Statement by H.E. Ms. Besiana Kadare, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Albania to the United Nations, New York at the Security Council – 7886th meeting: Open Debate on Maintenance of International Peace and Security – Conflicts in Europe – February 21, 2017
At the outset, I would like to thank the delegation of Ukraine for choosing such an interesting and important topic for the second open debate of their presidency. I would also like to thank UN Secretary-General António Guterres, OSCE Secretary-General Lamberto Zannier, and Secretary-General of the European External Action Service Helga Schmid for their comprehensive thought-provoking briefings.
I will focus my intervention on issues of stability and security in my region, South East Europe. Albania has continuously striven to facilitate peace, reconciliation and cooperation in our part of the world. Only two decades ago, South East Europe went through one of the most tragic conflicts after World War II. Today, thanks to the contribution made by NATO and the EU, in cooperation with the United Nations and OSCE, our region is more peaceful and secure than it has ever been in its long-troubled history. All the Western Balkan countries are now involved, albeit in different stages, in the process of European and Euro Atlantic integration, and are actively cooperating with each other. Dialogue has substituted conflict, even when we disagree.
Nonetheless, although the progress achieved is immense, it remains fragile and can be put at risk, as some irresponsible and provocative actions have demonstrated lately, if the unfinished business in the Western Balkans is not properly addressed.
The EU facilitated dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia needs to accelerate and lead to the normalization of relations between the two countries. It needs to be concluded with mutual recognition and full membership of Kosovo in the United Nations.
European integration is the common denominator in the region and the most effective driving force for peace and cooperation. As a key stabilizing factor in the region, European Union has a major, irreplaceable role to play, as a mediator and a peace-builder. In this context, European Union needs to step up its engagement in the Balkans and lead us towards our final and natural destination: EU membership. Any alternative visions are as perilous for the security of our region as they are for the EU. Failure to achieve EU integration risks fueling nationalist politics and ethnic or religious divisions. Let’s not forget that our region’s peace and stability are closely interconnected with Europe’s security architecture. In other words, the Balkans need Europe as much as Europe needs the Balkans.
There are still many challenges in our region, and we must all work together to stay the Euro Atlantic course. Threats, provocations, inflammatory rhetoric, lead nowhere and draw us back in time, to a dark chapter in Europe’s history. We should be building bridges, not erecting walls. Albania has always actively contributed to strengthen regional cooperation, based on the principles of good-neighborliness and all-inclusiveness. This is what we seek to achieve also through the so-called “Berlin Process”, convinced that “connectivity” is the key word.
The United Nations should shore up the role of the EU in our region, and also deepen the strategic dialogue with regional organizations, notably NATO and the OSCE, in order to forge common approaches and provide collective responses to protracted conflicts. A stronger global-regional partnership is needed to ensure that the Security Council can rely upon a more resilient and diversified network of actors, in order to efficiently prevent and resolve conflicts.
What Europe and the World need today is to build bridges of cooperation and mutual respect. Human security can be achieved by instilling hope for a better common future. As our national icon, Mother Theresa, taught us “if we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”