Press Releases

    19 November 2002


    NEW YORK, 18 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following are the remarks of Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the Sarajevo Theatre in Sarajevo, on 17 November:

    I am honoured and pleased to be back among so many friends this evening.

    I can think of no better venue than this historic theatre, in the heart of Sarajevo, to celebrate the living legacy of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s historic cultural diversity.

    And I can think of no better way than through music, a universal vehicle for expressions of human creativity and freedom, to pay tribute to the ordinary people of this country -- a people who have overcome adversity and destruction to rebuild and revive their country.

    As we gather here today, we also look back on a long partnership between the United Nations and the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was a partnership that had difficult and painful beginnings, from which the United Nations has drawn many lessons. Indeed, the lessons from that experience helped us to make the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) the success it is today.

    The closure of the Mission this year completes the most extensive police reform and restructuring mission in the history of United Nations peacekeeping operations. It marks the end of a historic chapter. We close it in dignity.

    For us at the United Nations, this is a moment of special significance. No conflict, no cause, has presented a greater challenge to the United Nations. From all corners of the world, United Nations personnel came to Bosnia to promote the peace and the unity that we witness today.

    They did so for the sake of the people of Bosnia, and in the hope that coexistence -- once flourishing among the communities of this country -- can once again become reality. They saw that the desire for peace and for tolerance is genuine, and they knew that we in the international community have a duty and an obligation to help make that peace a lasting one.

    I wish to express my deepest appreciation to Jacques Paul Klein, my Special Representative, and to all my colleagues in the UNMIBH, civilian, police, local and international, drawn from 96 United Nations Member States, for their dedication and perseverance in the service of peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    I am grateful to all of them and to the people of this country, for the spirit of cooperation that has marked the past seven years of the Mission.

    The closing of this chapter will not mean the end of our partnership. The international community will continue to work with you in the effort to create an environment where citizens can live in peace and share the same dreams.

    The world now looks to you to build a society based on respect for the rule of law and democratic institutions -- a society that will eventually allow every citizen to fulfil his or her potential. As the High Representative, Paddy Ashdown, has rightly summed it up: "First justice, then jobs through reform". That, I am convinced, is the key to a future of stability and prosperity; that is the way to ensure that your nation is firmly integrated into the European family.

    But for now, let us listen to a recital of music as a celebration of our common humanity. If music be the food of peace, play on.

    * *** *