ANNUAL SPEECH OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF KOSOVO AT THE PARLIAMENT OF KOSOVO

I have the pleasure to be here with you today and add up the achievements and challenges we had as a society and as a state during the year we are leaving behind.

Honourable Speaker of the Parliament, Mr. Veseli,
Honourable Government Cabinet Members,
Honourable Members of Parliament,
Ambassadors and representatives of diplomatic missions in Kosovo,
Dear citizens of Republic of Kosovo,
Ladies and Gentlemen;

I have the pleasure to be here with you today and add up the achievements and challenges we had as a society and as a state during the year we are leaving behind. I come before you not just simply to fulfil a Constitutional obligation, but convinced more than ever before that our brittle democracy will be strengthened only through strong trust in institutions which are mandated to govern with Kosovo;
Through responsibility and full respect for Constitutional mandates of institutions, inclusive of their autonomy;

Inspired as well by the aspiration included in our Constitution, to create a place of equal citizens, with equal opportunities to express their potential and attain wellbeing in Republic of Kosovo;

And with sincere dedication to the values we have placed into the foundations of our state, primarily the love for motherland, without which we cannot conclude our state forming;

Political developments in the second half of this year have proved that we are still a long distance away from enlivening of this vision of our state and far from the realization of our common ambitions.

At general elections, which were held in June, citizens of Republic of Kosovo showed a high level of maturity. Citizens responded to the call to fulfil with responsibility their civic obligation, to elect their representatives to this Parliament and to entrust us with decision making on their behalf. Citizens of Kosovo, with maturity, undertook a good electoral process, without incidents,  for the first time with an ethnic all-inclusiveness in the whole of the territory of Kosovo; by placing their trust in a democratic process and strengthening their conviction that through their vote they trust the building of a state, which takes into consideration their needs and their desires, for a leadership which sees representation and governance as a responsibility.

During the six month period which followed this democratic process, we discovered the failings of our young democracy, as well as identified the ambiguities and deficiencies of an approved but untested Constitution in our political life. But it was not just the democratic process and the Constitution which we tested on this occasion.

In institution building and political blockade which permeated the process of the constituting of this Parliament and this Government, I was often forced to, appeal for setting aside of the narrow political and party interests and animosities which were more personal than conceptual.

It was a tough role to play in a dire situation of extreme polarization of the political stage, full of tension and acrimony. But there was no other alternative, because four years ago, at this very institution I swore the oath to be a factor of unity in the Republic of Kosovo, that I would hold Constitutionality and legality above the agenda of daily politics. On the other hand, I had faith in a political class which got united whenever the time was nigh to make Kosovo. And the faith in institutions which we established ourselves would not be put to doubt.

We lost a lot of valuable time to move ahead with absolutely necessary reforms, which will make Kosovo a state with rule of law and a land of prosperity. To develop the economy and not to halve our economic growth, which is even now insufficient to handle the unemployment and Kosovo’s general development.
These six months, apart from putting to test the institutions and the Constitution of Kosovo, this fundamental document which lays the foundations of our state and the values upon which we lay the foundations, we also put to a difficult test the patience of our citizens. We brought them close to apathy, which gravely challenged our joint will to mobilize and to provide the final push to the consolidation of Kosovo as a sovereign and independent state, to this dream for which we sacrificed so much. We shook the faith that citizens of Kosovo had to the fact that we can make the state and we tarnished their ambition to become the lords of their own fate.

While I count the consequences of the six month crisis, which became tangible to all of us, inclusive of the paralysis of the independent agencies, thus risking our functioning as a state, I would like to believe that we came out of this dark point of Kosovo’s recent history more aware of the great consequences of our actions, which unfairly fall upon the citizen of Republic of Kosovo.

We came out of this situation more aware of the deficiencies and ambiguities of our system- of the political parties, the electoral process, the Constitution, and we rose stronger to face the necessary reforms, which will ensure the functioning of institutions and development of processes, which guarantee the equality of our citizens in front of the law. And I pray that we came out of this more aware that responsibility lies with us- and not upon the international factor- to find solutions for our problems and our failures.

This general, political and civic awareness must serve us for a single aim only- to hastily rebuild the faith of the citizens of Kosovo in their state, in the Republic of Kosovo. We have consolidated the institutions and the processes are clear. Now we need a new political and practical ardour to implement the state building dedications.

We have many institutional challenges ahead of us and we must fulfil a many a expectations of the citizens of Kosovo and of our international partners, whom remained by our side on every step of our state building. I am convinced that we shall not disappoint either side, and that we will accomplish all we can day by day in order to overcome our weaknesses and deficiencies.

We should not be looking for a shorter road. Without further loss of time, we must fulfil our obligations. Only then we shall have well-grounded arguments to push forward at decision making centres our vision and the agenda which brings us all together- that of creation of a viable state, functional in Euro-Atlantic integrations.

