Notwithstanding verbal assaults and physical threats to which she
has been exposed and still is, she remains committed to her just
cause, and openly and with arguments stands for the protection and
promotion of human rights.
She seeks the truth as a major precondition for
regional stability. She takes that the generations to come need to
communicate - which is easy for them as their languages are so alike
- reach understanding and develop cooperation through facing up the
The world public has recognized her just cause and
her persevering, democratic struggle for the protection of human
rights based on the principles of solidarity, humanity and tolerance
among peoples and nations, for which she has been conferred many
Her perseverance and courage are amazing. These
are the benchmarks of a humanist and a righteous person.
Indeed, Ms. Sonja Biserko, chairwoman of the
Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia, deserves special
respect. By bestowing this charter upon her, citizens of Sarajevo
are expressing their gratitude."
In her thank-you address Sonja Biserko said:
"For twenty years I've been solely engaged in and
focused on the defense of fundamental human rights and political
freedoms in the Balkans. And in particular, in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
In the case of Bosnia-Herzegovina I've learned
everything about today's distorted world, everything about human
nature, everything about human community's ability to cope with the
questions that are still open over here.
Sarajevo symbolizes everything I've been raising
my voice against. It symbolizes war, aggression, destruction,
Sarajevo symbolizes everything I've been standing
for all these years. It symbolizes the struggle for the truth,
tolerance, cohabitation, humanity, unselfishness and, finally, the
ability for forgiveness.
Once genuinely safeguarded Bosnia-Herzegovina will
equal the safeguard of the entire value system for which citizens of
Sarajevo have stood for, the same as many in this region and in the
A consolidated, democratic Bosnia-Herzegovina, one
homeland for three peoples, will be a sure sign that the world is on
its way to recovery. Sarajevo has not won that battle yet. Why has
it not? Why is it that Bosnia-Herzegovina has not managed yet to
build itself into a state?
For sixteen years now we have been witnessing the
policy that negates everything Sarajevo had demonstrated under its
four-year siege. The truth about the character of the wars in the
territory of ex-Yugoslavia, especially of the war in
Bosnia-Herzegovina, is still denied in the region and in the parts
of this very country. Internationally, some still treat it as a
civil war in which all the three parties bear the same burden of
Serbian political and intellectual elites
generally perceive that war as a liberation war. Having embraced
such interpretation leaders of Republika Srpska have been
endeavoring to estrange citizens of Republika Srpska from the very
concept of a unified, democratic Bosnia-Herzegovina. Tensions
between states and nations, as well as the problems deriving from
various, even manipulative interpretations of these tensions, call
for hard work that leads to democratic solutions.
Solutions to problems are not sought over here
only. They are being sought worldwide. For me, a nation-state
concept is artificial and unrealistic. A unified and democratic
Bosnia-Herzegovina can only emerge from a general agreement on
cohabitation reached by all citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and when
I say all I do not refer to nations such Serbs, Bosniaks and Croats.
And the Balkan crisis can be settled only once the international
community starts treating Bosnia-Herzegovina as a state with all its
specificities and by its criteria. And Europe itself will be ready
to face the challenges of the new era only once Sarajevo becomes
again a symbol of citizenship and civil values.
It is my deep belief that Sarajevo can once again
serve as a model of the course to be taken.
Thank you again for this mark of recognition that
touched me deeply.
I also wish to thank you on behalf of all my
associates, my friends and everyone in Europe and the world that
have been supportive of my work and the work of the Helsinki
Committee for Human Rights in Serbia.
May I also offer my sincere congratulations to you
all and to citizens of Sarajevo on this memorable day.
I feel truly honored to be proclaimed your