Ms. Nafiye Gaș, Secretary General, Consultative Council for Communities, Office of the President, Kosovo, was the session moderator, who began by reading a letter sent from Romano Prodi OMRI who served as the 10th President of the European Commission from 1999 to 2004 and twice as Prime Minister of Italy, ‘The Balkans need to achieve accession to the EU as soon as they can by making great efforts with reforms and strengthening the cooperation between the E.U. and the Balkan States.’ This related well to the mood of the Albanian people.

Speaking of the role of parliamentarians, Hon. Vasilika Hysi, Deputy Chair of the Parliament, Albania, explained how indebted we are to those who are not in positions of power, but have great expertise and support us with wise advice, thereby helping us to overcome the major challenges. The legislative process is a major factor in parliamentarians’ lives, but it is not the only one. She referred to the important support given to politicians by international structures, such as the Sustainable Development Goals, that have given comprehensive targets for 2030. She also recognised the significance of integration into the European Union as a major priority supported by 93% of the Albanian population that, therefore, is an obligation for their representatives in parliament. Friendships between parliamentarians beyond nations is important, as it allows for dialogue and understanding. Women have a great role to play to bring a different flavour into politics than men who have failed in many ways.

Hon. Albin Kurti, Member of Parliament, Kosovo, in a scholarly speech explained that a Member of Parliament is a substitute for the citizens and in some nations is referred to as a ‘deputy’ or a spokesperson of the people, whereas a Minister is a servant. He is filling in for someone else. The Prime Minister then is the ‘prime servant’ or first of the servants.

Opportunities for peace then develop from our common ground. Peaceful politics develops from emphasising our common points. We should seek to find these commonalities to have constructive debates within our Parliament on how to serve our people better and, based on that, we can spur peaceful relations with other nations. Maintaining peace is work, but it is work that we should do together. Peace cannot be achieved without justice. We need to have accountability for war crimes and war criminals.

Hon. Erna Hennicot Schoepges, President of the Luxembourg Parliament (1989 – 1995), was a Professor at the Conservatory of Luxembourg and, in a distinguished political career, was the First Woman President of Luxembourg’s Parliament and an MEP until 2009.

She explained that being elected to Parliament should be a path to serve the people of the nation. It is important for politicians to make a declaration of their revenue and so avoid the appearance of misuse while in a public position.

She added that “We have become old Europe with a decreasing voter turn-out and ageing population. We are waiting for you to join the EU!” She explained that many, including the European Parliament, said it was a mistake to delay the accession talks for Albania.

Hon. Jovan Jovanović, Member of Parliament from Serbia, is part of a younger generation of Parliamentarians elected in 2016. He was the Serbian Ambassador to Indonesia where he was involved in the interfaith 1000 Abrahamic circle project.

He praised the work of the Inter-Parliamentary Union that has been working for 141 years and has 179 nations as members. He also referred to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals as important targets for his nation by 2030. He congratulated Mr. Kurti MP from Kosovo on his party’s election success and probable elevation to Prime Minister. He looked forward to working together to normalise relations between their nations.

Hon. Angela Guerra, Member of Parliament from Portugal, discussed the role of parliamentarians as the protectors of the International Human Rights framework that seeks to protect human life and the quality of life of all human beings. ‘The rule of law allows human rights to be not just a principle, but a real protection.’ She added that there are new challenges, such as climate change and AI, that need to be tackled. It remains as a challenge for Parliamentarians. These and other major issues need to be tackled on an international level, which means that we must have stronger and more inclusive institutions.

H.E. Dr. Ghazi Al Tayyeb, Senator from Jordan, explained the importance of Jordan’s effort to support United Nations’ peacekeeping efforts. We are all part of a multi-cultural world. We have a great opportunity to practice our values with those of other cultures through these peacekeeping efforts.

Jordan has been involved in the peace keeping activities in the Balkans from the mid 1990’s until now. It has undergone 38 different peacekeeping actions under the umbrella of the UN. 56 Jordanian soldiers have died during these efforts.

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