Sali Berisha, Albanian President

Posted in NATO | 05-Feb-06 | Source: Munich Conference on Security Policy

Prof.Dr.Sali Berisha, Prime Minister, Albania.
Speech at the 42nd Munich Conference on Security Policy

Dr. Teltschik, Ministers, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great honor and privilege to address today this distinguished audience gathered here to discuss issues of priority importance, such as the security policies.

One of the most remarkable phenomena that we observe in the relations between nations in our globalizing world is the extraordinary and irreplaceable role that international and regional cooperation play in conflict resolution and in the elimination of barriers that nations face on their way towards building better development, prosperity and future. Day by day, the policy makers, governments and peoples are becoming increasingly convinced that togetherness is a better way to solve and prevent conflicts.

This trend for international cooperation as an efficient means of conflict resolution has gained strategic importance for the region of Southeastern Europe. Our region has now moved away from a difficult and, at times, tragic past, and has entered a new phase. The old conflicts are being overcome and are being replaced by constructive dialogue and regional cooperation. The totalitarian states have been replaced by democratic ones. These newly established democracies are working hard towards building strong and stable institutions and towards consolidating the rule of law. Today, the perspectives of integration in the European Union and NATO membership have become the Northern Star and the main priorities of the countries in the region. Nevertheless, there are still challenges that Southeastern Europe is facing in the beginning of this century. These are:

  • The consolidation of peace and stability in the region by finding a permanent solution to the critical still unresolved issues that originated from the unsuccessful experiment called "Yugoslavian Federation"
  • The consolidation of democracy, the rule of law and the respect for human and minority rights
  • The need for economic development and regional infrastructural development
  • The integration into NATO and European Union
In the past 15 years, the cooperation between the international community and the countries in the region had mainly focused on addressing these challenges. After the NATO air campaign and the fall of the regime of Milosevic, the handling of these challenges has progressively gained greater importance also in the agenda of the cooperation between and among the countries in the region. In concrete terms, the objectives of the countries and international initiatives for the Southeast European region are focused on:

  • peaceful resolution of conflicts
  • institutional and political reforms that are needed to consolidate democracy and the rule of law
  • cooperation in the field of security and defense
  • reform of the armed forces, the disarmament of the region and the creation of joined forces
  • cooperation on border control
  • war against international terrorism, organized crime and illegal trafficking
  • economic development based on freedom of the markets
  • development of important infrastructure projects
  • cooperation with the International Crime Tribunal for ex-Yugoslavia, in the case of some former Yugoslavian countries
Ladies and gentlemen, the dangerous ethnic conflicts of the post Berlin Wall period in the area of former Yugoslavia, and the inability of the countries of the region to prevent them, forced the need for a closer cooperation with and direct intervention of the international community, in order to put a halt to the ongoing wars and prevent them in the future.
The bitter experience of the countries of Southeast Europe during the last past 20 years demonstrated that the stance of the international community as well as the high level of international cooperation remain decisive conditions for both bringing an end to the ongoing conflicts as well as preventing new ones from happening.

Delays in the international cooperation favored the loss of the lives of a quarter of a million people during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The lessons drawn from Bosnia were readily applied in dealing with the conflict resolution in Kosova, thus making it possible to control and resolve the conflict in Kosova in a matter of months. In a similar manner, with the help of the experience, the international community was able to quell the conflict in Macedonia only within a few weeks as well as prevent its escalation. The presence of KFOR in Kosova is another example of the great contribution that international cooperation has brought in our region and an excellent example of the success that such cooperation can achieve.

Today, however, the ideologies of nationalism in the Balkans are being overcome b