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First of all, I would like to welcome the idea and the signing of the Memorandum of Cooperation between UPF Europe & the Middle East and the Podgorica Club. Also, I would like to express my support for the idea of the opening of the UPF’s "Balkans Peace Embassy" in Tirana. I hope for the successful cooperation and fulfillment of the set goals.
Today, globally there are 1,009 institutions and organizations that are registered and engaged in strengthening and building lasting peace, and among them is naturally the Universal Peace Federation. There are 27 registered Peace Institutions in the Western Balkan Countries. Some of these organizations have been calculating the Global Peace Index, or GPI, every year since 2008. Its measurements cover three categories:
- Social safety and security;
- Ongoing domestic and international conflicts;
The data from 2020 showed that:
- Global peace has decreased by 2.5% compared to the measurements from 2008.
- The economic impact of the fall in peace has been estimated at $14.5 trillion.
- Every $1 invested in peacekeeping has led to a reduction of $16 used for military conflict resolution.
- The pandemic could cause a wave of future unrest in the forthcoming period.
The development of the pandemic situation may increase the likelihood of increased violence and conflicts in the future. It can be concluded that Europe will face an increasing level of civil unrest due to the epidemic and the impending recession, and that many countries in Africa will face conditions of hunger, which will create additional stress for very fragile countries.
The current situation in the Western Balkans (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Macedonia and Kosovo) confirms that the Balkans are still unstable. "We have forgotten about the Western Balkans, which is still a powder keg. There is a risk that we will have to help stabilize the region using a security-based approach," said an EU diplomat. He also explained that Serbia has an interest in Bosnia and Herzegovina staying together if it wants to see Serbia in the EU.
In our analysis of peace, the indicators from the project by P.A.C.E. (Peace and Conflict Education) co-financed by the European Union, which was conducted on the occasion of Peace Day, September 21, 2021, are significant. The theme is peace and social cohesion in the society. The project involved 5,400 young people from the Western Balkans: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia.
Here are some written messages from the participants: FOR THE REASON THAT NO ONE WANTS TO LIVE IN WAR, SINCE I WANT TO LIVE WITHOUT WAR, FOR US AND OUR CHILDREN.
Young people are central actors in building sustainable societies in the region. Most of them are convinced that this generation is a positive force in society and are optimistic that they will be able to solve some of the current challenges in the region. Here are some of the main findings of the project participants:
Albania - A significant number of young people in the region (15-63%) say they are not ready to forgive others for their past deeds.
Bosnia and Herzegovina - 53% of young people believe that the EU accession process is the most important factor in creating long-term peace and stability in the Western Balkans.
Kosovo - Trust, relations and interactions between people are important aspects of peace and social cohesion.
Montenegro - Young people are central actors in building sustainable societies in the Western Balkans.
North Macedonia - Hate speech online or offline was the most common form of violence or discrimination.
Serbia - Trust between the government and the society is a critical aspect of peace and social cohesion.
Peace researchers have defined two types of peace: positive and negative peace.
Negative peace: has been defined as an "absence of violence, absence of war" and identified three main categories of violence: direct, structural and cultural.
Positive peace describes the "integration of human society." Positive peace includes preventing or ending direct violence, as well as structural and cultural violence.
In the last decade, digital technologies have played an increasingly vital role in advancing world peace-building activities. Technological innovation is a powerful democratizing force that has opened up new avenues and spaces for powerful online communities. The use of peace technology, known as “peacetech” has generated many innovative solutions in the last decade. Digital technologies provide peacebuilders with user-friendly, efficient and scalable tools that not only improve programming and communication, but also create peaceful infrastructures and foster positive communication.
We constantly need peace education – Owing to the fact that peace education promotes knowledge, skills and attitudes and helps people to prevent conflicts, to resolve conflicts peacefully or to create the conditions for peace. Peace education should cover all ages, in formal and non-formal conditions, at the local, national and international levels.
We ask the question: "What are think-tanks good for?" The answer would be that they create opportunities to rethink tactics and motivations about how and whom certain ideas influence. Think-tank ideas are a litmus test of good ideas, regardless of which side they come from ("right, left, liberal or not), but the most important thing is whether they suggest a facilitating evidence-based discussion”.
And to end, “If you are depressed, you are living in the past, if you are anxious you are living in the future, if you are at peace, you are living in the present.” —Lao Tzu