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France and Bosnia-Herzegovina

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Political relations

Political dialogue between France and Bosnia and Herzegovina started with the country’s independence and was never interrupted, even during the years of conflict. During the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992-1995), France’s military, diplomatic and political involvement was strong, as follows: contribution to the United Nations Protection Force – UNPROFOR (84 French soldiers fell during operations); deployment of French forces in besieged Sarajevo from summer 1992; France was the first Member State to open an Embassy in Sarajevo in January 1993; creation of the Contact Group in April 1994. The Dayton Peace Agreement, which put an end to the conflict, was signed in Paris on 14 December 1995. France’s involvement continued during the years of reconstruction, including through its participation in peacekeeping operations. In early 2009, France initiated the withdrawal, now completed, of its contingent (85 troops) deployed in Bosnia and Herzegovina under Operation EUFOR ALTHEA. France also played an active part in the European Union Police Mission (EUPM), now closed, in which some 265 police officers and gendarmes participated from 2003 to 2011. France is a member of the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council (PIC), which is the executive arm of international oversight in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Political dialogue between the French and Bosnian authorities

Visits to Bosnia and Herzegovina

In recent years, the French Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Mr Bernard Kouchner, visited Sarajevo on 8-9 April 2009. Mr Kouchner also visited Bosnia and Herzegovina on 10-11 July 2010 to attend the commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre. Mr François Lamy, French Minister Delegate for Urban Affairs, attached to the Minister of Territorial Equality and Housing, visited Sarajevo in September 2012.

Interparliamentary exchanges are active, through the Friendship Group of the French National Assembly (which carried out missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina in December 2006, July 2008 and October 2012) and the French Senate’s France-Western Balkans Interparliamentary Group, which visited Bosnia and Herzegovina in April 2009 and September 2012. The French Minister of State for European Affairs, Mr Harlem Désir, visited Sarajevo on 28 June 2014 to attend the centenary commemoration of the assassination of Archduke Francis-Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Habsburgs, on 28 June 1914. Mr Jean-Marc Todeschini, Minister of State for Veterans and Remembrance, visited Srebrenica in July 2015 on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the genocide.

Visits to France

In April 2008, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr Sven Alkalaj, met with Mr Jean-Pierre Jouyet, French Minister of State for European Affairs, and Mr Haris Silajdžić, the then Bosniak Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, was invited to Paris on 13 July 2008 to the founding Summit of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM). He also met the French Minister of Foreign and European Affairs at the October 2008 Conference of Ambassadors of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Paris, and on 30 September 2009. Mr Sadik Ahmetović, Minister of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina, was received by the French Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Ms Michèle Alliot-Marie, on 15 December 2010. Mr Željko Komšić, Croat member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, was received by President Nicolas Sarkozy on 19 December 2007. The Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina was received by President Hollande on 28 May 2013.

In 2015, Mr Fadil Novalić, Prime Minister of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, made a working visit to France in connection with his policy of implementation of the structural reforms promoted by the European Union. He was received by Mr Harlem Désir on 21 October 2015. Mr Dragan Mektić, Minister of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina, visited France from 16 to 19 November 2015 to attend the Milipol Paris Worldwide Exhibition of Internal Security. On the occasion of the Western Balkans Summit on 4 July 2016 in Paris, the French Foreign Minister, Mr Jean-Marc Ayrault, met with his Bosnian counterpart Igor Crnadak. The Bosnian delegation was led by the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr Denis Zvizdić.

- Further information on the website of the French Embassy (in French)

Economic relations

The volume of trade between France and Bosnia and Herzegovina is still low. Bosnia and Herzegovina trades mainly with its near neighbours, both outside and inside the European Union (Russia, Croatia, Serbia, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Austria, Montenegro).

Small but increasing trade

EU countries are the main customers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, accounting for 72% of its exports, and its main suppliers, providing 59% of BiH imports. However, France is only a very small economic partner of BiH.

France and Bosnia and Herzegovina traded €175 million of goods in 2015, down 3% compared to 2014 which was an exceptional export year in certain sectors, following the disastrous floods in May 2014. Our exports and imports were respectively €80 million and €95 million, consisting of manufactured goods, for a trade balance that again posted a deficit in 2015, with a drop to €15 million.

In 2015, accounting for 2% of BiH imports, France was its eighth-largest European supplier, after Germany, Italy, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Poland and Hungary, and its 12th-largest supplier in the world, after China, Russia, Turkey and the United States.

Very limited French investments

According to the Bank of France, French FDI stock amounted to €23.5 million in 2014. According to the Central Bank, it amounted to €31 million (or 0.5% of total stock) in 2014, making France the 19th-largest investor in BiH. In 2014, French FDI flows amounted to €0.4 million, according to the Bank of France. Having reached €87 million in 2011, French FDI flows were marked by a disinvestment of €60 million in 2012 and rebounded to €14 million in 2013. According to the Chamber of Commerce of Bosnia and Herzegovina, French FDI flows in BiH fell to €2 million in 2014. The main investors in Bosnia and Herzegovina are the French dairy group Lactalis via its Croatian subsidiary Dukat, and the oil and gas engineering group Technip with a 33% stake in Petrolinvest.
There are, however, opportunities for our companies, especially in the sectors of infrastructure and energy. Bosnia and Herzegovina is the only country in the region where no French bank is present.

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Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Our cooperation relies on the Sarajevo-based French Institute in Bosnia and Herzegovina (IFBH) and its regional centres in Mostar and Banja Luka, and on the legacy of the André Malraux Centre, which was established in Sarajevo during the conflict. The two institutions merged in 2014.

- Website of the French Embassy

Other cooperation

An Internal Security Attaché (ASI) based in Sarajevo implements police cooperation actions, mainly with central services (Bosnian State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA), and the border police in particular) whose priority is combating organized crime, terrorism and illegal immigration. New emphasis has been placed on the civil security aspect.

- Further information on the website of the French Embassy (in French)

Updated: 20/09/2016

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