'Pearl of Bosnia' set to reopen after 27 years

             By Talha Ozturk </p>  <p>BELGRADE, Serbia (AA) - The Alaca Mosque, known as the &quot;Pearl of Bosnia,&quot; will be reopened Saturday after a five-year rebuilding process with the support of Turkey.</p>  <p>Located in Foca in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina, the mosque was demolished by Serb forces during the Bosnian War, nearly three decades ago. </p>  <p>Built in 1549 by Hasan Nezir, a close colleague of the famous chief Ottoman architect and civil engineer, Mimar Sinan, it is one of the first mosques built with the classical Ottoman architecture in Bosnia and Herzegovina.</p>  <p>The ceremony Saturday is expected to be attended by Turkey's Ministry of Culture and Tourism Mehmet Nuri Ersoy and General Director of Foundations Adnan Ertem.</p>  <p>With the support of the General Directorate of Foundations, the reconstruction of the mosque began in 2014.</p>  <p>The mosque was demolished by the Serbs in 1992, when the war began.</p>  <p>Stones of the mosque were found buried at two different locations hundreds of feet from its present site. </p>  <p>There were 12 mosques in Foca when the war started. All were destroyed by Serb forces. </p>  <p>According to Bosnia's Islamic Union, 614 mosques, 218 prayer rooms, 69 Quran course sites, four dervish lodges, 37 tombs and 405 pieces of historical heritage that belong to Muslim foundations were destroyed during the war.</p>  <p>Some 534 mosques in territories controlled by Serb forces were destroyed, while 80 mosques were destroyed in territories under Croat forces.</p>  <p>According to the union, 80% of the 1,144 mosques in Bosnia were destroyed or damaged and more than 100 imams were killed by Serb and Croat forces.</p>  <p>The mosque will be opened on the eve of Bosnia's Day of Mosques, according to a statement from the Islamic Union of Bosnia Herzegovina.</p>  <p>The small Balkan country which survived massive shelling during the war, as well as massacres and the 1995 Srebrenica genocide, marks May 7 as the Day of Mosques.

Bosnian leaders to pay official visit to Turkey

By Lejla Biogradlija

BELGRADE, Serbia (AA) – Bosnia and Herzegovina's Presidential Council members will pay an official visit to Turkey on Thursday upon the invitation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Thursday's visit is going to be the first since Chairman of the Council and the Serb member Milorad Dodik and Bosniak member Sefik Dzaferovic were elected last October.

Meanwhile, the Croat member Zeljko Komsic will not be able to travel due to his health problems.

Economic, trade and infrastructure projects as well as bilateral relations will be discussed during the visit, according to a statement.

Information received from diplomatic sources revealed the focal point of the visit is the revised free trade agreement and the Sarajevo-Belgrade Highway Project supported by Turkey.

The Presidential Council in Bosnia and Herzegovina has three members, representing Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats. The members are elected for a period of four years and rotate every eight months.

Anadolu Agency receives award at Balkan Davos

By Talha Ozturk

SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina (AA) – Anadolu Agency has received an award by the Sarajevo Business Forum for its support and contribution.

Anadolu Agency has served as the global communication partner of the forum for the last seven years.

Hakan Celik, editor of the Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian service, received the award at a ceremony held at the historical Vijecnica Library in capital Sarajevo.

Sarajevo Mayor Abdulah Skaka, in his speech, thanked everyone for their support for the development and promotion of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Amer Bukvic, CEO of Bosna Bank International, said the forum is hosting more than 2,000 participants from 50 different countries.

Also, Turkish Airlines, Ziraat Bank, and Sekib Avdagic, president of Istanbul Chamber of Commerce, received awards.

The 10th edition of the forum opened Wednesday with Turkey playing a prominent role.

Dubbed the "Balkan Davos", the event focuses on expanding regional economic cooperation and attracting international investment to Southeast Europe.

Turkey's Vice President Fuat Oktay featured among this year's speakers.

Slovenian President Borut Pahor, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Bin Mohamad and members of the Presidency of Bosnia are also attending the event.

The forum aims to unite the region under a single economy under the slogan of "One region-one economy".

The forum has been held since 2010 in a collaborative effort by Bosna Bank International and Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank.

10th Sarajevo Business Forum begins in Bosnia

By Talha Ozturk and Muhammed Ali Gurtas

SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina (AA) – The tenth Sarajevo Business Forum (SBF) began Wednesday in the Bosnian capital with Turkey playing a prominent role.

Dubbed the "Balkan Davos", the event will focus on expanding regional economic cooperation and attracting international investment to Southeast Europe.

Turkey's Vice President Fuat Oktay features among this year's speakers.

The inauguration of the business forum attended by Slovenian President Borut Pahor, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Bin Mohamad and members of the Presidency of Bosnia.

Also, a large delegation of 50 business people from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and high ranking officials from many countries are among the participants.

Anadolu Agency is the global communication partner for the three-day business conference in Bosnia and Herzegovina, dubbed the ‘Balkan Davos’, where Turkey plays a prominent role.

