REPUBLIC OF KOSOVO PRESIDENT DR. FATMIR SEJDIU’S ANNUAL ADDRESS TO REPUBLIC OF KOSOVO’S PARLIAMENT

Honorable Speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of Kosovo, Mr. Jakup Krasniqi, Honorable ministers, deputy ministers and members of Parliament, Honorable ambassadors of friend countries in Kosovo, Honorable representatives of international institutions, Dear citizens of Republic of Kosovo, Ladies and gentlemen,

Honorable Speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of Kosovo, Mr. Jakup Krasniqi,
Honorable ministers, deputy ministers and members of Parliament,
Honorable ambassadors of friend countries in Kosovo,
Honorable representatives of international institutions,
Dear citizens of Republic of Kosovo,
Ladies and gentlemen,


It is my honor to make my annual address to you, honorable members of Parliament of Republic of Kosovo, and to the citizens of the Republic of Kosovo. Like so far, I want to update you, from the podium of the highest legislative body of our country, on my engagements during this year, which, for many reasons, I have considered to be a propitious year of revelation and a year of proper functioning and of an overall growth of our independent and democratic Republic.

In the course of this year, the Republic of Kosovo has achieved tangible results in all fields of life, but has also faced arduous challenges and difficulties. Our country’s institutions have gained in strength and accountability, and the life and democratic debate have gained in dynamics. The credit for this is well-earned by both carriers of governance and those who were a part of opposition, but have directly contributed to an increase of governmental accountability.

We have entered the second year of Kosovo’s statehood and we have already been recognized by 61 countries around the world. The respective institutions of our country, both Presidency and Government i.e. Ministry of Internal Affairs, have engaged earnestly in ensuring as many new recognitions as possible. During this process, we have enjoyed the unreserved support of our friend countries, the United States of America and other most powerful countries of the EU. I have to distinguish here the role of Albania’s and Republic of Turkey’s diplomacies, who maintained their commitment to gain support for the newest country in the world, the Republic of Kosovo. These countries deserve a lot of credit, especially for the adoption of the Resolution on Kosovo by the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

With the aim of ensuring more recognitions and promoting of our country in the world, in between my annual addresses to you, I have held an array of meetings with representatives of countries from all continents. As a result of these engagements, we have held meetings and conducted very important visits, from which we should distinguish the visit to the USA and the historic meeting with President Bush on 21 August 2008 in the White House that I had, accompanied by other representatives of the Republic. The meeting was preceded by meetings with the US State Secretary Condoleezza Rice and the US Secretary of Defense, Mr. Robert Gates. It is our pleasure to announce that the Republic of Kosovo continues to enjoy the special attention of the United States and President Obama’s government, with the highest representatives of which we have already met both in Washington and here in Pristina. In the course of our last visit to Washington in the beginning of March this year we met the US Vice President Joseph Biden, the US State Secretary Hillary Clinton and the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Ms. Susan Rice.

Likewise, in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2008, I met more than 30 representatives of countries that had not recognized the Republic of Kosovo yet – presidents, prime ministers and ministers of foreign affairs.

The United States special commitment to Kosovo was also reaffirmed during the visit that the US Vice President Joseph Biden paid to our country. Accordingly, I would like to extend my thanks to all citizens and officials of our country for having organized a decent reception for him.

Besides intensive exchanges with the United States, we have maintained our close relations with all other countries that have supported Kosovo. We were received in London by the UK Prime Minister, Mr. Gordon Braun, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. David Milliband, and we have held regular contacts with the major representatives of the European diplomacy, such as the EU Chief Diplomat Mr.  Havier Solana, above all, but other important functionaries as well, like Hose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, Oli Rehn, EU Enlargement Commissioner, and others.

As President of the country, I have regularly exchanged correspondences with my counterparts from around the globe. On 23 and 24 June 2009, I participated in the Summit of Presidents of the region, held in Vlora. Apart from the host, President Topi, I met there the President of Montenegro, Mr. Vujanović, and the President of Macedonia, Mr. Ivanov. There we made a joint commitment to boost interstate and regional cooperation, so as to attest our readiness and maturity to become an equal part of the great democratic family of Europe.

