The Role of World Leaders
HE. George Vella, President of Malta
HE. llir Meta, President of Albania
HE. Vjosa Osmani, President of the Republic of Kosovo
HE. Stjepan Mesić, Former President of Croatia
HE. Armen Sarkassian, Former President of Armenia
HE. llir Meta
President of Albania
Thank you very much, President George Vella for this great event that you are hosting together with the honorable Mr. Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain. It is a great pleasure to be here with Her Excellency President of the Republic of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani, President Stjepan Mesić, and also in front of this audience of honorable personalities from different countries, institutions, academics and also civil society, because what we are going to discuss today is very important for humanity.
While we speak now, rockets and missiles are thrown to Ukrainian cities, hospitals, schools and homes, and many civilians have lost their lives and many are injured.
This is a dark period, not only for Ukraine, but also for the entire world, and it demonstrates that all the world leaders and all the leading actors in policy making at home and international arena must be alert and never take peace for granted. We all live under the same sky, but we see different horizons; we are seeing one of the founders of the European Union, and true leadership involves vision and determination to see ahead to a brighter future serving to the people, to the country and protecting peace.
True leadership is being able to foresee any potential danger and act ahead, working tirelessly and always inspiring the people to the path of tolerance, inclusion and harmony among citizens and different nations.
True leadership is true examples, not just words and opinions, and the true leaders work for and protect peace at all times, and they can prevent conflicts only by building also more democracy for their nations. Only democracy can prevent war and build trust between nations. If governments provide democracy and prosperity at home for their citizens, then will be mutual respect among nations and among their citizens, regardless of their origin, religion, ethnicity, strength and size.
There are many conflicts in the world today provoked by irresponsible leaders and from exclusion and violence; non-democratic leaders oppress their people, divide the nations and give rise to expansionist ambitions, causing conflicts and threatening peace.
The world today is experiencing the rise of populist, nationalist and extremist currents, which nostalgically support expansionism, the revival of nation-state concepts, ethnic divisions and even the changing of territorial borders unfortunately.
The recent events in Ukraine must be lessened and be an alarm bell for all the world leaders and democratic alliances; a wake-up call for the attempts of territorial experiments in other regions. Therefore, further efforts must be made and stronger mechanisms must be built to ensure peace in other regions of the continent and of the world also.
Preservation of peace in the Western Balkans also is essential for the peace of Europe and the world, as we have seen also in the past.
Albania is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the 2022 and 2023 term, and we are doing everything to promote peace and also to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine and in other areas, where we still have unresolved conflicts. In fact, I am glad for the great support of the UN Resolution yesterday when 141 countries condemned this Russian invasion to Ukraine.
We are committed in strengthening even further the good neighboring relations and policies in our region, in order to consolidate peace in the Balkans and to make it a good example how peace can prevail and can guarantee sustainable development and prosperity for all our citizens.
Preservation of peace in the Mediterranean region is also crucial for the present and the future of many countries, but also of different continents, because the Mediterranean region is the cradle of civilizations, and this beautiful and fascinating region has served for thousands of years as a cultural, historical and commercial bridge between the Mediterranean countries and different continents.
Malta is a great witness and example of that; a fascinating mosaic on different cultures and peoples, so rich in the past and present history, values and traditions that make the Mediterranean civilization so unique and impactful in the world heritage, in international affairs and a great potential and contributor to the world peace in the future.
This region is blessed with great civilization and cultural diversity, different histories, religions, nations, natural resources, tourism and a wonderful and hospitable people. It is a real world treasure that should be treated as a common heritage that should unite the peoples rather than divide them. The Mediterranean region has a challenge, not only preserving and strengthening peace, but also protecting the environmental cultural heritage, resolving any current conflicts, taking measures against the different climate effects and focusing on the education of the youth and their prosperous future, which should be always based on peace.
The best of our national values, love for the country and people, tolerance for one another, faith in God and respect for human integrity must connect the countries and the citizens and serve as a core of the peace and unity. «Peace cannot be achieved through violence; it can only be obtained through understanding.» Said Ralph Emerson.
Therefore, there must be no place for violence, including religious extremism. Interreligious harmony and coexistence have been achieved many times in the past and can become a reality for every nation. Albania is such an example to the world and for centuries remains a model of peace and harmony between religious communities. All faiths in Albania unite the people even more under the love of the country, and this makes us proud.
Here, I have to thank you also for the great contribution of the Archbishop George Frendo from Malta in Albania, who was leading our catholic church and who was serving our country and our nation as a real Albanian, and was also contributing to further consolidate our great interreligious harmony in the country. We should not forget that Albania, and for 50 years under communist regime, was a country where believing in God was prohibited by the constitution; something that did not happen even in former communist countries in Europe.
