The speech of President Jahjaga at the high-level conference “Missing Persons - The way forward”

Every single day, many families in Kosovo experience great pain in search of their family members, whose fate has not been found out for many years now. Every single day many families live in agony and spiritual pain, awaiting the answer on the fate of their family members, whose disappearance does not allow the wounds to close.

Greetings to you all,
Honourable, dear friend of ours, President Tarja Halonen,
Minister Kuçi,
Honourable representatives of the institutions of the Republic of Kosovo,
Honourable Mr. Žbogar,
Accredited Ambassador in Kosovo,
Honourable Ambassador Huhtamaki,
Doctor Ranta,
Honourable participants,

Every single day, many families in Kosovo experience great pain in search of their family members, whose fate has not been found out for many years now. Every single day many families live in agony and spiritual pain, awaiting the answer on the fate of their family members, whose disappearance does not allow the wounds to close.

Wars leave behind pain and grave consequences to societies, violence, destruction, ruined families, lives lost. Wars bring forward sufferings which require endeavors to rebuild the present upon their pain.

It is both difficult and painful to address the issue of missing people, as an inheritance of war, and it is more unjust to continue to search for the whereabouts of our citizens even 15 years after the end of the war.

Battle for missing individuals is becoming one of the gravest nightmares of our society, which links our past with our present, and which determines our future. Every day we are seeking of answers for families of our missing people, whose tired souls have been wandering for over 15 years in search of answers from every one of us, in an attempt to end their pain, to end our general pain.

We have said it quite often that we have to find a solution to this state of insecurity and confusion for our citizens and to guarantee their return. Very often we have promised that we shall clarify the fate of every single one of them who still remain missing to date in order to allow for spiritual peace for families and family members and at the same time to not hold hostage our country and our society.

And now again we are asking for simple and very direct answers- let us close once and for all this grave war wound in order to open new opportunities and to find peace.

Our citizens want to know the whereabouts and they seek justice. Not revenge. Reconciliation makes sense only when war wounds heal. For this reason, we need to open a new chapter in Balkans, not to forget what has happened but in order not to repeat ever again what has happened.

We know that, many times,  there have been initiatives towards understanding of the fate of missing people, and my Office has been part of these initiatives. Incessant institutional endeavors have taken place on this issue but the advances have been slow.

All these endeavors, in which the institutions of our country, family members and international institutions were involved, have unfortunately been met by unwillingness for necessary and indispensable cooperation by the institutions of Republic of Serbia.

States are as responsible and accountable as much as they respect justice and as much as they fulfill international conventions and norms. We want solution and solution must be found together, by not hiding the crimes and the past.
 
It is impossible to have proper cooperation in this field without the inclusiveness of institutions of Republic of Serbia, and their show of readiness to provide answers for whereabouts of over 1600 bodies of our citizens.

The issue of missing people is as much an issue of justice as it is of humanism, and as such it must be handled with priority.

It is our duty and obligation to, as institutions, as a society, to offer solution.

Thank you! I welcome this initiative and this organization. Last Saturday I was in one of the areas of Kosovo which has a significant number of citizens still listed as missing. I want to say that their pain does not lessen. There I saw that the pain was not different from what it was four years ago, when I was there last time and does not differ at all from these 16 years after the war ended.