Dobro jutro svima. Hvala vam Borislave na toploj dobrodošlici. Drago mi je što sam danas ovdje sa grupom mladih političara koji su prava inspiracija.
Let me start by congratulating each of you for having been chosen to participate in the Advanced Leadership in Politics Institute’s training program – a program that the U.S. Embassy and USAID are proud to support.
All of you – even those just starting the program – deserve congratulations because just being selected means you are considered a promising politician within your respective party. You are the leaders of the future, and we all have high expectations for you.
Political parties in countries poised to establish themselves as successful democracies, like Bosnia and Herzegovina, must find common ground and common goals. Real progress can be made only in the spirit of collaboration and shared decision making across party lines – as opposed to hardline political stand-offs and stalemates.
We are counting on those of you in this room to be the example of how it’s done. In fact, you already are the example. From what I am
told, many of you have already spontaneously started joint initiatives that have not only caught the attention of your party leaders but even influenced television media.
The U.S. government wants what all of you want: a Bosnia and Herzegovina that is safe, stable, and prosperous. Over the years, our goals here have evolved from emergency assistance to capacity building as the country evolves into a viable and diverse nation that can integrate smoothly with its European and Atlantic counterparts. And we believe this is possible. But it requires people like you to lead the charge and to advocate for a more stable political framework.
A stagnant political system breeds corruption and will impede the efforts of a civil society that is focused on human rights and unity. But a healthy and dynamic democracy supports civil society and attracts economic investment, as it lowers the risk and costs for investors, and economic investment means more jobs in BiH.
At the same time, we recognize that BiH has a long and complex political history and that political divisions can sometimes run deep or feel insurmountable. But this need not be the case. There is a big difference between hardline separatist policies and healthy and robust political debate. The former accomplishes little because it is hard to overcome differences. The latter is a foundation for progress and
growth for all BiH citizens, regardless of ethnicity, socio-economic circumstances, or political leanings.
Throughout your political career, you will be confronted with difficult issues that require consideration not only of your principles but also the needs of the greater good for the country. The need for courageous, forward-looking leadership from all of you will be critical in order to make difficult decisions on necessary reforms that will improve life in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
For example, the new reform agenda. I keep hearing over and over again in meetings since I arrived that Bosnia needs a faster growing economy, a more dynamic private sector, and better education system in order to stem the tide of young people leaving. Yet, when EU Commissioner Hahn was here last week and tried to have political parties sign a simple one-page written commitment on social and economic reforms, the parties refused. Why is that? With the desperate need for reforms, why are some parties opposed to very practical things like fixing health care, creating a better business climate, and introducing e-government? I am interested to hear from all of you about your thoughts on this.
ALPI is an incredible opportunity for all of you to work together to tackle some of the critical issues facing Bosnia and Herzegovina. This is your chance to witness first-hand how even people with different political backgrounds can collaborate on shared objectives and develop long-term relationships to promote policy reforms and a democratic system that benefits everyone.
I hope the things you learn and experience through this program will serve as motivation and momentum for you to keep up the good work and not settle for the status quo, but rather push for change as only young political leaders can. Whether you’re finishing the program or just getting started, we ask you to keep working hard and working together.
I look forward to the day in which EU membership for Bosnia and Herzegovina is a tangible reality, not just a dream;
a future in which rule of law is not an empty phrase but means that all citizens here feel respected and protected. In all of you, I see this future clearly.
As you advance in your parties, the more that you can voice policies that address the commonalities among all citizens – that they desire to live in a country where wages are good, where employment is not a fantasy, where security is assured, where citizens can breathe clean air, and where young people and families have good
opportunities for success here, at home – the more successful Bosnia and Herzegovina will be.
Radujemo se što ćemo imati priliku raditi sa svima vama kako bismo pomogli da se ovo i ostvari.
Hvala vam što ste me pozvali da vam se obratim. And now I would like to ask you a few questions.