Balkans Peace Initiative

Conference in Tirana on the Role of Albanians in Securing Peace in the Balkans

Tirana, Albania -  In the context of the Balkan nations pursuing stability and improved relations with Europe, leaders from ten nations met in Tirana April 28 and 29, 2012, to discuss "The Role and Importance of the Albanian People for Lasting Peace and Security in the Balkans." Speakers at the UPF European Leadership Conference called upon Albanians to draw on the spiritual resources and cultural values that promote peace as the nation celebrates 100 years of independence from the Ottoman Empire and prepares for presidential elections in July.

The conference was held in two sites: the Tirana International Hotel and the Congress Palace, one of the last buildings constructed by the communist government in Albania. Participants included three former presidents, two vice ministers, the vice spokesman of the Albanian Parliament, MPs from Albania and Kosovo, local government leaders from Macedonia, the Ambassador of Montenegro, the former Minister of Defense from the Netherlands, UPF-Europe chairman and secretary general, and other prominent Ambassadors for Peace from academia and politics.

Peacebuilding in a Free and Democratic Balkans

The conference opened with about 50 attendees in a round-table setting and was covered by TV television and other news media. The moderator, Mr. Ali Laçej, former chair of UPF Albania and a highly respected Ambassador for Peace, emphasized the desire and virtue of Albanians as peace-loving people, something that they need draw upon in the complicated situations of the Balkans, living in five different states.

He then gave the floor to H.E. Rexhep Meidani (President of Albania, 1997-2002), who said that Albania has transformed itself from a “security-consuming” country to a "security producer" and should become a candidate for admission to the European Union.

Prof. Mejdani’s counterpart, H.E. Fatmir Sejdiu (President of Kosovo, 2006-2010), said that Albanians in southeastern Europe often find themselves at a crossroads with parties who pursue conflict. He asked why there are so many fatalities in the region: Do we have some curse which we unconsciously feed by sacrifice? Can we not defeat evil? Could violence and state-led crime have been avoided in Kosovo, Bosnia, or Croatia? He answered yes, but cited a lack of perseverance by those seeking peaceful solutions and much hesitation from the international community to end the aggression of Serb forces. Kosovo chose to be the common fatherland for all its citizens, he said, without ethnic or religious discrimination and with guaranteed rights of representation in local and central governments. It had been predicted that Albanians would take revenge on the Serbs living there, but they followed the Biblical and Islamic wisdom of doing to others as you would have them do to you and an Albanian proverb that states, “Do goodness and goodness will be done to you.” He concluded by saying that “A better Balkans, a plural and tolerant Balkans, is the best alternative for all. The world is big enough for all as long as we work together for peace, understanding, and tolerance.”

“Albanians need to draw upon all that is righteous in their history and culture and expand from concern for their own families and nation to a wider regional and global concern," said Dr. Yong Cheon Song, chair of UPF-Europe. "Be willing to sacrifice for surrounding nations and make peace with your enemies to achieve lasting peace in the Balkans.” He urged the participants to reflect on their own experience. “Are not good and evil at war within each of us? Human beings repeatedly fail to live up to their own good intentions as husbands, wives, parents, leaders, and governments.”

He gave simple examples of how God is teaching humanity how to live: “Just like the flowers and bees, human beings were created by God to live for one another and share their unique qualities with each other as a gift of true love. If Albanians are to assist in peacebuilding in the Balkans, they need leaders who have resolved the conflict between their own minds and bodies and practice the true love that can dissolve the national, ethnic, and religious barriers that characterize the Balkans. He encouraged the establishment of Peace Councils consisting of leaders of good character from various religions, ethnicities, and nationalities working together to advance lasting peace in the wider Balkans, drawing upon religious wisdom and traditional morality.

These speeches were complemented by shorter comments from Mr. Hydajet Hyseni (MP and Chairman of UPF-Kosovo), Mr. Nail Draga (Chairman of the UPF founding committee in Montenegro), Prof. Dr. Sadi Bexheti (Mayor of Tetovo, Macedonia), and Mr. Ragmi Mustafa (Mayor of Presheva, South Serbia).

Mr. Mustafa noted that after the conflict in 2001, the peace agreement was respected by the Albanian population in Serbia, who disarmed themselves and returned to normal political and social life, but the Serbians militarized the area and deported Albanians.  

