Speech by President Hashim Thaçi at the inauguration ceremony

Today is a special day for me, for it marks a new moment in my political engagement and my career spanning three decades.

Dear Lume and Endrit, dear mother and dear father,

Today is a special day for me, for it marks a new moment in my political engagement and my career spanning three decades.

As everyone in my generation, I grew up facing challenges that the people of Kosovo endured.

Therefore, I am both excited and pride to be in this square and to address you as the President of the Republic of Kosovo.

As a student, it was in this square that I demonstrated for freedom and democratic rights.

For liberation and freedom of Kosovo many generations have sacrificed themselves.

Therefore, I invite you, as citizens of the Republic to pray for and to express our gratitude for all those who gave their life so that today we can be free, sovereign and independent.

I invite you to think for a second for the sacrifices that each one of you has made so that we can join here, today, together, in this ceremony, marking a regular democratic transition.

Today, we are united as a country and as people.

We stand here. All communities, majority community, ethnic communities, religious communities, LGBTI…

We knew how to stand united in the good times and in the bad times. When in bitterness or in times of joy. For in unity we grew as a nation and as a state.

Our unity was the strongest evidence for the world that we are a society committed to a political system that guarantees individual and collective rights. An order that originates in the transparent processes of building democracy that has been so deeply entrenched that it cannot be uprooted any more.

Therefore, thank you to all of you.

It is that thanks to your contribution and to your sacrifice, thanks to your civic cohesion, today we confirm to the world that we have reached maturity of a European democracy, only in eight years of functioning as a democratic state.

Today, dear guests and dear citizens, we start building a new tradition.

This is another stone in building a joint history as a multi-ethnic, secular state that embraces the values of the Euro-Atlantic family. This ceremony is a new chapter in our book of joint successes, where elections, ceremonies, national holidays, slowly enrich the delicate story of our state.

These are ornaments of the statehood that we are jointly engraving.

This ceremony will be soon over, but our state will keep going forward. Ever quicker, ever better.

I assure you that our state will never stand still. There will be no brakes or pauses. We have no time to loose.

We have lost enough centuries. We have lost enough epochs. We went from medieval times to communism. From communism to war. Never experiencing a democratic transition.

We have been free since 17 years now. And we have no more years, not a single day actually, to loose to anger, to hate and to histories of blood.

As President of the Republic of Kosovo, let me tell you, I have no intention to be wrapped in a flag of a hero.

Today, here, I want to tell you that I feel honoured enough just by being the President of heroes. That made the impossible possible. That made a dream, a reality.

The hero is the worker that gives up many of joys of life only to be able to pay for his or her children’s’ education. The hero is the entrepreneur who employs many families and pays taxes. The hero is the war veteran that gave everything for the country, without expecting a reward, without thinking about the dangers. The war invalid that paid with his body the price for freedom. Families of the martyrs that gave their loved ones for the homeland. Former inmates that suffered prison for they wanted democracy. Hero is our citizens in diaspora that saved nothing for Kosovo that is today. Heroes were one million refugees during the war.

Today, the hero is every member of every minority community that is determined to remain in Kosovo, where his and her roots are, and where he and she stand ready to face any challenge that life will throw at them.

The hero is the teacher that educates new generations. The hero is the farmer that grows our bred. And doctor that treat and heals us. Hero is the environmentalist that takes care of nature.

Hero is the citizen of Kosovo.

This citizen remembers but forgives. Does not forget but does not take revenge. They are proud and rise beyond the past, seeking reconciliation.

Hero is the student that keeps pace with the trends of knowledge around the world. Heroes are the children that attend the schools that we build with our hard work. Today, the hero is a good prosecutor, a just judge. Hero is the police officer that protects us, day and night. Hero is the solider that defends our freedom and our peace.

Heroes are the citizens of our Republic.

And I am just a humble President of a nation of Heroes.

I promise, that there will be no force that will cut short the dreams of these Heroes.

Your dreams.

Your expectations.

And I pledge to you that your dreams, your hopes, your expectations, will be also my dreams, my hopes and my decisions.

Honoured guests

Dear citizens

Let me elaborate my objectives as the President of the Republic of Kosovo.

There are four points that will be the pillars on which I will start to work, aware that many other issues will come up along the way. New needs, short-term challenges and long-term plans that will require to become part of our long list of tasks and duties.

The First is about the Constitution.

In our democratic system, the President is the guardian of the functioning of the state institutions in line with the Constitution. From the moment I gave my oath in the Assembly, yesterday, I am a guardian, a protector, of our founding document.

These are not just words or wishing-wells. These are symbols but symbols that hold power because they have a meaning and an interpretation.

I will work with all my heart to build a stronger identity of our state.

I am aware that in the last months we have experienced open debates but with strong divergent political tones.

As a guardian of the Constitution, I will be politically impartial. I will offer an agenda of an active dialogue between all representatives of the people, regardless of their party affiliation.

I will use all the advice-giving instruments to have an active dialogue also with the non-majority communities.

The Presidential transition does not represent a change of system, but it is simply a change of persons that are dedicated to protecting the system.

