The most stabilising framework for Bosnia is progress on its path towards EU and NATO membership, the Bosniak member of BiH’s tripartite Presidency, Sefik Dzaferovic, said speaking at the meeting on "What Peace and Security Mean in 21st century" in New York, organised by the Nizami Ganjavi International Center.
“The most important process for establishing peace and security on the European continent was Euro-Atlantic and European integration, ie the formation of NATO and the European Union, as unprecedented events in history; events that have fundamentally changed the overall security and political architecture of Europe and the world,” Dzaferovic said via video link.
He said that the transatlantic alliance and the internal integration of Europe proved to be successful means of preserving peace, because they were built on certain principles and values, and not on bare interests as traditional alliances which proved unsustainable.
He noted that democracy, the rule of law, the protection of individual human rights and collective defence, invariability of borders, prosecution of war criminals, resolving open issues through dialogue with the help of international law institutions, elimination of racial and ethnic discrimination, strengthening the role of women in society are principles and processes that have enabled Euro-Atlantic societies to resolve internal and mutual social misunderstandings and contradictions.
“I have no doubt that the European Union and NATO, even now that we are deep in the 21st century, are still the best framework for maintaining peace and security in Europe, but also that they are the leading global model, despite all geostrategic movements,” he added.
Dzaferovic argued that his assessments are based on the difficult experience of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which experienced the bloodiest war on European soil after the Second World War, provoked by nationalist political projects from neighbouring countries that were guided by opposite ideas.
“Half a century after the Nazi invasions, the bearers of these projects still believed that the borders of states could be changed by military aggression and genocide. Despising the idea of individual human rights and civil equality, they established a regime of ethnic segregation and discrimination in the occupied territories. In the end, they were convinced that the mass crimes they committed would never be prosecuted,” Dzaferovic said.
He argued that the aggression on Bosnia and Herzegovina showed all the weaknesses of NATO and the European Union and that the overall stability of the international order and the principles of civilization were at stake because of BiH, and the UN-led international community, NATO alliance and the EU, did not respond to the task.
The 1995 Srebrenica Genocide is proof of this and will remain a stain on the history of Europe and the world, he said, adding that the fact that the war in BiH was soon stopped with a NATO intervention shows that the massacre should have been prevented.
“When we talk about peace and security in the 21st century, there are two key lessons,” he said.
“The first is the need for preventive action to protect peace and international law. Speaking in the context of BiH, in that sense I find it encouraging that a law banning the denial of genocide and glorification of war criminals, which suppresses the ideology based on revisionism and hate speech and as such poses the greatest threat to peace, was passed with the support of the international community,” he said.
The second crucial lesson, he said, is that modern societies need constant progress and movement towards a positive goal for peace and stability. As for BiH, the most stabilizing framework is moving towards the European Union and NATO and it is of the utmost importance that this integration process continues and is finalized, he said.