BANJA LUKA, Bosnia (Reuters) - Bosnia’s presidency chairman cancelled a meeting with Turkey’s foreign minister on Saturday, following a protocol dispute that may strain relations between Sarajevo and Ankara.
Nebojsa Radmanovic, the Serb member of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency, refused to meet Ahmet Davutoglu after the Turkish minister’s staff demanded that Bosnian Serb flag should be removed from the meeting venue.
“We believe that such a move on the part of Turkey is unacceptable behaviour and a diplomatic incident that will surely have consequences,” Radmanovic’s office said in a statement.
Traditionally Muslim Turkey, once an imperial power in the Balkans, supported Bosnia’s Muslims during their 1992-95 war with the Bosnian Serbs. Those Serbs are wary of what they see as an increasingly visible Turkish role in the region.
Reaching out to the Serbs, Davutoglu was paying a first visit to the Bosnian Serb Republic. After meeting its president, Milorad Dodik, he said: “With other regional partners — Serb, Croats and neighbours — we will continue to support Bosnia together.”
Bosnia is still overseen by an international envoy and EU-led peacekeepers following the end of war in 1995. The protectorate status is blocking Bosnia in its bid to join the European Union.
October elections produced a deadlock in the formation of a national government and of a government for the Muslim-Croat federation.
Reporting by Gordana Katana in Banja Luka; Writing by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Alastair Macdonald