Republic of Kosovo President’s Address at the 2009 Euro-Asia Economic Forum held during Presidents and Former President’s Session

Istanbul, 7 May 2008 Dear Presidents of friend countries of the Republic of Kosovo:

Allow me to assure you of my highest considerations for you and for the countries that you represent. It is my pleasure to provide you with first-hand information on overall developments in my country, the Republic of Kosovo.

As you know, on 17 February 2008, the elected representatives of the people of Kosovo declared the independence of Kosovo as a sovereign and democratic state, assuming thus obligations appertaining to it as a subject of international law and relations. To date, the will of the people of Kosovo for an independent state was recognised by 58 world countries, which produce more than two-thirds of the global GDP.

On this occasion as well, I want to thank all the states that stood by Kosovo both immediately after the war and during the process that aimed at its independence and overall development. The declaration of independence has opened for us a new perspective of development and has rendered Kosovo a factor of an overall security in the region.

Kosovo has made painstaking, but vital steps towards building democratic institutions and proving that our state has embarked on a comprehensive and active partnership for peace, stability and development in the region. In particular, we want to lay emphasis on Kosovo’s excellent relations with neighbouring countries, all of which, with the exception of Serbia, have recognised its independence. Despite the irrational approach to Kosovo that Serbia has maintained thus far, we believe that our relations with Serbia should be established so as to provide for a better future for the people of our countries. I am personally much in favour of strengthening the regional cooperation, which is why I have given the idea of further liberalisation of boundaries and creation of a mini-Schengen zone for all the countries of the region, so that we can all prove that we favour a joint movement towards integration processes.

The adoption of Constitution and other primary legislation in full compliance with Ahtisaari’s Proposal indicates the commitment of Kosovo’s institutions and people to the complete implementation of the plan, which has emerged after a long and arduous process of international negotiations. On this occasion as well, we want to emphasise that Kosovo has paid and shall continue to pay a special attention to minority communities (though all of them compose less than 10% of the population), by treating them without distinction and by surpassing the highest international standards. Kosovo is a country of its equal citizens that does not tolerate anyone’s domination over others. This helps us all to be a part of making Kosovo a democratic state that belongs to all of its citizens. The presences of EULEX, as an EU-led advisory mission of rule of law, and KFOR, as a security mechanism, support us in developing further our democratic values and in strengthening our state of rule of law.
As a newly established state, but with a clear vision for its full integration into Euro-Atlantic community, the Republic of Kosovo is ready to face all the challenges appertaining to it as a sovereign state.

Since the declaration of independence, all the indicators show that Kosovo is on the right track to become a country with a sound, sustainable and competitive economy. The recognition of Kosovo by 22 out of 27 EU member states and by the vast majority of NATO member countries is a strong signal of the readiness of these countries, as well other friend countries, to strengthen the political and economic cooperation with our state. The trust revealed at the International Donor’s Conference, were Kosovo was donated 1.4 billion dollars, should be translated into investments and tangible results, so as to retain it and receive further support in the future.

Besides other challenges, Kosovo is undertaking painstaking steps to face potential consequences that may result from the global financial crisis. An accurate estimation on the impact of the world financial crisis upon Kosovo’s economy is not possible for the moment, because continuous attention and measures are required for such an assessment, but, based on the particular features of Kosovan economy, there is some room for mentioning some indicators.

Researches carried out in Kosovo so far indicate that Kosovo’s economy has suffered some blows as a consequence of the world financial crisis. Around 2/3 of the people say that they have started to feel the effects of the crisis; most of them complain of higher prices, the others fear that they are going to lose their jobs, and many of them consider that the effects of the crisis will grow more adverse owing to the reduction of remittances to Kosovo from those who work abroad.
We have noticed that the people are anxious about the consequences that the world financial crisis may produce in my country. First of all, some indicators show that the last year’s crisis had a negative effect on some fields. The Kosovo Pension Savings Trust suffered a loss of 70 million €, or around 30% of its total funds, which is a reason enough for alarm. Export data collected in the beginning of 2009 indicate that this sector has been affected and that that export activities run the risk of losing the dynamic performance achieved during 2007 and 2008. In the two first months of this year, the export dropped for 40% compared to the first two months of 2008, due to the reduction of demand for mineral products that were being exported from Kosovo. However, more serious effects of the crisis might be expected in terms of remittances. Though there are no exact data, there is a grounded belief that remittances from abroad will drop considerably compared to previous years. The Kosovan Diaspora generally involves ordinary workers who are very vulnerable to economic developments. We consider that this represents a particular problem for the economy of Kosovo, given the fact that remittances have played and still play an important role in Kosovo. Remittances constitute a high percentage of family budgets. They also affect Kosovo’s current balance, bearing in mind that Diaspora has played an active role in investments made after the war.  
There are also a considerable number of less noticeable effects of the world financial crisis. Foreign investors, in one hand, maintain a conservative approach for the moment, by adhering to a “wait and see” principle. We have identified the direct foreign investment as an important potential for speeding up the process of Kosovan economy. Accordingly, some projects foreseen involving the foreign capital – such as the privatisation of a part of Kosovo Energy Corporation and a part of Post and Telecommunications of Kosovo, including the building of new energy capacities – will be affected by the crisis. The current position of foreign investors will be reflected in a decrease of interest in the privatisation of socially-owned enterprises. On the other hand, the banking sector will start to apply more astringent procedures and conditions for loans. Moreover, it might be expected that donors from developed countries might hesitate to deliver their pledges to Kosovo, due to an increase of demand in their own countries. Despite all this, we are undertaking careful steps to overcome this situation and protect ourselves from further consequences of the crisis.
Dear friends:
On behalf of the people and the institutions of the Republic of Kosovo, I avail myself of this opportunity to extend my hand of cooperation to your respected countries. I call on you to support Kosovo in her visions and aspirations to obtain the place it deserves amongst the free, democratic and developed nations that have embraced the modern values. Remaining grateful for your support so far, the people of Kosovo welcome your countries’ further investments in and support and commitment to Kosovo.
Thank you!