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The Balkan Trust for Democracy (BTD), a project of The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF), hosted a dinner reception on the occasion of U.S. Congressman Michael Turner’s (R-OH-10) visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). Congressman Turner was the mayor of Dayton, Ohio from 1993 to 2001 and established a sister-city partnership between Dayton and Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 1995, he hosted a month-long negotiation process between Bosnian, Croat, and Serb leaders, which culminated in a peace accord known as the Dayton Agreement.
In order to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the agreement and honor Congressman Turner for his continued commitment to peace and security in the Balkans, the dinner discussion gathered U.S. Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, (D-CA-38), U.S. Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-CA-46), prominent representatives of civil society and BiH members of Parliament. Civil society representatives and longstanding BTD partners included Prof. Vehid Šehić, former president of the Central Electoral Commission of BiH, Jakob Finci, former Bosnian ambassador to Switzerland, Dušan Kalember, former secretary general of the Constitutional Court of BiH, Leila Bičakčić, director of the Center for Investigative Reporting, Darko Brkan, president of the Citizens’ Association “Why not”, Lejla Ibranović, executive director of Transparency International BiH, Jan Kulenović, executive director of the Youth Information Agency OIA, Miran Norderland, managing and content editor at the Dialogue – BiH 2.0 , Zoran Puljić, director of the Foundation MOZAIK, and Vladimir Petronijević, executive director of the Group 484 from Serbia.
Since his election to Congress in 2002, Congressman Turner has repeatedly called for a “Dayton II” peace conference to solve problems that still plague this region today. In 2012, the Congressman sponsored the NATO Enhancement Act, in order to encourage NATO expansion and called on Congress to recognize that countries such as Bosnia, Macedonia, and Montenegro should be granted NATO membership. As president of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, he has continued to call for NATO expansion and advocated for Montenegro’s inclusion.
The guests shared perspectives on the Dayton Agreement’s progress and the need to change the current state of affairs in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Topics also included the need for direct foreign investment, rule of law, corruption, and the current migration crisis that is of concern to the Balkan region.
2017 marks the 70th anniversary of the Marshall Plan, an audacious, innovative strategy to tackle the most pressing challenges of its time. The spirit of the Marshall Plan is as needed now as it was seventy years ago.