Speech of Ambassador Sorensen at the Opening Ceremony of Sarajevo City Hall

City Hall Vijećnica was finally reopened on 9 May Europe Day after 22 years . The official opening was attended by the Head of the EU Delegation to BiH and EU Special Representative in BiH, Ambassador Peter Sorensen, together with BiH officials, diplomatic corps members and representatives of political, religious and cultural life in BiH. Speaking on behalf of the European Union, which donated 9 million EUR in total for the reconstruction of the building, Ambassador Sorensen said:

“We are here in the 100th anniversary year of the outbreak of the First World War, and this gives added meaning to Europe Day this year.”

He emphasised that the deaths of millions of people in World War One and the conflicts that followed took a very heavy toll on European populations. In his view, this rightly spurred great minds to think about how to prevent further conflicts. “The European Union was the outcome of the idea that binding relations should be built between nations so that Europeans could live in peace and prosperity,” he said.

“Europe Day is, therefore, an occasion to celebrate how significant differences between European nations had been overcome by the quest to shape a shared future. I am personally very happy that this year we are celebrating this important day in ‘Vijećnica’ which is, besides being breathtakingly beautiful, a symbol of so much architectural vision, learning, institutional memory, craftsmanship, municipal democracy and also the resilience of the people of Sarajevo. Bringing this jewel back to the city, to BiH, to Europe and to the world is a lasting message of solidarity from the citizens of the EU to the citizens of BiH and the city of Sarajevo in particular.” he underlined.

“More than 500 million citizens of the EU want the people of BiH to have what we have been able to achieve during the last decades. We are now a Union of Member States in which our citizens enjoy strong personal rights and freedoms. Democratic governance. Strong rule of law. Significantly improved living standards. And our determination to get those things here is why this country has a clear offer of EU membership. That’s what we work on – together with your institutions – every day. The reconstruction of this beautiful building where we are tonight is finished but building a democratic society ready for EU membership will continue.” he concluded.

The EU has so far invested 9 million EUR into the reconstruction of the Sarajevo City Hall Vijecnica. The reconstruction of Vijecnica building was carried out in four phases.

Phase I: Structural phase, which included reconstruction work and the stabilisation of walls on the ground floor, from December 1999 to May 2000, funded by the Austrian Government.
Phase II: Central Atrium (including the stone structures) and fence, in 2003, funded by the EU worth 2.5 million EUR.
Phase III: Facade and windows/doors, from 2010 to 2014, funded by the Spanish Government, in the amount of 1 mill EUR and co-funded by the Sarajevo Municipality.
Phase IV: Ongoing reconstruction works, 5.5 million EUR funded by EU IPA 2009 and 2010.