Governments must invest more in education and youth, which are the fundamentals of tolerance in society, the prospect of the future and the very foundation of the architecture of peace. Educating children at school with a culture of peace and tolerance, raising them to avoid the language of hate without discriminations of race, religion and ethnicity, and they should be committed in promoting tolerance and harmony, intercultural cooperation, educating the new generations with the values, historical and cultural reaches of the other people and the other nations.
True leaders must combat poverty, inequality and exclusion because they bring about social conflicts that can ignite radicalism and pose threats to domestic and regional harmony and stability.
Peace always remains fragile and threatened, so we must work for it every second and every minute. It is not a gift, but it must be worn and protected at all times, and if we are negligent and not vigilant in peace, one day we will awake at war. The mission of every leader and the aspiration of every nation must revolve around peace and prosperity, and to do that, it should be our way of thinking and of our kids and youngsters; it should be our way of acting and it should be our way of living.
Thank you and excuse me if it was a little bit long.
HE. Vjosa Osmani
President of the Republic of Kosovo
Dear Mr. President George Vella,
President Ilir Meta,
President Stjepan Mesić,
Speakers of Parliaments,
All of you that are present here today,
Dear respected organizers, Mr. Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain,
Dear Participants of the Second World Forum for the Culture of Just Peace,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is great to be here today in the beautiful Valletta, and I thank you all for choosing peace as a uniting force, because peace indeed is what brings people together.
I am honored to have the opportunity to speak to you here today and to represent a peace-loving nation; the people of the republic of Kosovo at this Forum.
Peace, respected participants, is something that my people hold dearly because we know the direct opposite of it. We understand that absolute devastation that comes when there is absence of peace, we understand and cherish freedoms and democracy, but above all, the people of Kosovo respect human values and human rights.
Every single person on this planet, not only deserves, but has the absolute 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 World War II and 23 years after the end of war in Kosovo, Europe is being shaken by what we promised to never happen again.
Dear friends, what is happening right now in Ukraine and in many parts around the world will not merely stop from happening, nor will what happened in the past ever stop from repeating itself as long as the language and a practice of appeasement towards dictators is invoked. In situations like these, remaining silent or choosing to stay silent makes one an accomplice because in the face of injustice, in the face of 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 cannot stop but wonder; what is indeed the role of world leaders? While to many this might sound like a grand rhetoric, the answer to it might actually 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 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, the language of truth, compassion, support for each other, as well as actions that are 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 communication, while it might seem challenging or even impossible at times, it is our best chance to thrive.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Despite the immense progress that 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, I have to mention that flagrant assaults on sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine by Russia has rightly shocked the world, as it has indeed shocked our part of the world; it has shocked us because it shows that the battle between democracy and hegemony that is playing out is in in fact about so much more than just one country and an aggressive neighbor, it is ultimately and utterly about clash between 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 peaceful life is being threatened in such a deliberate matter, we must work together for a brighter and more peaceful future.
At these difficult times for humanity, let’s all pledge to be the voice of innocent people that are facing aggression, who are being attacked by aggressors that no limit to their hegemony. Let’s unite our voices so that collectively we can be heard when we say that peace and democracy shall once again prevail. They have prevailed in Kosovo back in 1999 and they will prevail in Ukraine and elsewhere in the world now in 2022, and while we jointly fight the Russian propaganda, let us not forget that coordination and communication, without a doubt, is the 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 to future generations that a world where culture unites people and it crosses over divisions, a world where countries’ rights no matter how big or small they are, are protected in 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 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 a cure and there is a sustainable solution. The answer to this is simple; we need to use our collective voices, we need to use social media precisely with the purpose of unmasking this negative reality, we need to work hard to make sure social media works to our benefit, to the benefit of truth instead of the opposite, we need to put social media at the service of peace, and in the face of these developments, world leaders cannot stand still, they must not stand still; it is our moral and constitutional obligation to make sure that the suffering and the loses of our citizens are put to an end, and equally so to fight injustice and inequality a claw across all areas of life.
It is all 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 to commit and always choose peace first.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
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 for way too long, and now they know very well the pains and sufferings that the opposite of peace and democracy cause, which is why I am so proud to represent such a peace-loving nation that has worked for peace for its entire history. For that reason, our commitment and active engagement for peace, security and stability in our region, the Western Balkans but also 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 that is they are so connected to one another. Peace is unity and a joint commitment to make the slogan never again a reality and not just words, but long-term peace is only possible when there is justice, and long-term peace is always possible when women are also included at the table of peace and dialogue.
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, and as we stand here today and once we go back to our respective country, 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 the greater good.
