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A. Moisiu: Address to ISCP Webinar

Dear friends and participants in this meeting: I highly appreciate this conference undertaken by UPF, the International Summit Council for Peace, and also supported by the Podgorica Club, to exchange views on how to improve relations and trust between the peoples of the Balkans.

It is quite disturbing, and interesting at the same time, how the nearly 25 million people of the Western Balkans, who have lived on this peninsula for centuries, are still not finding the right peaceful balance of coexistence and understanding between each other. The centuries-old history is extremely painful, but the lessons learned are few, unlike other European nations, which despite past events, know how to create equilibrium.

There are many reasons for this. It is not just linguistic, cultural differences, traditions or religious differences that keep the situation still aggravated. Such differences are and will be everywhere. If we look deeper, it becomes clear that in the first place are the interests of local policy-makers, who are more interested in staying in power than in ensuring peace and understanding between their peoples.

In this situation, the religious leaders of some countries also have a negative impact. Not only do they not step back from well-known old nationalist mentalities, but also they invest greatly to feed them and keep them alive.

If we take a general look at the situation in the Western Balkans, it becomes clear that there is inequality in these countries in terms of both political and economic development. This is true also from the point of view of EU accession.

Negotiations for EU accession have been opened to Serbia and Montenegro, which makes us happy. Albania and North Macedonia, despite fulfilling some even capricious demands of their neighbors, are still at a preliminary stage and unknown and with many obstacles to move forward. Bosnia has applied for membership, while Serbia is blocking any progress in Kosovo. Not only Serbia but also some EU member states still refuse to recognize Kosovo, despite the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice to recognize its independence as a state. Bosnia has a totally unclear situation, with a bipolar state, with so many differences that they  could hardly agree to always coexist together. This has turned Bosnia into a virtually ungovernable country. Albania and Kosovo, on the other hand, are in a permanent state of crisis. This comes from the fact that many failed political leaders still continue to circulate and fight for taking and retaining power at all costs.

It should be said openly that the EU is right to be reluctant to accept new members, and the pace of progress on our part is too slow, which negatively affects the mentality of our peoples, especially the youth. This, as a result, increases their tendency to emigrate, as the feeling of an infinite solution is being generated. People want to enjoy life, which is not very long, and consequently patience is lost.

For this reason, I would propose that the EU become more tolerant, given the old military saying that "The soldier learns the step by being in line." Thus, the accelerated inclusion of the Western Balkans into the EU would be more productive than following the established procedures which are highly bureaucratic. In all respects, a quick solution would be more cost-effective, both economically and in the interest of security.

In conclusion, I can say that it is necessary for us Balkan peoples to work harder in order to increase the trust and the understanding between our peoples, while the EU must understand that without putting us in line, it will be difficult for us to acclimatize to the ways of living and running a democratic European state. Therefore, do not hesitate to accept us among you, as we are. In this way we will get used to the rules of European democracy faster and better.

Thank you for your patience and understanding!

To go back to the Western Balkans Leaders Peace Talk article, click here.