Address of the President of the Republic of Kosovo, Mrs. Atifete Jahjaga, at the launch of the UNICEF “The State of the World’s Children, 2013; Children with disabilities” Report

Discrimination towards children with special needs, is unacceptable, it is in contradiction with the values and principles upon which we laid the foundations of our state, where each citizen, regardless, enjoys equal rights and opportunities.

Discrimination towards children with special needs, is unacceptable, it is in contradiction with the values and principles upon which we laid the foundations of our state, where each citizen, regardless, enjoys equal rights and opportunities.

From the UNICEF, United Nations Children’s Fund, we learned a bitter truth of a global scale that, children with disabilities, both physical and mental, are among the most isolated people on earth.

This truth must knock upon the conscience of every single citizen, and as for the state institutions, it must become an alarm bell which must remind them that children must be the priority, because, as we continuously state, children are our future; and when I say children, I mean all the children, regardless.

All the children, anywhere in the world, must enjoy the rights guaranteed to them by the laws in force, the Constitution and international conventions.

I have said it few times by now, and I am saying it again here today, because I strongly believe that investment in families, women and particularly in children is the smartest investment, because family is the kernel, the backbone of the state, children are our future and investment in future is never a bad investment.

Therefore, I appeal to all men of good will and I request that the institutions stop the discrimination of children in general, and discrimination of children with disabilities in particular; that each one of us starts to invest and help them to utilize in best possible way the talents they possess, as only through the incitement and development of their existing abilities as well as their improvement, will enable our society to become more progressive and all inclusive.

21st century is the century of integrations, not only within international organisations and global initiatives, but of the integration in general, therefore, from this viewpoint, I appeal to you to do away with the preconceptions and prejudice, to open yourselves to the future and make all the children with special needs feel as an important part of this society, to sense themselves as contributors to the shaping of their future. All individuals are born as equals, and as such they must grow up and live, with equal opportunities for everyone, not privileges and definitely not with scorn or prejudice. Only in this manner will tomorrow they become responsible citizens and a model of civic behaviour and upbringing, with abilities to manage with all the challenges which life will throw upon them.

Kosovo is a country which aims EU integrations; for this to come about, we need to accomplish certain criteria, undertake certain reforms and, I say it all the time and I am saying it here as well, all these changes we must not accomplish for the sake of others, but for the sake of our own interest, so that our children feel as equals with others, so that they enjoy the opportunity for access to education, healthcare, employment, as well as in many other fields of life.

UNICEF has documented that children with special needs are faced with discrimination, prejudice and isolation, in poor as well as in rich countries. This situation must unequivocally change.

I would like to pass on a message, in all the corners of the world, that no society will suffer, but on the contrary, they will gain greater benefits if they include these children in their social life and in general developments, rather than isolate them.

Us as leaders, must clearly express our vision for this rather sensitive and very important part of the society, to engage and concretely labour for all inclusiveness, to concentrate on their abilities and not on their limitations, and for them, as well as for us, to open the vision and to offer ourselves the opportunities we did not enjoy until today.

We must not continue to behave as if these children do not exist, because they are here in our midst’s and are waiting for us to create conditions which will make them feel as equals, to be given the opportunity to be included in the education system today, so that tomorrow they may contribute to their country and that we all together overpass the preconceptions and prejudice for everyone who is not exactly like us, because we are all distinct and we all have our particular needs, but only through expansion of our outlook may we become victorious over ourselves and only then may we speak of a state where each citizen enjoys equal rights and opportunities, irrespective of our differences. We must accomplish this here and now, for the sake of a better future of our children and their children too, so that everyone is at peace with themselves, regardless of their needs.

For a world without discrimination, an all inclusive Kosovo, a brighter future of ours, let us offer all the children equal opportunities.

Thank you.