Atifete Jahjaga

Remarks to the Parliament Assembly of Kosovo - August 12, 2011

Atifete Jahjaga
August 12, 2011— Pristina, Kosovo
Print friendly

We are at a moment when our country requires the most from all of us.

We have no time to waste.

For the gains we have made through hard work and sacrifice need to be advanced.

Everywhere I have gone, during these eight months, in every part of Kosovo, the message from the people has been loud and clear:

The time to act is now.

We have waited for economic opportunity for ourselves and for our children. We have waited for the establishment of security in whole of Kosovo. We have waited to take our rightful place in the family of free and proud nations of the world.

We are in this path together on this path.

We are working to rekindle the hopes for the building of a more prosperous and stable Kosovo, a developed economy, quality education, a health system that respects the practices of prevention and treatment, a retirement system that enables a good life and care for the elderly.

We are working to build a country where hard work and knowledge are valued.

A place, where the dream of every citizen, regardless of ethnicity, race and gender, will become a reality; a place of equal opportunities for employment, education and advancement, participation in social life and contribution.

Each and every one of us has the duty to make the hopes for a safe future become reality in this shared Kosovo of ours.

As the President of the Republic, I want to share with you, members of the Assembly and fellows citizens the vision how we can move forward.

That is why I am here today.

But first, it is right and proper that we acknowledge today, and every day, the sacrifices of the martyrs who gave all so that we live in freedom, and to show respect to their families whose hearts are filled with pride for the present Kosovo, a sovereign, free and democratic state.

We owe it to the families of the missing to do the outmost to find their loved ones who vanished during the war and return them to their families.

Our work should make all the Kosovo citizens proud.

To those who serve their communities and our nation every day in so many ways; schoolteachers in classrooms, police on patrol, nurses and doctors in hospitals, civil servants and members of civil society groups in every town and village in Kosovo- thank you for all you do.

We have accomplished a lot, but we need to continue to work harder in creating a better image for our country in order to improve Kosovo’s standing in the international arena.

Kosovo has made it clear that the European perspective is a necessity to embark on the needed political, economic and social reforms.

The political stability that we have established enables the successful completion of the supervised independence and the transfer of full sovereignty to Kosovo’s institutions.

The Republic of Kosovo, a sovereign and independent country, is the expressed free will of Kosovo’s people, which enjoys continuous support from the international community, the United States, and the main countries of the European Union.

NATO’s peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, KFOR is contributing to preserve the peace and stability and for that it enjoys the respect of all the citizens of my country.

After the declaration of independence, with the request of our institutions, the European mission for rule of law, EULEX, has been deployed in Kosovo. This mission, alongside Kosovo’s institutions, is contributing to the fight against corruption and organized crime, in treating special cases and the establishment of the rule of law in the whole of Kosovo.

In the months ahead, the International Civilian Office will end its oversight mission of the Ahtisaari Plan, and this marks a joint success.

Kosovo will continue to have a limited international presence in the future, in particular a military presence which will help in enhancing to full capacity the Kosovo Security Force, which is being built in accordance with NATO standards and with the aim of participating in Partnership for Peace and full membership in the North Atlantic Alliance.

We should fully meet the objective of independence and sovereignty, to secure our rightful place in the family of nations, to be treated as an equal partner in Europe and across the world. We will accomplish this in a permanent friendship with the United States of America and in partnership with the countries of the European Union.

In meetings in Brussels with the leaders of the European Union institutions, like other Kosovo representatives, as the President of the country I have demanded the advancement of the relations between Kosovo and EU to the contractual level. This clarity of the European path for Kosovo is necessary and not solely in Kosovo’s interest, but that of the region and the European Union as well.

The paving of the way for Kosovo’s membership into the EU, based on the respect of the EU principles, the policy of member states and our objective for integration, is an incitement for the deepening of comprehensive reforms in the country.

In Brussels I have emphasized that the stagnation in building the relations between EU and Kosovo is obstructing our joint journey and endangering our achievements. I welcome the fact that this message was assigned special attention and the European Union has decided to act in accordance with the joint interests.

The sooner we enter into a trade agreement with EU, we will assist the economic development of the country, strengthen foreign investments, secure a perspective for the Kosovo businesses and open new employment opportunities.

In Brussels I have request the start of the visa liberalization dialogue so that Kosovo enjoys the freedom of movement for its citizens, like all the European citizens.

I was in a position to make this demand due to the completion of the conditions and technical criteria that enable the presentation of the guide. In addition to free movement, the visa liberalization includes a number of tasks and responsibilities for all of us, the citizens of the Republic of Kosovo.

In January of 2012 I will assemble the first meeting of the National Council on European Integration, a forum under the auspices of the President, that seeks to build a social consensus and coordination for the process of European integration. The National Council for European Integration is comprehensive and inclusive of all the segments of the society: the institutions, political parties and the civil society.

Jointly we will speed up the implementation of reforms that result from the European Partnership, which along with accomplishments has documented a series of challenges that need to be addressed concretely.

The Republic of Kosovo, a sovereign and independent country, has a clear European perspective. We see no other road. This commitment has been demonstrated in all the processes conducted to this point, including the dialogue with the Republic of Serbia, which is taking place with the facilitation and the mediation of the European Union.

