THE ROLE OF WORLD LEADERS

Dear President Vella,
President Meta,
President Mesic,
Respected organizers, Mr. AbdulAziz Saud Al-Babtain, 
Dear participants of the World Forum for Culture of Peace,
Ladies and gentleman,

It’s great to be here today, in the beautiful Valletta and I thank you for choosing peace as a uniting force. Because, peace, is indeed what brings people together. 

I am honored to have the opportunity to speak to you here today, and to represent the peace-loving people of the Republic of Kosovo, at this forum. 

Peace, respected participants, is something my people hold dearly, because we know the direct opposite of it. We understand the absolute devastation that comes when there is absence of peace. 

We understand and cherish freedom and democracy- but above all the people of Kosovo respect human values and human rights. 

Dear friends, every single person on this planet not only deserves, but has the right to peace. 

And I believe there is much more, as world leaders, but also as individuals that we can do to contribute to it through listening to one another, and through dialogue and mediation. 

To quote the former First Lady, diplomat, and activist, Eleanor Roosevelt:

“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work on it”

We must work on it because peace and security are an essential factor of human life. A peaceful and secure environment is critical to every society since it affects all aspects of economic and social development in a country. 

With that in mind, it would be remiss of me to stand here today talking about peace, when it is being violated in such a flagrant manner as we speak.  

The European continent is in a state of emergency.

As we gather here today to discuss ‘leadership for just peace’, the people of Ukraine are facing aggression, terror, and serious violations of their human rights.  Once more, after almost 80 years since the end of the World War II and 23 years after the end of the war in Kosovo, Europe has been shaken by to what we promised to never happen again. 

But dear friends, what is happening in Ukraine won’t merely stop from happening, nor will what happened in the past ever stop from repeating itself, as long as a language and a practice of appeasement towards dictators is invoked. In situations like these, remaining silent and choosing to stay silent, makes one an accomplice. Because, in the face of injustice, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, we have to raise our collective voice FOR humanity, and FOR justice and peace.
 
As Ukraine faces an unprovoked war, and as the rest of the world witnesses it as it unfolds in front of our eyes, we can’t stop but wonder what is indeed the role of the world leaders?

While to many this might sound like a grand rhetoric, the answer to it might determine the fate of our societies and the fate of the history of our days. During these dark hours for our continent, we must be reminded of an essential truth: 

If peace in the Ukraine does not prevail, global peace risks failure as well. And if world leaders fail to unite and stand up to aggression and hegemonic appetites of modern day autocrats, it is democracy that might fail next.

It is great to see that in these moments, the democratic world is more united than ever. Clear language, language of truth, compassion and support for each other, as well as actions that is aligned with that language, are the best tools we have to defy the forces standing on the other side. The only way we can preserve peace is through understanding and communicating. While it might seem challenging or even impossible at times, it is our best chance to thrive. 

Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Despite the immense progress we have made as a country and indeed as a continent, today we are all reminded that threats to peace and security are constant and active.
And while I am delighted to look back at Kosovo’s progress with pride and remain overwhelmingly optimistic for our future as a sovereign and independent nation.  
The flagrant assault on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine by Russia, has rightly shocked the world. It has shocked us because it shows that the battle between democracy and hegemony that is playing out in Ukraine, is in fact about so much more than just one country and an aggressive neighbor. 
It is ultimately and utterly about a clash of values. An active attack on the values standing firm at the foundations of our continent and the Union.
However, what these darkest moments also teach us is the need to stand together and the value of humanity, peace and of democratic freedoms. 
When our way of life is being threatened in such a deliberate manner, we must work together for a brighter future. At these difficult times for humanity, let’s all pledge to be the voice of the innocent people of Ukraine, who are being attacked by an aggressor that knows no limits to its hegemony. Let’s unite our voices so that collectively we can be heard when we say that freedom and democracy shall once again prevail. They have prevailed in Kosovo back in 1999 and they will prevail in Ukraine now in 2022. 
And while we jointly fight Russian propaganda, let us not forget that coordination and communication, without a doubt, is a core pillar to that brighter, more prosperous and peaceful, future.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

I want to take a moment to say that this is our chance to demonstrate to our children and future generations that a world where culture unites people and it crosses over divisions; a world where countries’ rights, no matter big or small, are protected; and a world where peace – just peace – thrives, is indeed a possible world. 

With the ever – increasing disinformation trends, fake news, and the phenomenon of trolls, we are constantly being exposed to different realities, fake realities, realities that are customized to trigger emotional, impulsive, and at times, non-rational reactions. It is the immense power of disinformation and the fake news that is threatening democracies and shattering factual based realities. But, for this as well, there is a cure and a sustainable solution. 

The answer to this is simple: we need to use our voices – our collective voices. We need to use social media precisely with the purpose of unmasking their negative reality. We need to work hard to make sure social media works to our benefit, instead of the opposite. We need to put social media at the service of peace.

And, in the face of these developments, world leaders can’t stay still. They must not stand still. It is our moral and constitutional obligation to make sure that the suffering and loss of our citizens is put to an end, and equally so we fight injustice and inequality across all areas of live.

It is our ultimate responsibility to speak out the words of truth and to call things what they truly are. And as we strive to do that, let’s make sure that we pass a clear message to our people, our countries, and the world: Let’s make sure we commit and always choose peace first. 

Ladies and gentleman, 

Today’s world events are precisely why we need to cherish peace and work towards it. Because the opposite is death and destruction. The people of Kosovo have known the opposite of peace and know very well the pains and sufferings that the opposite of peace and democracy cause. 

For that reason, our commitment and active engagement for peace, security and stability in our region and beyond is more than just a job. It is a sacred duty that we owe to future generations, so that they never have to go through what we had to go through. Peace is harmony, and harmony is solidarity, it is freedom. Peace is unity and a joint commitment to make “Never again” a reality. But, long term peace is only possible when there is justice. Let us work together to make it possible. Let us join forces and voices to show true leadership during these devastating times so that a brighter, better and more peaceful future awaits us all. 

As we stand here today and once we go back to our respective countries, let’s make sure that we always keep a listening heart, an open mind, and commit to preserving and nurturing constantly the will to engage for a greater good.

Thank you.