Minister Ghani visits Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina at a time of increasing threats to regional peace and stability.

  • Minister Ghani embarks on first visit to the Western Balkans at a time of increasing threats to regional peace and stability.
  • As the first UK minister to meet the new Serbian government, she will welcome increasing trade and cooperation in tackling illegal migration, while encouraging a constructive approach to promoting peace and reconciliation with its neighbours.
  • Minister will reinforce UK support for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of ongoing secessionist activity.

At a time of growing risks of instability and external political interference in the Western Balkans, UK Minister for Europe, Nusrat Ghani will reinforce the UK’s determination to deepen its relationships across the region as the Minister begins a visit to Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina today (Tuesday 21 May).

With Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine demonstrating that security in Europe cannot be taken for granted, Minister Ghani will call on the leadership of both countries to work towards a prosperous, stable and secure future for their peoples and to refocus efforts on reconciliation.

Ahead of the visit, UK Minister for Europe Nusrat Ghani said:

The Western Balkans has seen its share of conflict and insecurity. We cannot allow hard-won peace to be put at risk. Countries like Russia are actively seeking to capitalise on divisions to destabilise the region for their own objectives.

That’s why the UK is providing long-term investment for the region – growing our trading links, standing up for sovereignty and forging closer security partnerships to crack down on organised crime groups.

A stable and prosperous Western Balkans is vital to our economic prosperity and collective security.

Minister Ghani will express the UK’s ambition for a stronger, mutually beneficial relationship, celebrating UK-Serbia trade reaching £1bn per year when she meets senior figures from the new Serbian Government.

Given Serbia is a major transit country along the Western Balkans route, she will welcome Serbia’s ongoing work to tackle organised immigration crime, delivering on the partnership agreed with the UK government at the European Political Community meeting in October.

Minister Ghani will also underline her expectations for Serbia to play a constructive role in improving relations with its neighbours, including through the Serbia-Kosovo Dialogue.

In Sarajevo, the Minister will emphasise the scale of opportunity ahead for Bosnia and Herzegovina, and encourage leaders to refocus on making progress on key reforms in line with its own Euro-Atlantic aspirations.

The Minister will reinforce the UK’s unequivocal support for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of secessionist rhetoric and activity by some Bosnian politicians in contravention of the country’s constitution.

She will set out that the UK will not hesitate to continue taking action against those who seek to destabilise the country, as demonstrated by recent UK sanctions

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Published 21 May 2024