Kosovo’s former finance minister announces new peacebuilding initiative

IofC Caux


Ambassador Ahmet Shala, the Economics and Finance Minister of the Republic of Kosovo from 2008 to 2011, following the country’s declaration of independence from Serbia, lost many members of his close and wider family during the Kosovo War 1998-99. ‘For six months I didn’t know if my wife and family were alive or dead,’ he told the annual conference on Trust and Integrity in the Global Economy in Caux, Switzerland, on 30 June 2015. On his return home, on 16 June 1999, he found that ‘my flat and my house were burned.’

Yet Ambassador Shala appealed for a spirit of apology and forgiveness. ‘We should not get angry, we should not loose trust, we should find strength and get beyond the pain. We should apologize and forgive,’ he said. ‘I am proud of my people and my nation – the nation of Mother Teresa. Her spirit, soul and heart are present – today and forever. Today, in Kosovo, families and people who lost everything are now calling for peace, forgiveness and reconciliation. It is everybody’s business to help to change things for the better. Truth telling is very important in life. You should listen to others too. There are sufferings on the other side too. That is why we have to start with an apology, even for the smallest “thing” you might have done wrong to others.’

He again quoted Mother Teresa who had said, ‘Do not wait for leaders to change things. It is everybody’s business to help to change things, person to person.’

Through a story, Shala introduced the three questions 'Who are you? Where are you going? Why are you going there?' that according to him one should ask oneself every day. He continued: ‘Do we do enough to change for the better? Change starts at the very grassroots with your own family.’

His father had told him: ‘There are only two nations in the world—good people and bad people.’ Shala added that ‘we are not here to judge who is good or bad; but we are here to be an example of change, to love our neighbour and even our enemy. Only with love, care, genuine dedication and respect can you win against hate.’ His father had also told him: ‘The wings of man are good friends. You should be the wings of the friend in need.’ He spoke proudly of how today in the Kosovo Parliament the nation’s two million people now are well represented, even the smallest minorities such as Roma, Ashkali, Gorani etc. Even those who make up 0.5 per cent of the population have a seat in parliament, he said. Over five million Kosovars are scattered in the diaspora around the world, including 850,000 in the USA and probably more in Europe and Turkey. Though Serbia does not yet recognize the independence of Kosovo and it is not yet a member of the United Nations, Kosovo has gained significant diplomatic recognition as a sovereign state from 110 UN member states so far.

Ambassador Shala, who was Kosovo’s ambassador to Japan from 2012 to 2015 and is now a visiting lecturer at three US universities, announced his plan to launch a Foundation for Peacebuilding and Sustainable Development in the Balkans and South East Europe, by 2017. His aim is to encourage the regeneration of the Balkans on the basis of healing the past and creating economic wellbeing for everyone. ‘You cannot expect peace from an empty stomach,’ he said. The foundation will be built on four Ts, he said: think, talk, trust and team. He appealed to the conference for support in this. ‘I am here to ask you for team-building. I am searching for partners to make it happen,’ he said.

He received an immediate response from a British member of the audience who has conducted Foundations for Freedom training courses in central and eastern European countries, including Ukraine, in recent years.

Shala told a story from 1999 about an old villager he had met in the streets of Kosovo. He asked him if he could forgive someone from Serbia. Holding up his stick, he replied: ‘Listen, I lost 18 members of my family. They took my 12-year-old nephew and pushed me to watch how they massacred him and the others. How can I forgive now? But if a Serbian child comes through my village, I’ll protect him as if he were my son and nobody could touch him’. Shala said that the old man had given him hope for forgiveness and hope in the generation to come. ‘The struggle is between mercy and revenge,’ he concluded'.

by Michael Smith and Sherif Rizq

Featured Story
Event Categories
IofC Switzerland Caux Forum

related stories

Ignacio India blog

Walking the Talk in Business

On 25 - 28 January, some 60 CEOs and other senior staff came together under Chatham House Rules to share personal experiences on how to balance a sustainable business with integrity and trust. Executi...

Save the date Caux Forum 2024 EN

Caux Forum 2024: Save the Date!

Save the date for the Caux Forum 2024! This summer Caux Initiatives of Change, in partnership with Initiatives of Change International and supported by other civil society networks, UN agencies, phila...

Caux Forum opening square website EN

Filling the gap in global efforts for peace and democracy

The Caux Forum 2023 Opening Ceremony set the tone for the conference with the theme, ‘Strengthening Democracy: The Journey from Trauma to Trust.’. Discover the report and relive the highlights of this...

Tsvetana 13 Sept 2023

Finding purpose and harmony through music and the Caux Palace

In a world filled with diverse cultures and languages, the journey of musician Tsvetana Petrushina is an inspiring tale of how she discovered her purpose. Her remarkable story led her to the Caux Pala...

Caux Palace press Feb 2023 immobilier.ch

Making the Impossible Possible

In its current edition, the top real estate magazine in French-speaking Switzerland, immobilier.ch, showcases the Caux Palace as one of five positive examples of how historic buildings can be preserve...

Save the date 2023 square no date

Caux Forum 2023: Save the Date

We are excited to announce the Caux Forum will be back in Caux next summer! Find out more and save the date! ...

Eliane Stallybrass

Lost in Translation: Volunteering at the Caux Refuge

When the first Ukrainians arrived at the Caux Refuge, Eliane and Andrew Stallybrass were amongst the first volunteers to welcome them at the Villa Maria and to offer their support. Eliane knew that le...

Training of Trainers Caux October 2022

Training of Trainers and Facilitators in Caux: 'Only the beginning'

What happens when 26 IofC trainers and facilitators from 12 countries embark on a three-day learning journey in Caux on designing and facilitating participatory learning experiences? At the opening se...

Square no logo La Loge move.png

A new Geneva office for IofC Switzerland!

We are back in town! With our representation office now located at "La Loge" in the Domaine La Pastorale in Geneva we look forward to reengage more significantly with International Geneva and offer a...

Annual Report 2021 square EN

Our Annual Report 2021 now available!

We are happy to present our Annual Report 2021, covering all of last year's activities and the celebrations of 75 Years of Encounters!...

Caux Belle Epoque Andrew Eliane Stallybrass J Coté June 2022

Caux in the Belle Epoque

Sunday 19 June 2022 saw crowds of visitors and local people gathering in the park of the Caux Palace for the inauguration of a ‘Caux Belle Epoque’ self-guided walk. ...

Arpan Yagnik

Arpan Yagnik: Mountains to climb

Arpan Yagnik, a participant of last year's Creative Leadership conference and team member of the IofC Hub 2021, talks to Mary Lean about creativity, fear and vocation. ...

YAP 2021 article square

Young Ambassadors Programme 2021: Learning to listen

When Indonesian law student Agustina Zahrotul Jannah discovered the Young Ambassadors Programme (YAP) on Google she felt both excited and hopeless: excited because she hoped it might give her the skil...

Zero waste square for social media

Sofia Syodorenko: A zero waste lifestyle is a mindful lifestyle

How did Sofia Syodorenko become involved in the zero waste movement, and what does it mean to her? Now Chair of Foundations for Freedom, she is also a representative of the Zero Waste Alliance Ukraine...

Jacqueline Cote square

Jacqueline Coté to become President of IofC Switzerland in April 2022

Christine Beerli will step down as President of the Foundation of Initiatives of Change Switzerland in April 2022, after four years in the role. Jacqueline Coté, former Director of Public Relations at...