Bosnian Night in American Congress

BAACBH members with Co-Chairs of Congressional Bosnian Caucus; From left: Vehid Deumic, Tarik Bilalbegovic, Congressman Smith, Adna Karamehic, Congressman Carnahan, Neira Sudic and Esmir Ganic

On May 19, 2008 the Bosniak-American Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina, in collaboration with its Congressional colleagues, organized a reception on the theme “Bosnia and Herzegovina: Next Phase in the Euro-Atlantic Integration.” The honored guest of the evening was Dr. Haris Silajdzic, member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). A number of key representatives and members of the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Bosnia were present at the reception, as were Mr. Samuel Zbogar, the ambassador of Slovenia (which currently holds the rotating EU presidency); Dr. Bisera Turkovic, the ambassador of BiH; and other valued friends of Bosnia in Washington, D.C. This is the second reception of this kind that BAACBH has organized together with the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Bosnia. The honored guests, aside from Dr. Haris Silajdzic, were Congressmen Russ Carnahan and Christopher Smith, the co-chairmen of the Congressional Caucus on Bosnia.

BAACBH’s Director of Communications and Treasurer, Adna Karamehic, opened the reception with short introductions and provided some background on the Bosnian diaspora in the United States and its current role and significance in the US Congress. Ms. Karamehic mentioned the activities and initiatives of BAACBH and its mission to act as a voice for the more than 350,000 Bosnian-Americans living in the US. The goal of BAACBH is to, on the one hand, represent the concerns of the Bosnian-American community in order to facilitate its full integration into American society, and on the other hand, articulate the community’s need for strong ties between Bosnia and the United States as well as the US’ active participation in the democratization of BiH. Following Ms. Karamehic’s remarks, Congressmen Russ Carnahan and Chris Smith made some remarks. Both Congressmen described their personal experience with working with the Bosnian community in the US, as well as their dedication to further engage the US in current foreign affairs affecting BiH in order to ensure Bosnia’s path towards EU integration.

In the closing speech, Dr. Haris Silajdzic took the opportunity to outline the current political and social situation in BiH, emphasizing the effects of the war and genocide, and the need for constitutional reform. Furthermore, he highlighted some key improvements in BiH which are important for EU integration, including the country’s recent progress towards full NATO membership. (At the recent NATO summit in Bucharest, BiH reached the next step of negotiations and intensified dialogue with NATO.) Finally, Dr. Silajdzic reminded the guests that in the next several days, BiH will be signing the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU, which is a necessary step towards full membership.