President Thaçi’s speech at the “Religion as a peace instrument” in Tirana

Honourable participants,

There is a necessary notion used when discussing the issues of religion and peace, which is their common value.

When this notion, this phenomenon, is missing, everything becomes uncertain in a human society and the very foundations of religion and peace, of the bonds between them, become endangered.

In that case, everything may be contested, to be turned around, overthrown.

Initially, the security and stability are lost, and without them there are no human freedoms, there is no organisation of human society and everything will become questionable.

The notion and the phenomenon as a common value for religion and peace is tolerance.

Tolerance between us, when speaking about our belief in God, as in our belief in a man, is a value without which there cannot be peace in a human society.

As all of us gathered today here in Tirana know, in the last years of human history, almost in all corners of the world there have been eruptions of impatience, intolerance of all possible political and religious forms, as well as with a great lack of readiness to understand each other, irrespective of national, religious, political or racial background, and to accept one another, who is foreign only in first sight.

And we are all equal in front of God.

And we are such, equal, also when there is peace and understanding between us.

On the other hand, when there is no political and religious tolerance, human tolerance I would say, and when the hatred of all kinds prevails, peace is endangered, religion is misused with all politically perverted interpretations in service to daily politics, and the whole world is in danger of becoming a huge mess with unforeseeable consequences to all of us.

Those who do not think that all humans are the same and equal, cannot be true believers and are great opponents of peace.

They risk peace in the name of a religion which has nothing in common with Holy Scriptures and with true belief in God.

We are living through difficult, problematic and by all means challenging times, and none of us is entitled to silence, to keeping of their opinion to themselves on this political and historic turmoil, and not to adamantly ask for reinstatement of comprehensive tolerance as a basic value of peace and religion.

On the other hand, in the inheritance from the past of all our nations, we may find examples which have more value today than ever before on how to win over the hatred and impatience, and how to rebuild the tolerance and understanding between us.

The Albanian nation has in this aspect given and continues to give a very positive, good and viable example.

Albanians are of Islamic and Christian faith, they are Muslims, Catholics and Orthodox, and probably they are also those who are atheists. But all of this multitude of identities in our relation to God has cohabitated in a tolerance and understanding, which are national values to us.

These traditional values must be preserved and enriched during every single day.

Honourable ladies and gentlemen,

Please allow me to speak a little bit about Kosovo’s experience with religion and peace, and to list a few of our achievements.

The first one is that we have not allowed the religion to be implicated in Kosovo’s war for liberation and independence

The Kosovo Liberation Army has not allowed a single religious ideology to become a part of its war.

In this manner we have continued Kosovo’s tradition, that we have never had an inter-religious conflict.

More so, during the war years, Kosovo Liberation Army has not allowed a single religious object to be touched, to whichever religion it may have belonged to.

Second, Kosovo has included the religion and religious leaders in its endeavours to build peace and understanding between people since the end of the war.

One of my first initiatives as the President of the Republic of Kosovo, was the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

 One of the first main supporters of this initiative were the religious leaders in Kosovo, of all religious communities.

This support is continuing, while the role of religious communities continues to remain essential to ethnic reconciliation, to strengthening of the peace and tolerance in Kosovo.

Thirdly, is that the religious leaders in Kosovo have built bridges of communication and cooperation between them.

Apart from getting together on holy days, they also get together at regular meetings at which they discuss the challenges and look for ways to expand their cooperation.

Thus they send the message of tolerance and cohabitation and place the religion in service to peace in Kosovo.

We in Kosovo have also been faced with the challenge of elements of extremism and radicalisation. But as a society and as a state, we have acted immediately.

We have drafted legislation which prohibits not only the dissemination of religious hatred, but also participation in the wars outside Kosovo.

Measures have been taken against those who have incited this hatred but also against those who took part in foreign wars.

Kosovo’s institutions are currently working with those who took part in this wars, but have repented and have asked to return.

Together with the religious community we are working on return and resocialisation of the returnees.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As I stated earlier, today, just like in the past, keeping the spirit of tolerance and reconciliation alive is a challenge, and it will remains a challenge in the future as well.

Strengthening of these values, strengthening of the ties between religion and peace will also be discussed during this conference.

We have no other choices or alternatives.

We are not dealing here with pluralism, democracy or clash of free opinions,

All of us with however small responsibility, in politics, in religion, must always have a clear and uncompromised opinion.

Tolerance between us is the value without which we cannot build a society in peace with itself and with God.

Thank you.