Turkey’s Erdogan says he will discuss Bosnian crisis with Serbian Vucic

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks to the media after a cabinet meeting in Ankara, Turkey, December 20, 2021. Murat Cetinmuhurdar/PPO/Handout via REUTERS

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ANKARA, Jan 18 (Reuters) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he would discuss the crisis in Bosnia with his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic on Tuesday and that Ankara would step up its diplomacy on the matter, according to television broadcaster NTV.

Majority-Muslim Turkey has long had deep-rooted ties to the Balkans. He supported the late Bosnian Muslim leader of Bosnia Alija Izebegovic during his 1990s war, but forged good relations with his post-war inter-ethnic Bosnian-Serb-Croat presidency.

Bosnia was split into two largely self-governing regions – a Serb Republic (RS) and a Bosniak-Croat dominated Federation overlaid by a loose central government after the war.

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The crisis erupted after lawmakers in the Republika Srpska passed a non-binding motion last year to begin removing the RS from the Bosnian armed forces, tax system and judiciary, a move long backed by the leader Serbian nationalist Milorad Dodik. Read more

Turkey called the decision “wrong, dangerous” and offered to mediate in the crisis, raising fears of a relapse into ethnic conflict. Read more

Vucic will meet with Erdogan in Ankara on Tuesday to discuss bilateral relations, cooperation and developments in Bosnia and the Balkans, according to the Turkish presidency.

Serbia was the patron of wartime Bosnian Serb separatists and remains close to the post-war Bosnian Serb entity, sharing a border with it.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to Albania on Monday, Erdogan said Dodik, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and other regional officials expressed support for his offer to mediate.

“We will discuss measures that can be taken in the Balkans and the Bosnia issue with Mr. Vucic. I will stress to him the importance of peace and stability in Bosnia for the (wider) region,” he said. -he declares.

“In the coming period, we will intensify diplomatic traffic,” Erdogan said, adding that Turkey will use its “respectable” position with regional players for the resolution of the crisis.

Vucic called on Dodik last week to return to national institutions that the RS has been boycotting since mid-2021 over a law criminalizing genocide denial.

International war crimes judgments have labeled the massacre of 8,000 Bosnian men and boys in Srebrenica by Serb forces in 1995 as genocide, which Serbs deny.

Dodik’s secessionist rhetoric sparked outright nationalist rallies and incidents in towns across the Republika Srpska.

Earlier this month, the United States imposed new sanctions on Dodik for corruption and threatening the stability and territorial integrity of Bosnia. The European Union also said last week that Bosnian Serb leaders risked EU sanctions and loss of aid if it continued to stoke tensions. Read more

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Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu Editing by Mark Heinrich

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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