On the occasion of the unveiling of the recently refurbished memorial to the Žepče civilian victims of war, the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) organized a one-day ambassadorial visit to Žepče on Wednesday, 16 June 2021. The event was organized jointly with the Embassy of Sweden in BiH, representing the OSCE 2021 Chairpersonship, the United Nations Resident Coordinator Office in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Municipality of Žepče.
Kathleen Kavalec, Head of the OSCE Mission to BiH, said: “This municipality has come a long way in terms of building good relations among all citizens. Co-operation and compromise are today the hallmark of local politics and decision-making. With the spirit of inclusivity and thanks to the initiative of its vibrant civil society, Žepče commemorates its civilian war victims. All of them. Without exceptions or distinctions. One memorial, one plaque, one location, for one community. I am honored to be here today to help commemorate Žepče’s civilian victims of war. As a Mission, we are pleased to have contributed to the establishment and refurbishment of the memorial, the only one of its kind in BiH.”
Representatives of the international community visited the memorial and paid their respects.
“By jointly honouring all the civilian victims of the war, an important step is taken into a better future for all. I hope many others will follow in the footsteps of Žepče. Sweden will continue to support and work with those who want to create a more inclusive and tolerant future for everyone in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” said Swedish Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Johanna Strömquist.
Participants also had an opportunity to visit the local war veterans associations’ memorial rooms that give historical background and help to grasp the significance of Žepče’s journey.
The UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Alice Wairimu Nderitu said: “Victims, survivors, their families and relatives deserve all possible support. Memorializing and remembering them is not only about the past. It is about the present and about ensuring a future defined by dignity, mutual respect and understanding. It is about the grief of their experience compelling us to work together to build a better future for all.”
The visit concluded at the local secondary music school “Katarina Kosača-Kotromanić” where a group of students performed a classical music concert.
Today’s visit was a way for the international community in BiH to recognize and reward the exceptionality of Žepče in BiH’s landscape. It is meant to actively encourage such steps, nurture the progress already made, amplify positive messages, and set the ground for replication in more communities.