Ambassador Moon’s Independence Day Celebration Remarks

Youth Exchange and Study students, who will soon be departing for the U.S., with
Ambassador Moon at the Independence Day Party. 

July 3, 2012

Good evening and welcome to the 236th birthday party of the United States of America!  Danuta and I plus the entire staff of the U.S. Embassy thank you for joining us on this fine summer night.  Let me offer a special welcome to the Chairman and members of the Presidency, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers, Entity Presidents, Excellencies, and Eminences who are with us here now.  

Birthdays are a time for friends to gather to celebrate.  They are also a time for reflection:  What has been accomplished?  What is to come?    

Apart from shoveling a lot of snow, my Embassy team and I have been very busy over this past year.  We have supported efforts to move Bosnia and Herzegovina to NATO and EU membership.  But – as you know – much more work is needed.  I can tell you that the United States remains firmly committed to assisting your country achieve these goals and I urge you to accelerate your necessarily joint efforts in the reform process in the months ahead.  Moreover, the country needs quick, viable solutions to the current impasses blocking restructuring the Federation and BiH governments so that BiH can get back on track.  These solutions must be consistent with constitutional provisions.

On the economic front, we supported the Federation Market Inspectorate in its efforts to ensure that government agencies and private businesses are using legally licensed software, benefitting the local software industry and showing the world that Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country that enforces its laws.  The U.S. has also sent experts in international contract law from the Department of Commerce to train local judges and help increase foreign investment in this country. 

I am very pleased to say that the U.S. has invested nearly $50 million dollars in assistance in Bosnia and Herzegovina this year on projects that boost education, bring young people together from across entity lines, train journalists, and empower women.  We have even hosted the country’s first English spelling bee – I think the winner, Boris from Zenica, is with us tonight.  Next month, the first group of American high school exchange students will begin attending school at Sarajevo’s Second Gymnasium.  These are all reasons for us to celebrate.

I like to travel and see the work we’re doing.  In fact, I think I have put more kilometers on my car this year than a CentroTrans Bus.  I have visited Zvornik, Cazin, Foca, Jajce, East Sarajevo, Pale, Tuzla, Srebrenica, Mostar, Trebinje, Stolac, Banja Luka, Rogatica, Brcko, Zenica, Prijedor, and dozens of other cities and villages.  During all these travels, I must admit to one recurring thought: Won’t it be nice when the corridor Vc road is completed? 

Ambassador Moon with Borislav Omerovic (right), the winner of the Embassy's first national spelling bee, along with Dragan Gavran, director of his school, Zenica's Catholic Gymnasium. 

Whenever I make a trip, I always meet with young people.  These visits give me the inspiration to never lose sight of our number one goal: to help Bosnia and Herzegovina join the European Union and NATO.  They also give me energy and optimism to counterbalance the frustrations over a lack of progress in politics here.  I urge all of you not to give up.  And some friendly advice to the politicians of this country – you had better start listening to these young people or they will surely take your jobs sooner rather than later.

And I am so happy that we have our friends from the European Union with us tonight, who are expanding significantly their efforts here.  Now more than ever before we are working together with the same goals.  The hundreds of millions of Euros they have ready to invest to help develop and reform BiH will certainly create jobs and strengthen the economy.  But more importantly, the reforms that you will have to undertake to qualify for membership in the EU will strengthen the fundamentals of this country in democracy, rule of law, economy, and many other areas that will provide a better future for the people of BiH.

Before we enjoy the food and some traditional American bluegrass music, I want to wish a special farewell to my deputy, Jonathan Moore, who will be returning to Washington to direct the Balkans office in the State Department.  I know he will visit us again soon, but we will miss him greatly.  Sretan put, Jonathan!

Finally, I would also like to thank our friends who helped sponsor this event, including American University BiH, Rhea Express, Hewlett Packard, UPS, F-AC F-Autocentar SA, AirAba, Cisco, Teknox Group, ReMax, Euromedic, BBS, Microsoft, Mibo Communications, Sarajevo Brewery, McCann-Erickson Sarajevo, S.C. Johnson, Oracle, Coca Cola HBC, and McDonalds’ local franchisee Gliese 581.

Thank you for being here tonight to celebrate America’s birthday.  I hope you enjoy the evening.