Remarks of the President Atifete Jahjaga at the “Inaugural Youth Conference Forum for Cities in Transition” in Mitrovica

I have the pleasure to be here today among you, young men and women from Belfast, Derry/Londenderry, Tripoli, Kirkuk, Kaduna, Nicosia/Lefkosha, Jerusalem, Mostar, and certainly among you, young men and women from Mitrovica, under the framework of one of the most important initiatives regarding the noble goal it aims to fulfill.

Honored Mayor Kastrati,
Honored Deputy Minister Selimi,
Honored Ambassador Jacobsson
Honored Ambassador Braathu,
Honored Ms. Idrizi,
Honored Ms. Golubovic,
Honored participants,
Beloved youth,
 
I have the pleasure to be here today among you, young men and women from Belfast, Derry/Londenderry, Tripoli, Kirkuk, Kaduna, Nicosia/Lefkosha, Jerusalem, Mostar, and certainly among you, young men and women from Mitrovica, under the framework of one of the most important initiatives regarding the noble goal it aims to fulfill.
 
I congratulate you all who have supported and made possible the youth dimension of the forum of cities in transition, and for the support you have shown to the vision of Adriana and Milos. Vision which without any doubt reflects the forward-looking and the ambitious spirit of the youth, who know no fear and dare to hope beyond any barriers.
 
I welcome you all, young men and women, who come from different cities, but carry on your shoulders similar burdens and face similar challenges of separation and exclusion, which unfortunately are keeping hostage your perspectives for a better life.
 
However from here, from the city of Mitrovica, which unfortunately is divided in the middle, together you are sending strong messages of tolerance, understanding and peaceful coexistence. You who are sending strong messages that diversity is a value which should unite us and which enriches a society, a country.
 
Therefore we, the leaders of our countries should be proud of you, of our youth, for your commitment to speak openly about the difficulties and  exchange experiences by taking upon yourselves the burden and the responsibility to build together a better future, different from that of today, from that of yesterday.
 
It is the divided cities which remind us of a bitter past, with have left behind serious consequences, consequences which in many cases are still present. They reminder us of the danger which comes from exclusion and refusal to accept and respect one another, to accept and respect diversity.
 
Above all they reminder us how important peace is, how fragile it can often be and how difficult it is to be built on ruins of destruction, the trust between people.
 
Our societies in Eastern Europe have generally been exclusionary and now the time has come to create an inclusive environment that builds the future without forgetting the past.
 
You bring along your experiences, encounters and efforts of the lives of the divided cities, which as such have frozen the conflict creating a continuous situation of anxiety, tension and dysfunction.
 
It is this situation which we aim to change by building bridges of communication and trust between citizens and between them and the institutions of the country. We aim to restore the unitary identity of the city and to incite the sense of belonging, respect and responsibility to every citizen towards the city, the society and the country.
 
In Kosovo, despite the difficulties and challenges, our vision remains clear. We are committed towards a forward looking future, learning from the past and not allowing it to repeat itself. We remain committed to make Kosovo a country in service of its citizens regardless of one’s ethnicity or religion. And to regard our multi-ethnicity and multiculturalism as the value of our society, of our state, which we so proudly share with others.
 
We have taken important steps on this road of ours, still much remains to be done. Yet we are more than ever determined to remove any barriers between our citizens and between the citizens and the institutions of our country.
 
The majority in Kosovo has its responsibility towards all communities and in particular towards the Serb community, to help and facilitate their inclusion in the institutional and social life of Kosovo. And above all to remove any doubts or disbelief, for this country is for all of us, for all the citizens who live in it. Communities have their responsibilities and obligations, together with all the citizens of the country, to build a better life for themselves and for everyone else, in the framework of a new Kosovo that respects the dignity of each and every one.
 
We are going towards an electoral process, a process which in addition to the test of democracy, to hold free and democratic elections, it should pass the test of comprehensive inclusion and massive participation of citizens of all communities for them to exercise their rights to elect their legal and legitimate representatives. And this process must be a free and democratic process which will help the citizens of Kosovo to be part of the democratic road towards the European integration.
 
While cases of attack like the one last Thursday, where a EULEX officer was killed, want to incite feelings of fear and insecurity, but we will not allow the narrow interests of criminal groups to keep hostage and dictate the future of our citizens and the stability of our country.
 
Dear young men and women,
 
We can achieve the change we want to see by working together, by listening to one another, taking upon our responsibilities and fulfilling them, the responsibilities towards our common future.
 
We live in a time when the boundaries between countries are becoming ever more invisible, and the free movement of people, the access to information are softening the divisions between us while diversity is becoming a value of cities, societies and states.
 
Thus I encourage you all to see diversity as a value and to promote it as such. Only inclusion, tolerance and understanding between people will safeguard peace and give citizens opportunities for a life full of opportunities.
 
Before I close I want to leave you with some words of Nelson Mandela:
 
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion.  People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
 
And let your love for the city of Mitrovica, either on the south or the north of the Ibar river, be part of the love for a common future, yours and ours, which will help us overcome the difficulties of the past. This is the common future which we will all build little by little, and make Mitrovica a city, where there are no divisions and where trust reins.