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South East European Countries Pledge to Nurture Peace

June 6, 2012

The Heads of State of South-East Europe have agreed to nurture peace and trust in the region and to protect cultural heritage, in order to foster understanding and a more intensive cooperation.

 

At the 10th UNESCO Summit held in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on June 3, the representatives of the South East European countries have agreed to strengthen cooperation by supporting joint cultural and educational programs.

The high level meeting expressed its support for the role of culture in promoting a shared history and memory, as well as a spirit of cooperation, by adopting a declaration titled ”Religious, Cultural and Historical Heritage as a Foundation for More Intensive Cooperation amongst States”.

Bakir Izetbegovic, Bosniak member of the Bosnian tripartite Presidency, said his country is a place where each man can find a piece of his identity and tradition, because it is a bridge amongst worlds, between the east and the west.

“We, who have been given an opportunity to share this common region of South-East Europe, know that good does not come of its own, but we must fight for it. We must strive to listen to each other more, and better understand one another,” said Izetbegovic.

Macedonian president Gjorge Ivanov called the meeting in Mostar a “dialogue of civilizations”, and said the UNESCO meetings – which have started in 2003 – have helped ease the tensions in the region and stabilize peace.

“The relations of our countries have long been burdened with historical stereotypes. For a long time, and even today, we have looked to the past and not the future. Only through dialogue can we overcome these conflicts and the fear of something different. This is a region of multicultural societies and I believe we can bring our positive historical experience from the Balkans to Europe”, said Ivanov.

This view was echoed by Bamir Topi, the Albanian president, who after the meeting told journalists that improving relations in the region would help implement a philosophy of tolerance.

“Things that happened in our region in the past are unimaginable, but we have strived to rebuild a political dialogue and we are proud of it”, said Topi.

The new Serbian president Tomislav Nikolic did not attend the summit but  Serbia was represented by the Minister of Culture, Predrag Markovic, who called on everyone in the region to “learn from the past”.

“I want to thank everybody for their tolerance during this meeting. We have learned much during the last decade about the past and how we must preserve peace. It is a big thing that we can talk about painful issues form the past in a civilized manner”, added Markovic.

Montenegrin president Filip Vujanovic was present at the meeting, as were delegations from Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece and Slovenia, as well as EU and Council of Europe representatives.  Croatian head of state Ivo Jospiovic did not attend due to previous engagements.

The 11th Summit of the Heads of State of South-East Europe will take place in 2013 in Macedonia.

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