Out tasks are concrete ad measurable. The steps to their implementation must also be as concrete and measurable, as should be the accountability for their implementation, until the installation of an institutional culture of transparency and accountability, which does not tolerate negligence, rules out nepotism and clienteles and awards professionalism.

.Up to this point we have blamed the transition and unavoidable chaos, which follows each war and every post war society. From now on, and I reiterate, our tasks are concrete and measurable, and I expect from you a detachment form previous practices.

The scenes of unemployed youth, which wander the squares of our cities, cities which risk to gradually become ghost towns, or scenes of long queues of people waiting to purchase a one way ticket to fictitious and non-existent addresses of salvation, must trouble our souls, to keep us awake at night. It is our responsibility to face it and to look for solutions to provide for the needs of our citizens.
We bear responsibility for non-realized dreams of our citizens and for the disappointment of the citizens with the Republic of Kosovo.

As much as it is the responsibility of ours to ensure wellbeing of our citizens, it is as much to prevent the actions of those who try to gain from citizens, and who, through illegal paths take them to an unsafe future.
Priority for the citizens of Kosovo remains the lowering of the unemployment, which would in turn ensure a more dignified life, a solid improvement of the living standard, the level of which still leaves a lot to be desired.

Easing of free competition and dissolution of cartels and monopolies, enables steady and all-encompassing economic growth , based upon the results of free initiative, innovation, research and development.
If we want a free society- and this surely remains an ambition of ours- we must instigate free competition, and not allow for concentration of power in the hands of a minority, which misuses the system in order to ensure unjust favours for individuals or groups of interest. This is not a free market economy, but economy of so-called elites, which become an obstacle to general progress.

A free and democratic society, based upon conditions of free market and free competition, cannot exist outside the law. The burden of responsibility on ensuring this lies primarily with political and economic institutions which must fulfil its duties, establish supporting and promoting mechanisms, but they must initially look after the implementation of the law and creation of preconditions for an all-encompassing economic development.

Politics must be a facilitator and not a hindrance to progress.

The unemployment problem is solved by proper economic policies and a serious devotion on all levels. We, as a society, with great human and natural potential, must build a clear economic vision, which must be an all-inclusive vision, which defines the ways and manners of a proper economic development, part of which must be every single citizens of Kosovo.

For this we must have courage to undertake structural reforms. We must have the courage to find ways to activate our capacities, be they in production, services, mining industry, and energy sector or primarily of human resources.

We must address the 52 recommendations of the European Commission on visa liberalisation, which still remain a part of unaccomplished general requirements presented to the institutions of Kosovo. It is unreasonable for Kosovo to remain the most isolated country in Europe and that freedom of movements of its citizens to remain hostage of a number of details- for example of the implementation of the law on financing of political parties, of the internet connection of border crossing points or nominations of individuals to serve at Kosovo Judicial Council or Prosecutorial Service of Kosovo- requirements so easy to fulfil.

In the coming days and weeks, fulfilment of these criteria and signing of the Stabilization-Association Agreement, must be the priority of our utmost engagement, of every one of us, of all institutions. For a more efficient inter-institutional coordination, we will put to service the Council on European Integrations, a by now proven body, for achievement of the necessary social and institutional consensus of our European agenda. I am convinced that fulfilment of these criteria shall not only enable the free movement of the citizens of Kosovo but shall also improve the efficiency of the system which we have been building for more than a decade and a half.

IN certain fields we have made progress, which align us with our allies in uncompromised defence of our national security. A year ago, from this very place, I warned you on the dangers of violent extremism to the security of Kosovo. We have acted without hesitation, because Kosovo will never become a source of extremism and a shelter for terrorists. Measures have been taken to prevent terrorist activity which endanger the security of the citizens of Kosovo and we will continue to remain devoted to not allowing Kosovo to become a nurturing ground for these dark and regressive forces which are attempting to grow roots in the state of Kosovo.

To ensure that we remain faithful to the lay state and to religious freedoms as a fundamental human right, we need to cooperate with religious communities in proper regulation of their activity.
Honourable members of parliament,

Our European agenda is closely linked to two other internal processes which are as important to the stability of ours as a state- results of our fight against corruption and integration of minority communities in intuitional and social life of the Republic of Kosovo.

Both these processes are linked to deep reforms, all-encompassing reforms in healthcare, education system and in judiciary system. Today we have a non-transparent public procurement system. Increase of the number of judges has not translated into efficiency in penal indictments and passing of judgment in indicted cases. There are over 2.000 cases which lay in waiting in the drawers of our judicial bodies. Such a situation is unacceptable, as is unacceptable the incursion in the autonomy of institutions of higher education and judiciary, which must be the pillars which regenerate our values and guarantee improvement and regeneration of our system.

