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President of Republic of Slovenia Borut Pahor Receives Prestigious "Isa beg Ishaković" International Award

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 3. 6. 2014 | press release, speech

The President of the Republic of Slovenia Borut Pahor is on a two-day official visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Tonight, in Sarajevo, he received the prestigious "Isa beg Ishaković" international award which is bestowed annually by the most prominent academics in Bosnia and Herzegovina to a foreign politician for his merits in relation to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The award was named after Isa beg Ishaković who founded Sarajevo in 1462.

The President of the Republic of Slovenia Borut Pahor receives the international award "Isa beg Ishaković" 2014
Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

During the award ceremony, when the award was presented to the President of the Republic of Slovenia Borut Pahor, the chair of the Klepsidra association Amel Suljević emphasised amicable, historical and cultural bonds between Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the President's contribution to the European inspiration in the West Balkans region.

The award ceremony, which was broadcast live, was held at the Sarajevo National Theatre and the highest state representatives attended the ceremony. In his address, President Pahor expressed his gratitude and reminded everyone of the time when the newly established sovereign state of Bosnia and Herzegovina found itself in the middle of war, emphasising how much we all hoped that it would end as soon as possible. "Now, when peace is finally restored, we wish that it achieved visible progress and well-being as quickly as possible. I am certain that most people of Bosnia and Herzegovina wish the same, regardless of their nationality," said the Slovenian President Pahor and added that a more just, more successful and happier future of Bosnia and Herzegovina depends mostly on its inhabitants; however, the international community must show interest and be prepared to offer help to the best of its' abilities. Before the award ceremony, President Pahor met with members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the President Bakir Izetbegović and members Nebojša Radmanović and Željko Komšić. At the beginning, the Presidency Chairman expressed his sincere gratitude for all the help offered by Slovenia during the catastrophic flooding. According to the Chairman, Slovenia responded extremely quickly with convoys full of humanitarian aid, a water rescue unit of the Civil Protection, and two helicopters with a crew of Slovenian soldiers and police officers, for which everyone are extremely grateful. The Slovenian President responded that Slovenia is prepared to provide further assistance to Bosnia and Herzegovina, such as assistance in damage assessment and provision of EU funds for the clean-up operation. He informed them that at the recent European Council meeting, Slovenia successfully started an initiative for the organization of a donors' conference for flood relief in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. President Pahor also added that a motorized unit with 120 Slovenian soldiers, which is part of the EUFOR regional reserve forces and is equipped for natural and other disaster relief work, will help with flood relief in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

President Pahor ensured that Slovenia remains an ally of Serbia on it's way towards the European Union and called for strict adherence to international agreements in future efforts to resolve the outstanding issues related to Yugoslavia succession. The President and the members of the Presidency also discussed bilateral cooperation between the two countries and their cooperation within the framework of regional initiatives and regional and international organizations. They agreed that the Brdo Process regional initiative has stimulated shifts in resolving several outstanding regional issues.

In a press statement, President Pahor and the Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Izetbegović stressed that relations between the two countries are good and amicable and that their cooperation is diverse and intensive in all areas. According to President Pahor, the relations between the two nations are so close that otherwise excellent political relations are having trouble keeping up. Both presidents committed to strengthening the economic cooperation between the two countries, including with concrete projects and joint entries to foreign markets. On this occasion, Chairman Izetbegović again expressed his thanks to President Pahor and the Slovenian nation for all the assistance during the recent flooding and his gratitude for all future help which Slovenia will provide to Bosnia and Herzegovina during damage assessment of buildings, and water and utility infrastructure which is a prerequisite for gaining financial help from the IPA funds, and for the organization of a donors' conference, proposed by Slovenia to the European Council.

President Pahor will tomorrow meet with members of both houses of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina and with the Chair of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Deputy Minister of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina Mladen Ćavar and the Head of the Operation Communication Centre Samir Agić will brief the Slovenian President on the extent of the damage and the clean-up operation plans. During the visit, President Pahor will also visit Slovenian soldiers in the EUFOR military base where he will be received by the commander of the NATO forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brigadier Merle D. Hart.

The address of the President of the Republic of Slovenia Borut Pahor after receiving the international "Isa beg Ishaković 2014" award:
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Dear Ladies and Gentleman,

I am very, very honoured that I am this year's laureate of the "Isa beg Ishaković" international award. I feel very humble, because this award is very prestigious. I am thankful that my destiny included this moment of great happiness.
I accept this prestigious award as the President of the Republic of Slovenia. I wish whole-heartedly that my fellow countrymen would share at least a part of this ecstatic feeling and pride. After all, I received the award because of amicable multiple bonds between my country and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Therefore, I will emphasise this: we, Slovenians, will continue to cultivate and strengthen our friendship in the future. It is based on genuine intimate sympathy between our nations and our people. Nothing can shake it, it can only be strengthened.
I ask all of you to treat the bestowment of this award and my official visit in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a reflection of these efforts.

Dear Ladies and Gentleman,

Fate decided that should I receive this award during tragic days. This beautiful country with friendly people was stricken by an awful disaster of enormous proportions. That is why I am now directly addressing all those people who have found themselves in great distress. Please, accept deep condolences and solidarity of myself, my country and my people.

We are doing the best we can to help you. We will not let you down, as you would not let us down. We can rely on each other. Sooner or later, we will overcome these great difficulties together, and wipe the tears off our faces.
Dear Ladies and Gentleman,

When the newly established sovereign state Bosnia and Herzegovina found itself in the middle of war, we all hoped that it would end as soon as possible. Now, when peace is finally restored, we wish that it achieved visible progress and well-being as soon as possible. I am certain that most people of Bosnia and Herzegovina wish the same, regardless of their nationality.

But the price of peace is extremely high. The constitutional order that was established should by design prevent progress and prosperity. This complicated and dysfunctional political system would pose a problem even to countries with far more developed democracy and economy. The international community was able to offer substantial help to end the war and establish peace; however, it does not have such power with regard to general progress and prosperity.

My firm and sincere belief is that a more just, more successful and happier future of this country depends first and above all on its people. The international community must be interested in it and prepared to offer help to its best abilities. But it cannot replace the role of nations and people. This is a sovereign right and obligation of Bosnia and Herzegovina alone.

Many people with good intentions around the world are asking about the abilities of this country to fulfil high expectations of its citizens regarding peace, security and prosperity. I will take the risk and try to come up with a definition of the criterion for assessing this ability. The criterion is the power of democratic and legislative institutions to prevent the transformation of protests with a social character into national conflicts. Due to general problems regarding social injustice, feelings of injustice and abuse of power by economic and political leaders, I believe the answer to this issue is crucial for the future of this country.

Dear Ladies and Gentleman,

Personally, I never had any doubt whether Bosnia and Herzegovina can do this alone. It can, if it wants to. I do not believe that political will is all that is needed to solve these problems. However, it is an essential prerequisite. Now more than ever, it is time that the country shows its power and shows the people the dawn and the horizon of a new future.

Dear Ladies and Gentleman,

I sense such a future. Even if it seems very unlikely, it is only possible in a closely connected common European homeland for all nations, including Bosnian. These are my dreams and the dreams of all parents, who want a safe and successful future for our children and grandchildren. The future belongs to them. Let us not do anything that would hinder them. We must bravely do everything to make it possible.

Thank you for your attention.