 Security and Peace in the Balkans and Its Importance for Europe  

The second session was moderated by Mr. Bajram Ibraj, UPF chairman and former director of state police (2002-2007). He invited H.E. Alfred Moisiu, president of Albania (2002-2007), who said that even though the wars in the Balkans have ended, the wounds are not yet healed. There are security threats in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Macedonia. Why are nationalistic forces undermining the Balkan states’ pursuit of admission to the European Union? He responded that little is being done to reduce nationalist forces in the Balkans, which appeal to people in underdeveloped rural areas and are supported by mafia-type organizations. He cited problems in Mitrovica in northern Kosovo as an example. To resolve these situations will require honest and courageous leaders. "We have to teach people to forgive and to ask forgiveness for what they have done. Mother Theresa said that even though people may be illogical, unreasonable, and egoistic, we should still love them." He closed by encouraging people to look at the good side of each other and for Europe to open its doors to the Western Balkans.

After President Moisiu, the floor was given to a well-known expert on European security issues, Dr. Willem Van Eekelen, who stressed that military means rarely produce lasting solutions. Since the end of the Cold War, conflict within states have taken the ascendancy over conflicts between states. There is a link between security and development, for without at least minimal security development efforts are wasted and without development there cannot be lasting security. The essence of democracy is transparency and accountability, and government should reveal their policies, explain them to the parliament and at the public at large, and justify them in debate with the parliament and with the public. He described good governance, which he said he experienced from different angles as a parliamentarian, a government minister, and civil society leader.

A high-level panel of experts on security issues offered brief comments. According to Dr. Arjan Starova, a senior politician and Vice Minister of Defense, the existence two Albanian states (the population of Kosovo is 92 percent Albanian) increases the potential role of Albanians in pursuing peace and security in the Balkans. Albanians have fought only when their vital areas were constricted by others but never to expand at the expense of others, he said, and referred to efforts to normalize diplomatic relations with Serbia after the end of the Kosovo conflict and the contribution of Albanians in Montenegro and Macedonia (where Albanians constitute approximately 5 percent and 25 percent of the population respectively). He proposed that all Balkan countries sign an agreement not to use nationalistic expansion ideas during election campaigns.

Then Prof. Shezai Rrokaj, a senior Ambassador for Peace and Dean of the State University Faculty of History and Philology in Tirana, described the establishment of law and integration into the Euro-Atlantic family as preconditions to peace in the Balkans. He stressed the key role of interfaith coexistence and dialogue in promoting peace and security. "Dialogue, harmony, and coexistence are the most precious virtues of our nation and we should work continuously to strengthen them. It is time to show to the world that Albanians have an excellent religious history, culture, and tradition. Let us Albanians become the citizens of the new era of interreligious coexistence." Prof. Rrokaj called upon religious leaders to work together to heal society’s wounds and proposed a formula of dialogue-education-integration. Rather than seek peace from others or blaming others for its absence, peacebuilders start by offering love instead of hatred, tolerance instead of intolerance, integration instead of division, coexistence instead of isolation, appreciation instead of depreciation for the other.

Another prominent speaker, Mr. Bilbil Mema, former general director of police and an Ambassador for Peace, said that history shows that security is achieved through powerful institutions with the participation of many nations of different sizes and cultures. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, many thought multinational security organizations would no longer be needed, but then security issues emerged in the Balkans. Mr. Mema recommended cooperation among the people in the Balkans (cultural, commercial, etc.) and among security institutions to defend democracy, fight organized crime and corruption, and promote the stability of state institutions.

The last speaker of the session was Professor Lisien Bashkurti, a diplomat and an international relations expert. His speech focused on the juridical aspects of security and the challenges of implementing the Dayton agreement, the Kumanovo agreement, and Ahtisari package. However, these aspects have not been incorporated into constitutions or embodied in legal codes. He advocated for greater adherence to international rights and agreements and pacts as well as respect for international institutions, transparency, and accountability.

