SPEECH OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF KOSOVO AT THE LAUNCH OF THE PLATFORM FOR WOMEN RAPED DURING THE KOSOVO WAR

Please allow me to initially express my gratitude to the Embassy of the United States of America and the British Embassy in Kosovo and the Kosovo Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims, who are making sure that the voice and the needs of the women, the victims of the candid violence of the last war in Kosovo, do not remain silent and unattended.

Honourable participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Please allow me to initially express my gratitude to the Embassy of the United States of America and the British Embassy in Kosovo and the Kosovo Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims, who are making sure that the voice and the needs of the women, the victims of the candid violence of the last war in Kosovo, do not remain silent and unattended.

Events of this nature are continuing to raise the awareness towards the prevention of utilization of rape as a war weapon and contribute towards identification of adequate measures which must be undertaken in order to be able to address the long term repercussions which violence of this nature bestows upon post-conflict societies.

Rape has caused deep wounds in Kosovo. Women in Kosovo, during the war period have been an inseparable part of the tragedy and of the joint attempts to ensure a better future, As such, women were the most suffering victims of the war- in conditions which were so onerous that at times they are indescribable – women carried on their shoulders the burden of their families and ensured its existence.

Lamentably, women were also direct targets of violence as the weapon of war, a war which for them will never end.

Women, who are sufferers of rape, are not only the victims of the perpetrators, as survivors of such a violent episode of torture, but often also fall victim to the derision and exclusion from the society, for the freedom of which society they sacrificed so much.

A while ago, we were witnesses of a deplorable debate on the status of women raped during the war in Kosovo and of an attack upon an activist and at the same time a Member of Parliament of Kosovo, who incessantly laboured to protect the dignity of the war victims.

As the President of the Republic of Kosovo, I appealed to the members of the Parliament of the Republic of Kosovo, Parliamentary Committees, governmental mechanisms, representatives of the civil society and other groups of interest to jointly concentrate upon finding of the most suitable manner for offering of our support as institutions and as a society to the victims of sexual violence during the war.

I reiterate what I said then –We shall never find easy answers to difficult questions. But this is also not a reason for us as a society to avoid our obligation to provide our care and assistance to this category of victims.

And I also stand by my promise to personally make sure, under the constitutional prerogatives, not to allow the violated women once again become victimized and suffer further stigmatization due to our negligence, our personal convictions, political disagreements or hesitation which has dominated over our public sphere in relation to this category of victims.

I repeat once again:  at this discussion there is no Us and Them. It is Us and we are One!

The aim which we have set to ourselves, to build a society where each citizen has equal access to services necessary to lead a dignified life must be made a reality for each and every citizen of Kosovo.

We owe it to these women and to ourselves to recognize their sufferings and not to turn our backs on them, not to let them suffer in silence.

Honourable participants,

As the President of the Republic of Kosovo and the host of the International Women’s Summit held in Kosovo last year, as part of the Prishtina Principles, for the first time ever, we have requested that to all women who were victims of rape, we recognize their legal status as war victims.

Anyhow, our obligations as institutions and society towards the women violated by rape must not be confined only to legislative responses, moral response and other rehabilitative measures.

Above all, we must seek justice for all of them. Victims of sexual violence, an estimated number of around twenty thousand Albanian women in Kosovo, need justice- while the perpetrators of this horrendous crime continue to remain unpunished to this day.

Unjust and unserious addressing of this ugly war phenomenon together with the non punishment of the conductors of this strategy for particular political aims,  further victimizes the women touched by this type of violence and does not allow their integration.

Thank You!