By Nazli Yuzbasioglu

ANKARA

The Dayton Peace Agreement brought “much-needed peace” to the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina after years of bitter fighting, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a video message on Saturday.

Participating in a virtual event organized by the Office of the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Dayton Peace Accords, he said that the agreement ended the war and genocide in the country.

The peace agreement reached at Dayton city of US, on Nov. 21 1995 was formally signed in Paris, on Dec. 14. These accord ended the more than three-year-long Bosnian War.

“The achievements of Dayton have been remarkable. That said many things have changed in the last quarter-century. Therefore, we need to adapt to new realities. We need to have a better functioning system that will increase the welfare of all citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina,” said Cavusoglu.

He underlined that Turkey has a “strong commitment” to the territorial integrity and fundamental structure of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a single, sovereign state, comprising two entities and the Brcko District in the northern part of the country.

“The integrity, unity, and sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina are crucial for Turkey. It is also a key element for maintaining peace and stability in the Balkans and beyond,” said the Turkish foreign minister, adding that Turkey also supports efforts to improve regional cooperation for prosperity in the region.

Cavusoglu also stressed the support of Turkey in Bosnia-Herzegovina’s progress towards Euro-Atlantic integration.

Urging the participants to look into the future, while not forgetting the past, the Turkish minister said that the suffering of innocent people during the siege of Sarajevo and the Srebrenica Genocide is still fresh in the minds.

“Justice and peace go hand in hand. Accountability serves as a strong deterrent for future crimes and also consolidates peace. Remembering the past and honoring those who lost their lives will remind us that we should protect peace at all costs,” he said.

Ultra-nationalism brings sufferings

He emphasized that the language of hatred, intolerance, cultural and ethnic divisions, or ultra-nationalism brings nothing but suffering.

“Lessons learned from the pains of the past should guide us towards stronger cooperation in the region. We should appreciate our cultural differences. This is our richness,” he added.

Noting that respecting the “other” is key for peaceful coexistence, Cavusoglu said that this is true not only for the Balkans but also for wider Europe and across the globe.

“The sufferings of 25 years ago must be a bitter reminder that rising xenophobia, racism, and Islamophobia especially in Europe must be prevented. This can only be achieved with strong political leadership that acts with wisdom rather than populism,” he said.

He also pointed out that Turkey, as a member of the Peace Implementation Council Steering Committee, will continue to “fully support” the maintenance of peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“The future can be better when we are together,” he concluded.

The role of High Representative was created under the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, usually referred to as the Dayton Peace Agreement. The brutal three-and-a-half-year war of Bosnia had resulted in around 100,000 deaths and one or worst human rights abuses in the recent past.

*Writing by Jeyhun Aliyev

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