Presidenti i Republikës së Shqipërisë

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News, Speeches

President Begaj’s Address at the 17th Balkan Chiefs of Defense Conference


I am pleased to accept the invitation to participate in this conference!

First, this conference serves as a vital tool to foster cooperation among us and contributes to peace, security, sustainable development in the region.

Second, I appreciate the chosen theme of engaging youth in security and defense matters, fostering their inclusion in defense and security issues, encouraging innovation, and addressing recruitment and retention challenges in the Armed Forces.

Third, it is a pleasure to see some of you whom I know well and consider old and good friends.

I want to thank each of you for your participation and ongoing commitment to strengthening security and stability in our region.

As Chiefs of Defense of the Armed Forces of Balkan countries, you are the pillars upon which the peace and security of this region rest.

We are witnesses to a rapidly changing world where security challenges are increasing and evolving daily.

From cyber threats and climate changes to humanitarian crises and regional conflicts, it is crucial to have Armed Forces that are prepared, flexible, and proactive.

The illegal unjust Russian aggression against Ukraine has highlighted not only the fragility of global security architecture but also how the character of warfare is changing.

Modern warfare is no longer conventional; it has a hybrid and asymmetric nature.

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Important combat elements like drones have highlighted the need for enhanced military electronic capabilities and the interconnection of various systems.

Above all, the need for military professionals capable of operating sophisticated systems is important for any military force but also able to cooperate for our security and communicating effectively for peace.

In this context, the role of the youth in contributing to peace and security becomes even more vital.

Youth are the guarantee of our future. Educating them in the culture of dialogue, mutual respect, diversity acceptance, and good neighborliness creates the conditions for a better and more secure future.

Youth are the future of our Armed Forces and the source of innovation that can change how we think and act in defense.

Their active involvement in security and defense is crucial to foster positive change and ensure the sustainability of our long-term strategies.

Many youths have experienced war, albeit virtually through computer games. The reality is qualitatively different.

Therefore, military education and training programs need to include lessons on modern warfare, preparedness for resistance, and the use of new technologies.

Trainings should also address the psychological preparation of the youth for high-stress situations that accompany conflicts.

Promoting innovation through technology and new training methods is equally important. All these are in the service of peace.

Therefore, we must invest in the education and training of our youth, offer opportunities for professional development, and create an environment where new ideas are welcomed, and new challenges are seen as opportunities.

To ensure our Armed Forces are modern and resilient, we must focus on encouraging recruitment and retaining talent.

We need to foster a culture where respect, integrity, commitment, and career advancement for military professionals are at the core of every action.

For us Albanians, being a member of the Armed Forces should be seen not just as a profession but as a mission to protect homeland, peace, and security.

We have a tremendous and challenging mission, but also a very promising one. With the engagement of the youth and embracing innovation, we can build a future where security and stability are guaranteed for all our citizens.

The younger generation must also learn from the history of our region and avoid repeating past conflicts.

We still feel the aftermath of tragedies from a past that must never be repeated.

We have a historical duty and mission to transform the Balkans into an integrated region where understanding, comprehensive cooperation, peace, and unwavering Euro-Atlantic orientation prevail.

Albanians have always been and will continue to be a factor of peace, stability, and cooperation.

As a NATO member and a now-experienced EU membership candidate, although we often remain behind in class, Albania supports every initiative and effort that creates conditions for cooperation based on good neighborliness and mutual respect.

We are aware that we still face challenges.

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These challenges are overcome by improving inter-state relations, resolving old disputes through active diplomacy, and working more closely on common defense to create a regional security network.

I am convinced that your conference, the Conference of the Chiefs of Defense of Balkan countries, will continue to be a vanguard in promoting cooperation in the service of peace and security.

You, more than anyone, know the value of peace in preventing the horrors of war.

I commend the participation of Croatia and Slovenia as observers at this conference, but this forum, let me say, would be even more complete with the participation of the Republic of Kosova.

I greet the decision of the NATO Assembly to advance Kosova’s status as an associate member as a step towards a safer and more European region.

I have emphasized and will continue to emphasize that Kosova’s membership in international political and security organizations in the region and globally, like the Adriatic Charter A5, will be a valuable addition and an extraordinary contribution to peace and security.

Let’s work together as a united region to face challenges and seize the opportunities offered by this new era we are living in.

Thank you and have productive discussions!