Saturday, September 29, 2007


NEW YORK, USA (September 29,2007) - The Bosnian President Željko Komšić, presented an optimistic but honest outlook on the future of Bosnia in a World Leaders Forum event in New York.

Covering topics as varied as the country’s fierce war in the mid-1990s to current employment opportunities for his nation’s youth, President Komšić’s address focused on the future of Bosnia. The forum was moderated by Catherine Nepomnyashchy, director of the Harriman Institute at Columbia University.

Though the country has seen much violence and political strife, Komšić said, “Our nation will fight all the diseases of the modern world ... and survive just as it has survived to this day.”

Ravaged by war from 1992 to 1995 after the Bosnian Government seceded from Yugoslavia, Bosnia has endured years of rebuilding and uncertainty.

“The most difficult task (for us) is how to heal the society, how to bring our values back,” Komšić said.

During the question and answer session, audience members raised concerns about the number of young people seeking education and employment on foreign soil—reportedly 65 to 85 percent, according to Komšić.

The president said that “the government holds responsibility to change this,” though he blamed instability caused by “those who are inciting ethnic and religious hatred” as the source of the problem.

Komšić, who was elected in 2006, was the first Croat member of the Bosnian Presidency to be elected from outside of the political parties of the Croatians living in Bosnia. A member of the Bosnian Social Democratic Party, he was the first Croat not elected primarily by Croatians living in Bosnia.

“We have yet to see whether I am a political incident or am becoming the rule,” he said. He promised “to take care of all the citizens of Bosnia, whether or not they’re Bosniak,Croat,Serb or Jewish, and also regardless of whether or not they voted for me.”

Aida Tunovic, a Columbia graduate student originally from the Bosnian capital Sarajevo who was at the event, said that the Bosnian President was “very honest ... and genuinely proud of his country.”

Moderator Nepomnyashchy agreed, saying, “He was very convincing. They (the people of Bosnia) need the help.”

But some, like former Bosnian resident and businessman Vladimir Ilic, found his words less encouraging. Ilic disputed Komšić’s optimistic presentation of his country’s future.

“It makes a big difference who you talk to,” he said. “The people that elected him were a very, very small minority. ... I don’t think he represents the Croats well.”

Despite such accusations, President Komšić looked forward. “We wish to become a member of the European Union, and we’re going to get there,” he said in his closing statement.

“It is my political intent to present Bosnia the way it is, as a good country with good people, regardless of how strange this sounds and regardless of the wars we had.Bosnia will survive all of us,” President Komšić said.

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