Bosnian Serb health workers get COVID-19 jabs in Serbia

Hundreds of Bosnian Serb medical workers have crossed into neighboring Serbia to receive a COVID-19 vaccine shot as Belgrade seeks to put on display its regional reach and influence following its launch of a nationwide inoculation drive

LOZNICA, Serbia -- Hundreds of Bosnian Serb medical workers crossed into Serbia to receive a COVID-19 vaccine shot on Wednesday after Belgrade donated vaccine doses to neighboring nations in a bid to highlight its regional reach and influence.

Serbia is a European leader in terms of the speed of its vaccination rollout thanks to its strong relations with China and Russia.

Aleksandar Radosavljevic, a doctor who was among those who crossed over into Serbia from the eastern Bosnian town of Bijeljina, described the occasion as a “very happy day for us.”

“This doesn’t mean protection for the medical staff only, but also for the patients and people (we work with,)” he said.

Bosnian Serbs have close ties with Serbia, while other parts of Bosnia are dominated by Bosniaks, who are mostly Muslims, and Croats. The autonomous regions were set up in a peace deal that ended the 1992-95 war.

Serbia was widely been seen as the aggressor in the Balkan wars during the 1990's, that resulted in more than 100,000 deaths and millions being left homeless.

In a move designed to burnish its image, Serbia donated more than 4,000 vaccines to North Macedonia and is sending more to Montenegro later on Wednesday. It has also offered the vaccines to the Bosniak and Croat parts of Bosnia.