The launch of the EU, UN, OSCE, and Council of Europe supported project “Empowering Trust and Cohesion in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Communities’’ was officially marked today at a kick-off event held in Sarajevo.
The overall objective of the project is to strengthen and promote the environment that is more conducive to genuine reconciliation. The project purpose is to provide support to the civil society, increase positive interaction between and within the communities and amplify positive stories from local communities and civil society.
The kick-off event was opened by Johann Sattler, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Bosnia and Herzegovina and the European Union Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina. At his opening address, he stated:
“Cooperating closely with BiH ‘champions of peace’, whose actions represent best practices in terms of strengthening tolerance and fighting division, ‘Mozemo bolje’ aims to push back against the dynamics that are leading people to seek a better future abroad and preventing this country from realising its considerable potential. There are many excellent initiatives at a local level that serve as a good example for other communities as well as for politics at a national level. These deserve to be supported and amplified”.
Dr. Ingrid Macdonald, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Bosnia and Herzegovina added:
“Together with the European Union, Council of Europe and OSCE, the United Nations in Bosnia and Herzegovina will expand our support to people across the country who are working every day to build trust and sustain peace. With IOM and UNDP, we will invest in communities and people promoting good practices and seek to showcase champions of peace across the country. As highlighted by United Nations’ Secretary General in his “Common Agenda”, investing in prevention and peacebuilding has never been more important than it is today.”
“BiH is full of activists, communities, and leaders whose inspiring stories make a difference in places such as Žepče, the Majevica region, Bosanski Petrovac, Tešanj and Vareš. Unfortunately, these stories of co-operation, mutual respect and engagement for a better future are often overshadowed by the divisive narratives that dominate BiH politics,” said Dr. Susan Penksa, Acting Head of the OSCE Mission to BiH. “For this reason, the OSCE Mission to BiH is happy to join our international and local partners in advancing trust and community cohesion in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” she added.
Bojana Urumova, Head of the Council of Europe Office in Sarajevo reminded:
“This project is only a part of our joint engagement in BiH. Our four organizations work together every day, for example, in countering negative and divisive rhetoric, fighting hate speech, and promoting inclusive education and citizens’ participation at local level.”
Following opening statements thematic panel discussion ‘How do we do better? – examples from local communities’ was held. The panel was moderated by prof. Edina Bećirević and it gave great insights on how local communities contribute to improved trust and social cohesion within and between communities and their leaders.
The participants of the panel were Suad Huskić, Mayor of Tešanj Municipality, Zdravko Marošević, Mayor of Vareš Municipality, Spasoje Kulaga, Founder and President “Pravi Požar” Association from Derventa, Jasmin Jašarević, General Manager of the Center for Youth Development PRONI, and Aleksandar Krstić, Municipal Official and member of the Majevica / Ugljevik working group.