This dialogue began with the approval of the Resolution of the General Assembly of the UN, following the positive ruling of the International Court of Justice on Kosovo’s independence.

The dialogue with the Republic of Serbia represents the only way and the best way to normalize the relations between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia, as two independent and sovereign states.

Good neighborly relations is one of the key conditions for membership into the European Union and the support for the dialogue was based on the principle that the solutions that come out of it must be European solutions. These solutions must be based on the best practices of the EU countries, without which we can neither begin nor conclude the process of membership into the European Union.

We should not avoid dialogue. The basic principles of our statehood and our wholeness should not and will not be part of any discussion with anyone, the least of all with the Republic of Serbia. A dialogue that is transparent and accountable to our citizens will guarantee the success of this process, and secure their full support. Each agreement reached between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia must be strongly guaranteed by the European Union, and no agreement cannot and will not serve for the profit of one side only.

The agreements will be in accordance with the interests of the country, the interest of the citizens of Kosovo and aiming our future in the EU.

Honorable members of the Assembly,

Kosovo’s independence is irreversible. The territorial integrity and the sovereignty of the country is Integriteti dhe sovraniteti is not negotiable. Kosovo has its international wholeness, which has been recognized by 85 countries in the world, in its current borders. We have achieved this with everyone’s engagement, the government of the Republic of Kosovo, the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo, the involvement of the civil society, of our international friends and the countries that have recognized us thus far.

Kosovo’s independence, its state-building, sovereignty, wholeness and its territorial integrity are not negotiable. This is a closed chapter. It is a pledge we have made and we won the full international backing for it.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I call upon the leadership of the Republic of Serbia to give up its territorial ambitions and cut its support for the illegal criminal structures in the three northern Kosovo municipalities, which are holding hostage the future and the prosperity of the citizens.

The period of wars and hegemony in the Balkans has ended. In Kosovo we are dedicated to building a secure future for our citizens, regardless of ethnicity and without hatred.

We are determined to normalize the situation in the municipalities in northern Kosovo, which we consider as a rule of law issue. I have made it clear that the implementation of Ahtisaari’s Plan has no alternative and that plan cannot be modified. The rights of the Serbian community, foreseen with the Plan and engrained in Kosovo’s Constitution, are a strong guarantee for the future of the Serb community as an inseparable part of Kosovo’s society.

I commend the start of the removal of barricades as an expression of citizens will to address their issues away from the street and in the institutions, by removing all the obstacles for the free movement of people and goods. I fully understand that the Serb citizens in these municipalities want a calm life, in dignity, away from barricades and without fear for their future.

The integration of the Serb community in the three municipalities in the north of the country, is the way through which we build a common and secure future. The Serb community in this part of the country should assume the responsibilities and the obligations to become part of the society, while considering Kosovo its homeland.

We have opened the door to integration and we will keep it open for everyone. Integration is based on the active participation in building an inclusive and democratic society, which respects the laws and the Constitution of the country.

The creation of the conditions to establish the rule of law, for economic development and democratization would normalize the situation in the three northern municipalities. The establishment of the rule of law and security will be built in partnership with the international community and the Serb citizens, who must live in a safe environment, with access to justice through functional courts and law and order guaranteed by the Kosovo police.

A concrete plan for economic development for the municipalities in the north of Kosovo would include Southern Mitrovica, and this plan would be at the service of bringing citizens closer.

Kosovo’s institutions, in upholding the Constitution, respecting the rights and the freedoms of Serb citizens in Leposavic, Zvecan, Zubin Potok and Northern Mitrovica will organize, at a convenient time, free and democratic elections, to elect the legitimate and legal representatives of the citizens of these municipalities.

In the weeks ahead, I will visit different parts of Kosovo, including the municipalities created in the decentralization process. I will listen to the thoughts, proposals and demands of the citizens so that we address and meet them.

From this podium, I address the Serbian citizens of Kosovo:

According to the Constitution of Kosovo and its laws, you are citizens with equal freedoms and guaranteed rights. Kosovo is the homeland of all and you as citizens of Serb nationality will realize all your national, religious, cultural and educational rights. For this you will have my support and the support of Kosovo’s institutions.

Dear fellow citizens,

Now is the best time for all of us to come together in the path toward European integration. That is our future, and on this path we need to help each other. Kosovo is our common home.

Honorable members of the Assembly,

Honorable citizens of Kosovo,

Kosovo is a country built on the civic principle, which respects the values of citizenry. In Kosovo, alongside Albanians live other communities: Turks, Bosniaks, Goranis, Romas, Ashkali, Egyptians, Croats and Montenegrins, citizens which enjoy all the rights and freedoms while accepting and respecting Kosovo’s independence. The contribution of these communities at the local and central level, in state-building, economic development, has been extraordinary.

Our joint objective is the building of a state rooted in the governance of law. The creation of democratic institutions that are at the service of the citizen increases the trust in institutions and on the principle of the rule of law.

Kosovo’s police is a great example of this effort. Its members are educated and trained with the best US and EU practices, carrying out their duties with responsibility and commitment.

