Honored Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon,
Dear Mr. President of the Republic of Northern Macedonia,
Dear Mr. President of the Republic of Kosovo,
Distinguished members of the Podgorica Club,
Dear parliamentarians and delegates from 50 different countries of the world
Ambassadors of Peace, friends and guests,
As co-chair of the Organizing Committee of the Peace Summit for Southeast Europe, it is an honor and a great pleasure for me to welcome you to my beautiful country, Albania.
The theme of our conference is “Peace, Security and Human Development”. So, important issues for peace and security in the Balkan region will be discussed. The conference is of particular importance because it takes place on the territory of the Balkan Peninsula, which, as Wilson Churchill stated “The Balkans generate more history than they are able to consume “. So it is a region that has had a very turbulent historical past, but also in today’s conditions of prolonged peace in Europe still have troubling problems. Ambassadors of Peace of the Republic of Albania, in Kosovo as well as in other areas where Albanians reside, together with their neighbors around, always in their activities, their main goal has been to contribute the best towards understanding and strengthening friendly relations between the peoples of the Western Balkans.
For the organization of this important conference, I would like to thank Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, who with her utmost commitment, not only asked for it, but strongly supported it, being present in this activity. I also thank the Albanian Government with Prime Minister Edi Rama for their willingness to support the Summit. Also present at this meeting are current leaders of the region and a considerable number of former heads of state and former prime ministers of the Balkans, whom I thank for being here with us today. In the meantime, I would like to emphasize the special contribution of the Podgorica Club, which joined this initiative, by having the issue of peace and security in the region, as the main guidelines of its activity.
Thank you all for supporting this activity.
The history of the region is full of quarrels, clashes, crimes, revenge and misunderstandings between peoples driven and inspired by various nationalist leaders and by some regressive forces of religious nature. So even though two decades have passed since the last wars that took place in our region, we still do face great challenges that must be overcome.
We live in a century today when humanity is trying to put aside these kinds of harmful acts between each other, aiming at the normal and contemporary development of their countries, for a more calm and peaceful life. This is precisely the task facing us as ambassadors of peace trying to bring peoples closer together and, especially, trying to get rid of old hatreds by working with dedication for the future of the younger generations, so that they may not inherit these mentalities, but think more about a better future.
However, despite the existing concerns, some problems that still hamper regional understanding remain to be resolved. Specifically, the agreement between Northern Macedonia and Greece is a serious and very important step. Successfully resolving inherited problems between these two countries is an indisputable merit of the current leaders of Northern Macedonia, who for this purpose had to make a national as well as a personal sacrifice. This is an example that everyone from the political class of the region should learn from.
In the meantime, unfortunately, we see that relations between Kosovo and Serbia, as mentioned before by president Thaçi, are still pending, creating a situation that holds potential risks. So far, despite their efforts internationally, a normal and lasting solution to the situation has not been achieved. Political current leaders should put an end to the tensions between the two countries. They must, with courage and accountability to their peoples, find solutions and make the right decisions, overcoming the remnants of past concepts of nationalism. People want peace and tranquility to live a normal life. So, politics must address the problems in a fair and acceptable way.
The situation in Bosnia, of course, also needs to be addressed as well; otherwise, the situation may get worse.
As is well known, an important step for the Western Balkan countries is integration into the Union European and this is as much a challenge as an opportunity. However, we are aware that, despite the homework and problems that each country is facing, we still lack the cooperation at the right level as a region. So we have to face international pressure in order to raise our standards. In the meantime, I think that there is a need to increase understanding within each other, in order for each of us to overcome our own problems.
Therefore, the purpose of this Summit is not only to meet and discuss, but also to find the common basis to address and solve problems that concern us. Our work has consistently been and remains the goal of leaving young people and generations to come the legacy of peace-keeping and peace-thinking work, in order to provide them with a better future.
For this reason, the Summit also includes organizing a gathering of about 2000 young people from Europe and The Balkans, who will exchange ideas with each other and develop joint projects.
But we need to build the future of our region based on strong family traditions that are an important part of of our cultures in the Balkans. It is said that “Without a strong and stable family we cannot have stable societies and nations”. So this is an issue included in the summit program. I hope by the end of this Summit, the exchange of positive experiences during discussions, as well its conclusions, will be beneficial to our peoples.
To conclude I would like to say a few words to introduce the keynote speaker of our meeting.
Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon is the co-founder of the Universal Peace Federation. Together with her husband, Dr. Sun Myung Moon, she has devoted her life to peace, founding many organizations and initiatives in a wide range of fields.
Dr. and Mrs. Moon both come from Korea, a land that suffered war and division in the 20th century. Both were born in North Korea, experienced oppressive political systems and the suffering life of refugees during the Korean War. This is a reason why they dedicated their life to peace and reconciliation throughout the world.
Dr. Hak Jan Han Moon is a devoted wife, the mother of 14 children and the grandmother of more than 40 grandchildren. At the heart of her and her husband’s lifelong ministry is the ideal of the family as the foundation for harmonious societies and the cornerstone of world peace.
Together with her husband, they have travelled around the world to engage world leaders to contribute to peace and reconciliation. I had the opportunity to meet them for the first time in October 2005 when, as the president of Albania, I welcomed them during their inaugural tour of the Universal Peace Federation.
From the time when the most memorable and respected Dr. Sun Myung Moon passed away seven years ago, Mrs. Moon has invested all her energy to continue his legacy and develop the organization.
Dear participants, I am happy and honored to introduce to you this remarkable woman, Dr Hak Ja Han Moon.