Turkey calls for 'economy for peace' in western Balkans

Turkey urges Western Balkan nations to establish common economic goals for peace and prosperity in region

Turkey calls for 'economy for peace' in western Balkans

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina

 Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan urged Western Balkan countries Wednesday to establish common economic goals for peace, prosperity and stability in the region.

Speaking at the sixth Sarajevo Business Forum in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo, Babacan said the economy was an important instrument for strengthening political relations and reconciliation in the region.

He said: "It is very important for the region that we have free movement of people, goods and capital. When I look at the region we see that we have quite a fragmented economy.

"When we unite the region in order to avoid barriers to investment, then we can talk about the prosperity of the region."

He went on: "... it is very important to work on the joint construction of the region and to work together for its prosperity. How to do it? Through peace and stability. Anywhere in the world, political stability is the foundation of economic progress."

He said dialogue and tolerance could promote political stability in the region.

Babacan added: "How to achieve political stability? Through democracy and dialogue of course -- conversation, tolerance and promoting reconciliation.

"Events such as the Sarajevo Business Forum (SBF) are very important because they bring together politicians and allow interaction between politicians and businessmen. Such economic activity becomes a powerful mechanism in the fight against political disputes."

He used the experience of the European Union states to highlight the importance of strong economies.

Babacan said: "An essential element for progress in European structures is integration. As we look to the European Union, its founders were actually on opposite sides in World War II and then those countries have united around a common thing, and that was the economy.

"The economy itself is an essential instrument for the political process and the process of reconciliation. We must do everything to improve the business environment of our countries to make this country so interesting for investment."

"We, as Turkey, noticed a deficit of trust, and it is very important for many countries that all countries work together to establish and maintain confidence," he added.

Meanwhile, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said: "We accept the slogan of the forum; 'One region, one economy'. That's my suggestion, that your leaders lead dialogue between the Bosnian and Serbian people, in order to make a favorable environment."

He said that only a unified market in the region could attract more investors from countries around the world.

Vucic said: "You should not let others take care of us -- we must take responsibility.

"Serbia is ready to talk about all the difficult topics with Bosniaks. We have to think about the common future of our countries. It is a fair offer, because we have to live together."

The Sarajevo Business Forum aims to bring direct foreign investments to Bosnia and Herzegovina which are seen as being crucial for peace and stability in the region.

Business people from around the region as well as their counterparts from more than 30 countries participated in the conference, which includes guests such as Babacan; Indian Foreign Minister India Vijay Kumar Singh, Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti, and Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic.

The forum is hosting over 900 representatives from all around the world.

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