President of the Republic of Croatia
Esteemed President of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr. Izetbegovic,
President of the European Commission, Mr. Van Rompuym
President Vujanovic, Prime Minister Monti,
Esteemed religious leaders,
There are not many occasions as today where we have the privilege to address ourselves to such an eminent gathering of people of good will. An assembly that is committed to peace and to a better and more dignified world. These are fundamental values to be found in all world religions, in every kind of responsible politics, and in all civilised people who long for peace and understanding, whether they are believers or not.
No matter how different we may be, we are all equal to one another. We are all ordinary people, longing for peace, safety and well-being.
The city of Sarajevo and the receiving country, Bosnia and Herzegovina are both striking examples of this need for peace and mutual respect.
The European continent, especially the South-East, has been marked by the multi denomination and multi ethnic culture, which has made it a place where during the centuries man and peoples have been living together in diversity. This is in fact a unique place where during the centuries Catholicism, Orthodoxy and Protestantism have coexisted, where for centuries the Jewish and Muslim religious traditions exist and countless smaller traditions exist for decades.
In history there have unfortunately been times where especially in the South-East, due to the difficult social conditions, causes of conflict arose from this diversity, causing human suffering which is totally unacceptable for a civilized society.
Embarrassing and irresponsible errors were made, not only by people from this region, but also from the large international community. Much time has been spent to go backwards, without responding to the crimes and without finding the way to stop these crimes.
I want to believe that this time is behind us for ever. I want to believe that we have learnt the lesson from this past that is not so long ago and I want to believe that we have reached the time where reason, reconciliation and collaboration reign.
Sarajevo may be the clearest example of this. Within some hundreds of metres you can find the mosque, the Catholic cathedral, the Orthodox Church and the synagogue. Often we have underestimated or forgotten the power of this fact, especially in the recent past.
To be able to rediscover this strength, I invite you religious and us political leaders to send a strong message of collaboration today.
It is even more important to send the message which shows that Europe cannot be the place of ideas that humiliate, threaten or offend any person. Yes, Europe should be a safe house for every citizen: the crises and the difficulties may not be used as excuses to close the doors. The doors of the European Union should remain open for all the countries from the South-East that have the ambition to become members with equal rights.
Croatia offers its persistent support to neighbouring countries so this may happen.
The fundament of the European Union is the idea of unity, solidarity and tolerance, all to ensure peace.
Peace is within us and around us. Peace protects life and allows development. Peace cannot be taken for granted. Peace requires a daily commitment.
I am certain that this meeting will be encouraging for an ecumenical and interreligious future and for a better understanding of visions on the world, for dialogue, not only for religious matters but also for practical matters of daily life.
I believe that this meeting and similar meetings in the future give an impulse to religious and political leaders to emphasize the importance of respecting the particularities of the various religious traditions in order to achieve a fruitful dialogue. I invite all citizens, believers and non-believers to be tolerant and to strive to mutual knowledge and acceptance.
We, politicians, are elected representatives and as such have a major responsibility, because the people who elected us gave us the possibility and the right to take decisions in their name and for their wellbeing.
This is a very difficult task that we cannot perform on our own. We need your help.
Therefore, once again, at the end, I wish you all the best and invite you to make sure that the message of hope and unity which you bear in the depth of your soul, will be transmitted to every person you meet or can reach.