President of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Speech made to the Assembly

Wednesday, 24 April 2002

Chairmen, Secretary General, ladies and gentlemen, it is a great honour and special pleasure for me to address the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the cradle of European democracy, today when the flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina is to be hoisted in front of the Council of Europe and the national anthem played.

This is an important day for Bosnia and Herzegovina, for its citizens and peoples. Today you have confirmed that we have made an important step on the path we decided to follow: European integration.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is indeed part of Europe, both in a geographical and historical sense, but it is, at the same time, a state influenced by the traces of the former totalitarian regime and by the war against Bosnia and Herzegovina. The transition from this state into an economically prosperous and democratic society in Bosnia and Herzegovina is a difficult and complex process that is presently under way and that will continue.

This process involves numerous reforms, changes in our way of thinking and our system of values, as well as acceptance of your rules and procedures. Simply speaking, the above can be seen as the conditions that Bosnia and Herzegovina has to fulfil if it wishes to become accepted by European and international organisations.

The word “condition” has been one of the most frequently used words in Bosnia and Herzegovina over the last few years. It seems it will continue to be so in the future as well; for how long depends on us.

Rather than speaking about conditions, I would like to say a few words about our immediate goals: our priorities are the urgent reform of the judicial system; strengthening of the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina; the fight against organised crime, corruption and terrorism; strengthening the rule of law; the protection of human rights; the return of displaced persons and refugees; and bringing war criminals to the courts of justice. Until we can come close to achieving these goals it will not be possible either to change the difficult economic and social situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, or to enable economic reforms to meet the expectations and hopes of its citizens. Cooperation at regional level is also our priority.

Today is a decisive day in Bosnia and Herzegovina's advance towards the goals I have mentioned, but in a new and more qualitative ambience. It is also a great encouragement and I am positive we shall succeed. The assistance of the international community will be needed as well, but through the type of partnership that has been demonstrated during the past months. The results are encouraging. Changes in the constitutions of the Entities have been made and elections are scheduled.

Through the realisation of these goals that are our priorities, I do believe that we are going to meet the conditions for future European associations and programmes, and, what is most important for the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, we are going to build a society without tensions and hate among its diversities, a society based on free enterprise, a society based on the rule of law and on the protection of human rights.

Finally, please allow me to express my gratitude for the assistance and support you have extended to us, in the hope that this cooperation will be continued to our mutual satisfaction.

Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

Thank you for your most interesting statement, President Belkic. We wish you, your country and your people all the best. Thank you again, and congratulations.