Very honored dignitaries, spiritual leaders, parliamentarians and government representatives. Dear co-chairs, Your Excellency Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen of the Kingdom of Cambodia and Your Excellency Ban Ki-Moon, former secretary-general of the United Nations. Special greetings also to the co-leader of this global movement for peace, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon.

With rising tensions in different parts of the globe, a wave of rising autocrats, and a planet that is heating this year more than any other year, we must speak loudly and clearly for peace and justice on the Korean Peninsula and Asia Pacific, but also in the eastern front of Europe and the Balkan Peninsula.

On July 27, 1953, sixty-nine years ago in the Land of the Morning Calm, on a sweltering summer day in the village of Panmunjom, the generals signed their names to an agreement before them, the Armistice Agreement which brought to an end the three-year war that took millions of lives. The ideology that divided the world in the last century divided the Koreans as well. Those who till yesterday were family, neighbors and friends suddenly became enemies entrenched in ideological contrast which separated people from one another and led them into a brutal war against each other. A war that carved deep hatred and polarizing scores.

Although divided, Koreans have known peace for nearly 70 years; yet peace is not merely the absence of war or of visible conflict, but the presence of true justice. A just peace with human and civil rights, with freedom of media and freedom of speech, and with an independent judiciary. But also with economic rights and a welfare state that works for everyone, regardless of nationality, religion or gender.

Despite the cruelty and suffering in the world, what remains true throughout history is that the longing for freedoms stirs in every human heart. The ability to speak our minds has a say on how we are governed and live; how we choose are not ideas confined to certain people and certain countries, but they are universal in nature, so we must have faith in peace and justice. And saying so is not a call to cynicism but a recognition of history, as the South Korean Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kim Dae-jung recalled: “In 1980 I was sentenced to death by the military regime. For six months in prison, I waited for the execution day, and I shuddered with fear of death. But I would find calm in the fact of history that justice ultimately prevails.”

Unfortunately, there are still those who keep grasping onto the ideas of the past century in search of fulfillment of some long-held ambitions for hegemony and domination. They intend to take us back to those dark times of history, but we cannot go back nor succumb to autocrats and dictators who suppress freedoms and oppress the people. We must seek lasting peace in the Korean Peninsula, but also in the Balkan Peninsula.

History reminds us that conflicts don't resolve on their own, if we just ignore them, and peace requires hard work and acceptance of responsibility. Reverend Moon teaches us that peace flourishes where there is justice, and justice requires repentance, which must be accompanied by restitution. We must never forget these lessons, for they are lessons of history.

Recognizing this fact, South Korea was among the first countries that recognized our independence, for which we are grateful, and in the near future we seek to advance our bilateral relations, so it is only appropriate that during this forum I used the opportunity to call on all peace-loving nations who still have not recognized our independence to do so with a sense of urgency. This is the only way to contribute to a lasting peace in the Balkan Peninsula.

The people of Kosovo and of South Korea share a similar path of suffering under occupation and of struggle for freedom. We are among rare, peaceful people who were invaded, often fought continuously against invaders, but we've never invaded others, and we survived the genocidal attempts for our extermination. The color white dominates in Albanian traditional clothes, white as the snow on mountain peaks and the generous and peaceful spirit. And we live in harmony, although many religions find place in our society. Our ethnic and religious coexistence is nurtured in our culture for centuries. Among our people, you find a church and the mosque side by side ringing the bell and calling hajji. Our two people are far from each other geographically, but we're closer more than we know substantially. Freedom beams and seeks peace, and to attain lasting peace, all of us must do our part, wherever we are. Thank you.

H.E. Albin Kurti, Prime Minister of Kosovo

H.E. Albin Kurti, Prime Minister of Kosovo

H.E. Albin Kurti is the sixth Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo since the country’s declaration of independence in 2008.

He served three terms in office as a member of the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo. He also served as the Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs at the Assembly. In 2020, Mr. Kurti served as the 4th Prime Minsiter of Kosovo for only 50 days. In the elections held on February 14th, 2021, Mr. Kurti’s party won a total of 50.28% of the popular vote, which is the highest result any political party has achieved since the end of the war in Kosovo.

Albin Kurti has published over 550 articles, and has been invited to present at different renowned universities inside and outside the country. He is fluent in Albanian, English, and Serbian.

He is married to Rita Augestad Knudsen, and they have one daughter, Lea.

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