High Representative Valentin Inzko delivered a keynote speech at the Conference on Dialogue and Reconciliation organized by the Max Planck Foundation for International Peace and the Rule of Law.
Inzko said that developing a renewed platform for dialogue would make it possible to let dialogue and reconciliation into the light in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The High Representative said that authentic dialogue had to include “those who - in one way or another - are inclined to look to the past, those who still fall back on the nationalist rhetoric that produced the conflict, those who have not yet embraced the idea of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a common home for all its people”.
“Dialogue isn’t based on accepting the other person’s point of view; it is based on recognizing that point of view and trying to understand where it comes from. Without this dialogue, there won’t be reconciliation - the reconciliation that this country needs if it is to move forward”, said Inzko.
The High Representative noted that citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina did not need to be taught about dialogue and reconciliation, as “they could teach the rest of Europe a thing or two about how to do this”. However, Inzko added that citizens in the country needed space and that the International Community could provide and maintain “a platform for dialogue” to make this possible.
“The truth is that many of this country’s leaders have talked a lot - often in a decidedly unconstructive way - and delivered little. But Bosnia and Herzegovina is not its leaders. Bosnia and Herzegovina is its people”, the HR said. “And its people are extraordinary. I believe that a new - or renewed - platform for dialogue can allow this native genius to flourish. Reconciliation addresses open wounds. It addresses hatred and bitterness. This is not easy but it is necessary and I believe we can maintain a platform on which that difficult but necessary dialogue can take place. This would be an important step forward on the long path to deep and lasting reconciliation”.
Inzko concluded that the international community would ensure that the Dayton Peace Agreement is implemented and that “those who seek to transform resentment and anxiety into a political program” are prevented from doing so.