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Z. Budimir: Address to World Summit 2014

Address to World Summit 2014, August 9-13, 2014

I am honored to be a guest at this Summit once again, especially because of the fact that following last year’s participation in the summit I went through a sort of "Calvary," exactly because of staying consistent to myself and standpoints that I presented in my speech before some of you who were here last year as well. In the world nowadays, and trust me especially in Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is not desirable and profitable to have your own opinion and follow the path of truth and freedom. But, I have to thank to the Lord who gave me the strength to get through it all and eventually win, because without God's will, I certainly would not be able to do so. My life experiences complemented by the insights gained during the attempted coup when I was arrested convinced me that the basis of all the events and relationships is actually the relations between people, so I will try to give with my speech a modest contribution to your work with my reflections on human relations.

It is difficult, almost impossible, for me as a person from Bosnia and Herzegovina, a politician and an official to think and talk about human relations without looking back on the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and everything that was brought to us, but also taken from us, by that same war.

The Bosnian writer and Nobel Prize winner, Ivo Andric, wrote the following: "A war, even the longest one, only shakes questions which caused it, while their solution is left to the times that occur after the achievement of peace.” When I first read this thought, and that was before I had participated in the war and lived through almost 20 years of post-war activities, I did not believe that deep thought. However, in fact since the end of the war to date, some 20 years afterwards, the reasons for the war are being called into question; neither the culprits nor the causes of the war are known, while solutions on how to continue with living are still being sought.

Interpersonal relationships are being arranged like Lego bricks in the hands of a two-year child, almost always in a clumsy and illogical way -- too slow, often reluctantly or in a temperamental and very insecure way. We hold on to the time, waiting for the child to grow up and for the bricks to finally come together smoothly and logically.

In the meantime, we continue to live in the stormy times of peace, fearing that this child may lose patience and scatter the bricks. The war is behind us; it is supposed to be that way, but human relations are still not like they should have been in a settled state. The rights of many are not being respected -- or more precisely, a significant number of people do not, even formally, exercise basic human rights.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country of three constituent, but not equal, peoples. It is also the state of those who do not declare themselves to be members of the constituent peoples, and these people are in fact deprived of many rights, of which the biggest problem is the inability to be a candidate for the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Even the members of the constituent peoples, in relation to their place of residence, do not have this right to choose or to be elected as a member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The painful truth is that each of the peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina is still threatened in the area where it is a minority, and some of them are endangered throughout the whole territory. Such is the state of political relations. Regarding social status, almost 50% of the population is facing poverty, due to the unemployment rate of 47% in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Such a situation, of course, results in frustration of individuals and communities, as well as with broken relationships even 20 years after the war.

Unfortunately, Bosnia and Herzegovina is no exception. Relationships between people are disturbed in many more developed countries, whether the main causes of frustration are not exercising their rights -- as is the case in Bosnia and Herzegovina -- or, simply, the alienation of one person from another person, which is the biggest illness of the Western society in the 20th and especially the 21st century.

It is common to include hot spots in the analysis of the global political and security situation on this planet. These actually used to be “spots,” but today the areas affected by open war or by a state that is neither peace nor war, are growing so much that they can no longer even figuratively be called spots. In addition, conflicts, whether they are in the heart of Europe, or throughout Africa and the Middle East, have become so complex that it is difficult to understand and discern who the parties in the conflict are, why indeed they are fighting, who stands behind whom, and also what are the purposes of the actual creators of all these conflicts and wars.

And while no one even mentions the Arab Spring anymore, what an irony in the suggestive name of the war happenings (how spring can be a state of society in which people die and the lives of innocent children and other powerless are being lost) since in reality everything that happened in these countries appears more like a depressing autumn. The Crimea issue is hardly mentioned any due to the situation in eastern Ukraine. On the soil of Iraq and Syria we have the beginnings of a new, more complex, conflict which, if connected in some way with what is happening in the Gaza Strip, could surpass in its consequences all previous conflicts after World War II. Are not all these events the result of human relations in which the creators of such horrors believe that some people are worth less than others and they assume the right to decide who out of those less valuable deserve to live and for how long?

In this age of hypocrisy, of the obsession with oneself and the satisfaction of personal needs, as well as in the time of the general retreat of good to evil, only one world leader is really consistent in the fight for common peace on the planet and makes extraordinary efforts to assist those directly threatened in the areas affected by war in order to stop further escalation of these horrors we are witnessing. Pope Francis prays for peace continually, prays for help to everyone in need and calls upon the world leaders to make concrete steps to stop the active conflicts and prevent the emergence of new ones.

It is difficult, however, to escape the impression that the reactions to his noble attempts are just new horrors and new suffering happening at the hint of those who hold all the strings of the world power in their hands. After joint prayers of leaders for ending all conflicts and achieving true peace in the Middle East, there has been a new explosion of horrific destruction and merciless killing. Do you think this is a coincidence? Absolutely not! Creators of all these conflicts, who are often hiding behind the mission of peacemakers, should know that soon they will be powerless to control development of the situation as well.

The best example of this is ISIL, created in Syria in order to overthrow Assad’s regime, openly armed by the international community, supported directly by the USA and most Western European countries, including Turkey, ISIL has become the least threat to Assad, but almost certainly to the overall world peace, including its mentors. ISIL will now, unite Iran and Iraq, strengthen Assad’s position, and through him will help Hezbollah as well.

On the other hand, Iraq will not see peace for a long time, if it survives as a unified state at all, while the thickest end will be drawn by the unfortunate people of Palestine and all people frantically leaving Syria, Iraq and other war-affected areas, seeking salvation in Europe or other parts of our planet. It is difficult to understand what is happening and what the actual cause of these wars is. In two neighbouring countries, ISIL's role is perceived differently and positions in relation to it are taken accordingly. This is a mistake that could soon outgrow regional frameworks and go totally out of control.

It is really high time for world leaders to join the Holy Father Pope in prayers and efforts to stop this scourge. Otherwise, may God help us all.

From everything stated above, we can see that mankind is going in the wrong direction; building happiness on others’ pain, taking, robbing, not helping the needy, not repenting, destroying everything in its way and in the same time presenting itself as a benefactor and a peacemaker and just goes on. Where to? For how long? What awaits us at the end of such a journey?

I am personally encouraged with a fact which stems from my deep religious beliefs, and that is that good always triumphs over evil and if it wasn’t for the faith in God and fundamental justice, I would have lost all hope in us, in mankind.

Either way, perhaps slowly, perhaps clumsy as in the hands of a child, bricks of human faiths will be arranged, not only in my Bosnia and Herzegovina, and we will finally get to see some much nicer times. If not we personally, then our children or our children's children... Better times are ahead of us, I am sure. "Prayer has saved my life," said Mahatma Gandhi, and after what I have survived, I believe him, and you should believe too that prayer will save us all. Nevertheless, I would like to supplement this thought of the great man, it is a fallacy to believe that only prayer is enough. Every person has been given gifts by God, and in accordance with the assigned gifts, along with prayer, we must act as well.

Do we dare to keep quiet and do nothing knowing how many tears go down daily on innocent children's cheeks? I invite you, let's stand up and condemn the hypocrisy, injustice and evil, regardless of who stands behind them. Only by acting so we are truly free people.

I will conclude my speech with verses of Croatian writer Ivan Gundulic, which I mentioned in my last year’s speech as well:

"Oh beautiful, oh dear, oh sweet freedom!"

For more information about the World Summit, click here.