01
Hajji Dede Edmond Brahimaj, world leader of the Bektashi Order (left), and Professor Dr. Shezai Rrokaj, an Albanian member of Parliament, sign the Peace Road banner in the Albanian Parliament.
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Many VIPs attend the opening ceremony of the 2018 Balkans Peace Road in Albania’s Parliament.
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Young people ride bicycles in Tirana, Albania’s capital, as part of the 2018 Balkans Peace Road.
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Tirana Deputy Mayor Andi Seferi (center) passes the Peace Road flag to a young Peace Road participant.
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Entertainment during a Peace Road rally in the main square of the city of Shkodra
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In Shkodra, bicyclists pose with the 2018 Balkans Peace Road banner, including a man in Albanian native costume with the Albanian national flag
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Shkodra Mayor Voltana Ademi (left) is awarded an Ambassador for Peace certificate by Dr. Michael Balcomb and Mrs. Fumiko Balcomb, the UPF regional chairs for Europe and the Middle East.
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Peace Road bicyclists ride through Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro.
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Podgorica Deputy Mayor Sladjana Vujacic (center) receives the Peace Road flag from Mr. Jack Corley, UPF chair for Eastern Europe, and then hands it over to a young Peace Road participant.
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Peace Road bicyclists in Rozaje, a city in Montenegro
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A UPF and Peace Road delegation pay a visit to Rozaje Mayor Ejup Nurkovic (back row, wearing white cap) in his office.
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Members of a women’s choir after performing at the Peace Road rally in the city of Peja, Kosovo
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The speaker of Macedonia’s Parliament, H.E. Talat Xhaferi (front row, wearing white cap), with Peace Road participants at a congratulatory banquet in Skopje organized by UPF-Macedonia.
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Young ballet dancers after performing at a Peace Road rally in Peja, Kosovo
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A children’s folk-dancing group wearing the native costume of Kosovo after performing at the Peja, Kosovo, rally for the Balkans Peace Road.
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Pristina, Kosovo, Mayor Shpend Ahmeti receives an Ambassador for Peace certificate from Dr. Michael Balcomb and Mrs. Fumiko Balcomb, UPF regional chairs for Europe and the Middle East.
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The 2018 Balkans Peace Road banner is signed by (left to right) Mr. Sinisa Ruzicic, a professional football coach and journalist; Mr. Jack Corley, UPF president for Eastern Europe; and Mr. Giuseppe Cali, UPF president for Southern Europe.
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Some of the 2018 Balkans Peace Road participants with their bus in Croatia, on their way from Serbia to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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Thirty young teens play in a football tournament in the town of Bugojno in Bosnia and Herzegovina, organized by Football for Peace together with the 2018 Balkans Peace Road.
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The 2018 Balkans Peace Road banner, showing the route of the Peace Road tour, after being signed by participants and VIPs.

See below for more photos.

Tirana, Albania—An international UPF group spent over a week traveling by bus through the Western Balkans, bringing a message of peace and friendship to a region that is still recovering from years of bloody conflict.

The 2018 Balkans Peace Road tour traveled through the nations of Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina from October 3 to 9. The final event of the Peace Road was scheduled to take place in Greece on October 21. Events connected with the Peace Road initiative were held in 12 cities.

The idea for the Balkans Peace Road began in September 2017, when the Balkan-level chapter of International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP) was founded. The Peace Road project was conceived of as a follow-up to the IAPP launch as well as a step toward the realization of a Balkan Culture and Sports Festival in the future.

A total of 25 participants—both young and old—traveled on the Peace Road bus, representing 12 nations. Among the VIPs were Dr. Michael Balcomb and Mrs. Fumiko Balcomb, the regional chairs of UPF for Europe and the Middle East; Mr. Jack Corley, the UPF chair for Eastern Europe; Mr. Giuseppe Cali, the UPF chair for Southern Europe; Mr. Gaqo Apostoli, the chair of UPF-Albania; and Mr. Ali Lacej, the coordinator of the Albanian Peace Council.

The first event of the 2018 Balkans Peace Road took place on October 3 in the Albanian Parliament with the presence of the deputy speaker of the Parliament, Professor Vasilika Hysi; former President Alfred Moisiu; the world leader of the Bektashim Muslim order, Hajji Dede Edmond Brahimaj; the coordinator of IAPP in Albania, Professor Dr. Shezai Rrokaj; and many current and former members of Parliament, Ambassadors for Peace and young people – altogether 150 people.

Right after the Parliament event, a public event took place in a main square of Tirana in cooperation with the city government. Deputy Mayor Andi Seferi greeted the participants, along with Dr. Michael Balcomb, the regional chair of UPF for Europe and the Middle East. The deputy mayor was appointed as an Ambassador for Peace on that occasion in recognition of his support of the Peace Road project. At the end of the artistic program and performances, around 100 young people rode bicycles in Tirana until the Balkans Peace Road bus brought the participants to their next destination, the city of Shkodra.

With the cooperation and support of Shkodra City Hall, 70 local bicyclists—both professional and amateur—cycled for peace around the city in the late afternoon before gathering at the main square in front of the city government offices. Mayor Voltana Ademi greeted participants and then received an Ambassador for Peace certificate.

