British Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Edward Ferguson claims that fifth Western Balkans Summit within the Berlin Process - which took place earlier this week in London - was the most ambitious yet, “a chance to take stock of the progress that has been made in the region, and a chance to plan for the future”.
“There was a new focus on security cooperation. Security Ministers met for the first time, alongside Foreign and Economy Ministers. And we also tried to make progress on some of the long-running political disputes and legacy issues that can hamper bilateral relations within the region”, Ferguson wrote in his blogpost.
“We’re really pleased that the Summit delivered at the outer edge of our expectations. Some important commitments were made, many of which will directly benefit Bosnia and Herzegovina”, he wrote, noting that BiH secured support from the European Commission for three highway projects worth €275 million - and the EC also donated grants worth €43 million towards the projects.
“The digital sector is the second-fastest growing in BiH, and has huge potential. We launched a Global Entrepreneurship Program for the Western Balkans, and five digital start-ups from BiH took part in a regional competition - more than from any other country. The UK also announced a new project worth £10 million to donate BBC Micro:bits to every primary school in BiH and the wider region - 4,500 schools in all - to help teach digital programming and problem-solving skills”, explained Ferguson.
British Ambassador reminded that Bosnia and Herzegovina, together with its neighbors, signed a commitment to strengthen its efforts to tackle corruption, and to properly resource the institutions responsible for this critical work.
“All Western Balkan countries agreed to improve the sharing of criminal information in order to build a better, shared understanding of threats from terrorism, organized crime and illegal migration. (…) Governments made concrete commitments to work together to tackle the illegal trafficking of weapons and human beings”, wrote Ferguson.
He noted that prime ministers have also agreed to work harder on resolving bilateral disputes with their neighbors. “In BiH, for example, this might include agreements with Serbia and Croatia on open issues relating to the borders, or working towards visa-free travel arrangements across the region”.
Ferguson wrote that “a lot of ground was covered in just two days”. “Important agreements were reached. But, as ever, the real test will come in the implementation. Poland will host next year’s Summit and, by then, we want to see concrete results. That is why the British Embassy will be getting more money, and more people, to support the realization of these ambitious plans”, he concluded.