sofia and many things could happen in the meantime – hence the importance of doing our best to preserve peace and stability in the Balkans. After his talk with Vucic Borissov was assured over the phone by Kosovo President Hashim Thaçi that his state intended no conflicts or armed attacks and would fully cooperate for both the EU – Western Balkans Summit and also for the peaceful and useful dialogue for solving any issues between Pristina and Belgrade. Croat member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Dragan Čović stated before Borissov that the Euro-Atlantic path of his country had no alternative. The dialogue on this matter is expected to continue tomorrow with a visit of Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina Denis Zvizdić to Sofia. We can therefore conclude that the Mostar visit of Boyko Borissov has ended up with expectations on major developments prior to the EU – Western Balkans Summit in Bulgaria’s capital on May 17th.
English version: Zhivko Stanchev