By the next morning, October 4, the participants had crossed into Montenegro and had arrived in Podgorica, the capital. The city administration organized a program in the main square. Many young people joined our group with their bicycles to ride for peace. The deputy mayor, Mrs. Sladjana Vujacic, came to show her support for the Balkans Peace Road. After giving messages of peace were given, the deputy mayor was appointed an Ambassador for Peace.

At every event there was a ceremony of handing over the Peace Road flag, in which Dr. Balcomb or one of the UPF leaders gave the flag to a local VIP, who then handed it over to a young person among the participants to bring to the next nation.

On the morning of October 5, the next event took place in the Montenegrin city of Rozaje in cooperation with the city administration. The event took place in the city’s Cultural Center, where more than 300 people filled the hall. Mayor Ejup Nurkovic welcomed the Peace Road participants, followed by messages of peace from our VIPs and young participants and performances. Mr. Nurkovic also was appointed to be an Ambassador for Peace. At the end, young people cycled a few kilometers and departed for the next destination: the city of Peja in Kosovo.

In Peja, the delegation was welcomed by a group of cyclists outside the city accompanied by police. Together with the young Peace Road participants, they cycled for peace toward the main square, where many people were gathered and artistic performances were organized by the city hall. When the cyclists arrived, the official ceremony of giving peace messages, handing over the flag and signing the 2018 Balkans Peace Road map took place. Peja Mayor Gazmend Muhaxheri was awarded an Ambassador for Peace certificate.

On the same day, October 5, the Peace Road delegation headed toward Pristina, the capital of Kosovo. At the entrance to the city 15 cyclists waited for us, and together we cycled toward the city center. The delegation was welcomed by Pristina Mayor Shpend Ahmeti in the Assembly Hall, where he was presented with an Ambassador for Peace certificate and peace messages were given.

The next day, October 6, the participants crossed into Macedonia and arrived in the capital, Skopje. The public event took place in a park and was organized in cooperation with the government of Čair, one of Skopje’s municipalities. Deputy Mayor Asif Bekteshi was present and was presented with an Ambassador for Peace certificate by Dr. and Mrs. Balcomb.

The evening program continued with a congratulatory banquet organized by UPF-Macedonia. The speaker of Parliament, H.E. Talat Xhaferri, attended and congratulated the Balkans Peace Road participants, encouraging them to keep conveying peace messages in the troubled Balkans.

On October 7, the Balkans Peace Road headed toward Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. The delegation was welcomed at a dinner organized by UPF-Serbia together with several Ambassadors for Peace, including Mr. Aleksandar Pekovic, the founder of the ARTERIA Creative Network; Mr. Sinisa Ruzicic, a professional football coach and journalist; and others. At the end, the Peace Road flag was handed over to a young person representing Serbia, followed by the signing of the Peace Road map by all the participants.

The final event took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Symbolically the travelers went through Croatia to include it in the Peace Road map and do something big next year. In Bosnia the Peace Road event was combined with a Football for Peace event in the town of Bugojno, located some 130 kilometers (81 miles) from the capital, Sarajevo.

Thirty young students (age 13 to 16) from three nearby small towns—Gorbji Vakuf, Dorbji Vakuf, and Jajce—gathered to play football. During the opening ceremony, Bugojno Mayor Safet Saran warmly welcomed the international visitors. There were wonderful matches among the young students, and later there was also a friendship match between the young students and the international visitors.

Two additional events of the 2018 Balkans Peace Road were scheduled for October 21: in the city of Korçë in southeastern Albania and the city of Kastoria in northwestern Greece.

Over 30 partners joined and supported the 2018 Balkans Peace Road, including the Albanian Parliament, eight municipalities, many bicycling clubs and other partners, as shown in the Peace Road banner and brochure.

We feel very confident that the 2019 Balkans Peace Road will be of a greater scale and will have a bigger impact in the Balkans.

Click on the images below to view the photo albums.

Albania-2018-10-09-Balkans Peace Road Visits Seven Nations Albania-2018-Balkans Peace Road - Day 1 October 3rd - Albanian Parliament Albania-2018-Balkans Peace Road- Day 1 October 3rd - Albania, Tirana City
Balkans Peace Road visits 7 nations Day 1 - Albanian Parliamant Day 1 - Albania, Tirana City
Albania-2018-Balkans Peace Road-Day 1-October 3rd - Albania, Shkodra City Albania-2018-Balkans Peace Road-Day 2 October 4th - Montenegro, Podgorica City Albania-Balkans Peace Road-Day 3 October 5th - Montenegro , Rozaje City
Day 1- Albania, Shkodra City Day 2 - Montenegro, Podgorica City Day 3 - Montenegro , Rozaje City
Albania-2018-Balkans Peace Road-Day 3 October 5th  - Kosovo, Peja City Albania-2018-Balkans Peace Road-Day 3 October 5th - Kosovo, Prishtina City Albania-2018-Balkans Peace Road-Day 4 October 6th - Macedonia, Skopje City
Day 3 - Kosovo, Peja City Day 3 - Kosovo, Prishtina City Day 4 - Macedonia, Skopje City
Albania-2018-Balkans Peace Road-Day 5 October 7th - Serbia, Belgrade Albania-2018-Balkans Peace Road-Day 6 October 8th - Croatia Albania-2018-Balkans Peace Road-Day 7 Ocotber 9th - Bosnia Herzegovina
Day 5 - Serbia, Belgrade Day 6 - Croatia Day 7 - Bosnia Herzegovina
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