In an interview for FENA news agency, Head of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina Bruce Berton called on local politicians to step away from rhetoric of divisions and narrow political interests because it is time for BiH to make significant progress.
“Political leaders have responsibility to create a favorable political environment and work on meeting the real needs of citizens of this country”, Berton said.
Reflecting on activities of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina over the past 12 months, Berton noted that their purpose was achieving higher degree of prosperity and security in the country, which should lead to a better quality of life of all citizens of BiH - and that cannot be achieved in only one year.
“I and all other employees in the Mission are committed to achieve those goals and tasks, and judging by reactions of the citizens and our partners, we can say that we are pleased with results achieved over the past year. Of course, we can always do more”, said Berton.
Among other things, Berton explained, the OSCE Mission to BiH supported the initiative of high school students from Jajce towards preventing further divisions in education, and successfully completed the Project of Enhancing Capacities for War Crimes Processing, aimed at increasing quality and efficiency of processing war crimes cases.
“A number of our activities have been completed at the local level and they have been making a difference in daily lives of local communities”, said the Head of the OSCE Mission.
Commenting on Mission’s priorities in 2018, Berton mentioned continuation of support to BiH authorities in fight against segregation and discrimination in education, improvement of the overall state of human rights in the country, promotion of tolerance and prevention of corruption.
“The OSCE is going to continue to work on prevention of radicalization and violent extremism”, said Berton, adding that their focus would also be on the election process.
“Political will is crucial for any progress, regardless if it is about the amendments to the Election Law, introduction of necessary changes in the education system, or something else”, he said.
Berton underlined that the international community supported political leaders in finding the compromise, but would not impose any solutions.
“It is political leaders, not the international community, that are responsible for making progress in this country”, he explained.
Commenting on freedom of the media, Head of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina said that “every attack on journalists is attack on freedom of speech”.
“Safety of journalists must be guaranteed in every democratic society, including Bosnia and Herzegovina”, Berton concluded.