13 January 2022 President Meta gives the lecture on “Albanians in the new millennium – challenges and perspectives” at the Institute of Spiritual and Cultural Heritage of Albanians in Skopje: The European Union should offer the “carrot” when needed, but also the “stick” when necessary to all autocrats in the region who bring back topics of the past, as a blackmail, in order to be let comfortably in their autocracy.
At the invitation of the Institute of Spiritual and Cultural Heritage of Albanians in Skopje, the President of the Republic H.E. Ilir Meta held a lecture on “Albanians in the new millennium – challenges and perspectives” at the presence of dozens of students and professors of Albanian universities.
Addressing the professors, researchers, students and the guests who were present, President Meta said:
“Dear Professor Skënder Hasani,
Dear employees of the Institute,
Dear undergraduate and graduate students,
I welcomed with great pleasure the invitation to talk to undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as to research and scientific staff and to the entire team of this wonderful Institute, in the Skopje of St. Mother Teresa, Pjetër Bogdani, Hasan Prishtina and many great inspiring personalities for us Albanians.
I want to appreciate the work of this Institute, which takes care of the preservation, cultivation and advancement of the cultural-historical and spiritual heritage of Albanians, the only one that has created a special department for the promotion of the entire heritage of St. Teresa.
For us, the study of language, customs, traditions, literature, art, culture, history and the strengthening of our national identity remains existential as a nation.
Globalization has many advantages, but it is also a serious threat to the disintegration of those nations that do not care to “water” their roots, and to strengthen them.
The Albanian language remains key for all studies, in the areas where Albanians live. For this purpose there are special institutions, among which the Institute of Languages stands out, but also the Albanological Institute of Prishtina, the Academy of Albanological Studies and the Institute of Popular Culture, in Albania as well.
I am happy that in Skopje, Tirana and Prishtina, there is a wide and active circle, together with the scientific community that deals with these fields.
On this occasion, I would like to welcome the Memorandum of Cooperation 2021-2026, between the Academy of Albanological Studies of Tirana, the Albanological Institute of Prishtina and your Institute, which aim to promote and start the cooperation for scientific research in the field of Albanology.
Therefore, we must do more, in order to preserve and continue furtherly, this extraordinary legacy of albanological studies and the contributions of prominent local and foreign albanologists.
A major concern for me remains the exodus of young people from our region, especially from Albania.
The big problem is the departure of the intellectual forces, more creative, younger and unfortunately more qualified citizens, which increases our responsibility to save Albania, North Macedonia and our region, from this phenomenon, which Pope Francis calls rightfully so “The Demographic Winter”.
It is important that all Albanians must try to ensure, that where they live, must prevail the rule of law, democracy, European and Euro-Atlantic values, coexistence with equal rights and opportunities, and with intact dignity.
This is a region with a difficult past, but precisely because of the bitter memories, we must all work to create a sustainable and credible perspective, especially for the younger generations.
Commitment to a more positive and attractive perception of our region, would affect the attraction of foreign investment, which we need so much to give another economic growth to the region and especially to give more opportunities to our young people, in order to stay here and have well-paid jobs.
In our region, there are no big nations and small nations. There must be European values in our region, which are equally protected and respected by all.
Redrawing the borders in our region can not be a solution, because this issue has been tried, has failed and has been a catastrophe for the region.
The only solution is the respect of the rights of all minorities by everyone, in the right way and in respect of European standards. This would guarantee and consolidate peace, stability, security, strengthen interethnic coexistence and improve the business climate and confidence for the future.
In this regard, I would like to welcome the tremendous progress made in this regard by North Macedonia in recent years, since the historic Prespa Agreement, which have turned this country into a positive example in our region, despite the challenges it has forward.
I wish to praise the whole Albanian factor, which has been a very active and often decisive contributor to the Euro-Atlantic and European journey of the Republic of North Macedonia. I encourage to continue to move in this direction, regardless of the positions of political forces in government, or in opposition.
The world is in rapid geo-political motion, the weight of the European Union is probably not what it used to be.
The future is no longer what it used to be. Today, many balances have changed and are in a constant dynamic, so we must anticipate these changes and developments.
Europe itself needs to take a more serious approach to the Western Balkans and live up to its promises. It should offer the “carrot” when needed, but also the “stick” when necessary to all autocrats in the region who bring back topics of the past, as a blackmail, in order to be let comfortably in their autocracy.
We are concerned about issues and topics that take us back to the bitter past.
A concrete case is the recent debate on the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the questioning of the Dayton Agreement, the paralyzing initiative for the institutions there, the dual attitudes of certain countries in our region.
It is important the conclusion of the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo. We aim and want a solution as soon as possible and acceptable to all, which guarantees that Kosova and Serbia become members of the European Union as soon as possible.
Regarding the “Open Balkans” initiative, I want to emphasize that in the Balkans, there are no good nations and bad nations, because all peoples are eager for peace, stability, security, interethnic cooperation and good neighbourly relations, but there are wise cooperative and inclusive policies or evil and divisive policies.
The “Open Balkans” is an imposing and vague initiative, which more than results so far has now produced only debates, and after changing its name three times, the only positive element it has is the definition of “open”.
It suffices just to mention one fact, i.e., the ban from Serbia of the athletes from Kosova, not to mention other elements that we encounter every day and that do not help increase trust and consolidate regional cooperation.
Meanwhile, we have the Berlin Process, which is comprehensive and has given concrete results, as it is accompanied by guarantees and financial support from the European Union, which has set up implementation and monitoring mechanisms.
We can not shift the stage of regional cooperation, from the very cradle of the European integration process, of all our countries and the region.
I can not hide my concern for the position of Kosova and the tendency of the “Open Balkans” to marginalize it.
I have never believed, and I can not believe, that the solution to any issue in the relations between Kosova and Serbia, can be less Serbs in Kosovo, or fewer Albanians in Serbia.
The bottom line is that these two countries want to join the European Union, and if they are to join, they must walk the path of European principles and values. But not to question principles and values, as has been the unacceptable idea for the changing of borders.
Regarding Albania’s relationship with North Macedonia, Albania has been among the first countries to recognize North Macedonia.
Albania has always been an unwavering supporter of stability, of interethnic coexistence, of the Ohrid Agreement and its implementation, and throughout this process, we have been guided by the necessity of coexistence between the peoples in the region, who have their own destiny, inextricably linked to each other.
We are very pleased that North Macedonia has entered a solid process of Euro-Atlantic integration and not only that.
The opening of European Union membership negotiations for Albania and North Macedonia as soon as possible, as well as visa liberalization for Kosova would bring concrete and very positive contributions to the consolidation of peace, stability and security in the region, as well as to the prosperity of our citizens.