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"East West Bridge BiH” workshop: Young people are the future of BiH

Press release

BANJA LUKA, October 21 (FENA) - The East West Bridge BiH organization, in partnership with the US Embassy, ​​has successfully organized another in a series of workshops entitled "Using the Power of Cooperation", hosted by the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, University of Banja Luka.

On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement, the question arises whether the time has come for a new and more functional structure of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina. There are numerous questions that the organizers, together with the best students in BiH, think about and try to give answers to these questions by consensus.

Selected prominent students have had the opportunity to attend a lecture and actively participate in a workshop on negotiation and compromise, led and lectured by experts in diplomacy, negotiation and peacebuilding, with a focus on the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement.

The lecturers were Igor Davidović, former Ambassador of BiH, professor Zlatko Hadžidedić, political analyst and professor Slavenko Grgurević from Belgrade, member of the EWB International Advisory Board, and keynote speaker and moderator Robert Jovanović.

The dialogue was also attended by other guests, prominent members of EWB BiH from Banja Luka, Zoran Pavlović, economic expert, Emir Omić, entrepreneur, as well as Vedran Škoro, and Velizar Antić, a political analyst.

Davidović stated that there are values ​​that the Dayton PA has brought and which are not disputable, but this period of 25 years should have been marked by strong economic development, social progress, and at least the status of a candidate country for EU membership.

"These are basically some of the key things we missed. It didn't have to be that way. Therefore, my question is, why such a development was not achieved, whether because we did not know how or because we did not want it," said Davidović.

He advised the students on the skills of negotiation and compromise, which they discussed with great interest at the workshop because they are the most credible to say what perspective they want and what kind of future they want to build.

Professor Zlatko Hadžidedić, among other things, emphasized that all the problems that Bosnia and Herzegovina has arise practically from a single problem - the disintegration of its sovereignty, which began at the Lisbon Conference in 1992, just before the war, under the auspices of the European Community, which was only verified in Dayton. The sovereignty of the state was thus, at the initiative of Lord Carrington, transferred to three ethnic oligarchies even before the war began, which then established three territories under their control, within which they had virtually private ownership of all the resources. In order to maintain such a situation, these three oligarchies have done everything in their power not to re-establish the sovereignty of the state, and thus the rule of law, and to block that state in every way available to them," said Hadžidedić.

Professor Slavenko Grgurević pointed out that this project of working with students is of great importance for BiH and the region as a whole. That is why he expects the cooperation "with our American friends to continue in the future."

The civil sector is the main motivating force for reforms and the direction of Europeanization and Euro-Atlantic integration, and in addition to negotiation skills, it is an obligatory part of the overall social progress of BiH and the region. Modern education is the key, but the one which stands on the latest principles of the leading educational centers in the world, in the USA (MIT-Harvard), Great Britain (University of Birmingham) and the like. This means the cooperation of the best young educated and innovative people with the business community and other social actors at the local and regional level.

The Dayton Agreement is of historical importance for BiH and the region as means of ending the war and destruction and bringing the stability of the overall situation. For its prolonged stabilization effect and improvement of development opportunities - we have to consider the possibility of improving and upgrading that agreement in accordance with the requirements of the time, said Grgurević.

Robert Jovanović, project coordinator and workshop moderator, said that this is the right way for young people to be actively involved in improving the situation in the country because we cannot change the past, but we can influence our common future.

"These workshops are in favor of that, and to hear the ideas of young people who will soon take responsibility for the future of their country. The general impression of all participants is that we had another successful workshop, which due to the numerous constructive discussions lasted longer than planned.

All previous participants, students and lecturers are looking forward to the opportunity to get together in Jajce from 20 to 22 November with colleagues, the best students from all six universities, at an advanced two-day workshop where they will try to bring their positions closer, give answers by consensus and incorporate all that into the Declaration on the Future of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which will be jointly adopted," said Jovanović.

Such gatherings are taking place in six BiH cities. After Bijeljina, Sarajevo and Banja Luka, workshops are being prepared in Mostar on October 27, in Brčko on October 29 and in Tuzla on November 4. Unfortunately, the epidemiological situation with the coronavirus has become more complicated and this may affect the further course of the workshops. The organizers are also considering switching to an online format if the situation worsens.

(FENA) S.R.