Wednesday, December 19, 2007


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (December 19,2007) – Members of the Bosnian Presidency hosted a reception yesterday in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo in honor of the upcoming religious holidays.Many prominent personalities from the Bosnian public, religious, cultural and political life, as well as the diplomatic chorus attended.A member of the Bosnian Presidency Dr Haris Silajdžić delivered the following speech on this occasion:

"Ladies and gentelmen, Excellencies,

Dear friends,

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the Bosnian Presidency reception in honor of the upcoming religious holidays and the New Year.

These holidays present an opportunity to remember where we come from and what preceded the times in which we live. Bosnia, a country of the „good Bosnians,“ as our neighbors would call us, was mostly a good example of coexistence for hundreds of years. Mutual respect, tolerance for another and for the differences, openness and good neighborly relations were the rule, not an exception. It was not easy to accomplish all that in this region. We were destined to live at a fault-line that more often than not was a meeting point of different peoples, ideologies, religions, interests and everything else that is common to all people, but slightly different between them.

This means that our predecessors invested in coexistence, that they not only tolerated each other, that, under trying times and different regimes, they found a way to provide to themselves and their ancestors a normal life to the extent that, as we sometimes say, the circumstances allowed it.They accomplished this without the aid of the communication mechanisms that we today have at our disposals, without the human rights conventions, without the United Nations and the civil society. They did not dispute the harmony that flows out of the multitudes, the unity of the differences, nor the quality that is produced by pluralism.They did not theorize about the enrichment of the different cultures that meet here in the upward spiral. They did not organize round tables about the expansion of horizons and the benefits of a pluralistic society.They simply lived together and mostly attempted to make their lives easier.

In our times which are the times of uniting, exchange, cooperation, communications, and meetings, this task appears far easier and simpler. Led by the example of those who came before us, we must find a way to turn some defeats into victories and to leave a society and a state that is comfortable to live in to the generations that will come after us.

The human and material resources allow us to do that. If we unite our strengths, our country can become prosperous for all its people in a relatively short time. This means that we can provide everyone with modern education, good health care, employment, and that we can generally have a good living standard.

We finally came to a time that we can be free in our country regardless of the difficulties that we face. But freedom, above all, means responsibility and duty to respect the freedom and the rights of another. That obliges us to continue to work on establishing the rule of law in the full sense.

The curing of the society as a whole, its security and stability, cannot be accomplished as long as those who are responsible for the crimes in our country are not brought to justice. Unfortunately, some of them today enjoy complete freedom, and even the privileges of working in the security structures, in local and other government bodies.

We owe this primarily to the victims of the crimes, to those who defended the freedom and independence of our country and to the generations that are still to come.

Ladies and gentlemen, Excellencies, dear friends,

It is a promising fact that we were able to meet the requirements for the initialing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union despite our political differences. We will do everything in our power to continue the on the path of integration of our country into the European Union and the NATO alliance. I am certain that our partners in the international community will help us in those aspirations.Our success is their success as well.

Finally, I wish to all of you, as well as all of the people of Bosnia, to spend the upcoming religious holidays and the New Year in peace and surrounded by your loved ones, neighbors and friends.

Thank you!"

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