“2014 is the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War and this gives added meaning to Europe Day, 9th May, this year. The deaths of millions in the First World War and the conflicts that followed took a very heavy toll on European populations and rightly spurred great minds, the “founding fathers” of the EU to think about how to prevent future conflicts, if not make them impossible.
“The European Union is the outcome of the idea that binding relations should be built between nations so that Europeans could live in peace and prosperity. 9th May, Europe Day, is therefore an occasion to celebrate how significant differences between European nations have been overcome by the quest to shape a shared future.
“In this spirit, our motto is ‘United in diversity’ and we find that in Bosnia and Herzegovina today. The Sarajevo City Hall ‘Vijecnica’ is the perfect illustration because as one building it stands as a symbol of so much: architectural vision, learning, institutional memory, craftsmanship, municipal democracy and the resilience of the people of Sarajevo. Its reconstruction has been financed through 9 million euro from the citizens of the EU because what Vijecnica represents is close to our hearts too.
“Bringing this jewel back to the city, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Europe and the world is a lasting message of solidarity from the citizens of the EU to the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the city of Sarajevo in particular.
“It is appropriate that this message is also repeated around the country. This is why restoration of historical sites financed by the EU is also ongoing in Stolac, Banja Luka and Novi Grad.
“But our message of solidarity goes well beyond bricks and cement. The 500 million citizens of the EU want the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina to have what we have been able to achieve during the last decades through the combined efforts of EU governments, societies and citizens. Strong personal rights and freedoms. Democratic governance. Strong rule of law. Improving living standards. The determination to get those things here is why the country has a clear offer of EU membership. That’s what we work on together with institutions of this country every day.
“It’s no secret that building democratic society is a constant work in progress. On Europe Day we recall our joint responsibility to safeguard it, to work on it and to spread it to the whole continent.
“On behalf of the European Union and its representation here in Bosnia and Herzegovina, I wish you a happy Europe Day!”