Turkey, Serbia expand cooperation with visa deal
Turkey and Serbia signed a number of agreements yesterday, including one on lifting visa requirements, expanding cooperation between the two countries despite past tensions. "We saw a firm political will on both sides to improve bilateral relations during meetings," Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a joint news conference in Belgrade with his Serbian counterpart Mirko Cvetkovic. The visa-free travel agreement with Serbia brings the number of countries Turkish citizens can visit without a visa to 62. Turkish Airlines (THY) is also in talks to buy Serbia's main airline, Jat Airways. Erdogan said his government will follow the buyout negotiations and supports further cooperation in aviation. Erdogan described his talks in Serbia as "productive" and said they reviewed political, military, economic, cultural and administrative ties. Erdogan visited Serbia after attending a ceremony commemorating the 15th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where Serbian President Boris Tadic was also present. Erdogan said Turkey is glad to support Serbia's moves towards integration with the European Union. "This shared goal will contribute to peace and stability in the Balkans," he said. "Turkey considers Serbia a leading actor in the Balkans. Enhanced peace, stability and welfare in the Balkans will be certainly realized through Serbia's contributions." He added that Turkey and Serbia confirmed their determination to improve cooperation on regional issues, and particularly supporting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Forty-nine percent of Bosnia and Herzegovina's land is under the control of the autonomous Republika Srpska, a territory predominantly populated by Serbs who sought to take the control of the whole country in early 1990s and refuse to integrate with the rest of the country.