Says cultural ties to be further cemented; hopes people to people contacts to improve further; terms Pakistan his second home
ISLAMABAD: Ambassador of Bosnia to Pakistan Nedim Makarevic has said his country offers huge incentives to Pakistani businessmen adding he was concentrating much on promoting cultural relations between the two countries.
Ambassador Nedim expressed these views while giving an exclusive interview to DNA on Friday.
The ambassador further said people to people contacts between the two counties had also been improved. He termed Pakistan his second home.
Giving a brief account of bilateral relations Ambassador Nedim Makarevic said, Bosnia and Pakistan have an emotional relationship. We work closely with each other at various forums including the United Nations. A number of agreements in various sectors such as defence, textile, surgical instruments and education have been signed between the two countries. Bosnia’s first professor had also started teaching at the National University of Sciences and Technology. The mission was also extending scholarships for Bosnian students to study in Pakistan.
He added, although Bosnia is not such a big market yet Pakistan business community has a great potential to invest in Bosnia and expand trade after getting GSP-plus status, as Pakistani half-finished products could be completed in Bosnia and exported to the European market.
As an example, surgical instruments and textile industry have great scope in the European markets through Bosnia. Unfortunately all these products come to Bosnia through another country. They are in fact Pakistani products but are finished and chromed in a third country and reach Bosnia market with the stamp of that particular country.
I think, it is mistake on both sides, if we do not have direct trade. We have invited many delegations to Bosnia, who have travelled there; had a great time there but there has been no tangible outcome, he added.
Let me empathically state that Pakistan businessmen have a great potential and prospects. Half finished Pakistani products can be given final touches in Bosnia and then exported to the European markets.
“Let me also share with you that those who are in possession of valid Schengen visa do not need Bosnian visa. I believe majority of the serious Pakistani businessmen have valid Schengen visa therefore it is not difficult for them to go to Bosnia and explore various business potentials there. Since we are a candidate for European Union membership therefore we have to follow the visa regime in vogue in the EU member states. However, we still try at our end to facilitate genuine and serious Pakistani businessmen and those who are going to Bosnia for tourism purposes”.
The trade volume between the two countries was quite low before my arrival here, however the volume is now increased by 300 per cent but still I think there is tremendous scope for improvement.
My first and foremost responsibility is to further improve this volume to even greater levels. Let me also say here that our cooperation in the field of defence is quite encouraging.
He added, he had time and again emphasized at various forums and meetings to the Pakistani people that Bosnia offers them huge incentives and will facilitate all business ventures by Pakistani people . If someone opens a company in Bosnia and has three employees in his office he or she can live in Bosnia for three consecutive months in one year.
The visa can be extended for one more time. After this the D visa is issued which is valid for two years. And once you spend five years in Bosnia you become eligible to apply for the Bosnian nationality.
The initial cost, which one has to bear to start the business is just USD 3,000 and imagine if someone sets up business and later gets Bosnian nationality and Bosnia becomes European Union member then what prospects and status that particular individual would have within the European Union? Perhaps no other country offers its nationality on such easy terms as Bosnia.
Therefore, I urge and encourage Pakistani businessmen to visit to Bosnia and invest there in order to secure a bright and prosperous future.
When asked to comment on launching of his book in Pakistan the Ambassador said, “ As I highlighted before that we are cooperating in the field of education by sending Pakistani students to Bosnia for higher studies for a two year program. Similarly, NUST has offered 30 scholarships in the field of engineering to Bosnian student”.
He said, culture was yet another field where both countries can cooperate with each other. Pakistani Qawali music is something, which can be promoted in Bosnia. I am planning to send some Qawali musicians to Bosnia. Likewise musicians from Bosnia will come to Pakistan also. I am confident this exchange of artists would contribute significantly towards promotion of cultural ties between the two countries.
Giving details of the diplomatic band he said, not many people know that originally he floated the idea of having a diplomatic band. The former Australian High Commissioner Peter Heyward invited me over a cup of coffee and during our conversation I discussed this idea with him.
His support was forthcoming and he offered to be part of the band as a flute player. Then we teamed up with the former Danish ambassador Jesper Sorensen and the incumbent Japanese ambassador Hiroshi Inomata. Thus this diplomatic band “The Envoys” came into being. We received tremendous support and appreciation from the people at the outset much beyond our expectations. The band was an instant success which encouraged us to perform even better.
When asked to share Bosnian prospects for EU membership the ambassador said, Bosnia of course is a potential candidate for EU membership nevertheless we have some problems also. As you know, there is a Serbian minority in Bosnia, which has representation in the parliament also. Serbs do not want Bosnia to become member of the European Union and that is the key hurdle in the way of our membership to the European Union.
Some other countries like Serbia are playing politics on this issue. Serbia wants to join European Union first and then may cooperate with Bosnia on the issue of EU membership. Though we are very close to becoming a NATO member.=DNA