Former President Bill Clinton

I want to thank the Remembering Srebrenica UK foundation and all of our British friends for inviting me to address you today. I am very grateful for the chance to say just a few words on the 25th anniversary of the genocide. In 2003, I was honoured to take part in the dedication to the Srebrenica Potocari memorial and cemetery. And it was my privilege to come back five years ago on the 20th anniversary of the killing. I will never forget that day either. It has been profoundly moving, for me, at every time, every opportunity to continue to add my voice to those across the world who grieve for the families of those killed. To support the ongoing efforts to seek justice for those lost, and to recover their remains and bring them home to a final resting place.

I am also grateful for the opportunity to mark this anniversary because July 11th is so much more than just a dark time in Bosnia’s past, it is also a bracing reminder of the terrible cost to all of us when we turn our backs on our shared humanity. Across the world conflicts based on ethnicity, race and religion continue to bring on unbearable misery and loss to families. Destruction to societies and economies and heartbreaking, heartbreaking numbers of refugees. Far too many people on earth today can personally identify with the mothers, the wives and the children who lost loved ones at Srebrenica. 25 years later we don’t seem to have learned very much in a lot of places. Even as you have honoured the difficult political compromises in the Dayton Accords and most crucially kept the peace. It is more important than ever to remember that in Bosnia, and across the world, real democracy requires a genuine commitment to an inclusive society. 

Including shared decision making, a commitment to the rule of law and uncovering the hard truths about the past so you can be free to make a different future. I hope in the next 25 years all citizens of Bosnia and all of us around the world who wish you well will remember the sacrifice of July 11th and work even harder than you have already to preserve and strengthen the peace. To expand economic opportunity, to build an inclusive future for your children and grandchildren. Doing so will be a fitting tribute to those who we remember today and it will provide an example to the next generation and to the entire world that the conflicts of the past need not overshadow the promise of the future. That is the real gift you can give in honour of those who paid the ultimate price. Thank you.