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Serbian and Bosnian governments meet at first post-war joint session

Serbia and Bosnia's premiers have held their first joint session since the 1990s Balkan wars. The unifying move has come amidst concerns from Germany that a new Balkan conflict could be on the horizon due to refugees.

For the first time since the Balkan wars of the 1990s, the Bosnian and Serbian governments held a joint government session on Wednesday in Sarajevo.

"We are sending a message to our citizens that we look into the future together," Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic told reporters. "I believe that the message of solving problems together, understanding... and opposition to any hate and conflict in this region is a good message for all of our people," he said.

Bosnia's Prime Minister Denis Zvizdic said the meeting was "a reflection of our mutual efforts to build good neighborly and regional cooperation".

During the session, the two governments signed cooperation agreements on telecommunications, protection of cultural heritage, locating missing persons, and working towards sustainable development. They added that these agreements are only the beginning of their relations improving efforts.

"We are striving toward a different future. We do not want to see an enemy where there is actually a friend," assured Serbia's Vucic.

Refugee 'backlash' concerns

Watch video 03:38

Refugees' lives on the Balkan route

The session comes on the heels of

remarks made by German Chancellor Angela Merkel

earlier this week, who warned that fighting could once again break out in the Balkan countries if Germany were to close its border with Austria.

"It will lead to a backlash," Merkel said in an address to members of her conservative Christian Democratic Union in the German city of Darmstadt. "I do not want military conflicts to become necessary there again," Merkel asserted.

"We have understood Ms Merkel very well and we will make every effort to ensure that this does not happen. I am convinced that something like this will not happen," said Vucic in response to her concerns.

During the 1992-1995 Bosnian war, 100,000 lives were lost, leaving almost half of the pre-war population displaced. Since then, Serbia and Bosnia have worked on gradually mending their relationship, despite unresolved war crimes issues.

Later this month, Bosnia will mark the 20th anniversary of the Dayton Peace Accords, which ended the conflict.

rs/jr (AP, AFP)

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