THE SPEECH OF THE PRESIDENT AT THE SOUTHEAST EUROPEAN COOPERATION PROCESS

It is a distinct pleasure to join you today as we complete another important milestone as a region – that of inclusiveness and cooperation that widens in scope and in relevance as we commit to advance the momentum of the European integration through reforms in our own countries and through cooperation that reaches beyond our borders.

Dear President Basescu,
Distinguished Presidents,
Ministers, Ambassadors,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a distinct pleasure to join you today as we complete another important milestone as a region – that of inclusiveness and cooperation that widens in scope and in relevance as we commit to advance the momentum of the European integration through reforms in our own countries and through cooperation that reaches beyond our borders.

I want to express my gratitude to the President of Romania and the host of this year’s Southeast European Cooperation Process, Mr. Basescu, for inviting Kosovo as a guest and to the participants of this forum for welcoming Kosovo in its midst on equal terms.

I want to especially thank the neighboring countries for their firm support that made our presence here possible. And to the representatives of the European Union, especially Commissioner Stefan Fule, for not only recognizing the importance of Kosovo’s participation in this forum, but also for giving context and meaning through concrete actions – such as the need to enhance neighborly relations - to the enlargement policy throughout his tenure in Brussels.

I am especially pleased that today I can offer my congratulations to President Nishani and the rest of the region for EU’s decision to grant Albania candidate status and hence recognize the determination of its citizens and institutions to push through important reforms and move closer to the European Union. President Nishani, we are very proud of this progress you have made.
To the rest of us still paving our path toward the European Union this is a testament and a clear signal that the door remains open to each individual country that wants to embrace values and reforms, and aspires to become a member of the EU.

And this momentum carries special relevance today as we are gathered here with the one-hundredth anniversary of the start of World War One as a backdrop of this regional cooperation platform, a sign in and of itself of the main difference between then and now.

While many in this last decade in Europe pondered over the viability of the enlargement policy and its cause and effect on domestic frustration over high unemployment rates, the Western Balkans was united in its aspiration of membership into the EU as the only agenda that brings us together.

It is the EU perspective that has proven to be the tool of unimaginable transformation in a region often resistant to change. And I believe that what we have at hand is a momentum that we need to savor and advance, both in the region and the EU as the only guarantee of the progress that we have made, as the solid proof that we have learned the lessons of the past.

Peace in Europe, in large part nourished by the existence of the European Union - has brought not only growth and unprecedented development, but it has brought a period of political stability, freedom of movement and deeper understanding between peoples and nations. This is what we want for our countries, and our citizens. It is our historic chance to make this leap forward. It is our chance to never go back to the horrors of the past.

The core countries of the EU have seen the historic difference that the union made on the other side of the Iron Curtain, and, us the countries of Western Balkans, understand best the potential this project holds to change around our countries and shift the course of history.

On the premise of future cooperation for a lasting peace and stability we, the countries of the region, have understood that we need to work together. We had a difficult past, a past from which we may not have fully recovered and the consequences of which we continue to suffer, but we are now coming together to the promising vision of freedom, peace, stability and prosperity. For everyone. For each and every citizen.And as the President of Kosovo, I am firm in my commitment to see this through in Kosovo.

Dear SEECP Representatives,

Our road to EU is conditioned by our ability to build good neighborly relations, which means respect for the values harbored by our societies and respect for the integrity of our respective countries.Good relations are not built solely by signing agreements, but through their implementation. Not through barricades. But through meaningful dialogue that will remove obstacles to cooperation.
 
As the youngest country in the region, the Republic of Kosovo has given priority to building good neighborly relations. To us, building a sound foundation of partnership is not only a political determination but it is also a necessity should we want to move forward in improving the lives of our citizens and ensure stability for the region.

We have proven this commitment in the dialogue process with the Republic of Serbia, one of the most difficult political undertakings that took a lot of courage.But we did it because we are determined to move on and move forward.

I am encouraged by the change we have seen in the region and the endorsement that we have received from the international community, which stood by our side to offer clear and distinct perspectives to Kosovo and Serbia on their paths to the European Union.

Dear President Basescu,

Distinguished heads of states and Excellencies,

The processes in which we find ourselves are irreversible. We will continue to be a factor of peace and stability and a promoter of good neighborly relations.

In the view of this summit, I appreciate that this perspective was respected and once again I express my gratitude to the organizer and the participating countries for helping the aspiring countries move closer to EU by becoming through these summits and their inclusive nature facilitators of good neighborly relations. Kosovo and its institutions will bring to this table our contribution as equals to improve the lives of all citizens and enhance the neighborly relations and economic ties between the countries of the region.

Going forward, it is crucial that our cooperation is comprehensive and inclusive. No cooperation in the region will be completed without the participation of Kosovo; no regional policy will be fully enacted without Kosovo’s inclusion and the European Union will be incomplete without the full membership of the countries of the Western Balkans.
 
The European Union project will continue to be the only indispensable option that will have the biggest impact and the most positive transformative role in our interdependent economies and the development of our societies.

We must cement peace.

Thank You!