|PANEL 1: Contributions of Civil Society|
|President, The Albanian Forum for the Alliance of Civilization (Albania)|
Besnik Mustafaj served as a Minister of Foreign Affairs of Albania between 2005-2007. He is one of the co-founder of the Albanian Democratic Party. In the first free elections, he was elected as a member of the Albanian Parliament and was re-elected three times. Between 1992-1997 he served as an Ambassador of Albania in France and as an Ambassador to UNESCO. He is the co-founder of the Albanian’s PEN club also co-founder of the Albanian Helsinki Committee. After resigned politics, he founded the Albanian Forum for the Alliance of Civilizations where currently he holds the chair of President. As an intellectual he is active in the dialogue between cultures and civilizations. He is member of the Advisory Board of Anna Lindh Foundation and President of the Euro-Mediterranean network of ONG “EuromedinCulture (s)”.
H.E BESNIK MUSTAFAJ, President of The Albanian Forum for the Alliance of Civilizations and Former Minister of Foreign Affairs in Albania, delivered a speech that addressed the difficult birth of the civil society in the post communist societies. He said that the fall of the communist system left behind a total void. In parallel to constructing a state abiding by the rule of law and structuring an economy according to the principles of free market, H.E. Mustafaj said that “it was also emergent to bring into being the civil society.”
However, he added that the difficulties were numerous. Some of which that he mentioned were, firstly, that neither the common people nor the political rulers believed in the utility of the nongovernmental organizations or the civil society. Secondly, the society lacked the human resources and the will to dedicate them to the civil society. Thirdly, financing is missing. Lastly, the “voluntary work” under the communist regime was, in fact, another obligation and another mean to exploit the individual. H.E. Mustafaj ended his speech by reflecting on his experience as a politician and a member of the civil society for a quarter century, and used his knowledge to bring illustrating examples.