On 29 June 2009 in Washington, me and Prime Minister Thaçi signed the documents of accession of Republic of Kosovo to the major international financial institutions i.e. the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Throughout the year, I have met, both in my office and abroad, prime ministers, speakers of parliaments and other representatives of many countries, like Germany, Switzerland, Turkey, Albania, Denmark, Luxemburg, Estonia, Croatia, Slovenia and many others. In all these meetings, I have pointed out that the Republic of Kosovo has a multiethnic society, distinguished by its reach spiritual and cultural diversity and imparting a special mosaic to our secular country that respects and provides constitutional safeguards for the rights and freedoms of all its communities. Therefore, it is never too much to remind that Kosovo represents a unique example of tolerance, understanding and coexistence between people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds.

Kosovo welcomes positive reports issued by many organizations and mechanisms on achievements made in our country. Also, we accept and take a cautious note of their remarks and pledge to engage more in the areas that require improvement.

Honorable members of Parliament and participants in this session,

I was invited, as President of Republic of Kosovo and as an expert, to hold lectures in renowned international institutions and universities, such as in Germany, United Kingdom, USA and Republic of Turkey.

On the other hand, I have received the Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg Award from President Topi; the District of Shkodra has conferred upon me the title of an “Honorary Citizen of Shkodra”; Co-Plan Institute from Tirana has awarded me the special prize of “Albanian Leadership 2008”; and Arizona State University in Phoenix has given me the “Distinguished Global Leadership Award”. In every ceremony organized for awards that I have received, I have said that I also consider these awards as acknowledgments for my people and my country, Kosovo.

The participation in the Munich Security Conference on February 2009 deserves a special place in my agenda. This conference was attended by more than 300 participants from all around the world: presidents, prime ministers and other senior leaders of the most influential countries of the world. It was the first time that Kosovo was represented in this mechanism, but it will remain a practice for all the subsequent meetings at this level. Moreover, I would like to mention my participation in the Euro-Asia Economic Forum in Istanbul, held in March this year, which was attended by presidents, former presidents, ministers and experts of 41 Euro-Asia countries. In this forum as well, I met important state and political figures from many countries, whom I encouraged to urge their governments on recognizing the independence of Kosovo.

Republic of Kosovo is reinforcing its international identity everyday, by acceding to international organizations, by affiliating to regional and international mechanisms and initiatives and by signing bilateral agreements. We need to increase the number of these accessions and agreements so that Kosovo can have the place it deserves in international institutions.

Honorable Speaker Krasniqi,
Honorable members of Parliament,

Since the declaration of independence, Republic of Kosovo’s institutions have proved to the citizens and the international community that they are serious partners and that our state is an important factor of peace and stability in the region. The Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo, as the highest legal document, remains the main foundation for the most important decisions to be taken on the future of our country, our state. It obliges us to provide for rule of law and equality between all citizens living in the territory of our Republic. As you know, our country will enter another regular cycle of elections this year. Pursuant to the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo, I have held a series of meetings with political party leaders, with the aim of setting a date for municipal elections. Following these consultations, I decided to set November 15 as the date of these elections. There is no doubt that these elections are very important, because they are the first to be held in an independent Kosovo and to be organized by national institutions exclusively. Accordingly, ensuring smooth, correct and decent elections should become the main objective and commitment to be made by all of us: institutions, running parties and citizens, who are rightfully seeking guarantees of respect of their vote as constituents.

I already had some meetings with the chairmanship of the Central Election Commission, who promised me that they will do their utmost to make all the necessary preparations for these elections on time. I have also made intensive consultations with important international stakeholders who will be important supportive partners in these important elections for Kosovo.

Dear members of Parliament,

The Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo provides a clear division of powers into three main branches: the legislative, the executive and the judiciary. In my capacity as a President, I have tried to ensure the required level of cohesive functionality. As President of the Republic of Kosovo, I have assumed fundamental competencies, especially in the fields that relate to executive issues and state sovereignty. Taking this into account, I have done my utmost to fulfill the commitment that I have made: to contribute to the democratic unity of the people and institutions of the Republic of Kosovo.

Republic of Kosovo has also established the most important constitutional pillar, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Kosovo, which followed the establishment of Republic of Kosovo’s Constitutional Commission. This commission drafted the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Kosovo, which was adopted by the Parliament and is in force now. The implementation and application of the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo is monitored by the judges of this high institution, who have taken their solemn oath in front of me.

