COLUMN, INTERVIEWS, POLITICS

Exclusive Interview with the Ambassador of Japan to BiH Makoto Ito

Following the signing of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina in December 1995, February 9th, diplomatic relations were established between Japan and BiH. Majority of people in BiH know Japan as friendly country. How would you assess the bilateral relations between two countries after 1996? Are the relations progressing?

A Special year for Japan and Bosnia and Herzegovina is coming to an end. This year, we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between the two countries. On this very important anniversary, we have planned a variety of events, but unfortunately, under the Covid-19 pandemic, we have been forced to postpone or cancel many of them. Nevertheless, Foreign Minister Motegi visited BiH, which was the first visit by a Japanese Foreign Minister in approximately 23 years, His Excellency Makoto Ito said.

During his stay, Minister Motegi had a very fruitful and constructive discussion with his counterpart BiH Foreign Minister, Dr. Turković. On that occasion, a couple of cooperation agreements have been signed. FurthermoreMinister Motegi had a meeting with all three members of BiH Presidency where he had a veryfrank discussion on bilateral and international relations, he added.

As for myself, this year was the first year of my mandate here in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I have signed many grant agreements with government and local authorities. I have intensively visited local communities and attended handover ceremonies of our cooperation projects.

As a member of the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board (PIC SB) since 1995, the Government of Japan has been actively providing support to the country’s renewal in approximately 1 billion BAM. Can you explain to our readers where the most money was allocated? Can you provide us with some results of the most important projects?

“Our Cooperation policy towards Bosnia and Herzegovina has four main pillars, which are education, environment protection, health care and demining. I see in these sectors tangible and positive results through our cooperation. I am ready to further extend our support in order to contribute to the stable economic and social development of your country,” he added.

 In January 2017, the cities of Hiroshima and Sarajevo signed a declaration of exchange of experience and cooperation between the two cities and their countries. Please tell us more about cooperation‘s results.

“I am aware of this declaration between the two cities. I know the Covid-19 pandemic has unfortunately prevented the two cities from any concrete exchanges and cooperation until now. However, I sincerely hope the two cities will enhance the contacts and collaboration after the pandemic,” Ambassador said.

What are the projects you will work on as Ambassador of Japan to BiH? What will be your priorities?

“As you mentioned, Japan is a member of Peace Implementation Council Steering Board and our Government has been contributing to the OHR activities. We will also continue to support newly appointed High Representative, Mr. Christian Schmidt in the difficult task to achieve the stability and development of your country. After gaining significant momentum for enhancement of the bilateral relationship this year, my priorities are to continue bilateral support to your country for stable and peaceful development and to contribute to securing the territorial integrity as a sovereign state. In this regard, the general election in the next year will be very important and constructive dialogues among political leaders are needed more than ever for the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” H.E. added.

“Dear leaders of Sarajevo Times, I wish you a wonderful and happy 2022,” His Excellency concluded.

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