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

Welcoming remarks: Dr. Michael Balcomb

Regional Chair, FFWPU Europe and the Middle East

Dr. Michael Balcomb currently serves as the Regional Chair of the Family Federation for World Peace for the combined 72 nations of Europe, the Middle East and Eurasia. Previously he served as the President of the Family Federation USA from 2013 to 2017. He was born in Abeokuta, Nigeria in 1957, educated in England and the United States, and joined the Unification Movement in California in 1976. He and his wife Fumiko have five children — two girls and three boys —aged from 30 to 20, all still living in the US.

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.

Prof. Dr Vasilika Hysi

Moderator: Prof. Dr Vasilika Hysi

Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Albania

Prof. Dr. Valisika Hysi was a full-time professor at the Law Faculty of the University of Tirana from 1985 to 2009. From 2000 to 2009, she was Executive Chairwoman of the Albanian Helsinki Committee. Since 2002, she has been a member of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance based in Strasbourg, France. Elected as a member of the Albanian Parliament in 2009, she was chairwoman of the Parliamentary Commission for Legal Issues, Public Administration and Human Rights, chairwoman of the Sub-Commission for Human Rights, and secretary of the Ad-Hoc Committee on Legal Reform. Currently, Ms. Hysi serves as Vice-Speaker of the Albanian Parliament.

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.

H.E. Talat Xhaferi

Speaker: H.E. Talat Xhaferi

Speaker of the Parliament, Republic of North Macedonia

After attending the Military Academy of the Land Army in Belgrade and Sarajevo, Mr. Talat Xhaferi pursued postgraduate studies in Command and Staff Duties at the Military Academy “General Mihailo Apostolski” in Skopje. After serving as an Officer successively in the Armies of Yugoslavia and the Republic of Macedonia until 2001, he became a Member of the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia in 2002. From 2004-2006, he was the Deputy Minister of Defence and from 2013-2014 he was the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Macedonia. On 27 April 2017, he was elected Speaker of the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia. He also chairs the Committee on Constitutional Affairs and the Delegation of the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia to the Inter-parliamentary Union and is the Head of Delegation of the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia to the Parliamentary Assembly of the South East European Process for Cooperation.

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

Speaker: Hon. Albin Kurti

Member of the Assembly, Republic of Kosovo

Hon. Albin Kurti graduated in Computer Science and Telecommunications from the University of Prishtina. In June 2005, he co-founded “Lëvizja Vetëvendosje” (Movement for Self-determination), of which he was the President until March 2015. Albin Kurti is currently serving his third term in office as a member of the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo. He was the movement’s candidate for Prime Minister of Kosovo and was re-elected as President of the movement for self-determination in January 2018. In the early parliamentary elections held on October 6th, 2019, Albin Kurti won the highest number of votes, which makes him the most likely candidate for the new Prime Minister of Kosovo. Albin Kurti has published over 550 articles and has been invited to give presentations at many renowned universities inside and outside of the country. He has also served as the Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs at the Assembly.

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

Speaker: Amb. Christopher Hill

Chief Global Advisor, University of Denver, USA

Amb. Hill is a former career diplomat, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Albania (1991), Macedonia (1996-99), Poland (200-2004), South Korea (2004-05) and Iraq (2009-2010). Prior to Iraq, he served as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 2005-2009, during which time he was also the head of the U.S. delegation to the six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear issue. He also served as Special Envoy to Kosovo. He currently serves as the Chief Global Advisor to the Chancellor and Professor of the Practice in Diplomacy at the University of Denver. Prior to this position, he was the Dean of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver.

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.

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