On the first day, the Sarajevo Business Bridge Awards will be presented to successful entrepreneurs with a ceremony.

Panels titled "Leadership Panel", Challenges for the Southeast Europe Region (Turning Brain Drain into Brain Gain) and Sustainable Development will also be held.

The former Croatian president, Stjepan Mesic and President of Istanbul Chamber of Commerce Sekib Avdagic are among the many officials to address the participants.

On the second day, panels and presentations will be held on "Investment Climate in Bosnia and Herzegovina within Western Balkans Context, The Fourth Industrial Revolution – Digital Revolution, The Cutting Edge of Malaysian Technology and Benefiting from Wood & Furniture Industry Development.

The event is expecting a record number of participants this year.

The forum aims to make the region a single economy under the slogan of "One region-one economy".

The forum has been held since 2010 in a collaborative effort by Bosna Bank International and Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank.

'Balkan Davos' to kick off in Bosnia and Herzegovina

By Talha Ozturk

SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina (AA) – The 10th Sarajevo Business Forum (SBF) will be held on Wednesday in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo.

Anadolu Agency is the global communication partner for the three-day business conference in Bosnia and Herzegovina, dubbed the ‘Balkan Davos’, where Turkey plays a prominent role.

The inauguration of the business forum will be attended by Slovenian President Borut Pahor, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Bin Mohamad and members of the Presidency of Bosnia.

Also, a large delegation of 50 business people from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and high ranking officials from many countries will participate.

The forum will set the scene for exchange between top government officials and key business figures in Bosnia and Herzegovina and other Balkan countries.

Bosnia and Herzegovina this year is expecting a record number of participants.

Amer Bukvic, CEO of Bosna Bank International, earlier said the forum aims to make the region a single economy under the slogan of 'One region-one economy'.

The Sarajevo Business Forum has been held since 2010 in a collaborative effort by Bosna Bank International and Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank.

Bosnia: Turkish envoy condemns racist attack on mosque

By Talha Ozturk

BELGRADE, Serbia (AA) Turkey's ambassador to Sarajevo on Thursday condemned a racist attack on a historic mosque in Banja Luka.

"Such attacks will not succeed in achieving the attackers’ goals, because Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina have deep-rooted relations and a common history and culture," said Haldun Koc.

The Arnaudija Mosque suffered a racist attack Tuesday when assailants spray-painted swastikas as well as the extreme Serbian nationalist symbol "4S."

Koc said that the attack had been a deliberate provocation, adding that they know of the existence of those who want to harm bilateral relations.

"We have to be very precise and responsive on these issues. The Bosnian authorities are also sensitive, and I know that they condemn this heinous act," said Koc.

The 16th-century mosque, located in Banja Luka in the Republika Srpska (RS) entity in northwestern Bosnia and Herzegovina, was completely demolished by Serb forces during the 1992-1995 Bosnian War.

Owing to its historical importance, it has been under reconstruction by Turkey's Foundations General Directorate since 2017.

UN court set to rule on Karadzic's appeal

             <p>By Talha Ozturk<br> <br> BELGRADE, Serbia (AA) - A UN tribunal on Wednesday is set to issue a ruling on former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic's appeal in The Hague.<br> <br> In 2016 Karadzic was sentenced to 40 years in prison on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity relating to the 1992-1995 Bosnian War. He then filed an appeal seeking an acquittal or retrial.<br> <br> Prosecutors are also seeking a life sentence and a second genocide conviction for his alleged role in a policy of targeting non-Serbs across Bosnia in the early years of the war.<br> <br> UN judges in The Hague tribunal had found Karadzic guilty on 10 counts out of a total of 11 charges.</p>  <p><br><br> - 'Butcher of Bosnia'<br> <br> </p>  <p>While the court convicted Karadzic over his role in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, he was found not guilty of genocides in seven other Bosnian municipalities: Bratunac, Foca, Kljuc, Prijedor, Sanski Most, Vlasenica and Zvornik.<br> <br> Apart from his single genocide conviction, he was also found guilty on five counts of crimes against humanity and four war crimes charges, including taking UN soldiers hostage, extermination of civilians, murders, and attacks on soldiers.<br> <br> Karadzic was the president of the self-styled Bosnian Serb Republic and supreme commander of its armed forces between 1992 and 1995, when around 100,000 Bosnians died as the former Yugoslavia descended into ethnic bloodshed.<br> <br> He was charged with 11 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, including the siege of Sarajevo and the Srebrenica genocide, Europe's worst atrocity since World War II.<br> <br> Karadzic -- dubbed the Butcher of Bosnia -- was first indicted in July 1995 for the shooting of unarmed civilians in Sarajevo and taking UN peacekeepers hostage. Four months later, he was accused of orchestrating the slaughter of 8,000 Muslim men and boys after Serb forces seized the UN’s Srebrenica “safe area” in eastern Bosnia.<br> <br> He went on the run after the war and was finally arrested in Belgrade in 2008.<br> <br> During the case, more than 580 witnesses gave testimony of crimes such as the murder of Muslims and Croats and the destruction of private property and mosques across Bosnia.<br> </p>  

Bosnia expects EU candidate country status

By Lejla Biogradlija

BELGRADE, Serbia (AA) – Milorad Dodik, current chairman and Serb member of the tripartite presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said he hopes to obtain candidate country status from the European Union in the near future.