As far as judicial reforms are concerned, it is my pleasure to inform you that, in accordance with the powers that the Constitution has vested in me, I have promulgated the Law on Temporary Composition of the Kosovo Judicial Council. Pursuant to this law, I have appointed the first members of the council, which is a crucial step towards reforms envisaged for the judiciary. Within the terms provided by law, the members of this institution – which is of crucial for ensuring justice in country – have taken their oath in front of me. Now their duty is to set their pace in building a proper judicial system in Kosovo and in embarking on the process of essential reforms to be made.

As a president of a country which needs substantial reforms in its judiciary and prosecution systems, I will carry out my own duty of providing a basis for these reforms, so as to create a completely independent judiciary and prosecution. At the end of the day, this is a precondition to rule of law.

I always insist that Republic of Kosovo’s courts and prosecution offices should be staffed with young, knowledgeable and committed people, free from any formal or informal influence or bias, people who respect the law, are impartial and who, most importantly, were never involved in corruptive actions or affairs.

I believe that the Law on Notary and the Law on Mediation that I have promulgated recently and the application of mediation as an alternative method to resolve disputes will relieve the burden borne by the judiciary of the Republic of Kosovo.

On the 1st Anniversary of Independence of Republic of Kosovo we practically proved, for the first time in our modern history, that justice in our country implies a humanitarian dimension and stands for amiability of our state and free society. Based on the powers that the Constitution has vested in me; pursuant to the Law on Pardon and other related laws; following a detailed review of all the completed cases; and further to the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Commission composed of independent experts, on February 17, 2009, the Day of Independence, I decreed the complete or partial pardon for 62 convicted persons. I believe that this act will serve as an example of our states benevolence and as a positive indicator to all those who have violated the law. I consider that, institutionally, we have offered these pardoned convicts an opportunity to return to their normal lives and become an active and useful part of our society. At the same time, we have set a concrete example proving that the Republic of Kosovo does not aim at drawing on state’s iron hand philosophy, but on values of modern democracy and a strong sense of humanity and rule of law.

Honorable members of Parliament,

I would like to assert that we have always tried to play our part in the dynamics of adopting laws and building new democratic institutions. Since the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo entered into force, I have promulgated more than 90 laws that were adopted by the Parliament of the Republic. These laws were reviewed with delicacy by my colleagues and I have re-examined and revised them before they came into effect.

Given the fact that the economic growth of our country is a priority of our state policies, I have decreed laws on the field of economy that we hope will lead to a substantial economic growth of the Republic of Kosovo. In addition to this, together with you, we continued to develop the legislative framework for establishing institutions that constitute the core of an independent and sovereign state, including, inter alia, the security mechanisms like the Kosovo Security Force and Kosovo Intelligence Agency, by giving, thus, a clear signal of a functional system. Our state now has its Security Force and Intelligence Agency, which should be strengthened further and for which I will ensure that they are at a full service of Republic of Kosovo’s institutions and citizens and free from any kind of influence coming from political circles or groups of interest.

On 15 June 2009, I decreed the Superiors of Kosovo Security Force. I believe that this will result in desired effects and in the accomplishment of our objective of having a modern and well-organized security force. Allow me to reaffirm that Kosovo maintains its readiness to contribute to international missions of peace and security in the world, in partnership and full coordination with NATO.

Honorable members of Parliament,

Our state also requires international representation and cooperation. To this effect, I have promulgated laws that you have adopted and which relate to foreign policy and diplomacy. I have already reached the final stage of consultations with the Government of the Republic of Kosovo, namely with the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, which aim at appointing the first ambassadors of our country in the world. The selection of ambassadors and other officials of Republic of Kosovo’s embassies and consular missions will me completed soon and I am convinced that our country will be represented by diplomats who are ready to defend and present interests of Kosovo’s citizens and state wherever they are.

In revising and promulgating laws adopted by the Parliament of the Republic of Kosovo, I will always bear in mind my primary obligation to defend legitimate interests of Republic of Kosovo and its citizens. For that reason, as you know, I have reversed three laws to be reviewed by the Parliament of the Republic of Kosovo, having considered that these laws, as such, contained elements that undermined the interests of our citizens and our country and ran counter to international conventions.

