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Intervention of Mrs. Manjola Vasmatics at the April 2022 Balkans Leadership Conference

Distinguished leaders, guests, ladies and gentleman, brothers and sisters,

It is a great privilege and honor to be here today. Doing the right thing at the right time has positively affected peacebuilding and gave the right direction in history. After listening to the first session, I must say, this conference is happening at an extraordinary time. The topic is really relevant and all inclusive. Peace is a right that every human being, every nation and the world must experience and have, but at times of war peace seems to be a luxury. We feel the pain of the people involved in war and acknowledge that the whole world is affected in all aspects of life.

However, another very destructive issue is also happening, which is threatening the present and the future of our country of Albania, as well as South-East Europe. As young people, we are losing our peers in a different way, something is swallowing our youth. I think the biggest threat to all of the western Balkans, an alarm for the future of these countries, is the Youth deserting the Balkan countries. The people with whom I grew up are not anymore around me. Two of my best friends are living in Germany, one of them as an established scientist, and I must say much treasured by Germany, and my classmates are living all around the world. My sister received a full scholarship from Cambridge University and after finishing hers studies she is now living and working in London.

It is sad to see that the brightest students, young talented people leave the country. This, clearly shows that the future of the country is fading day by day. The main reasons behind this, all of us know, are economic, the sky-high unemployment and young people who believe they won’t be treated fairly and have a bright future here. Nobody is immune to this phenomenon, which affects even the highest families in the land.

The most frequent question my husband and I get asked, now for more than a decade, is: Why do you live in Albania? Many people get surprised and blown away that I didn’t grab the opportunity to leave Albania, because being married to an EU citizen, I have that possibility.

Just to clarify this, I’m not against people moving, gaining experience, becoming global citizens, and contributing on the world stage, but this is not what we are seeing.

And I also know many people who choose to stay and commit to developing the country, and I thank them for doing that.

Despite reading the news and the statistics, I did not experience much this grim reality until the last two years when we were building this Peace Embassy, where I was shocked to find out that the contractors of the building company had difficulties because of the lack of specialists and workers. It is not hard to imagine where the nation’s economic prospects are headed.

But leaving the country is not their deepest heart and desire, …

Albanians who love to be near their relatives, to frequently spend time together, are obliged to leaving their families behind. With tears in their eyes and with hope in their hearts, they spend their last savings – and often more than that – in order that they can travel to a faraway country, sometimes risking their freedom or even their lives doing so. Do all of them succeed finally? And those who do succeed, are they truly happy with their new life, far from where their heart truly resides? I strongly doubt it. Sometimes they hide the pain in their heart, and only show the economic progress they made. But is there a better solution? Solution there is, but there is no quick fix. Without sacrifice there can’t be real and sustainable development.

We need a principled economy with moral values and integrity guiding us. And we need that urgently, as greed is destroying all the human family, it is causing economic inequality, where the gap between rich and poor is getting bigger and bigger, day by day. We are living in a society where the top 1 percent of people hold about half of the world’s wealth and resources.

And the question is not how those people gained their wealth. But to fix the problem, the most important questions must be how they use it; whether it is for a greater purpose or just for themselves.

The founders of UPF, Father and Mother Moon, showed that the key is in the most important principle: that of living for the sake of others. They went on to explain that all economic activity should resemble the circulation of blood in the human body which has the task of transporting important nutrients and oxygen to every organ and every cell, in order to be healthy. If a certain organ starts to keep more and more for itself, is it considered a successful and rich organ? No, it is sick and needs to be cured!

Father and Mother Moon, undertook many projects and personal initiatives, believing that the purpose of business is not simply to make money. It is also to support the precious work of building peace. Even though they started from very humble beginnings, their contribution went on beyond nations. One example is the Peace Embassy, a fortress built to serve Peace in the Balkans.

Dear fellow participants, I am not an economic expert, but I hope we can all make a contribution, and help together to realize the equalization of technology, the economy and political culture, in order for Peace to be real in our nations and society. Thank you!

 

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