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Europe and the Middle East—UPF held an International Leadership Conference titled “Toward Peaceful Reunification of the Korean Peninsula—Creating a Global Culture of Peace.”
ILC July-August 2022 was held in four cities of the Europe-Middle East (EUME) region in seven sessions on three days. All the sessions met both in person and online.
Sessions I and II: July 26, 2022—Berlin, Germany
The ILC began with two sessions in Berlin on July 26 as part of the Peace Road 2022 series of events. The conference, held at the Berlin City Mission Festival Hall, was attended by approximately 200 participants from throughout Europe and the Middle East, including a delegation from Korea and Japan.
Jacques Marion, co-chair of UPF for the Europe-Middle East region, opened the ILC. Welcoming remarks were given by Dr. Michael and Fumiko Balcomb, the EUME president of Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU), an organization that is affiliated with UPF.
The opening was an opportunity to put in perspective the conflicts in Ukraine and the Korean Peninsula and to explain the significance and background of the Peace Road 2022 motto, “No New Walls in Europe.” A tribute was paid to the life and legacy of Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who, until his assassination on July 8. contributed to UPF activities toward the reunification of the Korean Peninsula.
Session I: “Prospects for Peace on the Korean Peninsula and in Europe”
This session was moderated by Karl-Christian Hausmann, the president of UPF-Germany. The four speakers were Dr. Song Gwang-seuk, chairman of the Peace Road Foundation in South Korea; Dr. Claude Béglé, a Swiss entrepreneur and former member of Parliament; Klaus Kelle, a German journalist; and Professor Angela Mickley, a professor of peace education at Potsdam University.
The presenters analyzed the current conflicts in Europe and Asia in light of 20th-century conflicts, coming to similar conclusions: Peace cannot settle if triumphant victors humiliate losers; military power may bring an end to hostilities, but lasting peace and reconciliation must be based on honestly admitting the crimes and atrocities committed.
Session II: “Peace Road: A Global Project toward Sustainable Peace”
This session was organized by the International Association of Youth and Students for Peace (IAYSP), an organization that is affiliated with UPF. The moderator was Mélanie Komagata, the president of IAYSP-Switzerland.
The session featured youth leaders: Dr. Koji Matsuda, the president of IAYSP International; Dr. Farida Valliulina, a UPF representative at the United Nations in Vienna; Dr. Diana Eșanu, the president of IAYSP-Moldova; Ssruthi Raaja Elange Lehka, a youth representative at the United Nations in Geneva; and Soo-bin Park, a Korean Peace Road activist.
The session focused on the Peace Road Initiative’s vision and application. How can young people use innovative tools and resources for conflict resolution and reconciliation, opening the path for an interconnected world peace? Speakers described the growing focus on youth involvement in international institutions and agreed that the key to the development of the Peace Road Initiative will be its genuine outreach beyond national, cultural, or religious self-interest.
Sessions III, IV and V: August 4, 2022—London, United Kingdom
The second day of the ILC was held on August 4 at the UPF headquarters in London. Three sessions were attended by approximately 100 participants and an online audience from Europe and the Middle East.
Session III: “Exploring the Strategy of the Seoul Resolution toward Sustainable Peace and Prosperity on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia”.
This session was moderated by Humphrey Hawksley, a former BBC World correspondent.
The panelists were Keith Best, chairman of the Board of Trustees of UPF-UK; Keith Bennett, deputy chairman of the Kim Il Sung Kim Jeong Il Foundation in the UK; and Yoshihiro Yamazaki from Japan, EUME liaison director for the Institute for Peace Policies.
The panelists reviewed the Seoul Resolution that was signed at World Summit 2022, discussing its possible implications for the resolution of conflicts on the Korean Peninsula and in Ukraine. The UPF founders’ “headwing” philosophy on conflict resolution was introduced, and the role and position of Japan as a major stakeholder in the Asia Pacific region were discussed in the context of current tensions between China and the United States regarding Taiwan.
Session IV: “Conflict Resolution and the Role of Faith-Based Organizations and NGOs: Creating an Interreligious Council at the United Nations”?
This session was moderated by Heiner Handschin, the director of the UPF Office for UN Relations in Geneva.
The session began with a discussion of the proposal for an Interreligious Council at the United Nations, first introduced by the UPF founders in 2000. Video messages were given by two of the early contributors to the project: Ambassador Makarim Wibisono, former permanent representative of Indonesia to the UN in Geneva, and Ambassador Dr. Jesus Domingo, the current ambassador of the Philippines to New Zealand.
