Albanian President Bujar Nishani proposed during an official visit to Sarajevo on Wednesday that Bosnia and Herzegovina recognise Kosovo as an independent state, citing the need to facilitate travel, communication and business cooperation between the two countries.
Nishani met with the three members of Bosnia and Herzegovina's collective Presidency. Speaking to the press after the meeting, he said he had proposed that Bosnia and Herzegovina revise its position and recognise the independence of Kosovo and documents issued by that state.
"My wish is for Bosnia and Herzegovina to recognise Kosovo. I think it's a reality," the Albanian president said.
Presidency chairman Dragan Covic, who represents the Croats, did not comment on the proposal, saying only that it was his country's interest to maintain good cooperation with all the neighbours.
Mladen Ivanic, the Serb member of the Presidency, called an impromptu press conference at which he said that Nishani had told the Presidency members that it was important to improve freedom of movement in the region, but that the possibility of recognising Kosovo's independence was not discussed.
Ivanic said that "some members of the Presidency" believed that Bosnia and Herzegovina should recognise Kosovo, but stressed that he was explicitly against it. "This issue will not be discussed as long as I am a Presidency member," he said, adding that as far as he was concerned Kosovo was still part of Serbia.
Apart from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina is the only country in the region that has not recognised Kosovo's independence. The reason for that is opposition from the Bosnian Serb authorities who believe that Bosnia and Herzegovina should not recognise Kosovo before Serbia does.
Such policy has caused many problems. Bosnia and Herzegovina does not recognise documents issued by Kosovo, and citizens of Kosovo wishing to travel to Bosnia and Herzegovina face a complicated system of visa issuance and have to wait for their visas for months. On the other hand, there are no such restrictions on travel from Kosovo to Serbia and vice versa because their citizens need only an ID card to cross the border.
Although the existing restrictions have resulted in tens of millions of euros in direct financial losses to the economies of Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the authorities in Banja Luka persistently ignore any attempts to open a debate on the issue of mutual recognition.