While political and economic stagnation continues to plague Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and while the society remains devoid of justice for rape, camp and genocide survivors and without a strong political compass to guide the country in the coming years, on October 15, 2013, BiH had something historic to celebrate. The BiH national soccer team’s 1-0 victory over Lithuania qualified Bosnia and Herzegovina to compete in the World Cup for the first time in its history, prompting millions of BiH citizens to celebrate this well deserved victory. BiH is the only former Yugoslav republic to have directly qualified to play in Brazil come 2014 and while BiH rejoiced, Stefan Fule, the European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy stated “My message to politicians is to follow your footballers and fulfill citizens’ expectations.” But, what are the expectations of the BiH citizens?
“ACBH believes that citizens of BiH want to live in a country that is democratic, respects the rule of law and one that is a member of NATO and the EU. ACBH is tremendously proud of the BiH national team for their success and we encourage BiH citizens to keep this spirit of unity and progress alive and to harness that energy into demanding more out of the politicians that represent them. While that is easier said than done, there is unfortunately no option B and this victory is a wonderful example of how BiH citizens with a common goal can achieve world class success,” stated ACBH President, Mirzeta Hadzikadic.
The momentous victory comes at the same time as the tragic news regarding the death of baby Belmina Ibrisevic who passed away after a needing a bone marrow transplant in Germany. Baby Belmina sparked BiH’s so-called “baby revolution” last June, prompting thousands of Bosnians to take to the streets and demand the end to the political deadlock that left babies like Belmina – born after Feburary of 2013 – without the 13-digit identification number necessary for health insurance or a passport.
ACBH stands in solidarity with the civil society in BiH and continues to work diligently on behalf of Bosnian Americans whose goal of maintaining a united, multi-ethnic and democratic BiH is a cause worth fighting for and we ask you to join us in this effort by supporting the ACBH mission and work.
Bosnia and Herzegovina’s most valuable asset is its people, at home and abroad, and while the hard earned place at the World Cup continues to instill pride in all of us who hold BiH dear to our hearts, this victory is just a small example of the success that BiH can achieve when everyone works together. Soccer unites and perhaps more than any other sport, it has been used as a positive catalyst for change all over the world. As South African anti-apartheid activist and former President, H.E. Nelson Mandela said: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.”
ACBH urges all citizens of BiH to continue to be inspired, work together and demand justice and social change from their leaders and each other. As politicians hinder the country’s future, we ask that regular Bosnians continue to move forward in hopes of building a BiH of which future generations can be proud.
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.