Developed by the Center for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies, organizers said the purpose of the conference and the presentation by Davidovic was to foster debate and understanding of the current discontent in the Balkans.
Conference co-organizer Rye Barcott said the lecture brought new international awareness to the University. "The Director of the University Center for International Studies Dr. James Peacock's new vision for the University is to 'take Carolina to the world and bring the world to Carolina,'" he said.
State department officials, European Union bureaucrats, UNC professors and students attended the speech, in which Davidovic stressed the progress made in the Balkans during the past year along with future problems. "I'm concerned that there is talk that no progress has been made in Bosnia," Davidovic said. "However, the government is currently filled with people who are resolved to fighting for multi-ethnicity."
He said Bosnia's main problem is a faltering economy, which fell to 40 percent of its prewar capacity. It recently has been worsened by the return rate of refugees, which has increased 400 percent from last year's numbers, driving unemployment higher.
But he said the return of refugees is spontaneous and is an indication that there are no psychological or political barriers to returning to Bosnia. Such concerns might be eased further by the arrest this weekend of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic for corruption and abuse of power.
Davidovic blamed many Balkan problems on corrupt politicians who only fight for their personal fortunes and future. "In Bosnia, there is a lack of foreign investors due to the uncertain political situation," he said. "We are in need of foreign investors who are not interested in immediate profits."
Davidovic concluded by saying that the cruelty and death that he witnessed during the war in Bosnia cannot be forgotten but that peace and stability can help Bosnia recover.
Many students were intrigued by the political information presented about the Balkan region. "I was very excited about hearing Ambassador Davidovic speak," said Bosnian-born biology major Melina Selimbegovic. "I think that I'm normally out of the political loop and was glad to be educated on the progress being made in Bosnia."
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