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F. Sejdiu: Address to ISCP Webinar

Dear Mr. Brann, dear Ms. Trebicka, Your Excellencies: Thank you for inviting me to be a part of this debate.

The historical developments of the nations of the world are different. Each has its own story, a story of crisis and of greatness. During this journey, many nations and their wise leaders have demonstrated often enough the ability to overcome their encounters with extremely difficult situations which often have threatened them with disintegration. And all this has come at a difficult time, in facing the evil, hatred, anti-human projects aiming at the “extinction of the other.” In one way or another, all the countries of the Western Balkans have been involved in the difficult situations we went through, consequences of which we still are suffering to this day.

The war for territories and the war for a “right” which did not exist, when a new history was trying to be made, built on lies, made the developments go in that manner of opposition, disobedience and refusal.

My people, as one of the oldest peoples in Southeast Europe, have experienced such crises. It has experienced terrible wars. The war of the concluding years of the last century has been one of these. With many civilian victims, with a large-scale exodus of more than half of its population, and apartheid.

The end of this cycle of violence, thanks to the intervention, the solidarity and humanitarian aid of the wider international community which brought an end to violence and to the evils we were experiencing, has brought a new stage in our development.

Despite the objective and great hardships, our path to building a free Kosovo was and is based mainly on the vision of building a state of all its citizens, a state where human rights and freedoms are guaranteed and are being implemented beyond the criteria applicable on the old continent.

We have been and are determined that our path will not be hatred, contempt or apartheid—the evils that we ourselves experienced. All this has arrived with a policy of wisdom based on the foundations of humanism and with the motive of patience and without hatred.

Dear friends, today’s challenges in the Western Balkans—but also in each country, after what we have been through—are still great. They are of different natures. I want to emphasize some of them:

First, together we are witnessing a profound humanitarian crisis that the world is experiencing, therefore our region also. The COVID-19 pandemic does not recognize large or small nations. It knows no borders and no state sovereignty.

COVID-19 is equally dangerous to large and small nations. It strikes relentlessly. The death toll is high and increases to the extent that we are not serious about dealing with it. It loses its power as our common consciousness rises in the fight against the virus. Physical distance between people, as is needed, as recommended by the World Health Organization and national health institutes of all countries, means at the same time human closeness and mutual understanding.

Uniformity in treatment, in this world of close to 8 billion, with all its racial, cultural and religious diversity, is essential. People are people, wherever they are. The pain is the same for those who live a better life and for those whose daily needs must be covered with less than two dollars.

Until now many lives have been lost. Many newborn children were affected, pregnant women, people of all ages. Many important personalities of this world have passed away.

Second, from what we have experienced so far in these months of facing the COVID-19, on the global and regional levels we see that local economies are being hit very hard. With this a greater risk is posed to human society. This has naturally affected the countries with low economic development. My country, Kosovo, has been experiencing a huge hit to its economy in recent months. From what is told until now, 56 percent of businesses are not functioning. Even though there is a level of “adapting” to the new circumstances, it is noticeable that all the fields of activities of general interest have been hit hard.

As I have noticed, neither at the regional nor at the global level has a key to getting past this crisis been found. This in reality has added to many dialogues that have put a spotlight on situations of endangering the relations between neighboring countries. So there is a lack of synchronization of actions, making way for irrational actions which we see these days.

Third, Kosovo is in the middle of a very sensitive process of negotiations with Serbia. This is a process, as I call it, necessary for the relaxation of relations between two sovereign countries, while treating the subjects that relate to this function. The experience so far has shown that Serbia is holding on to its idea of ruining of what Kosovo has achieved with the international community, to be an independent country with its full integrity. The developments so far have been disturbing. Serbia is trying to retell the story of “The wolf and the lamb that blurred the water.” That time has passed.

Fourth, because of the important geostrategic position of the Western Balkans, for some years now certain appetites for redesigning the borders have been reborn. The way to that is a way to new bloodshed for the people of this region.

With every tendency for redrawing the borders, it might be known where it starts, but not where it stops.

Ideas like that must be excluded, not made possible, and refused because that they carry and pose permanent danger to the region.

Russia, with its stance of not supporting Kosovo and with its “interest” in other countries of the region, wants to increase its influence. Military bases in Serbia as a help to “the little brother” are a bad omen.

In this light, our countries are in need of developing policies to strengthen the peace, and not policies that may put peace and stability in danger.

Dear friends, it is very true and I must say this once again: Today's world is different from yesterday’s. Consider the dangers posed to many countries around the globe. Let's work to make the world of tomorrow better than today’s and yesterday’s. The beauty of this world is in the colorful diversity it has. It's a small world and a big-enough house for everyone.

I believe in human power, international help and solidarity, and the miracles that can be achieved.

Mother Teresa once said: “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”

Thank you.

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