Bosnia and Herzegovina on Monday submitted additional answers in the EU question booklet, a pre-condition for the status of "candidate country".

Dodik met EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in Brussels.

Speaking at a news conference after the meeting, Dodik said Bosnia and Herzegovina, where different ethnic groups live together, is inching closer to EU membership.

"There are some questions that have no answer, but this is also an answer," said Dodik, referring to some questions they left blank.

"We have friends in both Brussels and Moscow. I represent people and a country that should have good relations with everyone, both globally and regionally," said Dodik.

He added that Republika Srpska, one of the two entities of the country, had no plans to seek secession.

Hahn said the EU will prepare a report on the country, and in return Sarajevo should continue to implement major reforms toward EU integration.

He also announced that he will visit the country at the end of this month.

Bosnia and Herzegovina officially applied for EU membership in February 2016. The application was adopted in September 2016 and the EU questionnaire was handed over to Bosnian officials in December 2016.

Bosnia and Herzegovina, which did not answer 23 questions, is expecting to receive "candidate country" status.

Bosnia: Route set for new Sarajevo-Belgrade highway

                              By Talha Ozturk</p>  <p>BELGRADE, Serbia (AA) - Officials of Bosnia Herzegovina on Tuesday finally agreed on a route for a highway linking Sarajevo to Belgrade, Serbia's capital.</p>  <p>Milorad Dodik, chairman of the Bosnia Herzegovina Presidency, announced the final deal after meeting with the relevant ministers.</p>  <p>&quot;We agreed that a single section to be officially submitted will be drawn on the map in the next seven days,&quot; Dodik told a press conference after the meeting.</p>  <p>Dodik said the entire project will cost nearly $3.41 billion, and Turkey is ready to provide the necessary funds, seeing it as a project for peace.</p>  <p>&quot;I can say that the route will go from Raca via Bijeljina, then across Brcko and Loncar, down to Sarajevo, through Tuzla and Zepce, next to Pale, Rogatic and Visegrad, where a connection is made for Gorazde. We will connect to Serbia at Vardiste near Visegrad,” he explained.</p>  <p>In December 2018 Turkey’s Tasyapi signed a contract with the Serbian government for the highway.</p>  <p>Turkey sees the highway's role as a guarantor for peace in the region.</p>  <p>The project was brought up more than two years ago, but it hit a snag over its route, with 16 different paths proposed.</p>  <p>While Serbia wanted the road to run through eastern Bosnia, the Bosnian side wanted it to run through northeast Bosnia.</p>  <p>However, the dispute over the routes ended following a meeting in Turkey between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, and former Bosniak Member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Bakir Izetbegovic.</p>  <p>With Erdogan’s support, the proposals of both sides were accepted, through building the highway via two different routes.</p>  <p> 

EYOF 2019 kicks off in Bosnian capital Sarajevo

By Lejla Biogradlija, Talha Ozturk</p>  <p>BELGRADE, Serbia (AA) - The 2019 European Youth Olympic Winter Festival (EYOF 2019) kicked off in the Bosnian capital with a with a dazzling opening ceremony on Sunday.

The official opening ceremony was started with lighting the Olympic flame by Bosnia and Herzegovina's best athlete Larisa Ceric.

The parade of 1,500 athletes and traditional folk dances of thousands of dancers created a colorful and visual atmosphere at Asim Ferhatovic Hase Olympic Stadium in Sarajevo.

Chairman of the tripartite Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Milorad Dodik and members of the presidency Zeljko Komsic and Sefik Dzaferovic along with Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and other local officials attended the ceremony.

At his opening speech, Dodik said the young people represent their countries in the best way through sports.

“We are happy to see the Olympic fire once again in Sarajevo," he added.

Sarajevo hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics.

The city’s Mayor Abdulah Skaka labelled that EYOF 2019 as “a historical event” for Bosnia.

A total of 1,500 athletes between 14 and 18 years of old from 46 countries will participate in the festival taking place under the slogan "We are building it together".

During the event, athletes compete in 8 branches; alpine skiing, figure skating, biathlon, curling, cross-country skiing, short distance speed skating, snowboarding and ice hockey.

The event will end on Feb. 16 at the Slavija Stadium in East Sarajevo.

There are a winter and a summer edition of EYOF, which take place in two-year cycles, in odd-numbered years.

Last winter EYOF was held in the eastern Turkish province of Erzurum in 2017.

A total of 34 Turkish athletes are participating in this year’s festival in 6 branches.

Their competitions will begin on Monday in alpine skiing, curling, skiing and short-distance speed skating branches.