Within the series of Shuttle Diplomacy Talks organized by the IUS Balkan Studies Center (BSC), the third guest lecturer was Ambassador of the Kingdom of Spain to BiH, Her Excellency María Teresa Lizaranzu Perinat who visited IUS on Tuesday, May 16, 2023. During her talk, Ms. Perinat focused on thirty years of bilateral relations between Spain and BiH.
Her Excellency firstly gave a brief overview of her own extensive diplomatic background underlining that she is thankful for the opportunity to serve as the ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina and learn more about the country and its people.
Commenting on the Spanish presence in the region, Ms. Perinat noted that it had not been very active until the 1990s, but that this has improved after the Kingdom of Spain recognized Bosnia and Herzegovina as an independent country in 1992. However, she pointed out that the relation between the two countries dates back to the time when the Sephardi Jews sought refuge in the Ottoman Empire and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
One of the pillars of the bilateral relations between the two countries is Spanish armed forces who came in 2000 to support the peace building process. In addition, Spain supported BiH through the reconstruction of schools, libraries, squares, etc. As of 2010, Spanish presence in the country has taken a more political shift especially after BiH became a candidate country last year, which suggests that BiH is on its way to Brussels and will become a much more serious partner in the future.
Furthermore, Spain is focused on boosting the growth of the region by strengthening economic ties not only with BiH but also with the countries in the region which will result in a surge of Spanish investments. Also, Spain’s efforts are turned towards creating a more functional network between cultural institutions and promoting diversity which is an asset for BiH even though it poses a challenge in certain ways.
In the end, the attendees had an opportunity to ask questions and Her Excellency explained that she tries to travel around the country and talk to young people and see what real Bosnia is like. Moreover, she underlined that Spain respects the EU laws when it comes to any social or political issue. Finally, Spain would like to participate in strengthening cultural institutions and projects in the country, but it is Bosnia and Herzegovina who has to act first and draft plans and agreements.