H.E. Albin Kurti, Prime Minister (2020), Kosovo
H.E.. 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. He served as the 4th Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo.
Thank you honorable Mr. Adama Doumbia,
Dear organizers of the Universal Peace Federation,
Allow me to begin by greeting the panelists and all the participants and the audience of this imposing Webinar, to greet and thank the organizers, Dr. Katsumi Otsuka and Mr. Jacques Marion, and to greet and especially thank the leaders of the Universal Peace Federation, its numerous sub-organizations, the Honorable President, Dr. Thomas Walsh and in particular the historical co-founder and leader of the Federation, her ladyship, Mother Moon.
In the Albanian language, the essence or core of the word “përshëndetje” which is our most common greeting is the word “shëndet” which means health. Therefore, first of all, I wish you health!
Thank you for bringing us together in this Webinar, to discuss about hope and opportunities, in times when we most need them. The entire world, and each of our regions and countries, are stricken by a threefold crisis. First off, a health crisis, the novel coronavirus pandemic that is still continuing, until a successful vaccine or a medicine is found. Allow me to express my condolences to you, and the countries you represent, for every human life lost during this pandemic. Secondly, an economic crisis, which is deepening the depression of the global economy, already in stagnation since 2008. Health and economy are the two most fundamental aspects of human wellbeing. The third crisis which overtook us, is the crisis of democracy, expressed through authoritarian leaders who want to put down people, people’s history and culture, their prosperity and future.
But, as many people, ancient and modern have noted, in every crisis there may hide an opportunity, and we must keep our eyes and hearts open and our senses and minds sharp, to catch opportunities in a time like this. Businessmen will certainly find their way to profit [from the crisis], that is their aim, and they will hold onto their opportunities, but we, as politicians that run for public office, we seek another kind of opportunity. Not one-sided profit, but a more general profit, for the society, for our nations, for our regions and continents, and for the entire world, our common humanity, our human race.
The economic crisis was here. What we are facing now is a deepening of it. This may be a opportunity to reflect, to see critically what didn’t work, and to build the mechanisms for a progressive change. As we already know, for this change to happen, it must be international.
What would it look like? I can speak from my perspective, coming from a country in the poorest region of Europe, Kosovo and the Balkans. What we face here is the monopolization of many sectors of the market, in a model well-known to the analysts of Eastern Europe. These monopolists, or oligarchs, wield tremendous power. It is impossible for normal ordinary businessmen to compete against them, or to even start a business or bring new investments. Therefore, our determination for good governance and the democratization of the economy is indispensable.
In my country, COVID-19 has worsened a situation which was hopeless to begin with. The economy is in stagnation and it is forecasted that our GDP will shrink by 3% this year (OECD). This will further increase unemployment which was already at the highest level in Europe. Around 10% of those employed have reportedly lost their jobs (UNDP), but given the large share of the informal economy, the real number is much higher.
For 4 months, during our brief tenure in government, we managed not only to contain the spread of the virus, but to also inspire a new sense of hope for change in the whole country and the region. People want us back so we can move forward.
Now, I want to talk a bit regarding the current dialogue with Serbia, which is unfolding at a time when the focus must be on the health of our citizens and the economy.
We need peace in the Balkans. Not temporary peace, but sustainable peace; just and democratic peace, which addresses and resolves all issues and puts hatred and anger behind us. But peace derives from good will and good intentions. Every time we are willing to extend our hand to Belgrade, we find a clenched fist. Their ability for disruption and destruction outperforms their ability to cooperate and build. This is a problem. We cannot make meaningful progress as long as the focus is not on accepting the reality and looking towards the future, but grasping onto the ideas of the past. The past has been full of rivalry, conflict, bloodshed and genocide. The fear and bitterness of the past can guide us toward the future, which in turn requires forward looking leaders.
Every historical period faced its own crises, moments when many people ceased to believe in progress whatsoever, and nihilism prevailed. But eventually, there always appeared new movements, in the arts, in science and in politics, and also in interpersonal relationships, which brought new concepts and made new steps for progress. This is what we mostly need right now. A new concept of progress, that doesn’t jeopardize people´s traditions and everyday norms, morals and identities, a concept of progress that does not eliminate the local particularities, but that calls for everybody to participate, in a process which everyone and all of us can benefit from. Just and fair progress.
We cannot look away from poverty, hunger, genocide and disease, because this is no longer an issue for one country to solve. When there is a conflict in one country, there is a refugee crisis in other countries. When there is disease in one country, it travels to all countries. So, we must act not merely as citizens of one country, but as citizens of the world.
In this, there is a role for every country, no matter how big or small, and for every citizen to play.