Former French President Jacques Chirac, who significantly contributed to ending Bosnia’s 1992-1995 war and was a strong advocate for reconciliation in the country and its integration into the EU, died aged 86 on Thursday.
The death of Chirac is a “great loss for all of the peace-loving world and for all those who respect basic values of civilisation, such as freedom, peace and democracy,” the Chairman of Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency, Zeljko Komsic, said in a telegramme he sent to French President Emmanuel Macron, expressing his condolences.
Most of all, it is a loss for the citizens of France, “but also for citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who will never forget President Chirac’s help in the fight for peace and the independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” he added.
Chirac was the President of France between 1995 and 2007.
He was named an honorary citizen of Sarajevo in 2011.
Chirac contributed greatly to ending the war in the country, was behind an initiative to form an EU force which played a key role in establishing peace in the country.
He was a strong advocate for the integration of Bosnia and other regional countries into the European Union.
“You are invited to build up an exemplary country whose peoples must learn to live together with respect toward the differences among them, where citizens of all faiths and different heritages must have a possibility to freely express themselves, within the framework of democratic institutions,” he said in a speech at an EU Summit held in Zagreb in 2000.
“It is up to you to finally build up a reconciled Bosnia and Herzegovina which will enjoy respect within the country and internationally, which will use its diversity as an advantage, a country united around common ideals of peace and tolerance,” he said.
Chirac pointed out that the history and fate of Bosnia are entrenched in the history and the fate of Europe, adding that all of Europe’s peoples carry burdens of past conflicts and sacrifices but also hope for reconciliation. He advocated for a great European ambition among all of Bosnia’s peoples and called upon Bosnia’s political leaders to reject war, choose peace and build up a joint future.
Chirac is also a recipient of the ‘Mostar Peace Connection’ award, given out by the Centre for Peace and Multiethnic Cooperation.
His daughter, Claude Chirac, read out a letter her father sent to the NGO congratulating it for its efforts to preserve peace.
“Bosnia and Herzegovina has for centuries been an example of tolerance. It can and should be that again. It was its past, and I am convinced that it is its future. I am convinced that this is the future of the whole of Europe,” he wrote.