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Türkiye, Bosnia and Herzegovina agree on passport-free travel: Erdogan

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Turkish president says citizens of Türkiye, and Bosnia and Herzegovina will be able to travel with identity cards./AFP
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Sep 07, 2022 - 11:00 AM

ANKARA/ Belgrade, Serbia (AA) – Ankara and Sarajevo decided to allow their citizens to travel to each other’s countries without passports, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.

“We have now made the decision to (enable) travel between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Turkey with identity cards,” Erdogan told a news conference in Sarajevo with the three members of the Presidential Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Erdogan said Türkiye and Bosnia and Herzegovina are currently working on passport-free travel, adding that it will become effective soon.

The president said the relations between Türkiye and Bosnia and Herzegovina are “exceptional,” voicing support for the country’s territorial integrity and stability.

Erdogan reiterated that Türkiye is ready to do its best to overcome the current difficulties in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“Being here on the 30th anniversary of the establishment of our diplomatic relations has given our visit a historic character,” he said.

For his part, the Bosniak member and the current chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sefik Dzaferovic said Türkiye and Bosnia Herzegovina enjoy friendly relations, and their historical and cultural ties are strong, adding that they want to enhance ties with Ankara.

Dzaferovic said Bosnia and Herzegovina wants to expand bilateral trade volume with Türkiye to $1 billion.

He also appreciated Türkiye’s role in mediation between Russia and Ukraine for allowing grain exports.

Serb member Milorad Dodik hailed Erdogan, saying: “His attitude towards us in Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of emotion and sympathy. The best proof is precisely President Erdogan, who comes here with an aid package to Bosnia and Herzegovina, without making any political conditions.”

Croat member Zeljko Komsic said the policies of Erdogan and Türkiye’s are one of the “rare things” on which they agree in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Tension with Greece

Erdogan reiterated the warning to Greece, saying: “All of a sudden, we can come overnight.”

“They have islands, there are bases on these islands … and if these illegitimate threats against us continue, there is an end to our patience,” he said.

Turkish jets engaged in NATO missions over the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean seas on Aug. 23 were harassed by a Russian-made S-300 air defense system stationed on the Greek island of Crete.

According to Turkish National Defense Ministry sources, Greece violated Türkiye’s airspace and territorial waters over 1,100 times in the first eight months of this year alone.

Türkiye, a NATO member for over 70 years, has complained of repeated provocative actions and rhetoric by Greece in the region in recent months, including arming islands near Turkish shores that are demilitarized under a treaty, saying that such moves frustrate its good faith efforts for peace.

Elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Regarding the general elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina that will be held on Oct. 2, Erdogan said: “The fact that the elections are held in a fair, transparent, and constructive environment is of vital importance not only for Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also for our entire region.”

Erdogan added that encouraging an election atmosphere that will contribute to the welfare of the country in the lead-up to the elections is particularly important for the peace and stability of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

About a question on possible amendments to the nation’s election law and constitution by the Office of the High Representative, Erdogan said presidential council members in Bosnia and Herzegovina should decide on the election law, adding that High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina Christian Schmidt “should not interfere in the process.”

“As a country governed by democracy, we personally never find it right to intervene in the democratic process,” he said.

Serb member Dodik, meanwhile, said Schmidt must be declared persona non grata.

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