Dr. Werner Fasslabend started by saying that in 1992, when he first came here, no-one could believe that such development in the Balkans could be possible. The first task in developing peace is to paint a realistic picture of the present situation. In some ways, the situation has not become easier in the last few years. The decision about the integration of Albania and North Macedonia was not helpful. We had based our hopes on this and it is psychologically very difficult and could cause us to become despondent and lose our ambition.
In North Macedonia, they were even willing to change the name of the country to get this integration. In Serbia and Kosovo, most specialists think the relation has become more distant. In Montenegro there has been no breakthrough. In Bosnia, it’s in a more difficult situation than before the elections. There is no single solution in sight. Every state has a different problem.
What are the lessons we can draw from this?
1) Peace and stability can easily be destroyed and it’s difficult to build it up again. It’s 28 years since the war.
2) There are many interdependencies: peace and stability versus economic development. There is no investment if there is no stability.
During the migration crisis, we saw that there is an interdependency between the E.U. and South East Europe. Our regions where there is potential growth will increase this interdependency.
What could be the way out? An optimistic and realistic one.
The realistic way would be to prevent the worst and shape the possible. What would be the worst outcome? The destruction of Bosnia for example. There are many possibilities. How do we prevent such crises?
What is possible? To continue in the same way the countries have done in the last few years, whether they join the E.U. or not, and try some new initiatives for cooperation in the region. The regional market will become more important if the integration with the E.U. is not possible.
Austria has two big neighbours, Germany and Italy, and 5 small neighbours. These small neighbours with a population of about 30 million people have more importance for Austria’s exports than the U.S., China and all the big powers put together, because cross border trade is so important.
There is also a role for civil society and religion. Religion will play a big role in preventing a crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina. No-one else can create such a climate of reconciliation. This conference is a very worthwhile contribution to peace and stability in the region.
In the past, South East Europe had a higher level of development than the rest of Europe. We need to work on the reality, and the old adage, “help yourself and God will help you”, will work in this situation.
H.E. Bujar Nishani expressed his appreciation for the possibility to share his recognition for the contribution of this forum to South East Europe. He said he appreciated this tradition that UPF has established of bringing together people from so many places and backgrounds, etc.
Talking about peace and stability in South East Europe is also important for the Western Balkans. History has been ruthless, but remains a greater teacher for the future. The Balkan wars brought much division and hatred, just two decades ago, due to ethnic and religious hatred. Fortunately, this region has managed to find peace and stability through mutual respect.
However, today we are experiencing different challenges again, such as lack of respect, which lies at the bottom of such challenges. Democracy and its standards are the main targets of destabilising aggression. It is responsibility that will renew our society.
The young people aspire to a better economy. The European Integration Process, in which all the countries in our region are involved, is the only path forward. It is the most important process of this century. Not only because of the geopolitical connection of the region with the continent, but because all the people see this as a natural way forward.
We can be a contributor to this family. The E.U. needs strong allies in terms of democracy and developing its economy, etc. Unfortunately, democracy is the main target of destabilising societies. Fostering a culture of corruption, political control of justice, etc., are causing division. As history teaches us, nothing can be guaranteed. Keeping alive the culture of retribution is also a threat to peace in our region. Nourishing the thesis of division between Kosovo and Serbia is another threat.
There is no country in our region without ethnic minorities in them. Finding a common solution is the best way forward. As president, I met thousands of time the Heads of State of this region. The first time was difficult, but by the 10th time or so, we spent more time taking coffee together and now we have a good friendship. Keeping alive the spirit of friendship and talking with each other and mutual respect will lead to a common solution.
Democracy remains in my judgement the key to facing the challenges. By consolidating democracy as a value, we can ensure stability in this South East Europe region.
Dr. Michael Balcomb explained that he had had a meeting with Mother moon earlier that morning, during which she asked him to express her gratitude for everyone’s participation during the past few days. He also cited the three main points from Mother Moon’s message the previous day that stuck in his mind:
- We have to be humble before God.
- We should spend less time talking about ourselves and listening to others.
- We need to invest in the young people of this region.
“This doesn’t mean you should join her particular faith”, he emphasized, “or that we should expect some divine inspiration”. Mother Theresa pointed out that the voice of God can be heard where you least expect it. We are here as the sons and daughters of the almighty God and we should treat each other in this way.
At the time of Watergate, the nation was trying to tear down its president and Father Moon gave the message “Forgive, Love and Unite”. It’s easy to forgive someone who is repentant, but what about the ones who are not. Many people spent years in prison. The father of Mirilda Tilly, director of media relations, was in prison for 18 years. We have to find a way to forgive the unforgivable.
President Moisiu said there are 27 million people in the Balkans and 27 million problems and points of view, but what if they were 27 million solutions!?
Dr. Balcomb concluded by saying that, “If the families of Albania can be strong, we can resolve the problems of family breakdown in this region and we have couples coming from all over Albania to the Blessing ceremony this afternoon. Let’s not just be spectators, but also see the possibility of multiplying this kind of activity in your nations: there are more than 40 nations represented here. The E.U. decision was wrong, but we need to show this in a good way. Now we have a chance to put this into practise”.