”We welcomed the U.S. State Department’s top public diplomacy official – Under Secretary of State for Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy Tara Sonenshine – to Bosnia and Herzegovina this week to meet with students, NGO representatives, civic activists, government officials, the media, and our Public Diplomacy team at the Embassy.
Under Secretary Sonenshine is a passionate champion of U.S. programs around the world that foster mutual understanding and cooperation between the United States and other countries. I was pleased she chose to visit BiH because the US Embassy in BiH has some of the most successful and innovative public diplomacy programs in Europe, and I wanted to introduce her to our work and our local partners.
Under Secretary Sonenshine met with two dozen high school students who recently returned from a month in the U.S. on the Youth Leadership Program. The students told her how the program in Seattle, Washington, and Washington, D.C., inspired them to be active participants in their communities back here in BiH. Under Secretary Sonenshine also met with LGBT activists and heard about their inspiring grassroots work promoting human rights and tolerance. She heard from women leaders about their challenges and achievements in promoting the role of women in society. They confirmed their intention to continue working for the economic and social progress that is possible when women are appropriately represented. And Under Secretary Sonenshine talked with a group of local web portal journalists about the State Department’s work to engage all audiences, but especially youth, with technology.
While I spend much of my time in meetings with politicians and government leaders, meeting the ordinary citizens who work each day for a better BiH keeps me motivated and optimistic about BiH’s future. These “ordinary” citizens are truly the extraordinary people who will help this country move forward. I was very pleased to introduce Under Secretary Sonenshine to some of the people who inspire me the most.
We also took a few moments to honor two of our extraordinary American colleagues who lost their lives here in BiH during the siege of Sarajevo. Under Secretary Sonenshine presided over a ceremony at the Embassy where we dedicated our largest conference room and our Information Resource Center in honor of Doctor Joe Kruzel and Colonel Nelson Drew, who, along with Ambassador Robert Frasure and French Corporal Stefan Raoult, died tragically on the Mount Igman road in 1995. They lost their lives for the cause of peace, stability, and prosperity in Bosnia and Herzegovina – goals the United States and our extraordinary local partners continue to work for today.
Getting out to our embassies and seeing the work we are doing on the ground is vitally important for the leaders of the State Department. I thank Under Secretary Sonenshine for taking the time to hear a few of the stories of remarkable people who believe a better future is possible for all citizens. The US Embassy’s Public Diplomacy team will continue working to find new and exciting ways to reach out to those in Bosnia and Herzegovina who are committed to a sovereign, democratic and prosperous country anchored in the Euro-Atlantic community of nations.”