President Sejdiu gives the Golden Medal of Freedom to Prime Minister Blair

The President of Republic of Kosovo Dr. Fatmir Sejdiu received today in his Cabinet the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair.

At a special ceremony, President Sejdiu handed over to Mr. Tony Blair the Golden Medal of Freedom, which the historic President Ibrahim Rugova had conferred upon him on 12 June 2004. The Medal is awarded to Kosovars and foreigners who provide a special contribution to the defense of the freedom of Kosovo.

Speaking on the occasion, President Sejdiu said: “The people and institutions of Republic of Kosovo hold a special admiration for You, Honorable Prime Minister, and for Your country, the United Kingdom.

“We shall remain forever appreciative of an extraordinary support that you have provided to us during the most difficult times that our country has gone through.”

“Your personal role and the role of the United Kingdom in liberating Kosovo are matchless. You have brought together world’s democracies within the North Atlantic Treaty into the greatest humanitarian intervention in the modern history of the humankind, which aimed at delivering the people of Kosovo from genocide, in the danger of which they were in the spring of 1999.”

“In wartime, You gave courage and hope to the people of Kosovo, by visiting refugee camps in Macedonia. Once the war was over, You came to Kosovo to reaffirm Your commitment to a democratic and European future for our country.”

“Today, You find Yourself again in Prishtinë, where an independent and sovereign Kosovo, in the freedom of which You engaged so passionately, receives you as a friend, as a leader and as a hero.”

“As President of Republic of Kosovo, I feel much honored to hand over to You the Golden Medal of Freedom, which my predecessor Dr. Ibrahim Rugova has bestowed upon You, as a token of an everlasting reverence that all the people of Kosovo maintain for You.

“Thank You for all what You have done for Kosovo!”

After the meeting, President Fatmir Sejdiu and Prime Minister Blair gave a press statement each.

Initially, President Sejdiu thanked Mr. Blair for his engagement in human freedoms, in the freedom of the people of Kosovo, in saving our lives and, at the same time, for the strong support that the United Kingdom has provided under his leadership and later on.

“I expressed my highest consideration for the particular engagement of the UK teams in Kosovo, who have come to help build our economic and institutional capacities and, also, my highest consideration for his contribution at the highest international institutions, up to the United Nations and the Security Council, to the freedom of Kosovo and to Kosovo as a country belonging to all its citizens”, President Sejdiu added.

“Kosovo has no other vision but to be a cherished home for all its citizens and to meet challenges that lie ahead successfully. It’s objectives include membership in the United Nations and NATO and an earnest engagement in meeting the requirements, which it has proven by very good relations that it maintains with all the countries of the region and beyond”, President Sejdiu said further on.

“Accordingly, the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Blair’s and the UK governments that followed him have invested a lot in fostering this approach and the progress that we have made, including Her Highness Queen Elizabeth, who has played a special role”, President Sejdiu said.

We are pleased with the fact that the European Parliament has adopted an important resolution on Kosovo, calling on the other five EU member countries that have not recognized the independence of Kosovo to do so as soon as possible, because Kosovo reflects a positive reality in a country that is progressing successfully”, President Sejdiu said in conclusion.

“Allow me to express my appreciation and honor of being in Kosovo. With President Sejdiu we had very substantive discussions about the past and the future of Kosovo”, Prime Minister Blair said, thanking President Sejdiu for the reception.

“Allow me to thank you for your words of appreciation and for your reverence for me and for my country. It is also an opportunity for me to thank the armed forces of my country and NATO for an important role that they have played in what has happened here some years ago”, he said.

“The further discussion focused on the future and the European perspective and we agreed how important it is that Kosovo continues to make headway so as to help the European idea come true and closer to Kosovo and its people”, Mr. Blair added.

“I know more work is in progress in terms of recognition and membership in international institutions and a tangible progress has been made thanks to the leadership and the people of Kosovo. It is a pleasure for me to be here with you today and to return to Kosovo after 11 years. I have noticed and acknowledged the changes that were made here”, Prime Minister Blair said.

On the other hand, asked if the Kosovo issue has been resolved, as it has been recognized by 69 states, and there are still five EU countries that have not, Mr. Blair said:

“I believe Kosovo is a settled issue in the sense that Kosovo is here and will continue to be here, as an independent country. There is a sort of process of international recognition, but I believe that the progress in Kosovo will make it easier to resolve this issue as well. Accordingly, in consideration of the European Parliament resolution, this is important. Certainly these things will go on. There will be constant disagreements, but if we look at the continuous progress in these recognitions, this is impressive”.

On the other hand, in answering journalist’ questions regarding the situation in the north of the country, prospects of coexistence and new eventual talks on this part of Kosovo, President Sejdiu said: “The Kosovo issue, with the will of its people, has been resolved on 17 February 2008. All the countries that have recognized Kosovo have recognized it as a sovereign and independent state. We want to have good relations with the Republic of Serbia and the Serbian people. There are many issues that we can discuss, that are in the common interest of both sovereign states and that involve major requirements for integration, such as the freedom of movement, prevention of organized crime, economic cooperation, regional energy network, and so on, but never the status issue”.

“We – President Sejdiu added – have committed to implement President Ahtisaari’s Plan, which is a joint international project, and Kosovo, in the face of all the challenges that lie ahead, will accomplish this objective, so that those members of the Serbian community who hesitate to integrate themselves in the everyday life will take an active part in these processes and will become active partners in building a joint future for all the people of Kosovo.