Turkey’s President Erdogan is in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo to hold a rally ahead of next month’s election in his country. He was greeted by the leader of Bosnia’s SDA party, Bakir Izetbegovic, who is a member of the tripartite presidency.
Erdogan is trying to garner support from expat Turks, many of whom are eligible to vote.
His presence in Bosnia defies other other European countries, including the Netherlands, Germany and Austria, who have prevented Turkish politicians from campaigning on their soil.
“He is coming because he wants to rise politically in his party and his country and not because of us,” said one woman living in Sarajevo. “Of course, he’s a president close to our Bakir Izetbegovic and they all help each other, but I doubt there’s any help for us in it.”
“I don’t really know what kind of effect he hopes to get from his campaign,” said a student. “From some people, I heard that they have really bad opinion about him. I don’t really know why.”
Bosnia also has an election coming up later this year and some see Erdogan’s presence as Ankara meddling in Bosnian political affairs given that Turkey could significantly influence the Balkan country’s sizeable Muslim community.
“If you approach the elections as a Bosniak, the Turkey card is tremendously important,” said political analyst Adnan Huskic. “And in this sense, I guess that this is certainly going to provide an additional push for the SDA and Izetbegovic, and perhaps his wife’s bid for the presidency.”
#Erdogan is in Bosnia: "We have our elections on 24 June, Bosnia has election on 7 October. I hope both elections will pave the way for unity, fraternity and cooperation in both our countries. We hope that these elections will be transparent, peaceful, democratic and fair."
— Seref Isler (@seref_i) May 20, 2018
The elections in Turkey are significant in that they’re likely to result in a move from a parliamentary to a presidential system, resulting in more power being given to the president.