Reflections on Bosnia and Herzegovina's Independence: A Guest Lecture by Prof. Dr. Zlatko Lagumdžija

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The rector of International Burch University, Prof. Dr. Mersid Poturak, had the honour of hosting a guest lecture by Prof. Dr. Zlatko Lagumdžija, who has been a witness, participant, and leader of many important events in Bosnia and Herzegovina's history since its independence. Following a meeting at the Rector’s cabinet, where Prof. Poturak introduced Prof. Lagumdžija to ongoing university operations and projects, Prof. Lagumdžija shared his experience and expertise with the university community on the occasion of BiH Independence Day, reflecting on the past, present, and future of the country.

Prof. Zlatko Lagumdžija was born in Sarajevo in 1955 and completed a significant part of his education in the US. He became a Professor of Management Information Systems at the University of Sarajevo in 1989 and soon after Bosnia and Herzegovina became an independent political entity in the 1990s, he became prominently involved in policy. He became the head of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and served as Deputy Prime Minister during the war. After the war, he continued to play a leading role in Bosnian policy, serving as Foreign Minister and Chairman of the Council of Ministers, among other positions.

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During his guest lecture, Prof. Lagumdžija shared his personal experience on entering policy and discussed several topics related to Bosnia and Herzegovina's independence and its subsequent development. He emphasised the importance of the referendum on independence in 1992, which demonstrated to the world that the majority of Bosnians supported the country's independence from Yugoslavia. He noted that the referendum was a significant moment in Bosnian history, as it paved the way for the country to become a sovereign and independent political entity.

Prof. Lagumdžija also discussed the main challenges that Bosnia and Herzegovina faced after declaring independence, particularly in terms of its foreign policy. He highlighted the importance of developing a multi-ethnic foreign policy and prioritising good relations with neighbouring countries. He noted that during the war, Bosnia and Herzegovina's foreign policy was focused on survival and gaining international recognition, but after the war, it shifted towards reconstruction and development.

During the Q&A session, Prof. Lagumdžija was asked about the political choices that preceded the Yugoslav war. In his response, he emphasised that the political choices made by Slobodan Milosevic were the result of deliberate actions taken by him and those in power. He argued that these actions were taken with full awareness for the consequences they would have for the region and its people.

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Prof. Lagumžija was also asked about the strengths and weaknesses of current Bosnian foreign policy. He explained that the current foreign policy of Bosnia and Herzegovina is not unified. This means that there is no single, clear direction or approach to foreign policy that all political actors in the country agree upon. Instead, different political actors have different ideas and priorities for foreign policy, which can cause confusion and inconsistency.

Additionally, Prof. Lagumdžija noted that there is a lack of formalised political templates for foreign policy in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This means that there is no clear framework or set of guidelines for how the country should approach foreign policy. Without such templates, it can be difficult to create a cohesive and effective foreign policy.

Prof. Lagumdžija's remarks on the strengths and weaknesses of Bosnia and Herzegovina's current foreign policy highlight the need for greater unity and clarity in the country's approach to international relations.

He also emphasised voting and participation in the political process as a good way to positively influence the future of the country.

In conclusion, the guest lecture by Prof. Zlatko Lagumdžija at the International Burch University provided valuable insights into Bosnia and Herzegovina's independence and its subsequent development. The discussion highlighted the importance of the 1992 referendum on independence and the challenges faced by the country in terms of foreign policy. In general, the lecture provided a thought-provoking reflection on Bosnia and Herzegovina's past, present, and future, and left attendees with much to consider.

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