Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

25 July 2012

Secretary-General's remarks to press with members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina

SG: It is a real pleasure to be in Bosnia and Herzegovina as you mark your 20th anniversary of United Nations membership.

I want to thank the leadership and through them the Bosnian people for their warm welcome and hospitality.

I have just concluded a productive meeting with the Members of the Presidency.  From here, I will have the privilege of addressing the Parliament.  Tomorrow I will visit Srebrenica to pay my deepest respects to the victims of the genocide.
For the past week, I have travelled extensively through the region.  Bosnia and Herzegovina is my final stop.  I have come to the region to highlight progress, thank you for the experiences you are sharing with the world, and urge you to look forward.

This is a critical time – the region as a whole is transforming.  The trend toward greater integration with the European Union and the wider world will advance reconciliation while strengthening the rule of law, human rights and democratic institutions.

In a fast moving region, no one can afford to be left behind.  That will take collective leadership.  That will take unity.  That will take a commitment to work and move forward, together.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has made important strides over the last two decades.

You have become a contributor to UN peacekeeping efforts.

You have made a profound impact in the Security Council and on the work of the United Nations in general, sharing knowledge from your own hard-won, tragic experience.

You are rebuilding society after a devastating conflict.

I see it all around me as I make my first visit to Sarajevo – a scene of such devastation that is today a city restored, renewed and full of life.

Democratic transitions are difficult and uneven in any country. The challenges loom larger in the aftermath of war. But Bosnia and Herzegovina is entering a new and important chapter.

Keeping a firm focus on a shared future is essential to building a functioning, effective state that would ensure greater prosperity, stability and progress.

Your common priorities are clear: EU integration, decent work, and more broadly economic opportunity.

The countries of the region share linguistic, cultural and historical space.  We must work together to make sure there is also space for jobs and investment, for truth and justice.

You can count on the United Nations to be your partner every step of the way.

Hvala vam [Thank you]