FM: Bosnia important for regional peace, stability

FM: Bosnia important for regional peace, stability

Foreign Minister Ali Babacan shakes hands with his Bosnian counterpart, Sven Alkalaj, in Sarajevo during an official visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina on Thursday.

January 16, 2009, Friday/ 18:08:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN WITH WIRES

Foreign Minister Ali Babacan has Bosnia and Herzegovina is a critical country for regional peace and stability and that Turkey places great importance on the country's territorial integrity, sovereignty and recognized borders.

His remarks came yesterday during a joint news conference with his Bosnian counterpart, Sven Alkalaj, in Sarajevo during an official visit to the country.

Babacan said Turkey supported Bosnia and Herzegovina's integration with Euro-Atlantic institutions, including NATO membership and European Union accession.

"We hope that Bosnia and Herzegovina will take another step toward EU membership and we support Bosnia's membership in NATO, as well," Babacan said.

Alkalaj said the development of trade relations with Turkey was very important for his country, expressing hope that a business council meeting between the two countries scheduled for later in the day would further improve bilateral relations.

When asked about the development of bilateral relations between Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Babacan recalled that there were agreements signed between the countries for cooperation in many fields. He said the economic development of a country was dependent on its political stability.

"To strengthen stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina and make it a regular country is in the hands of the citizens of this country. Turkey will continue to give its support to Bosnia and Herzegovina," Babacan said.

Alkalaj said Babacan's visit to his country, accompanied by a large delegation, was an indication of the importance Turkey sees in Bosnia and Herzegovina. "Our political relations are in a very good condition. This is evident," he said.

Alkalaj emphasized the importance of economic cooperation between the two countries and said he hoped the business council meeting would make a contribution to the development of economic relations.

As an example of cooperation between the two countries, Babacan recalled a deal between Turkish Airlines (THY) and Bosnia and Herzegovina Airlines (B&H Airlines), noting that this was the first partnership agreement THY made outside Turkey.

Babacan visits Turkish battalion in Pristina

In the first leg of his Balkan visit on Wednesday, Babacan paid a visit to the Turkish battalion deployed within the Kosovo Force (KFOR), a NATO-led international force responsible for establishing and maintaining security in Kosovo.

Following his visit, he met with Kosovo Democratic Turkish Party (KDTP) President Mahir Yağcılar for a luncheon. Delivering a short speech before the meal, Babacan emphasized the importance of relations between Turkey and Kosovo and said, "Kosovo has a very special place in our hearts."

He noted that the Turkish community living in the country played an important role in the development of relations between the two countries.

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