We, the religious leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina wish to extend our great appreciation to our American host, the Appeal of Conscience Foundation and its President, Rabbi Arthur Schneier, for the invitation to the United States and the opportunity it gave to have exchanges of views with our counterparts as well as high officials of the United States government, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Congressman Benjamin Gilman and members of the International Relations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. In addition with Secretary General of The United Nations H. E. Kofi Annan and heads of missions of several United Nations members at the panel discussion hosted by H.E. Muhamed Sacirbey Head of the Mission of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the United Nations.
We thank God that we found sympathetic friends in America, willing to help us build a stable and viable Bosnia and Herzegovina. We welcome that help and look forward to closer, more intense cooperation with them.
Now that the bloodshed has ended we intend to build on the work accomplished during the religious summits organized by the Appeal of Conscience Foundation in Bern(1992), Istanbul(1994) and Vienna(1995) as a prelude to the Dayton Peace Accord. We reaffirm the statement in the three declarations that, “Crimes committed in the name of religion are the greatest crimes against religion” and accept the challenge to establish a just and free society in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
During this initial period of peace in our ravaged country, we recognize that there is still much to be accomplished to heal the wounds of a brutal war and to bring universal freedom and democracy to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Although we cannot forget the pain and suffering of the past, we have the obligation to coming generations to plan and build a better future. Therefore, we reiterate our call for fundamental human and religious rights for all persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina and specifically, emphasize the following:
- The right of all to worship according to their conscience.
- The right of free movement for all within Bosnia and Herzegovina
- The right for all to return to their homes within Bosnia and Herzegovina
In deepening our relations with the Appeal of Conscience Foundation and in support of a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural Bosnia and Herzegovina, we agree to take the initiative in the following:
- The creation of a radio network to be called “Voice of Religious Freedom and Tolerance” to promote the united message of the Inter-religious Council for peace, justice and reconciliation.
- The establishment in the United States of scholarships for young seminarians to study and experience democracy and a pluralistic way of life.
- The strengthening of close contacts between faiths in the United States and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
We deeply appreciate and thank God for the efforts being made on behalf of Bosnia and Herzegovina by individual Americans, the American authorities and religious and private institutions.
Without those efforts our hopes and aspirations for the future would be much more difficult to achieve. We look forward to the day when we will have accomplished the goals we have set for ourselves; for each to have the freedom to pray according to his or her own conscience and the ability for all to make a contribution to a just, peaceful and democratic society.
Washington, D. C., USA
May 21, 1998
This declaration was signed by:
Rabbi Arthur Schneier
Appeal of Conscience Foundation
The Inter-Religious Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina
His Eminence Dr. Mustafa Ceric
Raisu-l-Ulama and Grand Mufti,
Islamic Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina
His Eminence Vinko Cardinal Pujlic
Archbishop of Sarajevo
President, Bishops’ Conference of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Dr. Jakob Finci
President, Jewish Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Archdeacon Radomir Rakic
General Secretary Ecumenical Council of Churches in Yugoslavia
Representing His Eminence Metropolitan Nikolaj Mdrja
Head of the Orthodox Church of Bosnia and Herzegovina