In terms of advancing the position of minority communities in the Republic of Kosovo and in view of meeting the requirements of President Ahtisaari’s Comprehensive Proposal, I have established the Consultative Council for Communities, which operates within my office. I am pleased to inform you that the council already has its chair and his deputies and has become fully operational and ready to perform its tasks. The Consultative Council for Communities will be an important mechanism for expressing the will of all communities living in the Republic of Kosovo.
 
Dear citizens of the Republic of Kosovo,
Honorable members of Parliament,
 
Kosovo has enjoyed the generosity of its friend countries, expressed at the Donors’ Conference by crucial financial pledges made by individual countries. These countries – the United States of America, the EU countries and other democratic countries of the world – have also assisted Kosovo in its darkest moment, but also in the last decade of the revival of its economy, which was devastated by war and a systematic destruction, during Milosevic’s regime in particular.

By expressing again our gratitude for the exceptional generosity shown by these countries, we insist that our country’s institutions and private entrepreneurs must do everything in their power to ensure the sustainability of our country’s economy. International support is crucial, but our people must bear witness of a tangible progress in our economic sector. Everyday, they need assurances of a clear vision that institutions of their country are striving to achieve.

Kosovo’s accession to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank is a remarkable achievement that should be used as an incentive to the economic growth of our country. Therefore, the Ministry of Economy and Finance and other agencies of central and local governments must renew their efforts to reduce, continuously, the effects of the financial crisis, all the more when the consequences of the global financial crises cannot but affect our country.

Adherence to an agreement between two parties is the foundation of a sound economy. Taking into account this fundamental legal and economical context, I encourage all the stakeholders to do their utmost in providing the necessary conditions to enterprises privatized through a special spin-off. Disregard for terms of agreement on the part of owners of privatized socially-owned enterprises has developed into a chronic phenomenon that is damaging employees, privatized enterprises and economy of Kosovo. The cases when somebody has done his best in meeting these terms are rare.

Therefore, I want to use this opportunity to urge the respective bodies to undertake all the necessary measures to provide the necessary conditions for privatization. Otherwise, if the terms of agreement envisaged by privatization agreements are not met by investors within the prescribed periods of time, they should have e recourse to legal remedies provided by relevant legislation and privatization agreements. Once and forever, we should realize that free trade economy does not stand for an irresponsible economy.  Furthermore, free trade economy does not imply an absolute laissez-faire. A sound economy must be developed in compliance with relevant and effective legislation and be conducive to a fair competition between various economic operators. Of course, economic legislation and licensing serve as guarantees for quality bids and operators in the market, but it is crucial to ensure that this legal rule i.e. the licensing is not used, by any means whatsoever, as a tool for promoting monopolies and personal interests. Such an approach conflicts with our aims for a free trade economy, with our state interests and with European civilization values. 

In between my two last addresses to you, I have held many meetings with the citizens of our country. I consider that Kosovo’s institutions can do more to the benefit of citizens by opening a perspective for economic growth and by enhancing the social care. There is still a need to facilitate the growth of businesses, to set clear priorities for health care, energy, education and culture. We need much more jobs and a sustainable social care in order to reduce the poverty and unemployment, which still represent pressing issues.

Again, I invite our institutions to exclude education and health care staff from the category of civil servants, in order to provide an opportunity for diversification of competition in the current context of our market economy. The government should invest more in public health care and engage in providing an added value to education in our country, in the light of modern achievements and trends. I also call on our institutions, at all levels, to take a better care for the pensioners, who have, for decades, provided an immense contribution to building Kosovo.  

I would like to raise the issue of population census again, which is a pending issue that represents an obstacle to the future development of Kosovo. It is very important to note that population census in Kosovo will help Republic of Kosovo’s institutions accomplish their priority objectives envisaged by various development strategies.

Honorable members of Parliament,

On 17 February and 8 August 2008, on behalf of Republic of Kosovo’s institutions, I invited the European Union to send the International Civilian Mission to our country, led by the European Union itself, but involving the presence of the United States. Upon to this invitation, EULEX is now present in Kosovo and has, as of its inception, achieved some important results, despite some delays. The gradual reinstatement of order in the northern border points of our country, efforts to make the customs fully operational and resistance to constant pressures coming from Serbia have helped this mission gain the trust of Republic of Kosovo’s institutions and citizens, without distinction. Therefore, we assure EULEX of our cooperation, so that we can jointly achieve new results in the fields of security and rule of law.

