BANJA LUKA, Bosnia-Herzegovina — A meeting discussing cooperation in the volatile Balkans was held on Wednesday without a representative from Kosovo amid continuing tensions stemming from the 1990s wars.
The gathering of Balkan officials in Banja Luka, the main town of the Serb entity in Bosnia, was part of an initiative to boost economic and political ties among the Balkan countries.
Kosovo's foreign minister, Behgjet Pacolli, pulled out of the event after nationalist Bosnian Serb President Milorad Dodik said he was not welcome in the Serb-run part of Bosnia.
Serbia and allied Bosnian Serbs have not recognized the 2008 declaration of independence of Kosovo, a former Serbian province. Dodik has described Kosovo as a "fake country."
A pro-Russian politician who has sought the separation of Serbs from the rest of Bosnia, Dodik has stepped up his nationalist rhetoric ahead of the Oct. 7 general election in Bosnia.
Dodik reiterated on Wednesday that Pacolli was an "enemy" of the Serbian people who could expect an "unpleasant welcome."
Bosnia consists of a Bosnian Serb and Muslim-Croat entities established in a peace deal that ended the country's 1992-95 war.
European Union officials have told Balkan nations they must overcome their disputes to advance toward membership in the bloc.