Annual Speech of the President Thaçi at the Kosovo Assembly
Honourable President of the Assembly of Kosovo,
Honourable Prime Minister and Ministers of the Government of the Republic of Kosovo,
Honourable Ambassadors and representatives of international missions,
Honourable Members of the Parliament,
Honourable citizens of the Republic of Kosovo,
Allow me to thank you honourable MPs of the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo, for providing me this opportunity to report in front of you and our citizens about my work as President of the Republic of Kosovo, namely for our joint work in strengthening the citizenship of Kosovo.
Surely, the commitment for improving the lives of our citizens always remains our common priority.
In the light of these efforts, I was committed to empowering and respecting the human rights for every citizen of the Republic of Kosovo.
Starting from the discussions about the need for equal representation of women in all institutions and to the Pride Parade, I have made it clear that:
The state of Kosovo and Kosovo society are built on the principles of freedom and equality for every citizen:
Kosovo is a state of all its citizens and everyone should enjoy equal rights in their efforts to realize their aspirations.
This means that we must ensure prosperity and dignity for each and every citizen, namely the worker, pensioner, doctor, police officer, soldier, teacher, student, or pupil in a school.
We know that in order to enhance the wellbeing of our citizens, we need to develop our economy and increase domestic production.
In view of this goal, I have been actively engaged in promoting Kosovo's economy, Kosovo products, in involving as much as possible the diaspora in investments in Kosovo.
With the consolidation of our state, the support for economic development of the country has been at the centre of my focus in my engagement as President, but also of other institutions of the state of Kosovo.
In coordination with the relevant institutions, I have supported the signing of the contract for the project for “Kosova e Re”, which brings the largest private investment in Kosovo's history, namely 1.3 billion euros of investments that will generate over 10 thousand jobs.
Furthermore, I continue to believe that the improvement of road infrastructure is a necessary condition for sustainable economic development.
Therefore, I have supported the completion of highway projects that will connect Kosovo with the region and beyond, by enabling the free movement of people and goods.
Certainly, today I had the pleasure of inaugurating the second segment of the motorway "Arber Xhaferi".
Citizens of the Republic of Kosovo,
We are all aware that the main foundation of any democratic state, including our state, is the rule of law and order.
No field of our society can be functional if we do not strengthen the rule of law and if we fail to guarantee that everyone is equal before the law.
With the decreeing of prosecutors and judges from non-majority communities, most of which work in the northern part of Kosovo, we have extended the constitutional and legal order of Kosovo in every corner of our state.
For this purpose, I have worked with all the justice institutions to continue the reform and consolidation of the judiciary to guaranty that we have not only well-written laws, but also full implementation of these laws.
The fight against organized crime, corruption and terrorism are and should remain priorities.
Kosovo will not surrender in facing these challenges and will not allow that our country is perceived as corrupt.
Today's heroes are those who line up in an uncompromised fight against organized crime and corruption.
Honourable members of parliament,
Citizens of the Republic of Kosovo,
Ladies and gentleman,
Year 2017 was a year of achievements despite many challenges.
We have gone through two elections, the general elections in June and those for municipal assemblies and mayors in October.
These two electoral processes have once again proved the maturity of Kosovo politics and Kosovar society in general.
This has paved the way for the formation of new government, new municipal assemblies and the election of new mayors of Kosovo municipalities.
The Government of the Republic of Kosovo and the elected mayors should now work with dedication to achieve the set priorities and improve the lives of the citizens.
When talking about free elections, allow me to emphasize that I have not given up on my job to work together with the political parties to successfully complete the electoral reform process.
I consider that most of the work in this direction has been completed and during the upcoming year we have to finish this process.
Despite the fact that central and local elections have consumed a lot of time and energy, still as a President in coordination with other institutions, I have continued to work on the realization of priorities that are of state importance.
Among the main priorities in this regard was the continuation of work for the establishment of the Armed Forces of Kosovo.
This is a natural and indispensable state process, which comes as a result of the work of members of the KSF, who have increased the level of preparation and are now ready for new tasks and competencies.
The Kosovo Security Force is a multi-ethnic force in which over 10% of its members come from non-majority communities.
The Armed Forces of Kosovo will also preserve and strengthen the multi-ethnic character.
Now we are almost in the final phase of our efforts to ensure the support so that the process of establishing of the AFK is made through constitutional changes.
We are doing this and we will do it in full coordination with NATO and other strategic partners.
Today I assure you that during 2018 Kosovo will have its own defence capacity, that is, a modern army that will contribute to peace and stability in the region and everywhere in the world.
As regards the security of Kosovo, let me stress that I am proud that our state is a leader in the region in combating extremism, radicalism and terrorism.
This commitment of ours has received acknowledgments from all leaders of the free and democratic world.
I take this opportunity to thank all the national security mechanisms that have contributed to maintaining order and security in Kosovo, but also in the region.
Honourable citizens of Kosovo,
Our past is painful and memories of our suffering remain still fresh.
But our past is also what makes us proud and gives us the strength to look forward to the future.