Good Governance and Peace Education as Essential for a Sustainable Peace

Day two was a broader gathering of 150 dignified guests in the famous Congress Hall. The first session was moderated by Dr. Saemira Pino (Gjipali), a well-respected woman leader in Albanian society and the vice chair of UPF-Albania. The program was opened with a message from H.E. Fatmir Sejdiu, who expressed concern about tensions in northern Kosovo. He referred to egoist leaders who want to keep their positions through revitalizing nationalistic attitudes and invited people to learn from examples of both good and bad governance and teach younger generations not to repeat mistakes of the past. In conclusion, he quoted an ancient Latin maxim: “Living with honor, not hurting anyone, everyone receiving what belongs to him."

The second speaker was Mr. Mark Brann, Secretary General of UPF-Europe, who explained the correlation between governing one’s self and governing a nation. Since the bases of good governance are individuals, there is a need for selfless individuals who are ready to serve people at any time. The ruler must have the mentality of being the servant of the people. The other element of good governance is good values; people in a position of public trust should have the heart of a true parent towards all the people governed, a true teacher conveying a true vision, and a true owner and steward of public resources.

Next, Prof. Dr. Ardian Turku, Vice Speaker of the Albanian parliament and an Ambassador for Peace, extended the concept of good governance beyond elected and appointed officials: in rural areas there land owners, farmers’ associations, NGOs, research institutions, religious leaders, political parties; in urban areas there are large and small companies, labor unions, people working under the table, and the unemployed. Each present challenges to good governance, which remains a distant ideal in the majority of areas of the world. However, he encouraged people to invest in making the ideal a reality.

The next speaker, Mrs. Nora Malaj, Vice Minister of Education and Science, stressed the importance of education in achieving good governance. There is a correlation between peace and stability in highly educated populations, she said. Peace starts with communication, which should be followed by education with love. Education of children as future citizens of Europe and the Balkans starts in the family and continues in the school and society. She stressed that schools should become models of democracy, where students can exercise their rights and responsibilities, feel safe and free, and learn tolerance, solidarity, and a culture of peace from teachers and staff.

Dr. Arben Malaj, former Minister of Finance, senior politician, and Ambassador for Peace, analyzed the interaction between economic freedom and economic development, level of education, health care, and poverty. He urged the Albanian people to participate in civic life and learn from successful models in the USA and Western Europe. He advocated "SMART" governance, meaning Simple, Moral, Accountable, it should Report to its citizens, and be Transparent.

The last speaker was Mrs. Tomiko Duggan, from UPF’s Washington DC Office of Embassy Relations; she shared about the vision of UPF founder Rev. Sun Myung Moon: “The United Nations has made important contributions for peace. Nevertheless, opinions both inside and outside the organization, say the UN has yet to discover the way to fulfill its founding purposes.” Mrs. Duggan concluded by saying: If your nation is to progress peacefully, your brother and sister nations must progress with you, making a family of nations -- building peace and prosperity together.”

 The Role of Ambassadors for Peace in Realizing the Peace Dream

The moderator for this session, Mr. Ibraj, called on H.E. Alfred Moisiu, who mentioned the contribution of Ambassadors for Peace to democratic development in Albania and Europe, referring to UPF's motto of One Family Under God and its teaching of love and mutual respect. He called upon Ambassadors for Peace to preserve Albania's tradition of interreligious harmony.

Dr. van Eekelen noted that peace requires hard work; it does not flow down from the air but from individuals. He encouraged Albania work to improve its image in Europe and participate in discussions with the Council of Europe, European Parliament, and NATO. He envisions the Balkan countries entering the European Union as they improve their record of treatment of minorities.

Calling the Albanian people prepared by God to promote lasting peace, Dr. Song praised Mother Teresa as a renowned Albanian woman. “The Albanian character is not narrow and sectarian, getting caught up in the relatively small differences of belief and practice that tend to divide faith communities. Albanians can see the commonalities that bind different faith groups together and consider all believers as part of one family under God."

Mr. Niko Veizaj, a founding member of UPF-Albania and a well-known medical doctor from Vlora, described how Albanian Ambassadors for Peace have built a network including hundreds of people from all walks of life and helped establish Peace Councils in Kosovo and Montenegro. Mr. Robert Williamson, UPF-Balkans coordinator, presented the five guiding principles of UPF especially for the ones who would be appointed Ambassadors for Peace.