Thank you all.
HE. Stjepan Mesić
Former President of Croatia
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Distinguished participants and guests,
We are talking about a topic that is extremely important, especially in today’s world. But talking about it is not only a matter of the moment, of the now, the needs of the moment, but also as a debt to the responsibility that everyone bears, be it the current leader, be it the former. Namely, everyone who has ever, thanks to the trust of the citizens, held a high office not only can, but must speak of peace, just peace, but must, and it would be better to say: he should appeal to those who, based on their positions in the international arena, are predestined to decide.
As part of the Second World Forum on the Culture of Just Peace, today’s session is dedicated to the role of leaders in achieving such peace. I would not be so presumptuous, so that from the position of someone who was the president of the state, I give ready-made recipes to those who are today.
No recipes, no tips.
My approach to the topic will be somewhat different. I have decided to share with you my thoughts on what it means to be a leader and what that leader must be like in order to achieve what is expected of him. In other words: to be able to contribute to building, establishing and maintaining a just peace. And just peace in itself is the peace achieved by the agreement of the interested parties, the agreement in which everyone participated equally and the agreement that does not jeopardize the legitimate interests and security of either party.
Leader! The word itself signifies someone who leads. And already here we have come to a serious clash between the fundamental meaning of words and the characteristics of most of those who in the modern world are adorned with this term. I don’t mean anyone in particular, but I will allow myself to say that most of today’s world and national leaders are not really leaders! Consequently, we cannot expect from them what we could and should expect from true leaders.
Today’s so-called leaders, whether they are state or national, do not lead. If it sometimes seems like they are leading, then it is usually in the wrong direction. They are just more or less skillful charge d’affaires, people who have mastered the technique and skill of performing daily tasks and who, not insignificantly, have learned how to subordinate all their activities to one, single goal: staying in power or gaining it again. None of them think in a time span longer than four, five, or a maximum of seven years. In this rhythm, namely, parliamentary and presidential elections are held.
A leader, however, is someone who thinks long term, someone who has vision, strategy and tactics. I always remember a fairly well-known Western European politician who once said that he would send anyone who told him he had a vision for a prompt scheduled medical examination. Of course, it was not a very successful joke, he interpreted the term «vision» as «apparition». But I’m not talking about that. I am talking about the need for the one who is a true leader to think beyond the time limit or frame of the next elections, to think in broader categories, to have in front of his eyes an elaborate plan to achieve the desired goal, so to know how he will realize his vision, in what timeframes and in what way. And, which is extremely important, to be aware that he cannot and must not realize his vision in such a way as to endanger the interests and needs of others.
At the very beginning, among the instruments of realization of the vision, the leader - if it is a leader who strives for just peace - must exclude war or any use of either force or threat of force. Namely, these are the methods and means by which a just peace is not achieved. It is possible, however, to impose peace, but such is the imposed peace as a rule of limited duration, and at its very core it contains the very seed of its doom.
A just peace can be achieved only by equal agreement of those interested, respecting the needs and interests of all, whereby particular interests and needs must always be subordinated to one common, general interest - peace.
I know that history is full of post-war peace agreements and hardly any of those agreements have been fair, which does not mean that I should give up the vision, and that is the vision and it is not an illusion, of permanent, lasting and just peace. I will say something, at the risk of not being misunderstood. I think that humanity is more ready to achieve a just peace than those who call themselves leaders, whether they are democratically elected or leaders of authoritarian regimes.
The humanity does not want to live in constant war, war psychosis or under the threat of war. People, ordinary people, sincerely want peace, because they know that without peace there is no progress, and without progress for them, the vast majority, there is no better, better life.
And in order to create the preconditions for such a thing at all, we must - not in words but in deeds - return to something that was very important during the first Cold War: active, peaceful coexistence. We must accept as a universal approach to relations between states and peoples that we are not all equal, that everyone has the right to choose the system in which to live, and to change it, that diversity is not a hindrance but a wealth, if someone else is not trying to change image and opportunity ‘and that - finally - different peoples and states can and must cooperate with each other for mutual benefit, and on the basis of full equality and without any discrimination whatsoever.
It may seem outdated to someone what I am saying, but I think I am talking about the concept of the future. Because, hegemony, whoever’s, has no future over anyone. Imposing, no matter by what means, what one considers values to another for whom they are not, has no future. Redrawing the world at the will of just one great power, or several of them, also has no future.
We only have one world. And we are doomed to live in it.
It is, therefore, the responsibility of the leader to contribute by his actions, actions and initiatives to the awareness of not only necessity, but: literally inevitability, mutual cooperation in conditions of equality to extend to all meridians and parallels.
