Prime Minister of the Republika Srpska (RS) region of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr. Milorad Dodik, joined BiH Representative to the Council of Europe Ambassador Borislav Maric today in an inaugural visit to AER's Strasbourg Headquarters.
Republika Srpska's application for AER membership was accepted in November 2007, during AER's annual General Assembly held in Udine, Italy. The RS is the newest member of AER's growing family of more than 260 regions (including seven cantons in the BiH Federation) from 33 countries and 14 interregional organisations from across wider Europe.
Prime Minister Dodik met with AER's Secretary-General Klaus Klipp and senior staff, who briefed the Prime Minister about AER's current work and plans for the future. PM Dodik expressed a particular interest in AER's activities in the fields of economic development, rural development, sustainable tourism, regional airport development, emergency planning, health and social policy development, as well as youth programs such as Eurodyssey (a regional work exchange program) and Youth Summer School.
AER membership opens a door for the RS to join an expanding network of regional representations in Brussels, which will enable them access to invaluable project and partnership opportunities. Mr. Klipp offered AER's assistance in preparing a strategy for the opening of an RS representation office in Brussels.
"We hope the RS will take full advantage of what AER membership has to offer," Mr. Klipp said. 'As with other Western Balkan regions, the RS can benefit greatly from capacity building initiatives such as AER's Training Academy and Summer School. We can also assist RS authorities in establishing partnerships with western European regions who are willing to share their wealth of knowledge and experience with other regions."
PM Dodik offered to host an AER regional conference in the future, stressing that it would be a unique opportunity to attract regional politicians and experts to the RS capital Banja Luka.
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The Assembly of European Regions (AER.eu) is the independent organisation of the regions in wider Europe.
Bringing together more than 260 regions from 33 countries and 14 interregional organisations, AER is the political voice of its members and a forum for interregional lobbying and co-operation.