Well, it is a great pleasure for me to be here for this occasion, and I want to thank Ambassador Patrick Moon and Adam Namm of the Overseas Building Operations of the State Department and his excellent team that made this new Embassy a reality. It is a terrific testament to the commitment that the United States does have to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
I’m also pleased and honored that we have members of the presidency, both present and future here today; that we have members of parliament and ministers and many distinguished guests and colleagues, including the foreign minister who served for many years in the United States.
I am honored that all of you would take the time to join us to celebrate the dedication of this new Embassy compound. I believe that this new building, with its innovative design and its location in the heart of Sarajevo, is a fitting symbol of the friendship between our two countries. And I want to thank all of the people from both countries who worked so hard to build it.
The friendship between our nations began with your independence nearly two decades ago, and so did our shared sacrifice in the name of peace. In 1995, during the siege of Sarajevo, three Americans lost their lives trying to make their way into the city to take part in peace talks. Today, we honor the memories of Robert Frasure, Joe Kruzel, and Nelson Drew, and we re-dedicate ourselves to the cause for which they died, the cause of peace, stability, prosperity in Europe.
I’m very pleased to have with us today Katharina Frasure and her daughters, Virginia and Sarah Frasure, and son-in-law Garrett Levine. Welcome and thank you for coming, and we honor your family’s sacrifice and remember your husband and your father. (Applause.)
Ambassador Frasure and his colleagues came here to help end the conflict that claimed so many thousands of lives. They were determined to get to the peace negotiations, but the main road was blocked. Rather than give up, they decided to take the Mount Igman route, despite its risks. That decision was one of great courage and selflessness, but it was not an isolated incident. It was part of America’s enduring commitment to a Europe that is free, whole, and secure, a commitment that stretches from the First World War to the Second, the Cold War, and the Balkan Wars. It is also a commitment that spans generations of Americans. Joe Kruzel’s father was a flying ace who shot down four Nazi fighter planes in the skies over Europe during World War II, and after the war Nelson Drew’s father served in a U.S. Army peacekeeping unit stationed in Germany.
Half a century later, that same commitment to peace led to the Dayton Accords. We believed then, as we do now, that the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina lies in the heart of an integrated and democratic Europe. And we stand ready to help you achieve our common goal, a Bosnia and Herzegovina that is firmly anchored in the European Union and NATO.
But we know that only the leaders and the people of this country can make that happen. It will take hard work and leadership, a willingness to compromise, the determination to see through difficult reforms, and the understanding that democracies can never be winner take all.
I just finished an excellent event with the young people at the National Theater. Their questions were all about how to get to the goal that they believed in, a country that is part of Europe, part of NATO, but most importantly its full self, the promise being realized, the potential fulfilled. I urged them, as I urge every citizen, to reject the false promise of self-serving nationalist agendas. Those will lead only to more distrust, disunion, stagnation, and poverty. No one will create a stable and prosperous future for this country by stoking the animosities of the past.
The only way forward lies in working together toward shared aspirations – so you can create the jobs, attract the investment, build a better life for everyone. You have already taken the first step forward in the elections of October 3rd. I urge those who were elected to reflect the interests of the voters by moving promptly to form an inclusive and functional government, and then proceeding with constitutional reform.
For its part, the United States will work with our European allies to encourage these reforms. We will continue to support your unity, stability, and territorial integrity, and we will continue to work with you to strengthen the democratic institutions that will allow this country to flourish.
But the final outcome is in your hands. I am certain that Bob Frasure, Joe Kruzel, and Nelson Drew would have wanted more than anything for this country to succeed. Today, it is my privilege to dedicate this new Embassy and the street that will now bear the name of Robert Frasure.
Inside the State Department, Ambassador Frasure was known for writing cables that were witty and concise, and he had a readership spread all over the world. He radiated such good humor and warmth that he became the man others wanted to be with at a tough post. And Bob took tough post after tough post, from Angola to Ethiopia, and then to Estonia before going on to Bosnia. When he could, he would go to his farm in Virginia with Katharina and his daughters, and paint his barn. He was away from his family a great deal, but he told his colleagues that he did not worry about them; he loved them, he trusted them, and he knew they would prosper.
Bob’s spirit lives on in his family and among his colleagues, the young diplomats who he befriended and guided. Some of them are now senior staff in this Embassy. They vividly remember Bob’s love for his family, the trust he placed in his young staff, and his optimism about the future.
Now, Americans are sometimes accused of being too optimistic, that we don’t have enough of the reality in mind as we constantly think that we can make a new history. But our history proves that we can, and our belief is that so can others. We do not underestimate the difficulties of putting behind war, violence, division, animosity. We’ve had our own history of civil war and other obstacles that had to be dealt with. But we do believe in your future, and this Embassy reflects that optimism. The opportunities are there to be grasped, and if my experience with the 400 young people is any guide, you have the talent you need to be able to achieve the future you seek.
I bring our best wishes and our commitment to stand by your side, to work with you, to offer whatever help we can as you make the tough decisions for that new and better future. May this new Embassy become a lasting symbol of the values that our countries share, the more prosperous future that we seek, and the obligation we both have to our children and our grandchildren; let them have the peace and the prosperity they so richly deserve. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)