The panelists were Hon. Ján Figeľ, former European Commission special envoy for the Promotion of Freedom of Religion; Haleemah Oladamade Ahmad from Nigeria, a senior research associate and chief editor at the Da’wah Institute; Sheikh Dr. Hojjat Ramzy, the director of the Oxford Islamic Information Centre; and Dr. Lakshmi Vyas, the president of the Hindu Forum of Europe.
The panelists developed the theme of religious freedom and its status around the world. They highlighted the fact that, according to a Pew Research Center report, more than three-fourths of the world’s believers experience some form of restriction to their religious freedom. Concrete examples of benefits that could result from the creation of an Interreligious Council at the UN were given, such as the resolution of religious conflicts and sustainable solutions to various social problems.
Session V: “Conflicting Narratives and Values – Perspectives for a Common Vision and Culture of Peace”
This session was moderated by Chantal Chételat Komagata, coordinator of UPF in Europe. The panelists were Caecilia van Peski from the Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies at Juniata College in the Netherlands; Dr. Willy Fautré, the CEO and director of Human Rights Without Frontiers International in Belgium; Hon. Nina Nováková, a Czech member of Parliament; and Paul Gutteridge from the Edward Cadbury Centre at the University of Birmingham.
The discussion focused on the ideological underpinnings of the newly rising East-West conflict, addressing the tensions and different perspectives on individual rights and traditional values seen in some democracies in Europe, and debating how these trends could be harmonized to promote a global culture of peace.
On the third day of the ILC, August 5, two sessions were held: in Larnaca, Cyprus, and Tirana, Albania.
Session VI: August 5, 2022—Larnaca, Cyprus
Session VI: in Larnaca, was held on the theme “Outside the Box – Taking a New Look at Peacemaking across the Middle East”.
The session was moderated by David Fraser Harris, secretary general of UPF Middle East.
The panelists were Hon. Zuheir Bahloul, former member of the Knesset; Hon. Kais Zayadin, former member of the Jordanian parliament; Hon. Taleb Al Sana, former member of the Knesset; and Hon. Skevi Koukouma Koutra, former member of the House of Representatives of Cyprus.
In a region where nations and lives are still torn apart by conflict, and many people see little hope for real change, the conference aimed at giving a voice to peacemakers from across the region. In a lively discussion, panelists reviewed various conflicts in the Middle East between Israelis and Palestinians or Greeks and Turks, and discussed peace initiatives such as the Abraham Accords, bicommunal projects in Cyprus, and the yearly “Football for Peace” project organized by UPF in San Marino with Jewish and Arab children.
Session VII: August 5, 2022—Tirana, Albania
Session VII in Tirana was on the theme “Peace and Security in the Western Balkans – Towards Integration into the European Union.”
This session on August 5 at the Balkans Peace Embassy in Tirana, Albania, concluded the ILC and was attended by around 100 guests and Ambassadors for Peace.
The session was moderated by Dr. Saemira Pino, chairwoman for Albania of UPF’s International Association of Academics for Peace (IAAP). Dr. Eva Çipi, chairwoman of UPF-Albania, gave the welcoming remarks.
Former Albanian President Alfred Moisiu, for health reasons, had declined to attend but sent a speech that was read at the conference. Other prominent panelists were Professor Dr. Nano Ružin, former ambassador of North Macedonia to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO); Associate Professor Dr. Enver Hoxhaj, former deputy prime minister of Kosovo; Hon. Klajda Gjosha, former Albanian minister of European Integration; Admiral Dragan Samardžić, former chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Montenegro; and Dr. Flora Brovina, former speaker of Parliament and the chair of UPF-Kosovo.
In the context of the war in Ukraine and recent clashes at the Kosovo-Serbia border, the panelists addressed the issues of Western Balkan nations’ security and stability. They highlighted the presence of NATO in the region and discussed the prospects of integration into the European Union. Emphasizing that the resurgence of war in the region was caused by the lack of core solutions to the conflicts in the 1990s, they called on European nations to give high priority to the current crisis in the Balkans.
The session ended with nine VIPs, from the panel and the audience, being awarded Ambassador for Peace certificates.
The conclusion of the ILC2022 at the Peace Embassy in Tirana was a reminder of the central role that the Balkans play as a crossroads of the powerful trends deciding war and peace in Europe and the Middle East.