March 1, 2013 – Washington, D.C. – Today marks the twenty first anniversary of Bosnia and Herzegovina's (BiH) independence. On this day in 1992, out of the 64 percent of BiH's constituents that voted in the independence referendum, 99.4 percent voted for independence from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Since then, BiH has faced some of the greatest challenges seen in Europe since World War II. This bittersweet day challenges us all to remember the souls lost in the 1992-1995 war while also looking forward to a strong, prosperous and united Bosnia and Herzegovina – a country fit for all of its citizens and all who call BiH home.
After the declaration of independence, BiH suffered genocide and ethnic cleansing as its citizens were launched into a war that took more than 100,000 lives and displaced over 2 million people. Although BiH has made progress in the face of nearly insurmountable challenges, the EU's 2012 Progress Report on BiH highlights a plethora of gravely worrisome failures. ACBH recognizes the critical role that the Dayton Peace Accords played in the cessation of violence throughout BiH, however, the Dayton Accords also left BiH with a peace agreement hardly appropriate for leading the country into its next stage of recovery and development. Without urgently needed constitutional reform, government conflicts will continue to halt progress toward Euro-Atlantic integration.
We urge BiH's politicians to resolve the Sejdic-Finci case and expand political participation for all of BiH's citizens, regardless of religious or national background. Furthermore, the recurrence of ethnically charged rhetoric and the unrelenting denial of genocide and ethnic cleansing in Srebrenica and other sites of mass atrocity by Republika Srpska's political leaders is unacceptable.
Today, ACBH honors the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina at home and abroad, and on her twenty first birthday, it is her citizens who should be celebrated. The people of BiH have persevered through years of war and what seem to be never ending struggles, yet they continue to demand justice and social change from their leaders and each other. ACBH commends BiH's citizens who are working to move the country forward in hopes of building a future that generations to come can be proud of.
Please consider making a donation in support of our important work on behalf of Bosnian Americans and BiH.
ACBH is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the interests of Bosnian Americans and works to improve relations between the United States and BiH. ACBH advocates for a democratic, multiethnic, and indivisible BiH with a primary goal of advancing the integration of BiH into the EU and NATO.