“Among all the things that humans build,” nothing is more valuable than bridges“, the writer Ivo Andrić said. Because bridges create connections. The Dayton Agreement, concluded twenty-five years ago, was a major diplomatic achievement. It ended a terrible war and brought peace to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The agreement was the result of firm action by the United States under President Clinton, in close cooperation with the European Union. It did not solve the conflicts in the Balkans – but it laid a foundation on which bridges could be built. Since then, and with the support of the High Representative and his office, Bosnia and Herzegovina has come a long way. Your country has made the decision to seek a future in Europe. It is today a potential candidate for membership in the European Union. Germany strongly supports your European and transatlantic aspirations. Because we want to be bridge builders between all countries of the Balkans and the European Union. But for this to succeed, politicians in Bosnia and Herzegovina need to become bridge builders, too: Twenty-five years after Dayton, it is high time for true reconciliation and cooperation. In a country that wants to join the EU, there is no place for nationalist agitation, the denial of war crimes or the glorification of war criminals. All your leaders need to come together to launch reforms and weed out corruption. The so-called fourteen key priorities laid out by the European Commission last year provide a clear roadmap. The rule of law and good governance are in the interest of your people and your businesses.
Dear citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina,
The recent meeting within the Berlin Process has demonstrated that positive change is happening in the Balkans. To continue on this path of reform and economic integration, we need strong political leadership in Sarajevo.
I encourage you to put the ghosts of the past to rest – and to start building bridges.