Mrs. Kozeta Zavalani, the chair of the Tirana Peace Council, read the final resolution of the conference, which invited Ambassadors for Peace to bridge ethnic divisions, beginning with individuals with high levels of responsibility. It noted the similarity between traditional Albanian principles and those of Ambassadors for Peace. Underlining the urgent need for cooperation and tolerance in the Balkans, it called for decision-makers to consider Balkan cooperation a priority. Then Mr. Gani Rroshi, a member of UPF Albania’s Presiding Council, sang “The Crown of Glory,” composed and performed by renowned Albanian artists.

The conference concluded with the appointment of 12 public figures from Albania and surrounding countries as Ambassadors for Peace. Among them were an actor, a MP, and government officials.

Conference proceedings were reported in several major newspapers and TV stations in Albania, Kosovo, and Macedonia.

Presentation
"Albanians as Peacemakers," by Dr. Yong Cheon Song, Chair, UPF-Europe

1

 ELC in Tirana, Albania, 28-29 April 2012 The Role and Importance of the Albanian People for Lasting Peace and Security in the Balkans  

For the first time Tirana, the capital of Albania, was picked as the venue for the European Leadership Conference series. Leaders from the Balkans and Europe gathered on the last weekend of April to share on the topic “The Role and Importance of Albanian People for Peace and Security in the Balkans.” The title was related to Albania’s 100 years of independence, starting with 1912. The conference was held in two different sites – one was the central Tirana International Hotel, where UPF had the first day of the conference, and the next one was the Congress Palace, one of the last buildings constructed by the communist government in Albania. Among leaders from ten nations there were three former presidents, two vice ministers, the vice spokesman of the Albanian Parliament, MPs from Albania and Kosovo, local government leaders from Macedonia, the Ambassador of Montenegro, the former Minister of Defense from the Netherlands, UPF-Europe chairman and secretary general, and other prominent Ambassadors for Peace from academia and politics.

Saturday 28 April, Tirana International Hotel The conference started at 17:00 with about 50 attendees set in a round table that attracted major TV reporters and media. The first session was focused on Consolidation and Advancement of Peace in a Free and Democratic Balkans.  The moderator, Mr. Ali Laçej, former chair of UPF Albania and a highly respected Ambassador for Peace, welcomed everyone and introduced the main idea behind this conference, that is to underline the desire and virtue of Albanians as peace-loving people, something that they need to pursue still in today’s complicated Balkans situation, living in five different states.

He then gave the floor to H.E. Rexhep Meidani (President of Albania, 1997-2002), who stressed that institutions are changed more easily than people with their individual and collective mentality. He said that in the recent years Albania has transformed from a “security-consuming” country to a security producer and that Albania should be considered a candidate for admission to the European Union.

Mr. Mejdani elaborated on the future of Albania and Kosovo after integration into the EU and efforts that need to be made in vital fields of society.

The next speaker was Prof. Mejdani’s counterpart, H.E Fatmir Sejdiu (President of Kosovo, 2006-2010), who spoke on “The Albanians of Kosovo – a peace and tolerance factor” (in the region). He emphasized that Albanians in southeastern Europe have proved that they do not want conflict and war, but they often find themselves at a crossroads with other parties who pursue conflict. He asked why there are so many fatalities in the region. Do we have some curse which we unconsciously feed by sacrifice? Can we not defeat evil? Could violence and state-led crime have been avoided in Kosovo, Bosnia, or Croatia? His answer was yes, but there was a lack of persistence from the people throughout Yugoslav federal states and a lot of hesitation from the international community to end the aggression of Serb forces. The experience of Kosovo proved that it is not enough for only one side pursue peace. By the end of 1990 the people of Kosovo chose the path of peaceful resistance, a political stand that differed from previous conflicts in former Yugoslavia.

Although the past took away almost everything from Albanians, but he encouraged them to look ahead into the future as citizens of free and civilized countries.

Kosovo chose to be the common fatherland for all its citizens, without ethnic or religious discrimination; with guaranteed rights of representation in local and central governments. It had been predicted that Albanians would take revenge on the Serbs living there, but Albanians know the importance of peace and equality among all citizens, as they have suffered from ethnic discrimination for many decades. Following the Biblical and Islamic wisdom that stresses not to do unto others what you do not wish others to do to you, an Albanian proverb states, “Do goodness and your goodness will be done to you.”

