March 27, 2021

Former President of Montenegro Filip Vujanovic participated in webinar on Balkan and Korean Peninsulas
Former President of Montenegro Filip Vujanovic has participated in the Webinar on Balkan and Korean Peninsula organized by the Universal Peace Federation (UPF). Alongside former President Vujanovic, panelists in the webinar were: Alfred Moisiu, former President of Albania, Ho-Jin Lee, Acting President of the UN Association of Korea, Hyung-Suk Kim, former Vice Minister of Unification of Korea, and Heung-Soon Park, professor, and expert on UN affairs. The Moderator of the webinar was Lufti Dervishi, director of Transparency International Albania. In his address, former President Filip Vujanovic stressed the following:

Your Excellences,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Dear friends,

The Universal Peace Federation (UPF) has been continuously putting its efforts to help the Western Balkan region overcome its challenges, which is why it is my great pleasure to participate in this conference. The efforts UPF is putting, which aim toward reconciliation of open issues and maintaining long-lasting peace, are of great importance, not only for Balkan and Korean Peninsula but on a global level.

This webinar’s topic is significant since Balkan and Korean Peninsulas have great experience in their strivings to maintain long-lasting peace and stability. These experiences are rich and diverse, primarily because of historical, demographical, economic, geographical, ideological, religious, and other differences between the two peninsulas. Their experiences are helpful not only for Balkan and Korea but for other lands around the world.

Indeed, differences within Balkan countries are exceeding those which exist between South and North Korea. The most notable difference between the two countries of the Korean peninsula is an ideological one. There is no region in the international community in which such difference is visible to this extend.

No matter the existing differences, the two peninsulas also have at least three similarities affecting their present and future.

The first similarity is the geostrategic and geopolitical importance of both Balkan and Korea on a global level. In recent history, two regions were a sphere of interest of the world’s biggest powers. Earlier, there were the Soviet Union and the United States, and recently there are the United States and China, and Russia to some extent.

Nowadays, the Korean peninsula is an economic partner of great importance for the United States and China. South Korea is one of the most prominent digital and economic powers worldwide. There is also a significant military presence in both countries to maintain peace. On the other side, from a historical perspective, Balkan has always been an intersection between East and West, Christianity and Islam, Europe and Asia. Balkan has always been a massive factor on which Europe’s stability depends.

The second similarity is a challenging and tragic 20th century marked by war destructions, divides, tragic human victims, and suffering. At the beginning of the 20th century, Korea was occupied by Japan, followed by the Russian–Japanese war on the peninsula. After that, Korea started its fight for independence and went through Second World War and the Korean war. Balkan also vastly suffered from wars, and it went through five of them – two Balkan wars, two World wars, and the war during the disintegration of former Yugoslavia.

At the beginning of the 1950s, the Korean peninsula was divided into two states. In the unfortunate events that followed the peninsula division, especially the war between North and South Korea, more than 2.5 million people were killed. Tragic human losses were followed by mass destruction that left scars that could be felt to this day.

While the war between South and North Korea was a matter of ideological discrepancies of one, Korean people, followed by different geopolitical interests of the greatest power of that time, the Yugoslavian war resulted from emerging of extreme nationalism of that time.

That war left a huge mark on Western Balkan relations, and its legacy slows sincere and long-lasting reconciliation. Equally, to both the Balkan and Korean peninsula, the wars have left devastating consequences on economic and overall development between countries, on level of fundamental human rights and freedoms guarantees, and general inter-state relations.

And third, maybe the most important similarity between two globally essential regions is their necessity for long-lasting peace. Experience and history warn Balkan and Korea that war is not an instrument for resolving open issues, differences, and misunderstandings. Contrary, war can only add fuel to the fire and bring demolitions, deepening of problems, and human victims. Unfortunately, our recent past and shared painful experiences are important lessons of peace as the highest value.

Balkan political leaders concluded that the best way to maintain long-lasting peace is to become European Union members and regional cooperation. Some of the Balkan states have already become the EU members, often referred to as the most successful peace project.

Western Balkan states, to achieve EU standards, have created numerous regional mechanisms and initiatives. They cooperate mainly in fields where their national differences aren’t visible, such as economy, education, culture, science, innovations, and research. Of course, it is necessary to improve it. The EU will not be a successful project without Balkan, nor the Balkan could progress and develop without EU membership, as the greatest guarantee of peace and reconciliation.

It is not easy to achieve and maintain peace and reconciliation, but we should always insist on them and promote them as the highest values. Hopefully, this conference will contribute toward that goal.

Thank you for your attention.

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