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Z. Lagumdžija: Address to Peace Summit 2023, Session VI-A: Europe and the Middle East

President Ivanic in his speech was very clear about the general dynamic in Bosnia Herzegovina and in the region. I will not be repeating what Mr. Ivanic was saying, but I want you to know one thing. We come from the same country where we have different religious and ethnic backgrounds.

Bosnia Herzegovina was at one time under the Ottoman Empire. Bosnia Herzegovina is a very unusual place, just as every place in the world is an unusual one. But we lived for centuries under the Ottoman Empire. That was definitely not democracy.

Then we lived under the Austro-Hungarian Empire and we also lived as people of different ethnicities, religions and cultures. Then we lived in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. That was not a role model of democracy, of course.

Then we lived under the Hitler regime as the independent state of Croatia, which was also not a role model of democracy. Then we lived under Yugoslavian President Tito’s time, which was not known as a role model of democracy. But all that time we lived as a people of different ethnicities and religions who were sharing our cultures and our identities. We were having our differences as our asset, not as our liability. We lived in those nondemocratic and occupation regimes as a shared society. We have a long tradition in our history of how to live together.

Now, let me go back to the original topic: “Contemporary Challenges to Global Order: Toward a World Culture of Peace: Focus on Europe and the Middle East.” I’m sure you’re familiar, especially people here in Korea, with the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists back in 1947 and the creation of something that was called the Doomsday Clock, which has been maintained since 1947. At that time, it was set up at seven minutes to midnight. The golden age was in 1992 when a war in my country started, but globally there was nirvana. That was the best part because at that time there was a record of 17 minutes to midnight.

Today it is the lowest number ever, being closer to midnight than back in 1953. Why 1953? I’m mentioning this because until the present time, 1953 was seen as a time when the USA and USSR started testing hydrogen bombs. Just before the Korean War ended, the clock stopped at two minutes to midnight. It was moved further to 100 seconds before midnight in January 2020 based on increased threats to global stability posed by a nuclear blunder exacerbated by the rate of climate change. The latest artificial intelligence and cyber development as well as COVID were not taken into account at that time. But January 9, 2023, just four or five months ago, it moved to 90 seconds to midnight.

Ukraine is in a second year of war with European security being threatened. A note of explanation why it was set up to 90 seconds to midnight is because Russia threatens to use nuclear weapons.

Four major threats were identified: Nuclear risk, climate change, biological threats—we heard Secretary Pompeo telling us a little bit about those—and disruptive technology is the fourth one, artificial intelligence in general. Those four doomsday threats are growing and the question is, is there a pilot in the plane? At least along the lines of those four challenges?

First, nuclear threat. We have something called the International Atomic Energy Agency set up in 1957, so there is some kind of pilot there. When it comes to climate change, we have SDGs, we have the Paris Agreement, we have COP 27 already set up and we have the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. When it comes to the pandemic, we have WHO, we have UNAI AIDS, and so on.

But when it comes to artificial intelligence, there is no pilot in the plane. There is no international artificial intelligence agency or whatever, which is monitoring AI. I just want to mention that two or three days ago, the Director General, Dr. Yun, clearly set up the problem, stating that we have to be thinking about artificial intelligence threats more and more, especially because one of the founding fathers in Google who was dealing with AI decided to quit and to say to the world that we are entering into a no man’s land, a twilight zone. There is definitely no pilot in the plane when it comes to technology, but those others are there.

Let’s talk about this Doomsday Clock and foreseeable threats from a European perspective. We should be trying to reach out to the European political community: 44 countries, 27 EU countries, six Balkan countries, UK, Switzerland, Ukraine, Moldova. Altogether 44 joined the European Council and the European Commission for the first time in Praha in October of last year. It is envisioned as an intergovernmental forum for heads of states and governments similar to G-7 or G-20. The aim of the Economic Policy Committee (EPC) of the European Union is to provide a policy coordination platform for European countries across the continent. The aim is to foster political dialogue and cooperation in order to address issues of common interest and strengthen the security, stability and prosperity of the European continent. This is not only the European Union, but the European continent: from the Ottoman Empire, the Austrian Empire, to the European Union—the links between EU member states and non-EU member states who share the same European values.

We look toward the future when we can have a truly European green deal, for example, a European Economic Community that is hopefully larger than today’s European Union. The European Health Union digital transformation with a focus on artificial intelligence, as well as overall interconnectivity, should be a perfect case of a European shared journey to the next phase of European Union enlargement as the biggest peace project in modern history.

I think this is the proper place to remind us that when we talk about the European context of global peace, if the EU wants to be a sustainable peacebuilding leader by example, in joining the US and the Indo-Pacific democracies that we heard about this morning and other stakeholders as a global player and creator, then the European Union has to be a pioneer in sustainable development and integration of a broader Europe than only the European Union is today. I think it is a very important message for us who are coming from the Western Balkans.

I’ll end with this: Ninety years ago, in 1932, Einstein wrote Freud a letter asking him: Is there any way of delivering mankind from the menace of war? It is common knowledge that with the advance of modern science—can you imagine in 1932 he was threatened by modern science?—this issue has come to mean a matter of life and death of civilization as we know it. Nevertheless, for all the real disputes, every attempt to find its solution has ended in lamentable breakdown.

The final conclusion of the one-year letter exchange between Freud and Einstein was that there are two options: One option is that there is one superpower that everyone is afraid of and everyone is peaceful because the superpower is saying no more war. The problem is that there is always some rising power that wants to become the only superpower, so they concluded that that’s maybe not a realistic scenario.

They concluded that the only other alternative is that there is global cooperation starting from the regional to the global.

In conclusion, for the Western Balkans and for Europe as well as for global modern governance and peace, I think that it is good to remind us of elements of a model of mutual cooperation and connectivity between the type of governance and peace. Since we have many Americans here today, I will paraphrase Lincoln’s 160-year-old words in his Gettysburg Address: What we need is governance and peace united in diversity of the people, governance and peace united in diversity by the people, and for the people. Thank you.

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