Prizren, Kosovo - The annual assembly of the Albanian National Peace Council coincided with the biennial election of new officers for the council and for the UPF-Albania leadership. About 150 Ambassadors for Peace and other guests gathered on Nov. 16 and 17, 2013, at the Hotel Theranda in Prizren, a historic city in the neighboring Republic of Kosovo whose population is mostly Albanian. It followed a series of local peace council assemblies throughout Albnia.
The first session was moderated by Mr. Niko Veizaj, the outgoing National Peace Council vice chairman, who is one of the founding members and steadfast supporters of UPF-Albania. Outgoing NPC Chairwoman Mrs. Lavdie Ruci gave the opening speech in which she stressed the need for a culture of peace education in Albania. “If we want to have peace in the region and a cooperative climate benefiting our people, it is imperative to begin from ourselves to educate and promote a culture of peace,” she said.
“There are tens of cases of family violence, some leading to death,” Mrs. Ruci said. “Blood feuds remain an open wound of Albanian society. How can we then speak about a democratic society when this is not true for the basic cell of society—the family?”
Rev. Young Shik Ahn, chairman of UPF-Europe, urged the audience to “keep [the UPF] vision constantly in your hearts as you go about your work of healing the wounds of this nation and setting it on the path to a point where all Albanian people can experience God’s true heart of love at all times.”
Next, Mr. Sokol Rexhepi, secretary general of UPF-Albania, gave a PowerPoint presentation about UPF activities, which was followed by a video report on the first anniversary of UPF founder Dr. Sun Myung Moon’s passing.
The second session, chaired by Mr. Flamur Shehu, vice chairman of the UPF-Albania Presiding Council from 2001 to 2013, consisted of reports from the newly formed local peace councils in the cities of Elbasan, Durrës, Fier, Lezhë and Kukës. Mr. Flamur Hidri, chairman of the Durrës Peace Council, said the Ambassador for Peace certificate should be awarded to individuals who in their daily life serve other people, are a positive model in their family and love their nation.
Mr. Gjergji Shyti, chairman of the Lezhë Peace Council, said, “As Ambassadors for Peace we are optimistic that our mission is being delivered on fertile soil and is aiming at all ages and categories, from children to adults, from those highly educated to the poorly educated.”
Mr. Osman Elezi, chairman of the newest peace council, the one in Kukës, thanked UPF for expanding its activities to the northeast part of Albania, adding that a simple certificate (i.e., that of Ambassador for Peace) “warmed the heart and strongly motivated those who received it to continue to do good and serve others.”
Representing the Fier Peace Council, Mr. Frederik Jorgaqi said that even with few Peace Ambassadors, they have substantial projects planned for the future, including educational activities that aim to instill in young people the spirit of peace and tolerance. In addition, each Ambassador for Peace from Fier will plant a tree to inspire people to focus on cultivating goodness and beauty in nature and in life.
Mrs. Eva Nita, the newly elected chairwoman of the Elbasan Peace Council, said that the Ambassadors for Peace in Elbasan are focusing on supporting children in need, especially those without parents and with disabilities.
The session concluded with a documentary recently shown on Korean television channel MBC about Dr. Moon’s life and his contributions to world peace.
Mr. Gaqo Apostoli, a famous singer who has represented Albania in national and international events, performed in the evening. The entertainment also included poetry read by Mr. Agim Doci and famous playwright Mr. Fadil Kraja.
The following persons were awarded certificates of Ambassador for Peace: Kosovan Vice Minister of Labor and Social Welfare Fatmir Shurdhaj; academician Selman Sheme of Albania; Mrs. Sier Vaso of Albania; Mr. Mustafa Gjana, a Prizren city council member, and Mr. Shaban Morina, owner of Prizren’s Hotel Theranda, the site of the assembly.
The second day began under the theme of “The Vision of UPF-Albania for the Future” and was moderated by Dr. Saemira Pino, vice chairwoman of the Presiding Council. The session opened with photos of Ambassadors for Peace who passed away in recent years. This presentation touched the hearts of those present and of the family members attending.
Presiding Council Chairman Bajram Ibraj gave a short report and analysis of UPF-Albania activities over the past two years, including the appointment of more than 250 Ambassadors for Peace in nine local peace councils. Mr. Ibraj reminded the audience that Dr. Moon had founded UPF “to become leaders of heart and lead humanity toward God’s ideal of one world family under God.” He proposed the coordination of Albanian Ambassadors for Peace living in Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, as well as in Albania.
Thanking the Presiding Council, the National Peace Council, UPF-Albania Secretary General Sokol Rexhepi and local UPF officers for their support during his chairmanship over the past two years, Mr. Ibraj said, “We are like a family that resembles a tree. Its branches have the same root and trunk, but they grow in different directions.”
Rev. Gi Young Shin, senior advisor to UPF-Albania, challenged the participants to study the teachings of Dr. Moon and practice them. “I hope you can become leaders who can build true families, true societies, a true nation and a true world of peace,” Rev. Shin said.
Mr. Ali Laçej, a member of the Presiding Council, gave an interesting talk on the reality of the spirit world.
Then came the time for voting for the new officers. Dr. Arben Malaj, a well-known Albanian politician and a prominent Ambassador for Peace, was elected chairman of the National Peace Council. Second and third in the vote were Professor Dr. Shezai Rrokaj and Dr. Majlinda Mema.
Mr. Bajram Ibraj was re-elected as chairman of the Presiding Council, along with Mr. Flamu Shehu and Mrs. Saemira Pino as vice chairs. Mr. Ibraj thanked everyone for their heartfelt support. “I am obliged to fulfill the responsibilities I am delegated by you, and we will continue to work together for the next two years,” he said.
He also read the declaration of the Assembly which stated, “The main mission of UPF-Albania is to cultivate the spiritual growth of the nation.”
In his concluding speech Rev. Ahn said: “The Peace Council in each nation is to be that nation’s conscience charged with drawing God’s blessing to its people. I believe that this body of Ambassadors for Peace with which Albania has been blessed can become a force for goodness in this nation’s life, lifting up the reputation of the nation throughout the world and bringing boundless blessings from Heaven to its citizens.”
New National Peace Council Chairman Dr. Arben Malaj said: “I am happy to be among these fine representatives of Albanian society who reflect the core principles of this organization. I hope we will justify the faith you put upon us and work together to do whatever is necessary for this noble mission. I have seen your devotion and seriousness, and I believe that UPF-Albania is a positive example for the region and internationally. Wherever I was present in international UPF activities, Albania was commended for its results. I hope we can continue the good work of UPF-Albania.”