The 2018 Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina (ACBH) held its annual gala in Washington D.C. on May 5, 2018, marking the 75th anniversary of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s statehood. The 150 person gala was honored by the presence of many high ranking figures that were vital in stopping the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including former President Bill Clinton, former Prime Minister and Member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Haris Silajdzic, General Wesley Clark, and General Gordon R. Sullivan. President Clinton was honored with the Lifetime achievement award. Here are of the highlights:
- Former President Clinton described empty shell art that he keeps at his den in Chappaqua and how much it means to him.
- President Clinton emphasized, “Freedom and democracy die when people take them for granted,” continuing, “If resentment dominates your life, all hell breaks loose.”
- President Clinton noted, “One of things I always admired about Haris (Silajdzic), is he always showed up with a smile on his face.”
- He was happy the war ended, but “felt terrible we left you with so many wholes in Dayton,” adding, “Look at Washington, you don’t need a system like Dayton for political paralysis.”
- President Clinton urged Bosnia and Bosnians to take be able to make change now, “Look at Hungary, Poland, Turkey. The Bosnians have a chance to get support and say…we like our tribes, but not tribalism.”
- Reminiscing on seeing the film Black Panther he was brought back to the Balkans, “I went to see it and all I was thinking about was Bosnia or Kosovo…It was a story of inclusive Tribalism,” again urging peace, “Don’t be so arrogant that you can’t compromise,” and even questioned why the US wasn’t “doing more to break the gridlock”
- The former president had the crowd laughing stating, “I’m of an age now I’m just grateful when the sun comes up each morning.”
- When he concluded, Ambassador of Kosovo to the US, Vlora Citaku, went up to and embraced him.
- General Wesley Clark briefly spoke insisting, “When you can make a difference, you should,” a quote from President Clinton.
- Sanela Jenkins was awarded and got over her fear of public speaking to accept an award with a packed room.
- General Gordon R. Sullivan also spoke briefly, and he repeated multiple times that “Hope is the anchor of souls.”
- American filmmaker and author Bill Carter, most known for his documentary Miss Sarajevo and book Fool’s Rush In, focused on the humanitarian aspect of people to people communication in his award speech. He said, “If you connect people to people, it’s harder to kill them, harder to ignore them.”
- Former Member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Haris Silajdzic was the final award recipient and speaker. He reminisced about the war and how Bosnia is facing a different war today, “Even when the administration of Bill Clinton demanded that an arms embargo be lifted, this did not happen and we had to smuggle it. Today, we need to smuggle democracy into Bosnia and Herzegovina.”
- He equated Bosnia and Herzegovina to a car with too many hands on the steering wheel, stating “You can not drive a car with four hands on the steering wheel, with an extra paw on those hands coming from the east. And then from the EU we say that we have to work hard,” and stated that Bosnia and Herzegovina is currently faced with democratic feudalism.
Seen @ the event: President Bill Clinton, General Wesley Clark, General Gordon Sullivan, Former Bosnian President Haris Silajdzic, Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the US Haris Hrle, High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina Valentin Inzko, Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina President Ajla Delkic, US Army Captain Ermin Mujezinvoic, United Macedonian Diaspora President Meto Koloski, Former US Ambassador to Croatia James Foley, Former US Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Clifford Bond, Ambassador of Kosovo to the US Vlora Citaku, Ambassador of Slovenia to the US Stanislav Vidovic, Ari Mittleman, Elvir Klempić, John McCarthy, Allie Chalupa, Joel Rubin, Balkan Insider Editor Ryan Scherba, Former Minister of Energy, Mining, and Industry of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina Reuf Bajrovic, Foreign Policy Research Institute Fellow Richard Kraemer, SAIS Professor and former Member of the US Special Envoy to Bosnia and Herzegovina Daniel Serwer