Fri, 18 Oct 2019

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on the three members of Bosnia's multiethnic presidency to end a year-long political deadlock that has fueled tensions in the Balkan country.

Erdogan spoke on October 8 after a meeting in Belgrade with the three leaders and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.

Erdogan, who was on the second day of his visit to Serbia, also attended a ceremony inaugurating a partially Turkish-funded highway that will link Belgrade with Bosnia's capital of Sarajevo.

'We are witnessing a historic moment for our countries,' Erdogan said at the ceremony in Sremska Raca, on Serbia's border with Bosnia.

The 1.3-kilometer bridge being constructed in Sremska Raca will physically link the two countries over the Sava River.

Ankara has pledged 3 billion euros ($3.2 billion) of financing for the highway's construction.

'We see the bridge we are building is a bridge of friendship that is important to the whole region.' Erdogan told media at the ceremony.

Almost 25 years after the end of the 1992-95 Bosnian war which resulted in about 100,000 people being killed, Bosnia remains ethnically divided between majority Muslims, Serbs, and Croats.

Disagreements over relations with NATO have prevented the formation of a new government a year after a general election.

The formation of a Bosnian government has stalled mainly because the pro-Russian Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik has rejected closer ties with NATO, unlike the other members of Bosnia's presidency.

Erdogan said the future highway will bring Serbia and Bosnia closer together and turn the Balkans into a more prosperous region.

He warned that the work 'cannot efficiently continue' without the formation of a government in Sarajevo.

With reporting by AP

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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