“They have to apologize in order to be forgiven” – This is the very first sentence a young girl from Mitrovica said in a meeting in Belgrade. She was talking regarding to the 1999 was between Republic of Kosovo and Serbia. Someone replied: You don’t need a simple “I am sorry” when you miss you mother, father, brother, sister or any other member of the family, or even a friend.
That’s where I realized, the situation in the Balkans is heartbreaking, and it has been like this for years. And that moment I realized how sorry I feel for everyone, including myself. I had an amazing week in Belgrade with some people I met for the first time. And the opinion I had about that when only reading their names as participants makes me feel so sad about me. I was prejudging them before I even knew them, and they turned out to be amazing people. But we haven’t reached the saddest part yet. That prejudice exists in the minds and hearts of every Albanian, Bosnian and Serbian person who has lived the war.
The 90’ mean different things to different places of the world, to us mean wars and conflicts. It has to be over. It took a lot of time and different opinions from different people for me to decide for writing this essay.
We must grow, forgive and move on. I repeat grow, forgive and move on. Growing does not mean we have to grow older. I was five years old when the war happened, now I get 20 years old and that doesn’t matter, the important thing is for us people from the Balkans to grow intellectually, and to see things the way they really are, not the way others want us to see. With grow I mean we have to grow first of all as human beings, as people for people, not Albanian for Bosnian, or Serbian for Albanian, or anything that has to do with that.
History gets to be written just once, and it doesn’t change. We can write the history with forgiving each other, but not forgetting the past, because that’s what history is about, right? I am saying forgive but don’t forget not because we have to remind ourselves what happened every single day of our lives, but because it is needed to be remembered every time we lose our calm and get angry with each other.
We need to remember what happened in order to be strong enough to never let those things happen again. When I say “we” I mean all those who lived the 1990-1999 wars in the Balkans. We, the people who want their countries to proper, and their populations’ hearts healed. During life I learned something, if someone hurts you, it just does, you can either pay back which will take you a lot of time and will make you a worse person that the one who in the first place caused you pain. You can never forgive and do simply nothing about it, that will make you suffer your whole life and you will never feel completely happy. Or you can just forgive, and let go. Forgive, the most painful process in a man’s life. Forgive and feel in peace with yourself. If everyone did that the world would not know of wars. But they don’t. Let us Balkans show them that we can, and give them a good example.
And let’s move forward to a better way of living, let us be part of the Europe not only geographically The EU integration can help regional reconciliation very simply. The Balkan countries have to follow France’s and Germany’s example. In order to cooperate, to bring peace between states and to strengthen economically, France and Germany were the first states who actually started the whole idea for the European Union. The EU integration can help regional countries solve first of all cultural differences, additionally it can settle some disputes pertaining to finances and commerce, that would improve living circumstances and get people busy in making their life better and make them realize how important it is to comply and cooperate with each other. Bring the regional countries in a cooperation that is beneficiary for each one of them, and after that, put some standards to make our countries eligible for EU membership. Regional countries in the EU would be referred to as a whole and not as separate countries because of our past similarities in different aspects. And our countries, I am certain would bring a unique culture, and would diversify the EU in a whole new way.
Me, as an active citizen by trying to make my voice be heard would be the first contribution I could give in order to contribute in cooperation of the region. So far, youth activities have been the most appropriate way to put people together. Youth work is something I do in my daily life and until now it was really helpful for my personality because I am used to get to know people and not judge them, as society often has given us example to. I am engaged in youth activities as a participant and as a facilitator, often as a youth project coordinator. My first training abroad helped me realize that I can have my own opinions in different cases and that I can actually go along with people of different nationalities. It was the best experience ever, and this is why I think that as an youth activist, through different activities I can contribute somehow in changing young peoples’ opinions and make them realize that living together, in peace can actually be beneficiary for all parts. As a part of the youth of Kosovo I think that it would be easier if we start with youth because we all know that youngsters are the capability for positive changes and they can easier understand and spread the message of living together and cooperating in order to better conditions for living and EU integration.
I strongly believe that it is every region country’s benefit to strengthen multilateral cooperation in every sphere of life, and youngsters are the ones who have the responsibility to make adjustments to our societies in order to make a better future for all of us.