Ambassador Wigemark: People in BiH want changes and are ready to take the initiative

Festive closing ceremony of the ‘prEUzmi inicijativu’ („Take the EU initiative“) outreach project by the Office of the EU Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUSR) was held in National Museum in Sarajevo last night. In the past several months, the EU Special Representative and Head of the EU Delegation to BiH, Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, his deputy Khaldoun Sinno, ambassadors from several European countries and regional and local experts participated in public debates with citizens of Ilidža, East Sarajevo, Banja Luka, Grude, Nevesinje, Odžak, Travnik, Čajniče and Zenica on challenges and opportunities offered by the process of accession to the European Union.

The event was attended by  a number of guests, including representatives of the authorities, civil society, academia, private sector, young activists and ambassadors of several EU member states.

In his welcome speech, the ceremony host, Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, stated: „During the last three months of holding public discussions with the citizens of this country, I must say I realized that the young people in BiH are ready to take the initiative. It takes up a lot of energy, and there is certainly a lot of energy in this country (…) EU integrations are taking place across the country, at all levels, in all local communities which will benefit and win the most from this process – the local level will be the biggest user of the funds. Citizens understand very well what needs to be done not only in terms of formal fulfillment of requirements, but in sense of a true, essential transformation of society into a modern state. (…) This is a wonderful country that has many friends in Europe and the EU, we are your friends, partners who want to take the initiative to change things together with you. But this will happen only if the change happen in every citizen of this country, in local communities, all the way up to the highest level of the country. I saw for myself that people want the change, they are ready for it,  they have been waiting for it for 20 years and are ready to work on reforms that will change this country for better.“

The guests had the opportunity to watch a short video on debates showing citizens asking various questions and expressing their interest, as well as willingness to take the initiative on path to the EU and in many areas of life, wishing to change them for better.

The event also officially marked the finale of the ‘E4U’ youth project implemented by the EUSR for the third year in a row. As part of this year’s project, high school students from all over BiH had an opportunity to creatively express their thoughts and opinions on the issues concerning them in the video production, and with the support of the top local and regional communications experts.

The result: five fantastic videos on topics identified as priorities during the research conducted among 16,000 high school students from all over the country,, that is peer violence, youth mobility, hate speech, economy and educational system in BiH, and brain drain.

Everyone had a chance to vote for the winning video via the application on E4U Facebook page. The video about young people leaving the country titled ‘Brain Drain’ won the biggest number of votes both through this application and by the jury consisting of the Director, Producer and Screenwriter Ademir Kenović, Actor and Director Zenit Đozić, Architect and Producer Midhat Kapetanović, Director and Writer Tarik Hodžić, and Account Manager of Mita group Đejla Mahmutović.

The winning team will travel to Brussels at the end of this week, where they will have the opportunity to present their video in the EU institutions.