Moderator: H.E. Mirko Cvetković
Prime Minister (2008 – 2012), Serbia
H.E. Mirko Cvetkovic explained that the Podgorica Club was founded on 1st February 2019 by former Presidents and Prime Ministers of the Balkan countries. A small group started the club and now there are 40 members. The club is only for former heads of state; sitting Presidents or Prime Ministers are not accepted. Our club has a rule that a member cannot be actively involved in political life.
The club is devoted to the prosperity and development of the countries of the club and the southwest Europe region. It must respect the values of the nations involved and is devoted to the respect of human rights and the development of our countries.
A message from H.E. Leonid Kravchuk, 1st president of Ukraine, was read, in which he emphasized that justice, peace and security should be a priority for political leaders. He also expressed his gratitude to UPF created by Rev. and Mrs. Moon.
Speaker: H.E. Alfred Moisiu
President of Albania (2002-2007)
President Moisiu, after graduating from the Moscow Academy of Military Engineering in 1958, served in high positions at the Ministry of Defence and received in 1979 his PhD in Military Science. He served twice as Vice Minister of Defence, in 1981 and 1991. After establishing the Albanian North Atlantic Association in 1994, he guided the reform of the Albanian Armed Forces and Albania’s integration into NATO. In 2002 he was elected President of Albania by consensus of the ruling and opposition parties. During his presidency, he was active in solving internal political conflicts and strove to develop regional peace initiatives.
H.E. Alfred Moisiu explained that the objective of the Podgorica Club is to do our best to support peace and development in our countries and he thanked the members of our club who accepted to participate in this UPF summit, which is fully in line with the goals of our club and promotes our values.
He explained that this is a “troubled region”, in which there have been many wars and much fighting, sometimes for trivial reasons. It’s strange how tragedies have enveloped our region. Too often we haven’t looked at each other as neighbors, but as dangerous animals to be put down.
He gave the example of a woman he met on a plane. He began speaking with her and asked her about her husband. She replied that he is dead. Before the plane landed, she told him she hadn’t been honest with him. She was Croatian and her husband was Serbian. She said he was dead because he is in hiding. At that time, he was in hiding because a Serbian man who married a Croatian woman could be killed.
In this region, no one could explain why there were wars, battles and bloodshed.
We, former leaders of our countries, have been trying to overcome this problem, but it is hard to change the mentalities of the people. However, some leaders are led more by thirst for greed and power than they are by solving these problems that block our development.
If God created us all the same way, why can’t we accept each other’s differences? Education has a role to play here, but the family is the key to closing the gap of hatred between ourselves and others. We must engage more sincerely to bring people together.
There are people who want to take us back to the ways of greed and power. The fact that we are in this club shows that we want to go another way, and UPF is trying to contribute to this change of direction. It’s better not to be a bystander, but to get involved and help this change.
If we can help people to change their attitudes, they will be able to bring change through the electoral process. Some people say that what we do is just talk, which can’t change anything, but we must continue and work with other organizations such as UPF.
Thank you for your attention.
The Moderator, H.E. Mirko Cvetkovic, mentioned that none of the members of our club has executive power and that gives us a freedom of ideas and speech, because we are not involved in governance.
Speaker: Stjepan Mesić
President of Croatia (2000 - 2010)
A Croatian politician, President Mesić served two five-year terms as head of state of his country. He was first elected to the parliament of the Socialist Republic of Croatia in 1967. He served as the President of the Executive Council of SR Croatia (1990) after the first multi-party elections. He was the last President of the Presidency of Yugoslavia (1991) and consequently Secretary General of the Non-Aligned Movement (1991). He served as well as Speaker of the Croatian Parliament (1992–1994), as a judge in Našice and as a mayor of his hometown of Orahovica.
H.E. Stjepan Mesić began by stating that we must replace hopelessness with hope. To cure a disease, we must first diagnose it and then present the treatment. As I am no longer involved in politics, I can help with the diagnosis, but I cannot take part in the treatment. That is for others to do.
When Yugoslavia fell apart, we fell into a time of war and bloodshed. Things are better now, but for how long? What is the current situation of southeast Europe? There is deep division, threats, military maneuvers, and a new arms race. The break-up of the USSR left eastern Europe in a state of instability. Going from a one-party system to a multi-party system is not an easy change to make.
The collapse of the USSR was more a failure of the socialist system than the victory of the capitalist system. Yet the capitalist system took the attitude of the winner wanting to take its winnings. It expected a leader/follower relationship: a policy of imposition not cooperation, that divides rather than unites.