I also want to reiterate our request for reconfiguration of UNMIK and for bringing this mission to a close, which, despite delays in this regard, may be considered a success story of international engagement in Kosovo.

A special gratitude is well-earned by KFOR commanders and soldiers, who, with their professional engagement in protecting Kosovo and with other engagements in the civil area i.e. construction of roads and bridges, schools and other facilities for the citizens of our country, have set a unique example of success in Kosovo.

In terms of security issues, I am particularly glad to announce that no ethnically-motivated incident was reported in the Republic of Kosovo this year. This constitutes a substantial evidence that Kosovo is a mutual homeland to all its equal citizens, regardless of their national, religious or ethnic background. We are convinced that disrupters of public peace and order serve those who do not want an independent and pro-western Kosovo and its democracy.
 
On this occasion, we express our gratitude to those ministers, members of Parliament and fellow citizens of Serb community who have worked zealously in Kosovo’s institutions, in the face of constant pressures to abandon and boycott these institutions. Their work is in favor of Kosovo, in favor of their Serb compatriots living in Kosovo and in favor of all other citizens.

I welcome the return of Serb police officers to the Kosovo Police and, from this podium of our Parliament, I invite Kosovo Serb citizens and their political entities that still hesitate to cooperate with our institutions to integrate themselves into our civic and political lives. Their participation in this year’s municipal elections would be an important step for all of us in Kosovo, an important message to the international community and a contribution to a better joint future and perspective.

I also invite all the displaced people, wherever they are, to return to their homes, because the Republic of Kosovo guarantees them a peaceful life and a safe future.

As always before, we should distinguish the immense contribution that all the representatives of other ethnic communities in Kosovo – Turks, Bosniaks, Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians – have and are still providing to ensure a proper flow of general political and social processes. They are important factors of stability and progress in the Republic of Kosovo.

Honorable members of Parliament,

Republic of Kosovo’s institutions – Parliament, Government, Local Government and other state agencies – must retain their commitment to engage in improving the life of our citizens and in strengthening the stability and security for all. Our country will remain a factor of a sustainable peace in the region, but, at the same time, it will persevere in its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Not for a moment will we allow our national interests to be undermined, but we will always affirm that we are very interested in good relations will all countries of the region, including Serbia, provided that the latter distances itself from destructive policies and blackmailing against Kosovo. It is impossible to establish good relations with Serbia as long as it sponsors parallel structures in the north of our country, which employ people who were involved in serious crimes and who owe a lot to Kosovo, to other peoples of the region and, above all, to justice.

We feel happy about the readiness of other countries of the region to strengthen the cooperation with the Republic of Kosovo and about the fact that they have shown an understanding for our idea to create a free zone for the movement of people and goods between our countries. The implementation of such an idea would undoubtedly boost trade exchanges and economic growth in the region, and would, at the same time, serve as a strong proof that this part of Europe has the will, the knowledge and the readiness to be a part of a united Europe, a part of a free and democratic world in which the freedom of an individual, respect of ethnic, religious and cultural diversity is cherished as a valuable resource amidst an overall mosaic of the modern civilization.

We also feel glad about achievements made by countries of the region and welcome the full membership of Republic of Croatia and Republic of Albania in NATO, as we are convinced that this is an important moment for the security and the future of the region. A special acknowledgment is well-earned by the government of Albania, who is making the long dream of a physical connection between our countries come true, by constructing the Durres-Morina highway, which we believe we will lengthen further, within the shortest term possible, towards Pristina and up to Merdare. There is no doubt that this highway will give an incentive to the cooperation between the Republic of Albania and the Republic of Kosovo and will also contribute to the growth of the region in general.    

Last but not least, as we have always maintained, the integration of the Republic of Kosovo into the EU, NATO and other international institutions and the strengthening of cooperation and special friendship with the United States of America is the main motto of our engagements. This determination is an expression of the political will of the people of Kosovo and its institutions and political entities and we will never abandon it, by no means.

God Bless the Parliament of the Republic of Kosovo!
God Bless the People of Kosovo!
God Bless all our friends!