President Sejdiu concluded by saying that “A better Balkans, a plural and tolerant Balkans, is the best alternative for all. The world is big enough as long as we work together for peace, understanding, and tolerance.”

The third speaker of the session was Dr. Yong Cheon Song, chair of UPF-Europe, who in his speech Albanians as Peace makers said that “Albanians need to draw upon all that is righteous in their history and culture, and to add the capacity to go beyond concern for their own families and nation to a wider regional and global concern and a willingness to sacrifice for surrounding nations and make peace with their enemies to achieve lasting peace in the Balkans.” He urged the participants to reflect on their own experience. “Are not good and evil at war within each of us? Human beings repeatedly fail to live up to their own good intentions as husbands, wives, parents, leaders, and governments. Similarly peace movements throughout history have always encountered limitations and met with failure. This is the reason why even the United Nations, launched with the splendid dream of realizing world peace, has to confront its inherent limitations and confess that it has not been able to achieve the hopes of humanity.”

Dr. Song gave simple examples of how God is teaching humanity to coexist and prosper as one: “Just like the flowers and bees, human beings were created by God to live for one another and share their unique qualities with each other as a gift of true love. If Albanians are to assist the consolidation of peace in the Balkans, then first they will need leaders who have resolved the conflict between their own minds and bodies. Peace among peoples and nations can never come when those entrusted with the task have not resolved their own inability to consistently practice their best intentions and their fatal tendency to

 fall into corruption and exploit others. Ambassadors for Peace who can practice true love have the power to permanently dissolve the barriers that people full of contradiction and selfish misconduct have created—including the national, ethnic and religious barriers that characterize the Balkans.

Let us remind ourselves that human problems are not entirely social or political, and so social and political approaches will always be of limited effectiveness. Freedom and democracy alone are not enough to secure peace. Secular authorities rule most human societies, but religion and codes of morality lie at the heart of most national and cultural identities. In fact, faith and devotion have far greater importance in most people’s hearts than do political loyalties.

He encouraged Albanians to establish Peace Councils consisting of leaders of good character from various religions, ethnicities, and nationalities who will work together to advance lasting peace in the wider Balkans, drawing upon religious wisdom and traditional morality.

These main speeches were completed by shorter comments from Mr. Hydajet Hyseni (MP & Chairman of UPF in Kosovo), Mr. Nail Draga (Chairman of the UPF founding committee in Montenegro), Prof. Dr. Sadi Bexheti (Mayor of Tetovo, Macedonia), and Mr. Ragmi Mustafa (Mayor of Presheva, South Serbia).

Mr. Mustafa briefly described the path of the 80,000 Albanians living in South Serbia over the past 100 years, never engaged in any criminal act against local Serbs. For example after the conflict in 2001, the peace agreement in Konçul was respected by the Albanian population, who disarmed themselves and returned to normal political and social life, but the Serbians have militarized the area and continues to deport Albanians. Mr. Mustafa stressed that the future of the Presheva Valley depends on that of North Kosovo, and if a peaceful separation is planned, then the Albanians of the Presheva Valley will strive to 4

unite with Kosovo. In contrast to the Serbs of Mitrovica, the Albanians in the Preseva Valley are not preventing the free movement of people and goods and are not killing civilians or security officials but, as their ancestors have done over the last 100 years, they pursue peaceful policies because peace has no other alternative.

 

Second Session – Security and Peace in the Balkans – its weight of importance for Europe

The second session was moderated by Mr. Bajram Ibraj, UPF chairman and former director of state police (2002-2007). He invited H.E Alfred Moisiu, president of Albania (2002-2007), who said that even though the wars in the Balkans have ended, the wounds are not yet healed. There are security threats in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Macedonia. Why are nationalistic forces undermining the Balkan states’ pursuit of admission to the European Union? He responded that little is being done to reduce nationalist forces in the Balkans, which appeal to people in underdeveloped rural areas and are supported by mafia-type organizations. He cited problems in Mitrovica (northern Kosovo) as an example. To resolve these situations will require honest and courageous leaders. We have to teach people to forgive and to ask forgiveness for what they have done. Mother Theresa said that even though people may be illogical, unreasonable, and egoistic, we should still love them. He closed by encouraging people to look at the good side of each other and for Europe to open its doors to the Western Balkans.

