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F. Sejdiu: Address to World Summit 2014

Regional Cooperation as an Important Factor of Peace, Stability and Human Development
Address to World Summit 2014, Seoul, Korea, August 9-13, 2014

I would like to express my deep consideration for the work of the founder of the Universal Peace Federation, Father Sun Myung Moon, who left us an inspiring legacy so that we all continue to help, create more understanding, and build peace and tolerance among each other.

Building peace in a country that has gone through war, as was the case with Kosovo, where the consequences of human sufferings and losses are still fresh, is not merely difficult. It is a challenge that requires the mobilization of the entire human potential, in order to move forward and not end up mourning the past. But even the road to the future is not entirely open and without difficulties.

Kosovo has made significant progress in all areas in recent years. If I were asked what the main challenge of our society is today, six years after independence and 15 years after the end of the war, I would say it is precisely the creation of a free and democratic society.

Building a free society is challenging when there are powerful groups of people who want to stand above the law. Hence, I would say that a prominent problem in the new state of Kosovo is indeed the fragile nature of its rule of law and the inability of the state to provide equal opportunities for all. Likewise, all the people should equally take on the responsibilities and obligations that derive.

The consequences are especially felt on the state of economy in Kosovo, as corruption and crime, also prevalent in the Balkan region, hinder economic development and the perspective of the young people under 27 years of age in Kosovo, who comprise 52% of the population of 2 million.

In order to make progress, Kosovo needs to strengthen its rule of law. Although its legislative framework is compatible with European standards, the legislation is not being properly implemented, and this affects our way of living. I would emphasize a tendency, which is not only prevalent in my country but also other countries of the region, of a sort of ‘alliance’ of state officials, politicians, judges, etc., with criminal groups creating a ‘quiet process of internal governing,’ which not only results in corruption and monopolies but also often hinders the lives of people, even those of different ethnicities who are forced to flee from their countries.

We will have to work further in the entire Balkan region, as well as in Kosovo, to remove, once and forever, the word ethnic cleansing from our political vocabulary as this surrounds crimes against humanities, on which experiences in the region are very bitter. Let us remember the bloody conflicts of over 100 years ago and their consequences.

It is not only the criminal and powerful groups who want to have a monopoly over the economy and the public life of the entire region, but recently we have seen tendencies to politicize our history and religions by those who urge hatred that follow this pattern of stereotyping which has manifested itself more than once in the recent history of the Balkans. The sensitivity of these conflicts is also apparent in the neighboring country of Macedonia, in which the majority population, the Macedonians, claim that the privilege of a nation state belong only to them, whereas the Albanians who comprise 30% of the population are not treated equally as Macedonians. This unequal treatment is visible within public administration as well as police and justice systems, where the percent of Albanians employed in these institutions is much smaller.

I would like to focus particularly on cases that stimulate and encourage divisions and inter-religious conflicts. Of course this is not the only time that clandestine organizations converge with terrorism, both being the biggest hindrances of peace. Although the core of all religions is to promote peace and tolerance, in practice, various radical groups try to impose their ideologies and practices that run counter not only to the basic principles of faith but also to respect for individual rights.

Today, it appears necessary that we all, wherever we find ourselves, give an answer to why a young person quits his education, profession or family and joins groups that promote and operate on the basis of exclusion and rejection of others who are different from them and fight such people with all possible means simply because they are viewed as different. Recent images coming from Syria show us that people with such inclinations from around the world come together, even though most of them do not even understand the cause which they are defending. Certainly, it is not rare that other political interests and objectives stand behind these groups, which are camouflaged with religion, and then manage to indoctrinate the young people in this way. Through this war, these groups acquire material goods and land, while the victims of all of this are the innocent civilian population.

But I want to go back a little to the issue of a young person leaving everything behind to go to Syria. We should do a thorough review of the situation ant not jump to general conclusions. We know that we must find the means to fight these indoctrinating groups, but for that we need political and societal will. Unfortunately, until now such a thing has been largely missing. It appears, moreover, that what’s causing this problem which is evident especially in poor countries is the weak economic situation that leaves certain parts of the society vulnerable.

A poor and uneducated population is not fully capable to see and judge clearly while sand is cast over their eyes, and people’s actions are often not understandable because they are emotional. This is because the education system often falls behind in meeting its goals, and the ability of a part of the population to judge clearly is thus affected. Education, and the degree obtained, is seen more as a piece of paper rather than the key to securing a job prospect, or as a real opportunity to promote new ideas and values needed by the country and the younger generations.

People of the 21st century should be known as ones who appreciate values wherever they arise. This, of course, requires certain circumstances: a free society, economic development and a good quality of education. Each person in this world of ours deserves to enjoy these benefits. Yet, our country suffers from poor economic development, lack of foreign investment and lack of jobs.

The strong language of so many clergy, which we hear and see, especially in recent years, has attracted large media attention, and the intellectuals and politicians are apathetic in their response. The reason for that is that some are very rich and hence do not want to endanger their position in the society, while others see an electoral benefit out of it through which they gain power and great privileges.

On this occasion, I want to reinstate some of my thoughts that I presented earlier. It is time to make a change in the institutions and their cooperation regarding respect for differences and not to expel someone only because he pertains to a different ethnicity, religion or social affiliation.

As representatives of the intellectual community and the public, we can help by encouraging and providing ideas that serve a universal plan for freedom and tolerance between people in all countries and all over the world. Such ideas will help eliminate current practices, in some cases discriminatory, which encourage conflict, disagreements and tragedy between different people, sometimes intolerance even within one ethnicity or religion.

By helping and caring about each other, we get to know each other better, respect each other more, and become wealthier and more valuable. In such a way, we avoid extremism and increase humanitarianism and trust.

This is possible when mutual cooperation is deepened, primarily among close neighboring countries, as they expand with positive developments in the region, and finally when this acquires an international dimension as well. Without a substantial and wise approach starting from these levels, the actions of international mechanisms will be like firefighters arriving on the scene where the flame has had its impact.

Therefore, as it was once said, peace is the only option of humanity, and our world is wealthy and smooth so long as we work together in all parts of the globe for equality, greater understanding and tolerance.

To conclude my remarks I will quote Mother Teresa, as I did three years ago in the same place: "Give us peace, O God, so that weapons have no place or meaning in our beautiful world. Amen."

For more information about the World Summit, click here.