BiH Statehood Day

Eselamu alejkum,

Čestitam Dan Državnosti Bosne i Hercegovine svima vama. Hvala imamu Begzudinu, Islamskoj Zajednici, i Odboru što su organozivali ovaj važan događaj.

Izivinjavam se u ime Predsjednika VOBGa, Mirze Velagića, što nije u mogućnosti da prisustvuje danas. On i drugi članovi trenutno spremaju ispite, i već su propustili previše dana zbog putovanja u Washington DC, i žao nam je što nam se nisu mogli pridružiti.

Udružili smo se sa Savjetnim Vijećem za Bosnu i Hercegovinu (Advisory Council for BH), da učestvujemo u godišnjim “Danima Bosne na Hillu,” koji se održao od četvrtog do šestog novembra. Šest naših članova, zajedno sa  ACBH, se susrelo sa političarima i razmijenili mišljenja. Održani su sastanci sa predstavnicima Kongresa, i organizacijama koje utječu na Američku politiku, kao što je Helsinki Commission – Organizacija za Sigurnost i Saradnju u Europi, McCain fondacija, US State Department, i njegovom ekselencijom, Ambasador Haris Hrle Ambasade Bosne i Hercegovine.

Na simpozijumu o Daytonu, Predstavnik Foley je predstavio rezoluciju da se u Bosni iskleše treći entitet, za Hrvate. Dodao je da su “Hrvati ljepilo koje drži Bosnu cijelom.” Tada se Ajla Delkić, izvršni direktor ACBHa suprotstavila toj tvrdnji, i izjavila da su oni koji drže Bosnu cijelom Bosanci, oni koji se identifikuju kao Bosanci, a ne bilo koja posebna etnička grupa.

Bez Ajline ispravke, izjava Predstavnika Foleya bi oblikovala mišljenja ključnih osoba koje kroje Američku politiku, da se stvori treći entitet za Hrvate. Ovakve intervencije su dokaz da je apsolutno imperativno da mi imamo glas u Washingtonu.

Odali smo počast co-Chairu Helsinski Commisiona, Kongresmenu Christopheru Smithu, jednom od najvećih prijatelja Bosne i Hercegovine. Od 1992., on je pozivao da se skine embargo na uvoz oružja Bosanskoj Armiji, i uporno se borio za teritorijalni integritet Bosne i Hercegovine. Autor je dvije rezolucije koje čine osnovu Američke perspektive i politike o Bosni. Na osnovu njegovog rada, 11. jula 2015., naša zajednica je uspjela da slična rezolucija o genocidu u Srebrenici prođe u Gradskom Vijeću Seattlea. Za 23 godine njegovog aktivnog doprinosa Bosni, predali smo Kongresmenu Smithu najveću nagradu VOBGa.

Tokom naša posjete, uvidjeli smo koliko je važno da se naš glas čuje na ovim nivoima u DCu. Političari su nas ohrabrivali da ostanemo umiješani i aktivni u političkom procesu. Ovo je nešto na čemu moramo da radimo. Moramo da gradimo odnose koji će nam dozvoliti da utječemo na odluke o Bosanskim problemima koje se donose u Americi i Kanadi. Taj utjecaj se mora proširiti na Sarajevo i Banja Luku. Moramo ojačati odnose između Bosanskih Amerikanaca i Washington DCa – u najboljem interesu svih nas.

Eselamu alejkum,

Congratulations to each of you on Statehood Day for Bosnia-Herzegovina. Thank you to Imam Begzudin, the Islamska Zajednica and its Board for organizing this important event.

I would like to convey the regrets of VOBG’s President, Mirza Velagic, that he is not able to attend in-person today.  He and other team members are currently studying for exams, and as they have already given up so many days traveling to DC, we regret they cannot join us.

We have partnered with the Advisory Council for Bosnia-Herzegovina (ACBH), to participate in the annual BiH Days on the Hill event that took place from November 4th-6th. Six of our team members along with ACBH met with lawmakers and shared our perspective. Our meetings included Congressional representatives as well as organizations that influence US policy, such as the Helsinki Commission—the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the McCain Foundation, the US State Department, and with His Excellency, Ambassador Haris Hrle of the Embassy of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

At a symposium on Dayton, Representative Foley presented a resolution to carve out a third entity in Bosnia, for Croats. He added that “Croats are the glue that hold Bosnia together.” At that moment, Ajla Delkic, Executive Director of ACBH challenged the claim by stating the people who are keeping Bosnia together are Bosnians, those who identify as Bosnians, not a particular ethnic group.

Without Ajla’s correction, Representative Foley’s claim could have shaped the opinion of policymakers to create a third entity for Croats. It is this type of intervention that makes it absolutely imperative for us to have a voice in DC.

We had the honor of recognizing the co-Chair of the Helsinki Commission, Congressman Christopher Smith, one of the greatest friends of Bosnia-Herzegovina. From 1992, he called to lift the arms embargo and has been consistent in calling for the territorial integrity of Bosnia-Herzegovina. He authored two resolutions that form the foundation of America’s perspective on Bosnia. Based on this work, on July 11th, 2015 our community was able to get a similar resolution passed in Seattle City Council. For his 23 years of active contribution to Bosnia, we presented Congressman Smith with VOBG’s highest award.

Through our visit, we learned about the importance of having our voice heard at these levels in DC. Lawmakers urged us to become involved and engaged in the political process. This is something we must work on. We need to build the types of relationships that allow us to influence decisions on Bosnian issues that are being made in the US and Canada. That influence needs to extend to Sarajevo and Banja Luka. We need to strengthen relations between Bosnian-Americans and Washington DC—it is in our collective best interest.

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