Travel Diary: Secretary Clinton Holds Town Hall at National Theater in Sarajevo

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
October 12, 2010
Secretary Clinton Speaks With Bosnian Leaders

Today, Secretary Clinton participated in a town hall meeting with students and civil society representatives at the National Theater in Sarajevo. The Secretary said:

"I am here with a very simple message, that the United States believes in the future of this country and believes in the potential of the young people. And I want to hear directly from you, because this city is close to the hearts of millions of Americans who followed the events of the 1990s and worked and prayed for peace. And here I am back in Sarajevo just a few weeks before the 15th anniversary of the Dayton Accords, which helped to end the war and establish a framework for a lasting peace.

"This theater is a fitting place for our meeting. It has been here over the decades that artists and writers and intellectuals and citizens and activists have gathered to share ideas and put forth their own opinions about the best way forward, to tell their stories. And what I hope is that you, as the future leaders of Bosnia-Herzegovina, will have a story that is compelling and positive, that not only paints a vision of the future, but helps to realize that. I want to hear firsthand about your concerns and your questions, but let me just offer a few thoughts.

"The Balkans are a critical part of Europe -- dynamic and resilient, rich in history and culture. I'm well aware that the history, also, is filled with pain and conflict. But the people of the Balkans have worked very hard to move beyond that violence and to re-imagine and then rebuild a different pathway."

Secretary Clinton continued, "...[I]n my conversations here in Sarajevo with leaders as well as in Belgrade and Pristina, I have the same message. I will reinforce that message and I hope it will be heard not just by leaders, but by the people they represent. Now is the time to build on the gains that have been made in recent years. Now is the time to strengthen democratic institutions, to deepen peace between neighbors, and to create the conditions for long-term political, economic, and social progress.

"Now, for Serbia and Kosovo this means, among other things, making their upcoming dialogue a success by engaging sincerely and creatively to resolve their differences once and for all.

"And here in Bosnia and Herzegovina it means bolstering your commitment to a sovereign state, one that delivers results for all of its citizens by passing reforms that will improve key services, attract more foreign investment, make government more effective and accountable. These reforms are needed for their own sake, but they are also needed if your country is to fulfill the goal of becoming part of the European Union and NATO.

"Your neighbors have already taken strides in that direction because they know there is no better way to achieve sustained economic growth and long-term political stability than by integrating with Europe. The European parliament just passed overwhelmingly visa liberalization for Bosnia and Herzegovina. And I believe now is the time for the citizens of this country to make your voices heard following up on the results of your election. Because although much of the work must be done by your government, leaders listen to people and each of you has a role to play in being sure your voice is part of this dialogue."

You can read the complete transcript of Secretary Clinton's town hall meeting in Sarajevo here.

You can follow the Secretary's travel here.

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