|Intervention of Dr. Thomas Walsh|
|Intervention of Hon. Prof. Dr Vasilika Hysi|
|Intervention of H.E. Talat Xhaferi|
|Intervention of Hon. Albin Kurti|
|Intervention of Ambassador Christopher Hill|
Dr. Michael Balcomb gave the welcoming remarks and invited the assembly to actively participate in the Summit, in which people had come from numerous countries, in particular Sheikh Diouf Mansour from Senegal, the leader of 7 million Muslims.
Hon. Vasilika Hysi mentioned that this was a significant time for the region, as Albania and North Macedonia were both making efforts to join the European Union and emphasized the presence of dignitaries of politics as well as leaders of religions from all over the world, in particular women activists, who are contributing to human rights, and thus to peace, security and human development. She also described Albania as the best model of tolerance towards the different religions and summarized the themes of the summit as being peace, security and human development and the Inauguration of the International Summit Council for Peace in the region, bringing together current or former Heads of State that are committed to a dialogue for peace.
Although the guarantee of peace is the right of every human being, he said that in Southeast Europe, it had always been easy for “the powder keg to explode. For sustainable peace to be established, the commitment to each other as well as wisdom instead of narrow-mindedness and exclusion are essential elements. As there is more strength when people work together, a strategic path is necessary to reach the goal of becoming members of the European Union and NATO. Hon. Talat Xhaferi also mentioned his recent experience in Strasbourg at the European Parliament where he met with some of the members. He encouraged all to not give up hope after the discouragement of having been rejected this time. He concluded emphasizing the importance of building bridges of collaboration with the world.
Hon. Albin Kurti said: “I feel like I’m in my own home, in Tirana, just as in Pristina” and mentioned that one of the greatest dangers of humanity is to emphasize the things that divide instead of those that unite. Knowing that the commitment to peace is what spurs progress for all, he commended this summit for bringing like-minded people together. Although the cold war is over, there is still coldness due to the walls dividing people and what people want most is employment and justice whether within or without the EU. Finally, he stated that fighting problems together can guarantee long-term stability.
Amb. Christopher Hill mentioned how difficult it is to achieve peace and that far from just being the absence of war, all know now that it requires a structure of respecting other points of view without expecting instant gratification as it takes a long time. When he first came to the Balkans, there was a system of government with a monopoly on people’s thoughts and he now sees the desire of the region to be part of something better, a Europe that is free and prosperous.
He expected problems, twists and turns, and challenges to come up and was confident that all could be overcome. He advised the West Balkan nations to already act like they were members of the EU and made them aware that people from other parts of the world present were looking for solutions to their own problems. When working in the Balkans, he used to think that the problems here were the worst but after going to Korea, he realized that the people were frustrated for having been divided by foreign interests without their say. After that, he went to Iraq and met a situation even worse, that of a ruthless war, and felt that the issues in the Middle East were even worse than those in the West Balkans. He emphasized the fact that amazingly Albania and North Macedonia had become part of NATO, as they had been able to reform their militaries.
Finally, he talked about the importance, in diplomacy, to listen to others, absorb knowledge and gain wisdom. Similar problems are happening all over the world, also in the US, and, as every country is unique, it must work out its problems but also needs support from others.