SARAJEVO – On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Dayton Peace Agreement, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission Mr Josep Borrell visited Bosnia and Herzegovina and met with members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, stakeholders and youth representatives, on 21 November. The visit focused on the importance of peace and reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in the region.
“This is a good moment to reflect on the past and to applaud everyone who is working hard in creating peaceful relations. Today, we understand the importance of peace, trust and mutual respect among all citizens in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the need to respect all civilian victims of the war. Reconciliation is of key importance for the country to move forward,” Mr Borrell stated.
In his speech, Mr Borrell emphasized that the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina is European and that reconciliation is a crucial part of it. He stressed that citizens must pay tribute to the past but look toward the future and help Bosnia and Herzegovina in its European aspirations. In addition, it was underlined that the EU will stay committed to help the Western Balkans in the efforts of building a better and prosperous region.
“The EU’s engagement and solidarity is real and visible for all those who want to embrace it. The rejection of conflict, hate and division, and the acceptance of cooperation and reconciliation is central to our European values. Reconciliation is a process, not an event that happens overnight. It takes time and hard work that needs to be reaffirmed persistently, every day,” Mr Borell underlined.
Head of the RYCO Local Branch Office in Bosnia and Herzegovina Ms Berina Bukva was present at the meeting upon the invitation of the Head of Delegation of the EU in Bosnia and Herzegovina Mr Johann Sattler to share valuable insights on RYCO’s work on reconciliation.
“The support of the EU to Bosnia and Herzegovina and to the region is tremendously significant. In joint efforts with the EU, RYCO has supported valuable initiatives for young people, youth workers, activists and high schools across the Western Balkans. We stay committed to peace and jointly work for it. So far, RYCO has created more than 2500 partnerships and has enabled a network of more than 4000 young people by increasing regional mobility. These achievements are important to our work and to reconciliation processes in the region,” Ms Bukva highlighted.
During the discussions with youth representatives, Mr Borell and Mr Sattler emphasized that continuous work in creating opportunities for young people should remain the focus of regional cooperation. The official visit on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Dayton Peace Agreement also brought to the attention the importance of engaging and empowering young people in reconciliation processes.
The event was closed with the final remarks of the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission.
“Let us learn from the past, from the Dayton Peace Agreement and from the moment when war ended and peace started to develop. My presence on this very special day is aimed at sending the message that the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina is on the way to Europe. But your future has to be built by you. The EU will be on your side to help,” Mr Borrelli concluded.
Photo: EU Delegation to Bosnia and Herzegovina