Generally speaking, today’s leaders are not able to do that. Hardly any of them can rise above current, short-term interests in the first place of their own, then their party, and only then their state or people. And that, I repeat: above current, short-term interests.
And the fingers of one hand are too many, if I wanted to count those who do not fit the stereotype, I will use that expression once again, charge d’affaires. We do not, however, live in a world where we can and must be satisfied with charge d’affaires in leadership positions. We live in a dangerous world, full of challenges and uncertainties.
Such a world is imperatively looking for leaders committed to the ultimate goal of achieving just peace. He is looking for leaders who will show responsibility, not only in relation to their immediate voters, but also to the generations to come.
I would conclude, therefore, by stating that today’s world lacks those who would have the right to call themselves leaders. A leader, I conclude, is one who has vision, strategy and tactics, and the ultimate goal: just peace in the world!
Thank You for listening to me!
HE. Armen Sarkassian
Former President of Armenia
Good morning Your Excellences,
Dear friends, Participants of the important conference; the Second World Forum on the Culture of Just Peace.
First of all, let me extend my gratitude and thanks to His Excellency Dr. George Vella, President of Malta, for inviting me to this conference, and the thanks also goes to the organizers of this very important conference, special thanks to Mr. Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain, Chairman of the Foundation, again thanks for the invitation. Unfortunately, I was planning to be present personally, but my health did not allow me, or does not allow me today to travel, so I am addressing you in a video address.
The conference is very timely; it is important; speaking about peace and especially just peace and how to achieve that in this very unpredictable, difficult, both politically and diplomatically, world is utmost important.
I do believe that we have to have a long-term, full and deep discussion about the future of the international relations and international politics, because the world has changed; this is not the classical world that we lived 20 or 30 years ago, with the dominance on international diplomacy with the United Nations or the European Union or any other International Organization, with clear understandings or confrontations or ideologies or systems, be that economic or social. The world has become quite unpredictable; the world has become very interconnected and interdependent, so I call that world a «Quantum World.»
Probably you do not know, but in my first life, I was a professor of theoretical physics, astrophysics and mathematics, so years ago, I was thinking about what is happening in the world and what are the changes related to that new wave of huge technological advances.
In fact, the source of that technological advances are in the quantum revolution that happened around a hundred years or more than a hundred years ago with the discovery of quantum physics, the rapid fantastically, the quick development of the technology that creates completely new interconnections, completely new environments for our activities with that business, scientific, cultural and also political has changed the world.
In fact, it has huge impact on our politics and real politics exercises these days. I think that is why a lot of people worldwide have this feeling of unpredictability, instability and basically the absence of old theories or understandings or comfort of running politics, so that is why years ago I came up with a theory that describes, not only the technological advances of today that only generally how the world has changed, but how specifically international relations and politics have changed, so I called this «Quantum Politics», and we do see today the results of the change.
I think a lot of political events that are happening today, at this moment, we could not imagine them happening several years ago, because we believed in systems, classical politics, institutions and organizations, but things are accelerating very fast; a lot of them are unpredictable, and that is why they give a lot of discomfort to those who are engaged, not only politicians, not only those who are analysts or journalists and others, but also to the general public worldwide, so it is the time that matters and issues of world peace; matters of leadership in this new world; leadership in the changed world, leadership in this new quantum world. Definitely that leadership is not going to be the same tomorrow than it is the same today or indeed yesterday.
The usual weapons of politicians; be that in war or in peace, are changing with the time; they look at the conflicts worldwide and they think that these conflicts are based not only on international relations, understandings or misunderstandings, but they are also ending decades of conflicts. It is not only about just ordinary weapons or military power, but it is also about public opinion, about the media, about real and fake news and so on, and everything changes daily and every move; be that political or non-political one, has a huge impact worldwide, so this one has changed and it has changed to the better or the worst, I leave that to you, dear colleagues, to judge during discussions, but the one thing that is clear is that it is not the same that it was before.
Of course the 5 minutes, being away from you, will not be enough for me to consider going into the explanation or the basics of the quantum politics or the politics in the new quantum world, but one message is clear; we live in a completely different world, which is much more faster, interconnected, interlinked, in many ways unpredictable. In order to start understanding and navigating this new world and create new leaders that can lead nations and the world to Just Peace, we have to have a serious discussion where we are now, and where we are now is a world, which is a quantum world with quantum behavior, starting from social, technological, cultural, military and political, so I take this opportunity to thank you again the organizers; special thanks to His Excellency the President of Malta, Dr. George Vella and all the other colleagues; I wish all of you success and I hope that the next conference on the third one I will be healthy to participate.
Have a good day and a successful one.
 He sent a videotaped message.