After President Moisiu, the floor was given to a well-known expert on European security issues, Mr. Wim Van Eekelen, who stressed that “the future is not what it used to be.” Military means rarely produce lasting solutions. Since the end of the Cold War, conflict within states have taken the ascendancy over conflicts between states. There is a link between security and development, for without at least minimal security development efforts are wasted and without development there cannot be lasting security. The essence of democracy is transparency and accountability, and government should reveal their policies, explain them to the parliament and at the public at large, and justify them in debate with the parliament and with the public. He described good governance, which he said he experienced from different angles of a parliamentarian, a government minister and civil society leader. Referring to for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s “Responsibility to Protect,”he said that governments should be responsible towards their own people before any talk of military intervention.

A high level panel of experts on security issues offered brief comments. According to Dr. Arjan Starova, a senior politician and Vice Minister of Defense, the existence two Albanian states (the population of Kosovo is 92 percent Albanian) increases the role of Albanians in pursuing peace and security in the Balkans. Albanians have fought only when their vital areas were constricted by others but never to expand at the expense of others. He referred to efforts to normalize diplomatic relations with Serbia after the end of the Kosovo conflict and the contribution of Albanians in Montenegro and Macedonia. He proposed that all Balkan  

Countries sign an agreement to not use nationalistic expansion ideas on election campaigns.

The next speaker was Professor Shezai Rrokaj, a senior Ambassador for Peace and Dean of the State University Faculty of History and Philology in Tirana. The title of his speech was Economic Development, Understanding, Reciprocal Respect of Human Rights and Freedoms. He called the establishment of law and integration into the Euro-Atlantic family preconditions to peace in the Balkans. He stressed that among other issues, interfaith coexistence and dialogue are of utmost importance when it comes to peace and security matters. Dialogue, harmony, and coexistence are the most precious virtues of our nation and we should work continuously to strengthen them. It is time to show to the world that Albanians have an excellent religious history, culture, and tradition. Let us Albanians become the citizens of the new era of inter religious coexistence. Later on Prof. Rrokaj called upon religious leaders to work together to heal society’s wounds. Criticizing the democracy and state of law in Balkan countries he said that these countries are “good” for politicians and very bad for its citizens, suggesting it as the main root cause for Balkan insecurity. Professor Rrokaj concluded saying that if we are looking for a magical formula that has been considered as the pill of coexistence that would be: dialogue-education-integration. Peace cannot be achieved only by asking it from the others, or blaming them for its disruption. It starts from oneself, exactly from being an Ambassador for Peace, by offering love instead of hatred, tolerance instead of intolerance, integration instead of division, coexistence instead of isolation, appreciation instead of depreciation for the other.

Another prominent speaker of the session was Mr. Bilbil Mema, former general director of police and an AfP. He said that history has shown us that security is achieved through powerful institutions with the participation of many nations of different size and culture. It is a surprise that after the fall of the Berlin wall when many thought that the existence of multinational security organisations were no longer needed as there was no goal for them to exist, exactly at this moment security in the Balkans was threatened. Mr. Mema outlined some actions to be considered by Balkan countries to improve security in the region. First and foremost cooperation between the people in the Balkans (cultural, commercial etc), second cooperation of security institutions without prejudices aiming the defence of democracy, fighting organized crime, corruption and by allowing stability for state institutions.

The last speaker of the session was Professor Lisien Bashkurti, a diplomat and an international relations’ expert. His speech was focused on the juridical culture of Balkan leadership as one of the points that influence the security in the Balkans. Professor Bashkurti said that even though we’ve had some important peace agreement like the Dayton agreement, the Kumanovo agreement and Ahtisari package, we are lacking their implementation into each of the countries involved. They are not incorporated into their constitutions, nor transformed into law packages that would substantiate and make them respectable locally. If there will be more loyalty to the international right, to the signed agreements and pacts, more good will to implement what is signed and ra

-tified by parliaments I think that Balkan would be well ahead in its regional and internal stability. He underlined that the main cause of Balkan insecurity is the infringement of international pacts, international law or disrespect of international institutions.