When we swore the oath that we shall make Kosovo a place of all its citizens, we undertook the obligation to integrate all communities living in Kosovo. We lend the hand of cooperation even to those who looked upon us with suspicion. In these seven years, we have demonstrated our ability to stick to our values which are the foundation of our state and we have proved our dedication to work together with our neighbours in order to overcome the barriers to cooperation.

To us, these processes are irreversible. We have fought hard for our freedom and our rights, including the most basic freedoms as freedom of speech or the right to life- and now we cannot give up on these values or deny them to someone else.

In this common state of ours solutions will also be common, without imposition or duress- solutions which preserve the Constitutional order and the principle of all-inclusiveness.
Ovo je vreme integracija! Kada svi mi ravnopravni gradjani zajednicke zemlje tezzimo ka boljoj buduccnosti, integrisani u socialnom i institucinalnom zivotu Kosova. Ovo je vreme kada svi mi trebamo gledati interes nasih gradjana, unutar zajedniccke drzzave, koja tezzi integrisanje u Evropskoj Zajednici. 
Kosovo must also stand proud in front of the forthcoming challenge related to our painful past. The Parliament of Kosovo has supported the establishment of the Special Tribunal which will address the accusation for war crimes which stem from the Council of Europe report of 2010, and  must as quickly as possible fulfil its obligation on its establishment, as proof that we are a state built upon the principle of justice for all.

Establishment of Special Tribunal reflects our dedication to an independent and impartial process, which will review these accusations with credibility once and for all. This tribunal will be handling individual cases and shall in no way be a denouncing of our joint battle for liberation and independence.

It is our obligation to return to Kosovo soil, close to their families, over 1600 citizens of Kosovo, missing since the Kosovo war. Their return must not be subject of negotiations but a state obligation of the government of Republic of Serbia, and a priority of ours not to allow these crimes to fade into forgetfulness, but to ask for justice for them. We should knock on every door in order to calm the souls of the families awaiting their beloved for 15 years now.

The wounds of war remain open also for the victims of rape. I would like to thank previous legislation for making the victims of this kind of torture a legal category by including them in the war victim’s law. As you know, a lots of work has been undertaken by the Council for rehabilitation of survivors of sexual violence during the war, in addressing of the needs of this category through necessary legislation, healthcare rehabilitation, economic empowerment and fighting of the stigma. 

I expect from the new government and from you, members of parliament, to continue the cooperation and the dignified treatment of the survivors. Our liberty will not be complete without their liberty.

Honourable citizens of Kosovo,
Our dedication towards our ultimate goal is unshakable. While many during the last decade in Europe discuss the viability of enlargement policy, western Balkans has been unified in its aspiration to become EU member, as the sole agenda which unifies us all.

Our region has often resisted to positive change, but the EU perspective has demonstrated to be an efficient tool in transformation of the Balkans. And I believe that we are at a delicate moment of the European ambition and perspective. We as a state, but the region as well, and the EU itself, must advance this perspective as the only guarantee of the progress achieved and as stable proof  that we have by now learned a lesson from the past.

Institutions of the Republic of Kosovo must remain dedicated to a qualitative dialogue with the Republic of Serbia, on normalization of relations between the two countries and people, through mediation of the European Union. We must take our deserved place at the regional and global tables, and in the year we are leaving behind the successes were undeniable. We must continue to strengthen our subjectivity in relation with our neighbours and to normalize the relations which are holding hostage the region and the wellbeing of our citizens.

It is a priority to find solution for issues inherited from the last war, and my approach to these priorities is pragmatic. Symbolism is important, but I give priority to solutions and to moving forward.

I am confident in the statehood of Kosovo, in sustainability of this statehood and should not be apprehensive in facing anyone in Belgrade. We represent the resolve of over 2 million citizens of our country, who are resolved in their will for state of Kosovo and have built this state with lots of hard work and sacrifice, in order for it to be a home for every single one of us.

Honourable Parliament of Kosovo,
Honourable members of Parliament,
Honourable citizens of the Republic of Kosovo,

It is the end time to make our vision for Kosovo, which stems from the conviction and endeavours of our citizens to live free and in dignity, tangible to all citizens, regardless of their political orientation, ethnic origin, religious conviction or gender.

Kosovo belongs to its citizens, who have protected their land whenever it was needed, regardless of the price that had to pay or sacrifice they needed to make, without ever asking for compensation or for recognition of their sacrifice. We ask the citizens of Kosovo for little more patience and for their engagement in holing us accountable for obligations we have taken upon ourselves.

We have a very meaningful history of state making inside the foundations of our state- the individual and collective sacrifice for a better life. Not even a single episode of this state making does not allow for even the tiniest trickle of doubt to the fact that we shall make it. It is sufficient to look at Malinda for a single second, who stands today as an epitome of our success. Until yesterday, her completion in Olympic Games was unclear, but from today onwards, her gold medal in Rio is almost guaranteed.

Thank you.