Dear Madam Secretary Clinton,
The Congress of North American Bosniaks (CNAB), an umbrella organization advocating on behalf of Bosniaks in the United States and Canada, is very encouraged by your December 13, 2011 meeting with His Excellency Zeljko Komsic, Chairman of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency. Bosniak Americans and Bosniak Canadians are closely following the U.S. involvement in Bosnia and Herzegovina and continue to hope for a more active U.S. role in supporting democratic and constitutional reforms that are much needed for Euro-Atlantic integration. More recent news on the formation of the central government in Bosnia and Herzegovina may be viewed in the same light, and is in part a direct result of the United States government involvement in the process. It took the ruling parties grueling 14 months to negotiate and form the new government because of the opposition of the same destructive forces who are constantly diverging Bosnia and Herzegovina from its path to a better future. CNAB warned of the destructive policies of Milorad Dodik, and his nationalist and radical agenda aimed at destroying Bosnia and Herzegovina’s state institutions. In a recent interview to a Bosnian daily newspaper, the U.S. Ambassador Patrick Moon expressed his disappointment at Mr. Dodik’s destructive behavior and his nationalist policies.
Bosnia and Herzegovina can only move forward with strong central government institutions and without populist nationalists leading the country into the policies of the past. CNAB representatives raised this very point at the meeting with Chairman Komsic in Washington D.C., on December 13, 2011. Among other issues discussed at the meeting was the need for comprehensive reforms including the need to revise Bosnia and Herzegovina’s constitution based on equal rights of all Bosnian citizens regardless of ethnicity or religious affiliation. The Constitution of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina represents a great starting point for these reforms. These reforms are needed if Bosnia and Herzegovina is to successfully integrate into NATO and European Union. NATO membership for Bosnia and Herzegovina would be mutually beneficial as it would increase stability in the region and ensure Bosnia and Herzegovina’s path to EU membership and bring about long-term prosperity and peace. These are the same goals that you have so poignantly articulated in your public statement with President Komsic.
Bosnia-Herzegovina looks to the United States for leadership to bring about these changes. The United States has previously shown strong leadership in the past; it was the American direct advocacy and engagement of President Clinton’s administration that stopped Serbian atrocities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and brokered the Dayton peace accords. For this, we are grateful but more must be done to ensure long term peace and stability. It is absolutely necessary for the United States to take a more forceful role to help reduce external and internal threats to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s independence and sovereignty. Constant inflammatory secessionist rhetoric from Bosnian Serb political leadership, constant legislative gridlock, and the undermined role of the Office of the High Representative are only some of the issues where the United States should take a lead to find the long term solutions.. We believe that it is also in vital United States interest that Bosnia and Herzegovina continues on the path to NATO and Europe, which would have a direct impact on long lasting stability in the entire region of southeast Europe.
Despite political challenges, Bosnia and Herzegovina has continually demonstrated that it is a key ally and friend with the US. This is evidenced with the fact that Bosnia-Herzegovina was one of the first countries to sign the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the United States; it cooperated with the United States on matters of security, counterterrorism, as well as prevention of drug and human trafficking. Bosnia and Herzegovina has also been a key partner with the NATO forces, in the United Nations Security Council, actively participating in missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Bosnian forensic experts helped US officials identify 9/11 victims, just to name few examples.
Dear Madam Secretary, please provide the leadership needed to help Bosnia-Herzegovina continue on the right path towards democracy, peace, stability, and successful integration into NATO and the European Union. CNAB stands ready to assist you with these efforts.
Haris Alibasic, MPA
President of the Congress of North American Bosniaks