To this end, I continued to work diligently towards the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which aims to help our society's efforts to close the chapter of war, hostilities and achieve mutual reconciliation.
Therefore, I am happy that after a great deal of work, we have managed to establish the preparatory team for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
I am confident that the work of this commission will give concrete results during 2018 and on this occasion, I would like to thank the organizations of families of missing persons, civil society and international partners for their support.
Dialogue remains the only and irreplaceable mechanism for solving problems within our country, but also with our neighbouring countries.
Part of my commitment to building sustainable peace in the entire Southeast Europe is also our common commitment in the framework of the dialogue on the normalization of relations between the Republic of Kosovo and Serbia.
We are now ready to continue the final phase of this process, which will continue to be mediated by the EU and strongly supported by the US.
Certainly, this final stage will not be easy at all.
To this end, I have started formal and informal consultations with political parties and civil society in order to establish a Unity Group to ensure inclusiveness in this process.
I still call on you today to be united in this process and in every other process that is of state interest.
Whenever we were united, Kosovo has won and our citizens have supported us.
This is how it should be again, because our future, the integration of our state into the North Atlantic structures, depends to a great extent on this process.
In any circumstance, I assure you honoured deputies and citizens of the Republic of Kosovo that the process of dialogue will be transparent and that any agreement reached will be ratified by the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo.
Dear Members of Parliament,
Dear citizens of Kosovo,
Our state credibility in the international area and the speed with which we are approaching EU and NATO membership is largely dependent on our seriousness in meeting our state obligations.
In this regard, we cannot continue to point the finger at the EU, NATO or the international community, seeking to hold them as the only party to blame for our stagnation.
We must accept our omissions and improve them as soon as we can, because only in this way we can catch the step with the neighbouring countries in the Euro-Atlantic integration process.
Therefore, we must ratify without delay the agreement on marking the borderline with Montenegro.
Ratification of this agreement will give an end to the unfair isolation of citizens of the Republic of Kosovo.
The recent discussions that are taking place within the institutions of Kosovo are encouraging, involving everyone, the Assembly, the Government and all the willing people, local and international experts, to find a solution as soon as possible, namely in the coming weeks.
Without delay we have to establish the Association of Serb-majority Municipalities in accordance with the Brussels agreement and the Constitutional Court's decision, because the EU and many other partner countries are disappointed with our inability to implement the commitments assumed.
The sooner we fulfil our tasks, the sooner we can make serious steps towards EU and NATO membership.
As the President of the Republic of Kosovo, I have repeatedly called on the EU for action not only technical but above all strategic for the accession of Western Balkan states to the European Union.
I am pleased that the European Union is now clearly saying that the best way to ensure long-term peace in our region is the membership of all Western Balkan states in the EU.
I continue to believe that the best way is for all Western Balkan countries to join the EU at the same time, despite the fact that some states have made greater progress in meeting membership criteria.
Dear Members of Parliament,
Dear citizens of Kosovo,
I have devoted a considerable amount of time to efforts to consolidate the state of Kosovo on the international area.
I started the year 2017 with a visit to the USA and met with the then Vice-President Biden, while I continued with my next US visit in September, meeting with current Vice President Pence.
These two visits have confirmed once again that the United States remains a partner of the Republic of Kosovo and that Washington remains committed to sustainable peace and stability in Kosovo and the region.
However, part of this partnership is our responsibility to behave as a politically mature country and society, ready to play a constructive role in the region and beyond by building good neighbourly relations with all the countries of the region.
During this year I have conducted bilateral visits and participated in various forums and conferences.
On this occasion, I would like to highlight the bilateral visits to Canada, Croatia and Turkey.
I met the President of Bulgaria in Sofia, the President of Austria in Vienna and King Abdullah in Amman.
I have been honoured to an audience with the Holy Father, Pope Francis.
I represented Kosovo at the Munich Security Conference in Germany, the International Economic Forum in Jordan, the International Security Conference in Halifax, the Croatia Forum and the Brdo-Brione Summit etc.
In these forums, among other things, I have proudly presented the transformation of Kosovo from a consumer of peace and security mechanisms to a promoter and contributor to peace and coexistence between people.
This has strengthened the conviction in the world that Kosovo's independence has brought lasting peace throughout Southeast Europe.
Dear Members of the Parliament,
Citizens of the Republic of Kosovo,
Citizens of the Republic of Kosovo have shown clearly that they want to see their elected political leaders united in all issues of national and state interest.
Therefore, it is my duty, your duty as MPs, the duty of all of us to work tirelessly in the interest of our common good.
As the President of the Republic of Kosovo I will closely follow the work of state institutions in meeting the aspirations and goals of citizens of the Republic of Kosovo.
Therefore, I wish to all of us successes to the realization of our good intentions to the service of our citizens and our state.
Let 2018 be a year of civic and politic unity of Kosovo citizens.
In the end, being in the eve of seasonal holidays, let me wish you peace, health, joy and happiness to you and your families, to all citizen of the Republic of Kosovo.
Please accept my warmest wishes for Christmas and a happy New Year!