Bosnia and Herzegovina should seek to benefit from the good relations that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan enjoys with Serb leaders in the country, a senior Bosnian political leader said on Monday.
Speaking to a local television channel, Bakir Izetbegovic, the head of Bosnia and Herzegovina's Party of Democratic Action, took stock of his visit to Istanbul, where he met Erdogan last Wednesday over a political dispute within Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Izetbegovic said he discussed many issues with Erdogan in a meeting that lasted two hours.
"Erdogan has good relations with (Serbian President Aleksandar) Vucic and (Serb member of Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidential Council Milorad) Dodik. Erdogan is a leader who is very strong and establishes good relations. We have to take advantage of that," said Izetbegovic.
Izetbegovic pointed out the necessity to focus on the Sarajevo-Belgrade Highway Project supported by Turkey, instead of causing problems that exacerbate the migration from the Balkan region.
Izetbegovic met with Erdogan last Tuesday at the Vahdettin Pavilion in Istanbul.
Political dispute in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia is currently in the midst of a political row between the Bosniak nations and Serbs living in the country.
The dispute began after a former High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Valentin Inzko, amended in July the country's criminal code to ban the denial of genocide and the glorification of war criminals.
Bosnian Serb politicians said they would boycott state institutions in protest of the move.
A Serb member of Bosnia's joint Presidency, Milorad Dodik, denounced the amendments. "We will not live in a country where someone can impose a law by simply publishing it on his website," he said.
Dodik, who has rejected all legal changes enacted by the Office of the High Representative (OHR), said he would take radical steps in the army, judiciary, and tax systems if the essence of the Dayton Agreement that ended the war is not returned.
One of the major current issues in the country is a bill that Dodik recently pushed through the assembly of Republika Srpska that transfers powers of the nationally authorized Bosnia and Herzegovina Pharmaceuticals and Medical Equipment Agency to a new institution to be established in the region that critics say seeks to undermine the national government.
Three big brothers
Izetbegovic said he opposes a recent proposal, dubbed "three big brothers," by Croatian President Zoran Milanovic for Turkey, Croatia, and Serbia to act as mediators within Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Erdogan had also received a similar proposal from Dodik, Izetbegovic said, adding that the Turkish president then broached the subject with him during their Istanbul meeting.
He added, however, that Erdogan did not accept the offer, underlining that Bosnia and Herzegovina "has its own institutions" to resolve such disputes.
"Erdogan asked if it was true that I didn't want this, and I said it was true. He then asked: 'So how can we help?' I said that he is good with both the Serb and Bosnian sides. I told him he could be involved in the problem and point us out from afar what is possible. Because Erdogan is a genius," said Izetbegovic.