Bosnian head of state to visit UI

Bosnian head of state to visit UI

CHAMPAIGN — Bosnia's head of state will visit the University of Illinois next week, delivering a public address and taking part in a roundtable discussion on Bosnians in the United States.

Zeljko Komsic, chairman of the presidency of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, will speak at noon Tuesday in Room 126 of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, 501 E. Daniel St., C.

Komsic is in the United States for the U.N. General Assembly this week and opted to stay and attend events in several Midwestern cities with large Bosnian-American populations, said Alisha Kirchoff, associate director of the UI's Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center. He will be in St. Louis early next week, then make a day-long stop in Champaign before traveling to Chicago, she said.

The UI is developing a program in Bosnian studies, pulling together scholars in history, music and other fields who study the Balkans, she said. Through students and faculty here the campus also has developed a relationship with BosTel, a Bosnian television station based in Chicago, and is in talks to house some of its archival material in the UI Library, Kirchoff said. The goal is to host the definitive collection on the American diaspora of the Bosnian community, she said.

Komsic's speech will focus on the growing Bosnian-American community, its relationship with its home country, and what that means for the U.S., Kirchoff said.

The roundtable discussion, "Bosnians in the U.S.: Communities, Connections, and Homelands," is scheduled for 3 p.m. at the graduate library school, featuring UI faculty and alumni. Both the speech and the roundtable are open to the public.

Komsic is the Croat member of the three-person presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which rotates every eight months. He was first elected in 2006 and re-elected in 2010, and currently serves as chairman. He received degrees from the law school at the University in Sarajevo and School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

Part of the former Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence in March 1992 after a referendum that was boycotted by ethnic Serbs. Bosnian Serbs, supported by neighboring Serbia and Montenegro, responded with armed resistance aimed at partitioning the republic along ethnic lines and joining Serb-held areas to form a "Greater Serbia." The republic, which includes Muslims, Croats and Serbs, plunged into a three-year civil war.

The factions agreed to U.S.-brokered peace accords in November 1995 in Dayton, Ohio. The agreement retained Bosnia and Herzegovina's international boundaries and created a multi-ethnic democratic government that includes a second tier of government composed of the Bosniak/Bosnian Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Bosnian Serb-led Republika Srpska, which oversee most government functions.

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