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Balkans Peace Initiative

Kosovo Peace Council Inaugurated

Pristina, Kosovo - Dr. Young Cheol Song chaired a UPF-Europe delegation that went to Kosovo to meet with government officials and help inaugurate the Kosovo Peace Council. Hon. Hydajet Hyseni, a Member of Parliament and Chairman of UPF–Kosovo, arranged for the delegation to meet the three top leaders of Kosovo: the Prime Minister, the President, and the Chairman of Parliament. He was supported in this effort by two Albanians: Hon. Gaqo Apostoli, a former Minister of Transportation and currently a consultant advising Kosovo on European integration, and Mr. Bajram Ibraj, chair of the Tirana Peace Council.

Left to right: Bajram Ibraj, Dennis Wilmot, Tim Miller, Robert Williamson, Gaqo Apostoli, Dr. Yong Cheol Song, Hydajet Hyseni, Dr. Lisen Bashkurti, Marinela Stefanc, Memia Astrid, Gani Rroshi

As a follow-up to their first meeting two weeks prior to Kosovo’s declaration of independence in 2008, Prime Minister Hashim Thaci met again with the UPF-Europe delegation. The Prime Minister spoke of the increasing international recognition of his nation, which has grown to 75 countries, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. Referring to the parliamentary elections in December, he expressed his conviction that this is a time of change and consolidation for Kosovo. In March the first direct talks between Pristina and Belgrade are expected to take place, and these will address essential aspects of daily life for the Albanian and Serbian communities of northern Kosovo, such as electricity and water supplies.

Mr. Hyseni and Mr. Apostoli spoke of the part UPF had played in encouraging Kosovo to take part in UPF's World Assemblies of UPF as early as 2007 as part of the process of finding its place in global institutions. Dr. Song presented the Prime Minister a copy of Father Moon's autobiography, As a Peace-loving Global Citizen.

President Behgjet Pacolli, appointed to his role just three weeks earlier, received the UPF delegation in the Presidential Office. Mr Pacolli had been appointed as an Ambassador for Peace in Tirana in 2009 and was well briefed about UPF. It was delightful that a senior Ambassador for Peace Mrs. Nafiye Gas, adviser to the President’s Office on minority issues, could be present along with the delegation. 

The UPF Delegation meeting with H.E. Behgjet Pacolli, the 3rd President of Kosovo

The President spoke of the need to strengthen Kosovan families who had suffered trauma through the years of conflict. Much effort would be needed to find resolutions to the inter-ethnic and interreligious tensions. "We need friends like you to help us with such issues; we need spiritual peace inside in order to create lasting peace," he added. He also spoke about his concern that the European Union would allow Kosovans to move freely throughout the member nations, a privilege recently extended to Albanians. He referred to his three-week visit to Korea some years previously and the gift of Father Moon's autobiography, As a Peace-Loving Global Citizen.

Finally, the Chairman of the National Assembly, Jakub Krasniqi, welcomed the delegation. He had been acting President after the resignation of President Fatmir Sejdiu (who spoke at the UPF Assembly in Korea the previous month) and shared his concerns regarding reducing Kosovo’s isolation and the future of Kosovo’s very young population (the average age of the population is 32), particularly in terms of employment prospects. Dr. Song presented an Ambassador for Peace certificate to the him and a copy of As a Peace Loving Global Citizen.

The inauguration of the Kosovo National Peace Council took place with 150 participants representing a broad spectrum of Kosovan society. This inaugural conference was covered by several Kosovan TV stations and broadcast on prime-time news coverage that evening. 

Deputy Prime Minister Hajredin Kuci welcomed delegates with words of greeting on behalf of the government and expressed appreciation for UPF’s efforts to encourage reconciliation and respect for minorities in Kosovo. In response, Dr. Song said, "Whenever I come to Kosovo I am always filled with great hope because I truly see the immense potential of this nation." He shared his dream to bring Father Moon to Kosovo and reminded those present that 60 years earlier Korea was a devastated nation of refugees and yet today stands as the world’s 12th largest economy. A significant spur in this transformation was the New Village Movement, initiated by Father Moon and taken up by South Korean President Park Chung Hee in the 1960s. Drawing on examples of efforts in Kenya and Nepal, Dr. Song offered UPF’s support for the process of reconciliation and national unity in Kosovo. 

Mr. Hydajet Hyseni, Deputy of the National Assembly and President of UPF-Kosovo, had worked energetically behind the scenes with UPF staff to secure a successful inauguration and obtain an office for UPF in a centrally located historical building. The appointment of two staff members to support UPF’s work in Kosovo, Dennis Wilmot and Ejona Icka, adds to the prospects and a coming of age for UPF-Kosovo. 

In addition to the Deputy Prime Minister, several current and former government minsters and members of the National Assembly attended the inauguration. Mr. Adem Demachi, known as the Nelson Mandela of Kosovo due to his 28 years in detention, spoke of Kosovo’s determination to seek reconciliation despite their experiences of harsh oppression. He attributed his own health and energy to his life-long belief in God, without which he would not have survived his ordeal. His speech followed a presentation by Tim Miller, Vice-Chair of UPF-Europe, who alluded to Father Moon’s experience of colonial oppression, imprisonment, and torture and his sincere longing to heal the wounds of suffering humanity. 

Around 60 new Ambassadors for Peace were appointed, including government ministers, Members of Parliament, the Chairman of the Science Academy, and the Rector of Pristina State University.

To read the address by Dr. Fatmir Sejdiu, former President of Kosovo, to the UPF Assembly in Korea, February 3, 2011, click here.

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