November 25, 2020 – Washington, D.C. – On this day in 1943, over two hundred delegates from all across Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) came together in a town called Mrkonjic Grad and formed the Anti-Fascist Council for the National Liberation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ZAVNOBiH), restoring the statehood of BiH which at that time was under occupation by Nazi Germany.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country that has existed for many centuries, and despite its recent history of ethnic cleansing and genocide, it has been on the path towards Euro-Atlantic integration following the Bosnian War in the 1990s. The BiH constitution, otherwise known as the Dayton Peace Accords, was a U.S.-led peace agreement that was reached at the Wright-Patterson Air Force base near Dayton, Ohio in November of 1995. The Dayton Peace Accords ended the war of aggression against BiH, which in itself was a monumental achievement; however, it was by no means a flawless agreement. Reforms are essential in order for BiH to move forward. One example of this is that the Dayton Peace Accords violate the European Convention on Human Rights because they do not allow ethnic minorities to run for the tripartite Presidency, and the House of Peoples of BiH. To date, no concrete steps have been taken to implement this judgment by the European Court of Human Rights.
At a time when the leadership of BiH’s smaller entity Republika Srpska (RS) is creating instability by breaching the Dayton Peace Accords, and while they continue to deny the Srebrenica genocide and closely align with Russia, ACBH calls on all friends of BiH to join us in working towards safeguarding BiH’s sovereignty, security and territorial integrity, and continue to stand for what ZAVNOBiH achieved and implemented seventy seven years ago.
What remains true to this day is that BiH’s strength lies in its people and its centuries-old, multi-ethnic fabric. Today, ACBH celebrates BiH’s Statehood Day and the efforts of the founding members of ZAVNOBiH, with hope that the citizens of BiH will continue to work diligently at eliminating artificial separatism, and creating a prosperous BiH that is a member of NATO and the EU.
As we celebrate the 77th anniversary of BiH’s statehood today, let us be reminded that throughout history, BiH has been a country of unity, tolerance, and a safe haven for multi-ethnicity, and ACBH is dedicated to upholding those principles today, and always.