CONGRATULATION LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT OF P.E.N. INTERNATIONAL JOHN RALSTON SAUL

Dear friends,

I have been thinking a great deal about you as you gather together to mark the 20th Anniversary of the establishment of the PEN Centre in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Yours was a Centre born in war and which from the beginning has stood for the ability of writers and ideas to rise above those differences which tear people apart. Cultures are quite naturally filled with differences which are to be celebrated. These differences are illustrations of a richness from which we can all benefit. This richness is intended to bring us together not to separate us. And citizenship itself can be a celebration of what I would call positive nationalism; an expression of each of us working to advance the public good. I know that, for two decades, you have stood for all of this and have made your voice heard, even in the most difficult of times.

It was a moving moment at the Congress in Belgrade when the annual Assembly of PEN voted to support Sarajevo's candidature as Europe's Capital of Culture. This was the first time PEN International had ever intervened in such a way. But we wanted to express our support for the return of the reality of multiple cultures living together in Sarajevo.

This idea of overlapping cultures held together by a larger idea of civilization is central to our principles of freedom of expression, literature and indeed human rights.

Best wishes to all of you from PEN's membership around the world,

John Ralston Saul
International President

/Prevod/

Dragi prijatelji,

Mnogo razmišljam o vama u trenutku kad se okupljate da obilježite 20. godišnjicu od osnivanja PEN Centra u Bosni i Hercegovini. Vaš centar rođen je u ratu i od samog svoga osnivanja borio se za da se pisci i njihove ideje izdignu iznad razlika koje su zavadile narode. Kulture su sasvim prirodno ispunjene razlikama, koje treba slaviti. Te razlike su ilustracija bogatstva iz kojeg svi možemo crpiti nešto dobro. To bogatstvo ima cilj da nas spoja a ne da nas razdvaja. A pripadništvo jednom narodu samo po sebi može biti slavljenje nečega što bih ja nazvao pozitivnim nacionalizmom; izraz svakoga od nas koji radi na unapređenju javnoga dobra. Znam da ste se vi tokom dvije decenije borili za sve to i da se vaš glas čuo, čak i u najtežim vremenima.

Dirljiv trenutak desio se na Kongresu u Beogradu, kad je godišnja skupština Međunarodnoga PEN-a podržala kandidaturu Sarajeva za kulturnu prijestonicu Evrope. To je bilo prvi put da Međunarodna PEN organizacija intervenira na ovakav način. Ali mi smo htjeli izraziti svoju podršku ostvarenju zajednice više kultura koje žive zajedno u Sarajevu.

Ta ideja preklapanja kultura održava se pomoću veće ideje civilizacije i stoji kao centralna među našim principima, a to su sloboda izražavanja, književnost i ljudska prava.

Šaljem najljepše želje svima vama od članova PEN centara širom svijeta.

John Ralston Saul,
predsjednik Međunarodne PEN Organizacije

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