We have built this system ourselves, generations and generations of Kosovars that fought for freedom and for independence, and that will remain united in the epic battle that awaits us to join the community of Euro-Atlantic nations.

Second, in line with my constitutional role, I will affirm Kosovo in the international stage, in the political sphere, in the diplomatic sphere as well as in the social and cultural sphere.

We must be aware that our continent of Europe as well as the whole world is facing challenges of tectonic proportions.

Kosovo must play an active role in issues that are bigger than the size our country or bigger than our capacities as people.

Waves of refugees from the war-zones, radicalism and terrorism rooted in hate and destruction and the cold winds that are blowing from the East are challenges that are putting to test every state, that are putting to test every alliance.

To our respected allies and to our friend all around the world,

I promise that Kosovo will be a strong link in the anti-terrorist chain.

Kosovo will be an instigator of initiatives for peace and dialogue.

Kosovo is already building good neighbourly relations by cultivating the spirit of the dialogue. Kosovo knows the culture of negotiations. Are hearts are open for all issues, to find solutions and agreements.

Let us be clear though, that with those who threaten freedom in the world, those who threaten and attack our friends and our allies, those who want to destroy our way of life, our freedom, our rights, there will be no compromises.

I am proud that Kosovo is part of global efforts to fight violent extremism.

Citizens of Kosovo, by far, regardless of their ethnicity or religion, have a clear Euro-Atlantic goal and direction. I am obliged by the citizens of Kosovo to protect, as something dearest to our hearts, our friendship with the United States of America and with the European Union.

I will do all that is within my power to support and assist the Assembly and the Government of Kosovo so that we move as quickly as we can towards our goal of membership in NATO, in the EU and in the UN.

Honoured citizens,

We stand here in front of the monument of Scanderbeg.

Many see him as a warrior in the war between civilisations but I see in him a man who belonged to two worlds.

Our country is aware of our traditional Islamic religious traditions and at the same time is proud for the signs and footprints of the Christian Saints from the days of Saint Peter and Saint Paul.

We cherish the jewels of the Serb Orthodox Church.

Few meters away I build a monument to the Jews of Kosovo, another evidence of our diversity.

Our country is proud that, this year, a blessed woman will be beatified, a woman that 90 years ago, as a 17 year old girl, in a small church in Letnica, received the God calling and from Gonxhe Bojaxhiu became Mother Theresa, a humanitarian of global proportions.

Aren’t we some of the richest people in Europe for having such treasures, such diversity, such tolerance, for centuries?!

Nevertheless, let us be clear on this one, too. This is a secular state. Our Republic makes a clear distinction between the role of the state and the role of the religion.

As the guardian of the Constitution I will also be a guardian of this clear divide.

Dear citizens,

The third point encapsulates the first two, but merits special attention.

This is the double dialogue in Kosovo, with the non-majority communities and with Serbia.

We must continue our road towards Europe and we must continue dialogue with Serbia, because our citizens have obliged us to take Kosovo, as soon as it is possible, in the EU and in NATO.

This is an obligation and a national duty that requires us that, even in the most difficult moments, even in the most difficult negotiations and even in the most difficult provocation, we don’t despair and we don’t give in to hate and don’t give up.

We will continue to build good neighbourly relations. Dialogue has no alternative. Kosovo and Serbia must transcend from the phase of normalisation to the process of reconciliation between our two states and two nations. I am convinced that reconciliation will happen.

I will use the brightest torch so that even in the darkest corners we find the people that can dialogue and build bridges of cooperation and unification.

The Brussels Agreement (of April 2013) is an island. It eased political relations in the whole of our region. Together with the Ahtisaari Plan and the Rambouillet Accords, it is a point of reference in our modern history, in the peace-architecture in the Balkans.

Dear guests,

The fourth, the last but the most important point.

We must admit that for some of our citizens, politics has become a dull battlefield between politicians. For them, politics doesn’t mean hope for new jobs, for economic development and for social welfare.

Our citizens have just and fair demands.

The youth needs hope.

The graduates need to know that their knowledge will be rewarded.

Those who retire need to know that their contribution to the society will not be ignored and forgotten.

This is why we must work to make the economic transition go as fast as the political transition that we have experienced.

We – a people that rose as a Phoenix, that rebuild its homes, that caught the pace with time and with the world, should be able to deliver development and wellbeing for all our citizens.

Dear citizens

I have witnessed my friends dying in front of me. I have had my share of moments of despair in my long struggle for freedom for our country. Yet, I always remained deeply convinced that, one day, our people will see the light. That freedom will come.

The battles of today do not require us to make the most sublime sacrifice. These are not battles of existential proportions. Those battles are behind us now.

Today’s battle is to make our children, and the children of our children, proud of their state, proud of their life.

We must make sure that they will soon move freely around Europe.

We must make them an integral part of our democratic project of a just and right state.

Today, one of the biggest battles is the one to nourish the spirit of love and appreciation for each other.

Therefore, in these aspirations and in these efforts, I will be next to you, never hesitating that together we will make it.

As the President of the Republic, as the President of a nation of Heroes, I believe in our state and in its safe future.

God bless Kosovo and its people.

God bless the friends of Kosovo.

Thank you.