Then Russia returned to a position of world leadership, which we watch with fear and concern. We still hope for the principles of the Helsinki agreement to be fulfilled, but so far this has not happened. We hoped for a world of cooperation, without hegemony, but we see a world in which the victor goes for the spoils.
It’s easy to say that we need political will to change our situation. However, we need more than political will we need to change our mindset, leave behind the thinking of whose system is best. Let each nation decide what kind of system they want to live in. No system is a Godsend.
We need a multipolar world in which there are no subjects or objects; no dominants. The future lies in cooperation, in our common goals.
The world is getting smaller; time is running out. We have population growth and ecological problems. We cannot deal with these problems by means of concrete and barbed wire.
If what I say can be understood, maybe we can find a solution to the problems in our region. My children, your children, all the children of the world are entitled to a better world.
Speaker: H.E. Živko Budimir
President (2011 – 2015), Bosnia and Herzegovina
H.E. Živko Budimir served as President of Bosnia and Herzegovina (2011-2015). Previously, he was a Colonel General in the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina and a Major General in the Croatian Army. He attended the Aeronautical-Technical Military College and the War College of Armed Forces of the Republic of Croatia. In 2008, he was elected as a member of the City Council of Mostar, the cultural and economic capital of the country. In 2013, Živko Budimir was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Public Administration by Sun Moon University in South Korea for his contribution to world peace.
H.E. Zivko Budimir reviewed the situation in his country and in the region as a whole.
He explained that although the war was stopped in 1995 by the US, his country, Bosnia and Herzegovina, does not yet operate in the way decided by the agreement signed at the end of that war. An international investigation determined that genocide had occurred and a constitution was imposed which has left our country in a difficult situation. A European force was put in place in our country to ensure security, but very few people felt safe enough to return to their previous homes. We cannot say that the agreement has functioned well.
Too many people who committed war crimes have not been brought to justice. They have either influence within the system put into place in our countries or support from foreign powers. They have never been judged for their crimes. Much of the money, which was sent to help our development, has disappeared.
These are 7 deadly sins that are preventing Bosnia and Herzegovina from developing and are encouraging young people to leave our country for a better life elsewhere. Faced with this situation, the international actors have remained passive and silent.
The migrant crisis, caused by the interference of the great powers in the Middle East, is putting a strain on our countries. Montenegro’s situation is even more difficult than Bosnia and Herzegovina’s. The entire region could collapse into confusion and difficulties.
He fears that the whole region is at risk of entering into another difficult period. We need stable conditions that would allow development in our region. We don’t have them now.
Speaker: H.E. Fatmir Sejdiu
President of Kosovo (2006-2010)
President Sejdiu was one of the founders of the Democratic League of Kosovo (DLK) in 1989. He became the DLK President in 2006, a position he held until 2010. He was elected to the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo in 1992 and 1998, becoming that year Secretary General of the Assembly and President of the Committee for Constitutional Issues. He was elected again in 2001, became a member of the Assembly’s Presidency, and was re-elected in 2004. In 2006 he was elected President of Kosovo, a position he held until 2010. For 33 years, President Sejdiu has been a professor at the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Political Sciences at the University of Pristina and has published numerous scientific works.
H.E. Fatmir Sejdiu began by explaining that peace is a goal of our time. We cannot talk about peace without talking about human suffering and we cannot talk about human development without talking about peace.
We have the example of the Kosovan people who sought peace through peace. Many people were expulsed from their homes; many were killed. The war started by Serbia had the goal of ethnic cleansing. NATO intervened and saved the people.
The independence of Kosovo in 2008 is proof that peace is possible. As the leader of the negotiation team, Mr. Sejdiu worked for the end of violence, but also peace for his people.
More mutual understanding is needed. Redefining borders is not a good idea. We need to cooperation, education and mutual understanding to find peace.
We need a Balkan Schengen zone, with the free movement of people and commerce. However, Serbia continues to oppose any calls for improving relationships between countries. Macedonia and Greece showed an example of cooperation to solve a difficult problem. We can do the same. Peace and development are needed. We need to eliminate the threats that block peace, development and stability.
We are losing too many young people who seek a better life in Europe, because our countries are too slow in their economic development. The people of Kosovo are hardworking but lack the stability which would allow them to be successful. We have to open the doors to everyone, then we can all progress. If we open the doors for some and not for others, development will slow down.