Saturday, October 20, 2007


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (October 20,2007) - The commemoration of the 4th anniversary of the death of the first Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic was held yesterday in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo.

The commemoration was attended by the Bosnian President Zeljko Komsic,a member of the Bosnian Presidency Haris Silajdzic, SDA Party President Sulejman Tihic and other Bosnian politicians.The commemoration was also attended by the late president’s family members,foreign diplomats and representatives of Bosnian cultural and social life.

A member of the Bosnian Presidency Haris Silajdzic delivered the following speech at the Bosnian National Theatre during the commemoration:

"Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, honored friends,
venerable members of the Izetbegovic family,

Towards the end of the eighties and the beginning of the nineties of the past century, Bosnia was entering one of the most difficult eras of its long history.

The former state neared its expiration date. A plan was hatched for the division of Bosnia by all means, including mass killings, concentration camps, ethnic cleansing and siege of the cities. In order to serve the goals of the Belgrade regime, the former Yugoslav Peoples Army was purged of all undesirable elements, and a media campaign that was to justify all that was forthcoming was orchestrated. A broad hatred was spread with the goal of severing all social mechanisms of multinational ties between the people, and a struggle for the biological survival of the Bosnian people and the unity of Bosnia was imminent.

This was the time of ethnic mythology, heated passions, and utter confusion. Unveiled threats forecasted bloody years of a collapse of the state and the making of a new order. On the basis of the grand ambitions, especially by the then regime in Belgrade, it was clear from the very start that this would be a war against the civilians and that the struggles would be difficult and unequal.

Against such a backdrop, Alija Izetbegovic appeared on the Yugoslav scene. From the very beginning, he distinguished himself by calls for coexistence, affirmation of the values of togetherness, human rights and individual freedoms, tolerance and compromise, both in the inter-ethnic and inter-human relations.

In the atmosphere that ruled that day, a man of such tolerance and such view of the world represented an enormous capital not only for Bosnia, but for all others that sought a humanistic exit from a situation that was forced upon by the ideology of murder and brute force. Exclusiveness and force were completely alien to his world view and his composition.

He was deeply aware of the difficult burden of the past, not only in Bosnia, but in the entire region, but he remained dedicated in his search for the possibilities of a peaceful solution and compromise.

He remained steadfast in his humanism, even during the hardest of moments, and he was particularly sensitive about human suffering, doing everything in his power to ensure that the victims that were inevitable would be minimal.He did not follow the policy of revenge, and he paid attention about the sensibilities of all in Bosnia, about tradition, religion, culture and all that is sacred to humanity.

Because of this, those who defended Bosnia can stand tall because they were not led by the policy of force that responded to brutality with more brutality, destruction, mass killing, concentration camps and all that which branded the aggressors on Bosnia and those in their service. All that can still be seen today, and it is something that is recognized by the entire world.

That policy was pursued with a hope that the seed of coexistence, nurtured by us for hundreds of years, will remain in Bosnia. As the war removes all masks, and the people show themselves for what they truly are, I can say with full certainty, as can all those who worked and shared difficult moments with him, that Alija was a brave man. He adopted difficult decisions when the choice was limited to bad and the worse.He entered the global stage with very little in favor of Bosnia, but he persevered.The satisfaction is that he witnessed the defeat and the condemnation of the ideology that brought so much evil and misery to the people of this region.He ascribed the credit for this to our defenders above all others.

He always emphasized that the politics can accomplish only as much as the defenders on the ground allow it.And he always had special words of respect and love for the defenders.

During the long and difficult negotiations, he always sought out the possibility of compromise and peaceful solution, mindful above all of the people in our country who faced numerous tragedies. Srebrenica, and other grounds, are examples on which we should waste no words.

He viewed the Dayton agreement as unjust, but he accepted it, as this was, after all, peace, which signified the end of killings, tragedies, and destruction in Bosnia.The Dayton agreement brought peace, but its very nature paved the road for disagreements and obstruction in the post-war period.

Alija Izetbegovic tried by all means to connect the broken mechanisms, he fostered the rebuilding of the inter-people and inter-ethnic relations in our country with his own example.

He was a man of a calm spirit, sedate, benevolent, and he knew how to respect an opinion that differed from his own. He was prone to philosophical reflection and a very amiable and valuable conversation partner.

On one occasion we flew over the Mediterranean coast.I remember that he then said “Look how pretty the earth is, but what good is that when us people are lousy.”

I remember our conversation in April 1992, on the occasion of the recognition of independence of Bosnia. He said “See what can happen in one day,” and then he added, paraphrasing a thought from the Qur’an – “But after the hard part comes the easy part.”

With Alija Izetbegovic I shared the view on the reality of the former Yugoslavia and a similar understanding of the position of Bosnia and the Bosniak people in those difficult circumstances.

We were connected by a shared vision of the future.It is with sadness that I have to say today that I myself, and I believe many others, missed the opportunity to more often examine our own beliefs with this wise man of great political prowess.

However, I had the honor to closely work with him up until his death, a very premature death from the viewpoint of the need for his contribution.When the peace was established and when the amalgam of choice increased, President Izetbegovic and I had differences in interpreting the hierarchy of priorities, but we nonetheless remained equally committed in our determination for building a modern and democratic state.

Privately, with his passing I lost a friend and a strong footing.

Izetbegovic always steadfastedly asserted that the highway of Euro-Atlantic integration was the optimum direction of Bosnia toward a stable and prosperous future. When pronouncing such a statesmanlike position, he always knew that he enjoyed the support of all those who love this country and who are ready to work on transforming that vision into reality.

In conclusion, I would like to emphasize the following:

President Izetbegovic left us all with a debt.The way we repay that debt we express our own commitment to a noble cause that he pursued: Bosnia as a state and society of free people, such people who are more enriched by their differences than they are divided.

Let him rest in peace and thanks!"

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