Underlining its strong joint commitment to the future of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the United States of America today expressed joint commitment with European Union for a stable, prosperous, democratic, and multiethnic Bosnia-Herzegovina.
In her remarks with Bosnian Presidency Chairman Bakir Izetbegovic and EU High Representative Lady Catherine Ashton in Sarajevo, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says the US believes joining the European Union and NATO offers the country the best path to lasting stability and prosperity.
“We have no doubt that Bosnia-Herzegovina belongs in Europe. And we also believe strongly that the young people, some of whom I was privileged to meet with two years ago, deserve that kind of future.” -Ms. Clinton
According to Ms. Clinton, since her visit in 2010, there has been some progress toward these goals.
She notes last month’s local elections showed the strength of the people’s commitment to their own future.
Free and fair elections, including voting rights for internally displaced people and returnees, are a key element of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s future as a member of the EU and of the Euro-Atlantic Alliance, she highlighted.
She says the meeting is a venue to urge that all of the leaders of the country find common ground and act in the interests of the people.
“Obstacles that the country faced when I was last here still remain.” -Ms. Clinton
Key reforms have not yet been made, she added.
She stresses that party differences stand in the way of shared progress.
“And so we hope that that compromise, which demonstrates brave and courageous leadership, can be made in order to move the country forward.” -Ms. Clinton
In addition, it is totally unacceptable that, 17 years after the war ended, some still question Bosnia-Herzegovina’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, she underlined.
Ms. Clinton notes that such talk is a distraction from the problems facing the country and serves only to undermine the goal of European integration.
The Dayton Accords must be respected and preserved, period, she emphaized.
The choice to make the necessary reforms and move beyond narrow political interests does not, however, belong to either the United States or the European Union, she pointed out.
“It belongs to you, the people and leaders of Bosnia-Herzegovina.” -Ms. Clinton
The United States stands with the people in urging that the leaders do the business of the people and move forward.
The United States is very proud of our relationship with Bosnia and Herzegovina, she noted.
Both countries were partners through the Dayton process, we worked together to repair infrastructure destroyed by war, to bring to justice those who committed war crimes, to honor the victims, including those who died in the genocide at Srebrenica so they will never be forgotten and the lessons can be learned that this will never, ever happen again.
Ms. Clinton urges leaders to put aside their political differences, put aside the rhetoric of dissolution, secession, denial of what tragically happened in the war, for the sake of the future of the young people of this country.
In addition, Ms. Clinton calls on all, particularly the people, to demonstrate their commitment to tolerance, diversity, and inclusiveness.
“That is the path to a multiethnic, democratic Bosnia-Herzegovina that is a member of the European Union, a member of NATO, a part of Europe that is whole, democratic, and free.” -Ms. Clinton
Earlier this year, the United States of America welcomed the appointment of a new Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The U.S. government has congratulated Chairman Bevanda and the entire government as they take up the important responsibility of leading Bosnia and Herzegovina forward on behalf of its citizens.
With the new Council in place, the world is confident that the Bosnian Government will be able to build on its recent passage of EU-related legislation to open the door for a Bosnian application for EU candidacy.
The U.S. government also expects that the government will address as top priorities an agreement on a 2012 budget and the registration of defense property to meet NATO’s condition for full participation in the Membership Action Plan.
An estimated 40,000 people went missing as a result of the conflicts of the 1990’s in the former Yugoslavia, approximately 30,000 of them in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The 1992-95 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina was ended with the participation of the United States in brokering the 1995 Dayton Agreement. The United States maintains command of the NATO headquarters in Sarajevo. The U.S. government has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to help with the rebuilding of the war-devastated country in terms of infrastructure, humanitarian aid, economic development, and military reconstruction.