Representatives of cultural and tourism sectors from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo agreed at a regional conference held in Sarajevo on 23rd November 2016 that a better cooperation between the countries is essential for the economic development and cultural exchange.
The conference “Bridging societies through tourism and culture, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo – How to overcome communication barriers?” was organized by EC Ma Ndryshe from Kosovo and Foundation Cultural Heritage without Borders Bosnia and Herzegovina (CHwB BiH).
The purpose of the conference was to gather representatives from tourist agencies, artists, craftsman, universities and governmental institutions in order to discuss the ways on overcoming current issues caused by the mutually applied visa policy.
At the conference was stated that Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo have rich cultural, historical and natural heritage that should become accessible to citizens of both countries. Abolishing visa regime and improving relationship between the countries would contribute to the economic development, increase in the promotion of their touristic, cultural and other potentials, and achieving human rights: right to freedom of movement and right to access to culture and cultural heritage.
Executive Director of DokuFest from Kosovo, Eroll Bilibani and Director of Pravo Ljudski Film Festival, Kumjana Novakova spoke about joint experience and problems that evolved in organizing a documentary film school in Prizren. Since the participants from Bosnia and Herzegovina did not get visas for Kosovo, the school was organized in the last minute in Macedonia.
“This project is aimed at youngsters from different countries of the region. Despite the problems we had, we won’t give up from cooperation. Those who are the most affected by the visa policies are users of our programmes, young people. Visa policies are creating prejudices among young people,” said Novakova.
Nihad Kreševljaković, director of the International Theatre Festival MESS, at the conference said that the cooperation between artists in both countries is important for cultural exchange.
“Kosovo has one of the best film festivals in the region and there live people with experience relevant to us. We at MESS will continue to safeguard the image of what we believe Bosnia and Herzegovina is, a country that is not discriminating people on any grounds. Given the fact that this is a serious discrimination of people, I can only express hope that this will change in the future,” stated Kreševljaković.
At the conference spoke representatives of tourism sector from both countries. Zeke Ceku from Kosovo in his speech said that the whole Balkan is one tourist destination. Valbona Dushi, Head of Department of Industry, Ministry of Trade and Industry of Kosovo emphasised the important role that ministries have as partners in IPA programmes of cross-borders cooperation, while director of association Sofra from Kosovo, Berhil Šasivari presented economic indicators of loss of profit and decrease economic exchange of goods between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.
This conference is a continuation of the two-day meeting held in Kotor, Montenegro, in July 2016 which gathered representatives of civil and private sector in the area of tourism and culture. The conference is part of the project “Cooperation in tourism and culture between Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina”, funded by Kosovo Fondation for Open Society.