Presidente della Repubblica di Albania
Honorable Eminences of the religious communities from all over the world,
Distinguished representatives of Sant’ Egidio Community,
Distinguished representatives of the Albanian religious communities,
In the hierarchy of historical events for my country, this Meeting, this extraordinary and inclusive conversation will always maintain and preserve a position of honor, because it is dedicated to the main topic, to the main aspiration: peace and freedom of belief – two concepts without whom our life would have been deprived from humanism and its core and endangered if they will be threaten.
This global event is configured with the same significance to me, keeping in mind that its symbolic unites history to the future by learning lessons from the former in order to serve the latter with examples, comparisons, experiences and models also due to the very fact that is it being organized and held by such a distinguished Community like Sant’ Egidio, whose contribution serving peace, belief, freedom, human rights and democracy is impressive everywhere and whenever they have been threatened.
We, Albanians wherever we live, bare witness to this imprinted willingness when surrounded by difficulties and hardships, and that is why in the name of my people, I express to you, Sant’ Egidio representatives, wholehearted thanks! You are at home in Albania.
I would like to be candid and sincere with you!
What makes this huge international gathering on the role played by religious beliefs on world peace special and unforgettable for me is the fact that is being organized exactly in our capital. This is a choice that honors us. And it is not coincidental.
It is happening this way because our country, Albania is an inspiring example, perhaps a unique one, as the famed Indro Montanelli stated: “This is the land where Christ and Mohamed walk side by side.” by luring people to honor the Almighty, the country, the other who is different, peace and freedom as well.
This is the way Albanians have journeyed throughout history: side by side ever since their religious map took on mosaic nuances by experiencing diversity as something individual, internal and spiritual!
Together! Conscious about the national unit, persistent about its coherence! Aware of the language, culture, traditions, habitual codes, each of us worshiping God in his own religious site, without harming and threatening the freedom, willingness, choice, mystic and rites of the other.
Christianity and Islam, Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, Sunnis and Shiites are our reality transformed into history and being such they represent the self-consciousness of each and every one. It can be fully and righteously claimed in this case that history is the teacher of life.
The Albanians who identified themselves with these faiths throughout centuries have provided a qualitative contribution to the history of civilization and religions that includes names of saints and martyrs, popes and patriarchs, imams and shehs, wise men and scientists, writers and historians.
The same way during the dialectic process of our nation no one has scrutinized and considered the religious pertinence of fighters, leaders, thinkers, poets, Renaissance men, statesmen as a dividing element and no prejudice has ever weighted on their faith. On the contrary they have been engulfed with pan-national pride and honor, because they made us believe on the cause of harmony while making and building Albania for all, the Albania of the present day and that of the future. From this view point, Albanian people have met early its modernity and ethic.
There is no compatriot of mine, regardless of how he might worship and pray to God, who does not feel as his own, holy and eternal George Kastrioti Skanderbeg, Mother Theresa, Ismail Kadare and hundreds of other nation’s personalities who narrated the multidimensional Albanian world as a hearthof European identity, as a praying and inspiring holy place reaching sublimity and as a temple of the supreme word.
Within this somehow strange and exotic landscape to those who do not know it, but very natural to us who are part of it, undoubtedly the clergymen, religious institutions have had and have played a crucial role in consolidating the faith, in not misusing it, in its revival after the banning it suffered during the dictatorship, in ensuring the spiritual tranquility of followers during the traumas experienced by the transition, social peace, in the engraved image of inter-religious harmony reigning in the country. They are the tireless workers of virtue and ethics, of belief and affection, of Albanian Besa – keeping the word of honor.
In the capacity of the Head of State I would like to commend and praise them from this podium and assure about my unsparing support!
Distinguished clergymen from many countries of the world,
We are all witness that peace and freedom of religion be them separated, or be them as fundamental elements of democracy are not eternally granted. Yes, they have their enemies and quite often they are threatened. The actually is providing us with tragic examples that this is not simply and only a hypothesis. When this danger is shaped and embodied then it generates demons of evil, violence, terror and fundamentalism. Do not ISIS and other terrorist organizations wrapped with the fake cloak represent sufficient examples of a word concern? Such atrocities place in danger and under threat the fundamental values of humanity and its beliefs.
The doctrine of the sole idea, totalitarian per se has quite often throughout history brought peoples to the brink of horrible abysses. That is why the family of nations while it enhances the spaces of freedom needs to indispensably strengthen its senses and vigilance, cooperation and communication, self-protecting instincts because no one is immune when faced with terror and terrorism, religious manipulation and instrumentalization.
Neither Albania is such, nor Balkans, even Europe and beyond it, is immune; hence we must coordinate our wills and energies to secure peace and democracy, human rights and freedoms and religious freedom as well – these dire and necessary needs and horizons of the peoples. The clergymen of every religion must be a barrier insuperable by extremism and misinterpretation of religion. This is a holy obligation – it is a human, civic and democratic obligation. In this regard societies overall view a great guarantee at the clergymen.
They cannot be the sole ones, neither they must be left alone, but they must be powerfully supported by institutions, communities, society, laic world, and why not, also by those who enjoy the freedom not to believe on anyone, because the fruits of peace and shared and enjoyed by everyone. Peace and freedom provide and serve as guarantees to any faith. Imposition, violence and religion can be associated to one another. Only one imposition is indispensable and tolerable: the one that obliges everyone one to respect and uphold peace and freedom.
Organizing and holding this dialogue in Tirana and the messages stemming from it represent a great asset not only for us, but for the whole world. I would consider this product as an encyclopedia serving peace, coexistence and harmony, a great hope that springs from the power of faith exactly from a place, from my country, Albania which has built its peace also from the brotherhood of religions as the Holy Father, Pope Francis I pointed out during his unforgettable visit a year ago. We are grateful about this precious and historical contribution.