July 30, 2020

Former president of Montenegro Filip Vujanovic on video conference on Western Balkans
On July 30, 2020, former President of Montenegro Filip Vujanovic participated in the video conference headlined íThe Western Balkans: Facing up to Historical Challenges and Seizing Looming Opportunitiesí. The Universal Peace Federation (UPF) organized this conference. Besides former Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic, the panelists were former Albanian President Alfred Moisiu, former acting president of Serbia Natasa Micic, and former President of Kosovo Fatmir Sejdiu. In his address, former President of Montenegro Filip Vujanovic stressed:

Your Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Dear friends,

I express my gratitude to the UPF for organizing this conference and its commitment to the Western Balkans to overcome its challenges and find the best future.

We live in a time when such conferences, dedicated to any topic, should highlight the current Covid-19 pandemic. Expressing sorrow for the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives, for millions of patients and those at risk of the pandemic, we need to express our faith that humanity will overcome it. We also hope that our society has enough potential to overcome the enormous economic losses caused by the pandemic and utilize all the experience gained through those difficult times in protecting itself from all other global challenges.

Dealing with global problems such as sustainable development, climate change issues, and especially this pandemic confirm the irreplaceable multilateralism role in our daily lives. No matter how powerful and significant are some countries, how important and influential are some regions of the world, global partnership and cooperation have no alternative. That is why multilateral organizations have exceptional value, and our obligations are to strengthen them and develop them. The current pandemic has also shown us the importance of the World Health Organization, whose values we should affirm, and at the same time, whose weaknesses we need to eliminate. All global problems and challenges have confirmed the value of the UN, expressing at the same time the necessity to ensure greater efficiency of this most important international organization.

The Western Balkan countries should accept those global interests, using their historical experiences as a lesson for the future. Unfortunately, the historical occasions of the Western Balkans are both numerous and painful. During the last century, the Western Balkan region went through two Balkan wars, two world wars, and the devastating war during the disintegration of Ex-Yugoslavia.

The history of the Western Balkans confirms that peace has no alternative. At the same time, it affirms that dialogue is the best way to resolve open issues. In the end, it confirms that cooperation and partnership are both precondition and guarantee for the development of the Western Balkans countries and the region as a whole.

Indeed, the exceptional value of the Western Balkans in this regard is the membership of Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Albania in NATO, Kosovo s determination to be a part of the Alliance, and the membership of Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in its Partnership for Peace program.

Additionally, the Western Balkan countriesí willingness to become members of the European Union is also of great value for the future. Montenegro has opened all negotiating chapters in this process. Serbia has opened sixteen chapters, North Macedonia and Albania have almost started accession negotiations. Bosnia and Herzegovina have taken the necessary steps to gain candidate status, and Kosovo has shown an evident readiness for European integration. One must point out that the Western Balkans wonít have full prosperity without the EU membership, nor the EU will be complete without the Western Balkans!

In addition to the European and Euro-Atlantic integration, the Western Balkan counties should also strive toward further strengthening regional cooperation ties in the field of economy, education, culture, science, research, and innovation. They have committed themselves to this by the EUís agreement and throughout numerous regional contracts and initiatives, among which the most important are the Berlin Process, the CEFTA, and the South-East European Cooperation Process. But, first and foremost, they are obliged to keep their individual and shared interests in mind.

Finally, to emphasize the importance of cooperation within the Western Balkans, the Podgorica Club, whose members are participants in this conference, was established. Members of the Club are former presidents and prime ministers of the Western Balkan countries, Croatia and Slovenia. Throughout our work, we are strongly advocating European integration of the region, supporting the regional cooperation simultaneously, throughout strengthening ties in areas of mutual interest. We will resolutely continue to promote these values and the need for collaboration and good neighborly relations. I am convinced that the Western Balkansí future lies in deeper connectivity and affirmation of European and Euro-Atlantic integration.

Thank you for your attention!

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