Continuing the insightful Shuttle Diplomacy Talks series organized by the Balkans Studies Centre of the International University of Sarajevo (IUS), the distinguished guest speaker on Wednesday, November 29, 2023, was His Excellency Sadık Babür Girgin, the Ambassador of the Republic of Turkiye to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Addressing a captivated audience comprising students and staff, Ambassador Girgin delved into Turkiye's perspective on the Balkans, emphasizing historical ties, economic connections, and the pivotal role Turkiye plays in fostering peace and stability in the region.
Ambassador Girgin began by highlighting the enduring historical relationship between Turkiye and the Balkans, dating back centuries. A key aspect of this connection is the presence of approximately 5 million individuals of Bosnian and Herzegovinian origin residing in Turkiye, symbolizing a profound cultural and familial bond.
The economic ties between Turkiye and the Balkans were underscored as significant contributors to the region's prosperity. The Ambassador articulated Turkiye's commitment to fostering peace, stability, and prosperity in the Balkans, actively participating in initiatives such as EUFOR, KFOR, and the Peace Implementation Council.
In addressing the audience, His Excellency stressed the importance of local collaboration in resolving ongoing issues in the Balkans. While acknowledging the international community's role in mediating and fostering agreements, he emphasized the crucial need for local politicians, particularly in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to come together and find common solutions rather than relying solely on external forces to make decisions.
Turning the spotlight on the challenges faced by the Balkans in recent years—the name issue of Macedonia, the volatile situation in Kosovo, and the ongoing tensions in Bosnia and Herzegovina—Ambassador Girgin provided a nuanced perspective. He urged for a proactive approach from local leaders in resolving these issues, with a call for genuine dialogue and cooperation.
In the concluding segment of the lecture, Ambassador Girgin opened the floor to the students, providing them with an opportunity to engage directly with the diplomat. The students posed a myriad of questions, spanning political, diplomatic, and international topics. Queries ranged from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the war in Ukraine, culminating in discussions about the future prospects of cooperation between Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially in light of the recent advancements towards opening accession talks between the European Union and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The event not only provided valuable insights into Turkiye's diplomatic stance on the Balkans but also fostered a dynamic exchange of ideas between the Ambassador and the engaged audience.