Speach delivered by the Member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr. Dragan Čović on the ocassion of the Christmass Reception Sarajevo, Konak Presidency,Thursday, December 16, 2004, at 18:30

 Your eminences, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, 

I would like to greet you all during this, very special part of the year, the time of Advent, awaiting of Christmas – the celebration of the Christ's birth. I would also like to thank you all for being here today.

For us, Catholics, the Christmas has an exceptional meaning: first of all, it reinforces our faith into the Lord Almighty and His Son. On the other hand, it provides us with strength and inspires the love towards every human being and the mercy towards the needy ones. Unfortunately, in our country, those in need are numerous.

I would like to use this opportunity to inspire us to contemplate for a moment the values we share: love towards the family, thankfulness to God, esteem for the religious freedoms and the sincere respect of our differences.

Human and the laws of God have to provide the equal treatment for all in this country that has been suffering for centuries – for all of its peoples and citizens. It is a primary requirement for a better and happier future. The complete constitutional and legislative equality of each of the three constitutional peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina - something we all advocate, shall guarantee the right to existence and the right to own religion, culture and tradition, including the right to own holidays, the joy of which we would like to share with the others.

We live hoping for that more just society, a society of peoples that would be truly equal, and hoping that every man in this country will have a life that is worthy of human beings. We are hoping for the society in which we will be able to enjoy the fruits of our own labor, and in which we will be able to selflessly give our love and compassion to our fellow men.

I would like to remind you that in the past twelve months we have witnessed and participated in the events that in my opinion represent crucial tests, while at the same time, the key pillars for the development of our society. Another year of peace has passed, a year in which we have completed a high quality reform of the defense system and established the Ministry of Defense of BiH. We have established the state level Indirect Taxation Administration. For the first time ever, local authorities have, without the external assistance, organized and implemented local elections; without a single serious deficiency, I have to add. We have completed the reconstruction and officially opened the Old Bridge and the old part of Mostar. We have organized a high level International Investment Conference in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Stabilization Forces –SFOR have finished their mandate, and we are continuing the integration processes with the presence of the European Forces. Currently, we are active in implementing a whole line of other reforms in all of the society’s segments. To complete this is a necessity, and we have to finish them, for our own sake, but also in order to join the European Integrations.

We should believe and hope that during the year ahead, we will be able to make additional steps forward, towards bringing our country closer to the European Union and NATO; that we will be able to speed up the privatization process; to give a push to the foreign investments and enhance the social status of all our citizens, and especially to the most deprived and socially excluded ones. It is my firm belief that together, we have the will, strength, capability, determination and responsibility enough to go forward, to accept the European standards. In this country, we have a wide consensus to do so. It is our wish for all our citizens to have a better and a more dignifying life, and we wish for all the people in this country, young and old, to be able to rejoice life.

I would like to invite all of us to share the joy of Christmas with our loved ones and neighbors – I wish for other peoples in BiH to share the spirit of Christmas and a wish to spend these holly days in peace and kindness, prosperity, joy and happiness with us.

To all those celebrating Christmas, I wish a Marry Christmas, and to you all a very Happy New Year. 

Thank you and cheers!