Members in News

18.10.2017.

EWB Annual Reception 2017

Serbia and The Region Must Stay on the EU Path at Any Cost

Thank you Mr Chairman.

Your Excellencies, our dear members and friends from near and far, permit me to speak in English out of respect for our foreign guests and members.  Thank you all very much for coming, your presence here is indeed an honor, privilege and a huge obligation.  Special gratitude goes to our gracious host and EWB member Marko Cadez, the President of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and Aleksandar Nikolic, our BoG Chairman.     

There is an easy way to explain why we are attracting worldwide membership in such numbers. What we stand for are perhaps best described in a nutshell by the words of our distinguished affiliate member Dr Ismail Serageldin, the until-recently Director of the Alexandria Library: “The world is my home. Humanity is my family. Non-violence is my creed. Peace, justice, equality and dignity for all is my purpose. Engagement, rationality, tolerance, dialogue, learning and understanding are my means. With outstretched hands we welcome all those who share these beliefs …”

EWB members aim to promote the progressive and judicious liberalization of trade, democracy, civil society, policy and state development while respecting underlying national policies and strategies. As global citizens our responsibilities also include promoting human rights and liberal democratic governance where possible, stimulating sustainable development, working towards social integration, peace, security and diversity of religion, political beliefs, sexual orientation and gender equality, respecting local cultures while promoting philanthropy, education, and human welfare.

Our widely-ranged cooperation includes also fostering relations with youth organizations and helping them develop – like OSSI.  OSSI’s now former President Aleksandar Jakovljevic and his team have done a wonderful job here helping us for this event. It is our solemn duty to help train and educate our future generations because we are leaving to our young a very troubled and dangerous world.

Our members come from all walks of life, region, religion and the political spectrum – except from far left or far right. This is because we encourage exchange of opposing views but never heated ones.

Some have said we are the cadre pool for the government – we are not, but we do applaud our members who have become cabinet ministers and are doing their jobs so successfully and responsibly.

Of the hundreds of EWB core members, or several thousand affiliated from more than 60 countries, many have achieved international recognition and acclaim. Speaking of diversity, beside former presidents, prime ministers and ambassadors, members of academies of arts and sciences, we have scientists in CERN, writers, philosophers, professors, lawyers, capable hotel managers, composers who have been nominated by the UN Secretary General to be Good-Will Ambassadors, builders of schools in quake-devastated Nepal or men who are fighting a heroic struggle for women’s right to work in Afghanistan, and so on.

Their success is their achievement alone, but they also do make us proud. All this shows how valuable, capable, knowledgeable and diverse our membership is. It is also a clear testimony just how attractive is EWB’s core message and idea.  

To focus on Serbia and the region for a minute. Our firm belief is that Serbia and the region must not stray under any circumstances from the path leading to the EU. 

If the membership in the EU is the Holy Grail for Serbia, then the Quest for the Grail is equally if not even more important, because it justifies the enormous effort and pain Serbia is and has yet to endure to implement the overwhelming reforms along that path. It is our desire to see Serbia and neighboring countries as modern European states with respectable political, legal, financial and economic system and strong institutions and desired freedoms - all to its benefit and economic and political security of the region and thereby Europe.

As if this goal was not complicated and tough enough, we have another burden of being exposed to foreign interference of unprecedented strength and diversity.  In the light of this, we must never allow our emotions and illusions instead of wisdom to guide our actions.

Along these lines, Serbia has come a long way in building good-neighborly relations and promoting mutual confidence and trust in ex-Yugoslavia. The arduous Belgrade-Pristina talks and their hopefully speedy and successful conclusion are of paramount importance that will shape the destiny of the region for generations to come. 

In a region where many quote from history, but very few have learned any lessons from it, we must learn the definition of compromise. We in EWB wish all peoples in the region and the world stability, security, prosperity and peace.

In this context, we draw very positive lessons and inspiration for our future work from the seminar organized this May in the UN Cyprus buffer zone by the UN, FES and EWB where five of our representatives from Croatia, Serbia, B-H, Macedonia and the Trilateral Commission shared our experiences from the ex-Yugoslavia conflict. The success prompted us to focus next year on working in the post-conflict zones to help them re-build democratic institutions, media, rule of law.  

We shall also continue fostering the dialogue between Macedonia and Greece. EWB Macedonia and NGOs from Greece met recently in Thessaloniki under the auspices of the Columbia University and decided to intensify dialogue and establish a CBM Fund to finance joint work in specific fields.

Apart from expanding our already impressive network of affiliated thinks tanks and organizations, we plan next year to open EWB Turkey and MENA, launch EWB USA and start seriously working on EWB Russia and the Far East.  

We plan to host a Horasis meeting in Belgrade on China. I will take the liberty to call on EWB Switzerland President Parvis Hanson to say more and explain what a big and how important that event will be.

There are ideas worth looking into to start a monthly or biweekly newsletter to air our views and findings from our Task forces which must now really start working in earnest. The honeymoon is over, folks.

There is also a chance we might surpass the success from 2014 when we hosted the European Trilateral Commission meeting in Belgrade. This is work in progress.

Finally allow me to recapitulate - the world is a mess. Some would argue that it always was and always will be but honestly, I think it is us letting Greed take the upper hand again. For evil to triumph all it takes for the good people to do nothing, its simple as that. We cannot stand by and let things run beyond our control or allow a vociferous and well-organized minority lead the silent and disorganized majority into calamity. We are the captains of our ship and we are the masters of our destiny – hence we decided to start behaving that way.

Thank you kindly for your patience and thank you for coming

Please note that the photos will be available till October 24,2017.

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