Fifteen years ago this November 21st, world leaders initialed the Dayton Peace Accords at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, bringing an end to the devastating war in Bosnia and Herzegovina that claimed more than 100,000 lives and displaced millions. This landmark agreement laid the foundation for a transformed Balkan region and remains a signal achievement in American diplomacy. We look forward to a secure and prosperous future for the Balkan nations as members of European and Euro-Atlantic institutions.
The Dayton Agreement is a cornerstone of peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina today. It has provided a framework for rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, returning refugees and displaced persons to their homes, and helping citizens resume a normal life. On my recent visit to Sarajevo, I was able to see these achievements for myself, meeting with the government officials, students, and civil society leaders who are working to rebuild their country. Improvements to the Dayton framework since 1995 – including the creation of a unified military and new state rule of law, taxation, and customs institutions – have further enhanced governance and enabled the country to take its first steps towards EU and NATO membership.
This is important progress, but much work remains for Bosnia and Herzegovina to achieve full Euro-Atlantic integration. On this anniversary, we remember that peace is achieved by building consensus around areas of shared interest and compromising for the common good. I encourage Bosnia and Herzegovina’s newly elected leaders to reflect on these lessons and commit themselves to tackling the outstanding constitutional and other issues that must be addressed in order for their country to continue its progress.
The people of Bosnia and Herzegovina deserve lasting stability, effective governance, and economic opportunity. The United States will continue to stand with them, and all countries in the region, as they pursue a prosperous and peaceful future.