Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina mend political fences

Prime Minister Adnan Terzic

Bosnia-Herzegovina Prime Minister Adnan Terzic has been holding talks with his Slovene counterpart, Anton Rop, in Ljubljana this week. Economic ties between the two former Yugoslav Republics are said to be good, but politically they still have some issues to resolve.

There are still many unsolved questions between, Bosnia - Herzegovina and Slovenia, but in general, relations between the two countries are good. That's according to the Prime ministers of the two countries, Anton Rop and Adnan Terzi?, who met for talks in Ljubljana this week. The good economic ties were especially stressed, as Slovenia is the second largest investor in Bosnia. Speaking after talks with his Bosnian counterpart, Slovene Prime minister Anton Rop said:

"First of all, I would like to stress, that relations between Bosnia- Herzegovina and Slovenia are good in the fields of economy and politics. Here we have to emphasize the multilateral relations with common goals. This year Slovenia will officially become a EU and NATO member and Bosnia has similar goals. In my opinion Slovenia should do all it can to support Bosnia in this. Today we agreed to offer all the help needed in the future, expert skills and our experiences with the EU and NATO accession process. Slovenia really wants Bosnia to be successful on its path."

But there are still a handful of unsolved issues between the two countries. For one, the Bosnian government is unhappy that Bosnian citizens still need a visa to enter Slovenia - even though the visa restrictions are mostly due to Schengen border controls, and not just a Slovene decision.

Both Prime ministers also avoided talking about the controversy surrounding the construction of a cultural and religious centre in Ljubljana. It's a centre that would serve mostly Muslims from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Some political parties in Slovenia sharply condemn the construction of the mosque and they have demanded a referendum even after the Ljubljana city council approved the construction. Bosnian Prime Minister Adnan Terzic believes that this is a question of Slovenia's interior policy:

" The Bosnian government and I don't treat this problem as a question of relations between the two governments, this is an internal affair of Slovenia. Of course we have great interest in this matter as it concerns human rights questions of the citizens of Slovenia who are of Bosnian descent. It is encouraging to see that the governing coalition has a positive attitude towards the construction of the mosque and that it even demanded an evaluation of the constitutionality of the planned referendum."

There is also the unsolved matter of returning 90 million euros-worth of foreign currency deposits to people who had savings accounts with Ljubljanska banka and it's subsidiaries in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Over a million Bosnians were left without their savings after former Yugoslavia broke up. An end to this issue is in sight, now that the Council of Europe has stepped in to arbitrate. Hopefully once this problem is solved, the countries that have emerged from former Yugoslavia can concentrate on establishing good relations without the burden of the past.