We will guarantee the finalization of reforms in the election process, the sanction and adequate punishment of offenders of the election process that tainted the process.

Democracy in Kosovo cannot be a hostage of the lack of our will to fight negative phenomena in the institutions and in the society. Our declaration for “zero tolerance” against corruption and organized crime needs to come to fruition. Kosovo’s institutions and you members of the Assembly have created a legal framework and approved laws that assist the fight against these phenomena. Now, we need a joint front to fight corruption and organized crime.

Corruption and organized crime are obstructing the development of our society, they keep the foreign investors out and damage the foundation of the economic development. These phenomena are hindering the free market competitiveness and are suffocating the entrepreneurial spirit. They are weakening the employment opportunities for the young and inciting their flight from Kosovo, causing a brain drain and draining creativity and innovation.

Corruption is an expensive receipt, which are citizens are paying.

Corruption and organized crime are obstacles to Kosovo’s integration in Europe.

The success in the fight against these negative phenomena is the only way through which we can restore the trust of the citizens and secure the speedy development of the country. Success in this fight will have a positive impact in the process of new recognitions for Kosovo and for the change in perception of our country.

That is why tomorrow I will embark on an official visit to the United States of America. There I will meet with the Secretary of State, the Attorney General of the United States, the Director of the FBI along with commanders and leaders from the Pentagon. In those meetings I will brief them on our current efforts on battling corruption and organized crime, and I will ask for their assistance and support to strengthen our efforts so that success in this fight is guaranteed.

Upon my return to Kosovo, I will establish an Anti-Corruption Council that I will lead based on my Constitutional and legal authority. This institutional mechanism will coordinate actions and set policies to eradicate corruption and organized crime in Kosovo.

The fight against corruption and organized crime must be won!

As the President of the country, while respecting the principle of the division of powers, I have treated with respect the creation of an independent and responsible judiciary.

In naming the judges and prosecutors I have guaranteed that there would be no political interference in the process. I have respected in detail the ethnic and gender representation while upholding the professional principle.

I offer my support for the full independence of the judiciary.

Honorable members of the Assembly,

Our country is determined for a market economy and equal opportunities for investors. The transformation of property and definition of property rights are a key component of structural economic reforms. Transparency and honesty in these processes are a pre-condition for the credibility of the institutions and increased trust among the investors.

Kosovo has make important progress in building a sovereign economy, in creating the main economic and social institutions. Despite the hardship caused by the economic crisis, Kosovo has maintained macrofinancial stability.

I expect the Budget for 2012 to reflect the long-term economic vision for Kosovo as well as for the midterm economic development plans. Sustainability and fiscal discipline are paramount to country macroeconomic stability.

This year our country has continued to exhibit economic growth and this trend is likely to hold in the next year.

However, this growth will not be sufficient for a sustainable economic development and the absorption of the large pool of young people who enter the job market every year.

Although the domestic production has shown slight growth, it remains insufficient to meet Kosovo’s needs. Our farmers must be supported and the fiscal policies should be advanced and placed in the service of business so that Kosovo products improve their quality and become competitive in the market.

Our country needs to increase the export production and decrease the dependency on imports. In these moments economic patriotism and the purchase of local products is useful for economic growth.

With responsible and joint involvement we can turn Kosovo into a leading country that attracts foreign capital. With human potential and a favorable tax system for businesses, our country offers good opportunities to foreign businesses.

Kosovo has a strong diaspora in EU and the US countries, a bridge between our country and the states in which they are loyal citizens. We value highly the exceptional contribution of the diaspora throughout these years for Kosovo’s freedom and independence. We support the return of our compatriots to their homeland to invest in the building of the country and to participate in its political and social life.

Honorable members of the Assembly,

While we may fight with one another in the political battlefield, let no one ever question that we stand united ready to strengthen our new country, ready to defend our gains and sacrifice to advance the freedom and the rights of our citizens, living under the rule of law in peace and prosperity.

Unë sot nuk mund t’ju them se rruga që kemi përpara është e lehtë. Por, ju premtoj se do të vazhdoj të takohem dhe të dëgjoj të gjithë qytetarët e Kosovës, nga të gjitha komunitetet, që si Presidente e vendit të përfaqësoj vullnetin e tyre.

I cannot promise you today that the road ahead will be easy. But, I can promise that I will continue to meet with and listen to Kosovars from all communities so that as the President of the country I represent their will.

Unë do ta mbështes punën e Kuvendit. Zotohem që të punoj çdo ditë për të zbatuar Kushtetutshmërinë, të forcoj sundimin e ligjit, të bashkoj vendin dhe të përmirësoj pozitën tonë në botë.

I will support the work of this Assembly. I pledge to work every day to uphold the Constitution of our Republic, to strengthen the rule of law, to unite the country and enhance our standing in the world.

Members of the Assembly, my fellow Kosovars, the challenges before us are great, but our will to succeed is greater.

The values that unite us are far greater than the issues that divide us. Let us all stand together as we build Kosovo into a nation worthy of the dreams of our fathers, and the hopes and aspirations of our children.

Speech from