Moderator: Mrs. Carolyn Handschin-Moser
Vice President, Women’s Federation for World Peace International (WFWPI)
Mrs. Handschin-Moser is President of WFWP in Europe and Vice President, UN NGO Committee on the Status of Women- Geneva. She is also the Director of the UN Office for WFWPI globally and leads its advocacy team at the UN in Geneva, focusing on peace, human rights/human dignity through the empowerment of women and girls and strengthening the family. She founded the WFWPI-UN Internship program in Geneva in 2005. She has been a co-coordinator of the Middle East Women’s Conference Series for 12 years. She is co-founder of the Geneva Interfaith Intercultural Alliance and coordinator of the youth Model UN Interfaith Council Program.
Invocation: Imam Senaid Kobilica
Head Imam, Bosnian Community, Norway
Imam Senaid Kobilica is the head imam in the Bosnia and Hertzegovina community in Norway and chairman of the Muslim Dialogue Network. He has been the leader of the umbrella organization Islamic Council in Norway for many years. At present, he is the leader of the newly founded Muslim Dialogue Network in Norway. He speaks Bosnian, Arabic, Turkish, English and Norwegian, and he has a Master’s Degree in Islamic Studies from the International Islamic University in Islamabad. He is very socially engaged and often quoted in the Norwegian media.
Welcoming Remarks: Dr. Katsumi Otsuka
Chair, UPF Europe, Eurasia and the Middle East
Dr. Otsuka is a citizen of Japan. He holds a degree in philosophy from Kanazawa University and graduated from the Unification Theological Seminary in the United States. As president of the Japanese branch of the student movement World-CARP, he organized several world conventions and initiated solidarity meetings among students and youth from Japan, Korea, Russia and China in the 1980s and 1990s. He served as president of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification in Japan, as president of the Corporation for Building the Japan-Korea Tunnel, and as the leader of numerous other organizations, focusing notably on the reunification of the Korean Peninsula. He has served in top leadership and educational positions in South America, Eurasia and Africa. He is currently the Chair of the Universal Peace Federation in Europe, Eurasia and the Middle East.
Welcoming Remarks: Hon. Gaqo Apostoli
Minister of Transport and Public Works (1997-1998), Albania
Hon. Gaqo Apostoli holds a graduate degree in Mechanical Engineering and completed postgraduate specializations in Italy. He worked as professor at the Polytechnic University of Tirana. He was elected a member of the Albanian Parliament in three legislatures from 1992 to 2005, and served as member of the Culture, Science and Education Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (2001-2005). He served as Minister of Transport and Public Works (1997-1998). An Ambassador for Peace, he was the first Chair of UPF Albania and served as a member of the UPF Global Peace Council (2008-2009). He is the current Chair of UPF Albania, following his appointment in 2015.
Hon. Gaqo Apostoli welcomed the participants to Albania on behalf of the Executive Committee and of the General Assembly of more than 4000 Albanian Ambassadors of Peace. He reminded everyone of the visit to Albania of Dr. and Mrs. Moon on the 30th October 2005.
In order to express his feeling of belonging to a community that is endlessly growing and that brings us closer to sustainable peace, he offered his rendition of the famous Song, "IMAGINE".
Author: Sheikh Yaakov Salame
Senior Director, Division of Religious Congregations, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Israel
Sheikh Yaakov Salame, a Druze Sheik, is the Senior Director of the division of religious congregations in the Ministry of Internal affairs in Israel (formerly a division in the Ministry of Religions). His wide range of responsibilities includes facilitating the smooth operation of all religious sites and prayer houses of the various religious communities in Israel, including Christians, Muslims, Druze, and Bahai. Among his many responsibilities are welcoming and caring for key religious figures visiting Israel, as exemplified by his organizing of the successful visit of Pope Francis in 2014.
Religious leadership cannot effect change; hence the necessity of cooperation between leaders from different areas of society. All religions espouse values of peace; the problem is the people who do not understand religions correctly. Therefore, we need to teach religions correctly.
In Israel, Sheikh Salame founded a council of all religious leaders to strengthen the cooperation of religions. This has existed for 10 years. He appealed to everyone to do their part, even in a small way, to lead to world peace.
Author: Amb. Marija Efremova
Vice President, International Association for Cooperation and Cultural Diplomacy-Trieste, Italy
Amb. Marija Efremova is Vice President and co-founder of the International Association for Cooperation and Cultural Diplomacy (IACDC) in Trieste and Attorney of Law in the "De Lege” Law Firm in Skopje, North Macedonia. She obtained her university degree and licenses to practice as barrister and notary in Skopje and received a Master’s Degree in International Environmental Law from the Italian Society for International Organizations (SIOI) in Rome. She has held several important positions in the administration of North Macedonia, including Undersecretary of the Government and Assistant Minister for International Law and Consular Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She also had several diplomatic posts abroad, including her last assignment as Ambassador of the Republic of North Macedonia to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Non-resident Ambassador to Ireland and Iceland.
Ten years ago, she met UPF at a conference in London. Since then she has participated in several UPF conferences. UPF has organized conferences and summits all over the world.
She founded a forum to stimulate the appreciation of cultures in building peace. We can always achieve more when we work together.
North Macedonia and Albania are both very disappointed that the European Union rejected their application for EU membership. She said she hopes this injustice will be corrected in the nearest future.
Author: Amb. Christopher Hill
Chief Global Advisor, University of Denver, USA
Amb. Hill is a former career diplomat, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Albania (1991), Macedonia (1996-99), Poland (200-2004), South Korea (2004-05) and Iraq (2009-2010). Prior to Iraq, he served as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 2005-2009, during which time he was also the head of the U.S. delegation to the six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear issue. He also served as Special Envoy to Kosovo. He currently serves as the Chief Global Advisor to the Chancellor and Professor of the Practice in Diplomacy at the University of Denver. Prior to this position, he was the Dean of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver.
Two places in the world where he has worked and which he cares a lot about are Northeast Asia and Southeast Europe. Therefore, he is happy to be invited by UPF to this conference.
This conference is not just about Southeast Europe; it is about all of Europe. Southeast Europe has changed a lot since 1991, when he first came to this region. Albania has done things that no one could have expected. For those who are angry about North Macedonia and Albania being rejected by the EU, he wants to say: The best way to become a member of something is to behave like you are already a member.
Albania has its challenges. Not all the politicians like to work together. Let us hope that Albania can overcome this problem. There is no better way to achieve peace than to bring people together. People should be able to disagree but not be disagreeable. In a summit like this, the purpose is not to talk about problems but to find solutions to problems. Every people in every century has had to deal with problems. We need to get the most important thing – our hearts and our brains – around these problems. When you have a setback, you need to get up, dust off your jacket and move forward.