In conclusion he reconfirmed that the culture of governance is far from the western European one with illegitimate governments as a result of distorted election processes. Furthermore transparency is lacking in most Balkan countries and the governments are lacking accountability towards their people from electoral promises to the management of public finances. I think UPF with its ELC is contributing to improve the diplomatic, juridical and good governance culture in the Balkans.

Day 2 – 29 April, Conference Hall, Congress Palace, Tirana

Day two was a broader gathering of 150 dignified guests in the famous Congress Hall. The first session was on Good Governance and Peace Education as Essential for a Sustainable Peace in the Balkans.

It was moderated by Dr. Saemira Pino (Gjipali) a well-respected woman leader in Albanian society and the vice chair of UPF-Albania. The program was opened with a message from H.E. Fatmir Sejdiu, who expressed his concern about the situation in Northern Kosovo which remains tense due to groups and politicians that do not want peace and stability. President Sejdiu referred to egoist leaders who want to keep their positions through revitalizing nationalistic attitudes. He invited people to learn from examples of both good and bad governance and teach younger generations not to repeat mistakes of the past. In conclusion he quoted an ancient Latin saying “Living with honor, not hurting anyone, everyone receiving what belongs to him. It is time that people act likewise.

The second speaker was Mr. Mark Brann, Secretary General of UPF-Europe, who gave a presentation on good governance. He explained the correlation between governing one’s body and governing a nation. Since the bases of good governance are individuals, there is a need for selfless individuals who are ready to serve people at any time. The ruler must have the mentality of being the servant of the people. The other element of good governance is good values. Also every person in a public position must have a heart of true parent towards all the people he is governing, a true teacher with a true vision, and a true owner in the sense of being entrusted to use public resources wisely as if they were his.

Next, Prof. Dr. Ardian Turku, Vice Speaker of the Albanian parliament and an Ambassador for Peace, explained that good governance is not simply connected to the government or its institutions. In rural areas, beside elected local officials there are land owners, farmers’ associations, NGOs, research institutions, religious leaders, political parties, and more. In the urban areas the situation is much more complex with elected and appointed officials, large and small companies, labor unions, people working under the table, and the unemployed. This creates a lot of instability and makes it difficult for government to govern and improve its performance. Good governance remains an ideal to be achieved by the majority of the countries of the world. However, he encouraged people invest themselves sincerely and wholeheartedly to make this ideal a reality.

The next speaker was Mrs. Nora Malaj, Vice Minister of Education and Science, who stressed the importance of education in achieving good governance. There is a correlation between peace and stability in highly educated populations, she said. Peace starts with communication, which should be followed by education with love. Education of children as future citizens of Europe and the Balkans starts in the family and is continued in the school and in society. She stressed the importance for schools to become a model of democracy and an environment where students can exercise their rights and responsibilities, feel safe and free, and learn from teachers who are open minded in promoting tolerance, solidarity, and a culture of peace.

Dr. Arben Malaj, former minister of finance, senior politician, and Ambassador for Peace, analyzed the relation between economic freedom and economic development, the education level of the population, health care, and poverty. He urged the Albanian people to participate in governance and decision learning from examples of community participation in USA and Western Europe. He described the concept of SMART governance, meaning Simple, Moral, Accountable, it should Report to its citizens, and be Transparent.

The last speaker was Mrs. Tomiko Duggan, from UPF’s Washington DC Office of Embassy Relations; she shared about the vision of UPF founder Rev. Sun Myung Moon: “The United Nations has made important contributions for peace. Nevertheless, opinions both inside and outside the organization, say the UN has yet to discover the way to fulfill its founding purposes.” Mrs. Duggan concluded by saying: If your nation is to progress peacefully, your brother and sister nations must progress with you, making a family of nations -- building peace and prosperity together.”

Second Session The role of Ambassadors for Peace in realizing the peace dream among Albanians and in the Balkans

The moderator for this session was Mr. Ibraj who invited the participants to receive all the wisdom that the prominent speakers would kindly share with them.

H.E. Alfred Moisiu started his speech by mentioning the contribution of AfPs to Albania’s European democratic development. He called on participants to never forget the motto of UPF – One Family Under God that is teaching us to love and respect each-other. We have a lot more to do and continue our good work for sustainable peace in our region. Once again President Moisiu praised the good tradition of Albanian society of interreligious harmony but urged in protecting it from intentional threats in the future. UPF Albania is working ad succeeding in two main directions. First extend its ideas and message to all Albanians in the region and second, turning its Ambassadors for Peace in very active promoters of those ideals.

