11 April 2012 Sarajevo, Bosnia-Hercegovina

Sarajevo step of SAM’s Project titled From Bosnian War to Bosnian Peace was held on April 11, 2012 in cooperation with our Bosnian partner Circle 99.

SAM Vice President Dr. Mesut Özcan, Special Advisor to Undersecretary Mehmet Kemal Bozay, Director of Atatürk Research Center Prof. Cezmi Eraslan, TOBB University faculty member Dr.Birgül Demirtaş along with the members of Circle 99, academicians from Bosnia and diplomats from neighboring countries were present at the workshop.

The issues of integration dominated the discussions in the workshop as well as the post-war reconstruction, the constitutional situation of Bosnia and its possible NATO and EU memberships. The participants agreed that integration is a painful process and no progress is possible without local solutions. There was also a consensus on the vitality of Turkey’s support for Bosnia.

Turkey’s Ambassador to Sarajevo, Mr. Ahmet Yıldız who made the opening speech said that Turkey pursues an inclusive policy and its main concern is justice while reiterating Turkey’s support for Bosnia’s NATO and EU membership.

Dr. Mesut Özcan, after summarizing the Project which aims to contribute to the solutions in the region, directed attention to the similarities between the challenges that Balkan countries face and the beginning of the EU integration. He stated that for integration, rivalry should be overcome and talked about the similar languages and the experience of living together in the past that could be facilitators of integration.

In her presentation, Dr. Demirtaş said that she does not believe in theories of natural integration processes and that a common future needs to be imagined for successful integration before listing the challenges in front of the process. She also mentioned the destructive impact of border conflicts on the integration.

Prof. Eraslan said that Turkey’s foreign policy which is criticized by some as neo-Ottomansim is a result of its geographic necessities while telling the history of integration in the region starting from Atatürk era.

Prof.Mirko Pejanoviç who pointed out that Bosnia is going through a reconstruction period after the war unlike the other Eastern Bloc countries which experienced a post-Soviet transition added that Bosnia lags behind the potential cooperation with the regional countries. Actually, all participants agreed that especially the economic cooperation with Turkey does not live up to its potential.

Prof. Esref Kenan Rasidovic from Sarajevo University stated the lack of a common attitude against the actors who block the process in Bosnia. He listed the obstacles in front of regional integration.

The common emphasis of all participants was the inability to take permanent steps in economic and political fields due to ambiguity in the country. Participants from universities also complained about the negative impact of such ambiguity in the education system.

Similarly, especially Bosnian participants emphasized the problems with the constitutional system and its compatibility with the EU as well as role of the international system.

The day long panels ended with the concluding remarks and the discussion of the agenda for the umbrella conference to be held in autumn in Istanbul.