31/12/1995

Acceptance speech – Serb Civic Council

The Serb Civic Council will persevere on the path of struggle for democracy and human rights, in the conviction that the future of Bosnia-Herzegovina lies in peace, ethnic equality, plural democracy...

Respected Swedish parliamentarians,
Honored guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I greet you on behalf of the Serb Civic Council of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
I come from Sarajevo, a city victim and a city hero, a city in which 12,000 residents have been killed during the three-and-a-half year siege. 1,600 were children.

The Serb Civic Council had the honor of being on the top of this year’s prize winners list of the very distinguished Right Livelihood Award. We express our gratitude to all organizations and individuals who proposed that the SCC receive the award. We would like to express special thanks to the jury which decided to give us the award.
The name of the Right Livelihood Award symbolically substantiates the programs and actions of the Serb Civic Council. Our organization was founded in war circumstances, with an aim to fight against those circumstances and their causes, and to fight for the establishment of real life for the common man as a human being, regardless of his background, religion, nationality and political affiliation.

In the moment of its founding, the Council has chosen a national prefix in order to show the domestic, European and world publics that a large part of the Serb ethnic community in Bosnia-Herzegovina does not support political options which advocate the ‘ethnically pure’ state of Radovan Karadzic’s regime, and which condemns the genocide and crimes against the Bosnian and Croat peoples. At the same time, our desires go against ideas about the undeserved satanization of the whole Serb nation because of the unacceptable doctrines, means and goals of the Pale regime. With such intentions, in the beginning of 1994, 428 Serb delegates from territories under the control of legal Bosnian authorities and Serb delegates who have taken refuge abroad, gathered in Sarajevo and founded the Serb Civic Council as an organizational body for expressing their interest and goals.

The Council devoted its work TO ACHIEVING A PEACEFUL SETTLEMENT IN BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA, TO THE STRUGGLE FOR DEMOCRACY, TO A UNITED AND MULTIETHNIC BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA AND TO THE USE OF UNIVERSAL PRINCIPLES IN ADVOCATING AND PROTECTING HUMAN RIGHTS.

While achieving these goals, we refused to take the path of NATIONAL SEGREGATION and exclusivism, as those Serb people led by the Pale regime have done. We did not accept ethnic hatred and ethnic divisions and forced displacement of civilians.

We remained living in coexistence, suffering misfortunes together with Bosnians and Croats in Sarajevo, Tuzla, Zenica, Mostar, Bihac and other towns in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
We condemn war criminals among the Serbs and among all other peoples, and we demand their punishment.
We stand in defense of the basic human rights to life, residence and cultural and national identity. We are taking part in the multinational and pluralistic front of the struggle for a democratic Bosnia-Herzegovina.
We have put a lot of will and effort into preserving inter-ethnic trust in war conditions.

While living in coexistence with Bosnians and Croats in Sarajevo and other towns, we contribute to the preservation of the multiethnic structure of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The Serb Civic Council has presented its proposals for a PEACEFUL SETTLEMENT OF THE BOSNIAN WAR DRAMA to the governments of most European countries, Russia, the United States, the European Union and various international organizations. These proposals comprise the interests of all citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina and of all three peoples individually — the Serbs, the Croats and the Bosnians. The most vital interest of the common people is to live in PEACE. People have lived ethnically mixed and in TOLERANCE for centuries in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In the past, PRINCIPLES OF A MULTICULTURAL SOCIETY AND ETHNIC EQUALITY were respected in Bosnia. Many towns, like Sarajevo and others, before the war had about 30 per cent ethnically mixed marriages. During its historic development, Bosnia-Herzegovina has become the paradigm of a multiethnic community in Europe. Its future is in PEACE, ETHNIC EQUALITY, PLURAL DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN RIGHTS ACCORDING TO INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS.

These values are the long-term goals of the Serb Civic Council in achieving a peaceful solution and reintegration of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
In the time ahead of us, the presence of the international community, especially the European Union, which has been hesitating for too long, must secure an ECONOMIC AND DEMOCRATIC RECONSTRUCTION OF BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA and its membership in contemporary European integration.
The question-of-all-questions for the future of Bosnia-Herzegovina is the POSSIBILITY OF UNIVERSAL PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS. The war has inflicted the worst damage in the sphere of human rights, since it has in essence endangered the right to life of most civilians in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Half of the population of Bosnia-Herzegovina are refugees. The first test of the attitude towards human rights will be the attitude towards the right of refugees to return to the country, to their homes.

Our main goal is to secure international standards in protecting human rights in Bosnia-Herzegovina. This demands a long-term presence of the international community and its monitoring of human rights protection. This is indeed a strategic issue for the development of democracy in Bosnia-Herzegovina and it implies changes in the political organization of our society. The fact is that in the last elections in 1990, political power went into the hands of parties founded on an ethnic basis. Two out of the three ruling parties have gained power by connecting with political centres in Zagreb and Belgrade. Through these two parties, nationalistic policies secured an UNIMPEDED INFLUENCE ON THE INTERNAL SITUATION IN BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA. Besides this, the parties preferred the ethnic prefix in carrying out authority and in social development.

Many human rights have either been REDUCED BY THE ETHNIC PREFIX or have been created according to it. This alone makes the development of a multiethnic community like Bosnia-Herzegovina very difficult. This also slows down integrative processes in the country.

Minority ethnic groups, like the Serb residents of Sarajevo, Mostar, Bihac Tuzla, Travnik, Zenica, have been enduring the consequences of human rights reduced to ethnic background. Members of the Serb ethnic community in the Bosnian-Croat federation have less civic rights than members of the Bosnian and Croat ethnic communities, including the right to labor. The reason for this is well known: non-Serbs in the Serb area under the control of the Pale regime have no rights, not even the right to life and residence. This is what happens when one enters the trap of national, or even worse, nationalistic evaluation of human existence and human rights. We must get out of this abyss into which human rights have fallen. We cannot do it on our own. We need help from the prosperous democratic world. International community aid in monitoring human rights is needed in all local and regional communities in Bosnia-Herzegovina, not for one year, but for a whole decade.

The Serb Civic Council, in cooperation with governmental and non-governmental organizations of European countries, will persevere on this path – the path of struggle for democracy and human rights.

We want a democratic Bosnia-Herzegovina in a free Europe, in which man, the INDIVIDUAL, will be the BASIS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND POWER, and not some kind of collectivism based on social or national principles. It is well known that all social movements, which were based on collectivist monopoly principles, sooner or later led towards totalitarianism and various forms of fascism in society. In the future, we expect that the main political factors in Europe and the world will show more appreciation for the moral and political strength and role of the Serb Civic Council in the democratic development of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

We appreciate this award and accept it as a symbol of the superiority of JUSTICE AND PROGRESS, FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY, OVER INJUSTICE, EVIL, TOTALITARIANISM, AND WAR.

Thank you!




Serb Civic Council
Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina
Human Rights House
71 000 Sarajevo
BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA
http://humanrightshouse.org/Articles/5107.html