Dr. Van Eekelen – a former diplomat, MP, former minister of defence in Holland and former Secretary General of WEU said that peace requires hard work. It does not flow down from the air, but from the bottom, from the individual. My experience as a diplomat taught me that if you understand why he is doing what he is doing, this is the basis for compromise. I think it is also doing to others as you hope they do to you is another important principle which UPF is promoting. Many new democracies focus on making new laws sometimes too many laws and they forget about their implementation. The last 20 years have seen enormous change and we thought it was the end of history, but in Balkan you know better that it was not the end. There have been many killings among people we thought were living fairly with each other. There are so many new threats. Terrorism, drugs, organised crime, illegal immigration, corruption that go beyond borders ad no country can deal with them alone. If we are convinced that we should work together then we have the chance to do so. Dr. Van Eekelen in his speech praised EU as the only organization of such in the world and encouraged Albania to participate actively in the meetings and discussion where she can now sit s equal to other members like in Council of Europe, European Parliament or NATO. He also advised Albanians to work hard for improving their image in Europe. He said that even thought the road to EU might be longer than expected eventually Balkan countries will enter EU and this hopefully will bring an end to ethnic conflicts in the region as the EU is very strict to the treatment of minorities by its member states.

After Dr. Van Eekelen, Dr. Yong Cheon Song held his keynote address and begun with memories of founders visit in 2005

and recognised the support UPF has had in Albania and Kosovo since its establishment. He continued by saying that Albanian people at all levels were prepared by God to be able to recognise the value and the importance of the work of Father and Mother Moon and of how God is working through them to bring lasting peace to our deeply troubled and confused world.

Dr. Song continued to praise the good qualities of Albanian people by bringing the example of interfaith relations in this country and that of Mother Teresa’s life; a renowned Albanian woman. “Albanian character is not narrow and sectarian, getting caught up in the relatively small differences of belief and practice that tend to divide faith communities from each other and bring them into conflict. Albanians can see the commonalities that bind different faith groups together and make all believers like children of the one God.” My dream is to bring Father Moon to Albania at least one more time in his long and truly extraordinary life and I believe that if we work together and make real progress in developing the foundation of UPF, that he will come and that it could even be within this year!

But please understand that he never just goes where he wants but only where he is guided to go by God based on the preparedness of the nation in question to receive him. Father Moon senses these things very deeply. I believe that the mission of UPF here in Albania is nothing less than to support the Albanian people in fulfilling their God-given role as peacemakers and unifiers.

Mr. Niko Veizaj, a founding member of UPF-Albania and a well-known medical doctor from Vlora, spoke about how Ambassadors for Peace in Albania have come to organize themselves and attract hundreds of people from all walks of life. He mentioned UPF Albania’s contribution to the establishment of Peace Councils in Kosovo and Montenegro.

The last speech was from Mr. Robert Williamson, UPF-Balkans coordinator, who presented the five guiding principles of UPF especially for the ones who would be appointed Ambassadors for Peace.

Next Mrs. Kozeta Zavalani, the chair of the Tirana Peace Council, read the final resolution of the conference, which invited Ambassadors for Peace to bridge ethnic divisions, beginning with individuals of high level of responsibility. The conference underlined that it is easier to change institutions than people. They brought to attention that the Albanian identity is conducive to lasting peace, because there is a similarity between the ancient principles of Albanians and modern principles of being an Ambassador for Peace. Underlining the urgent need for cooperation and tolerance in the Balkans, they called for decision makers to consider Balkan cooperation a priority.

Before the Ambassador for Peace appointments Mr. Gani Rroshi, a member of UPF Albania’s Presiding Council, sang “The Crown of Glory,” which was recently composed and performed by internationally renowned Albanian artists.

Then followed the appointment of 12 public figures from Albania and surrounding countries as Ambassadors for Peace. Among them was a famous actor, a MP, a vice minister of government, the Chairman of the Albanian Academy of Sciences, and the mayors of Tetovo, Macedonia, and of Presheva, Serbia.

Conference proceedings were reported in several major newspapers and TV stations in Albania, Kosovo, and Macedonia.

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