The speech of President Thaçi at the Women’s Week 2017

Allow me to extend my gratitude to you for organizing the Women's Week, as a high peak in the agenda of policymaking in the field of gender equality and women's representation in the Kosovo political arena.

We are very proud, but also aware that many activities and many successes over the years of freedom and independence in the field of awareness about women's rights in our society, are as a result of joint efforts between NDI, USAID and Kosovo women community in politics, civil society and business.
   
Women's Week is a noble and proper initiative, because this activity brings together representatives of all political parties, society and of the business sector, and is already known as a platform where participants overcome political, ethnical or political affiliations and beliefs, and they engage together to address issues of interest for the society and the state of Kosovo.
   
To my opinion, topics covered upon this week are of essential importance to promote the progress of gender representation and equality - starting from the gender sensitive budget allocation and development of programs to support women entrepreneurs, to the judicial reforms that punish ostentatious criminals who attack women, both in family and workplace.

Nevertheless, I think it is important that today, here with you, to talk about some national policy areas that equally affect all people, regardless of gender or ethnicity.

I do not think that we should have policy topics for women, or that the topics discussed today in the political context, starting from the demarcation and visa liberalization to the transformation of KSF or reforms in the justice system - belong to only man or women topics.

We are the first country in the Balkans to have a woman as the Supreme Commander of KSF, Mrs. Atifete Jahjaga - which I always mentioned as an example of the success of the struggle for fair and equitable gender representation.

Today, at the dinner table or next to your TV, the political debate is not narrowed only in men rooms (oda), but it is projected onto social networks, in discussions where women have stands as strong and argumentative as men.

Hence, allow me, in the spirit of nation-wide discussion, to provide some discussion points that may be of interest to you in this forum, but also in other activities of the Women's Week:

Firstly, this year Kosovo enters in a new election cycle at the local level, while based on the mood among the political parties, I notice that they have started to argue, focusing their attention towards national elections, regardless if they will be held within the regular period in 2018, or earlier.

I have initiated an electoral reform, regardless of this calendar, because I think it is the right time to analyze the situation after several national and local elections organized after the declaration of independence.

There is no doubt that it is marked a great progress in organizing elections. 

Central Election Commission has acquired adequate experience, and deficiencies indicated in the post-independence elections have already been reduced to a minimum.
   
No one in Kosovo doubts in the election results in terms of positioning of parties.

Same time we cannot, therefore, close our eyes and ears before the fact that within the elections lists there are some serious allegations for influence and manipulation, where the biggest victims are women.

In some moments it seems as if it is acceptable to transfer the votes of women candidates to male candidates.

This phenomenon is recorded in all political parties and in all municipalities.

I think it is possible to simplify the system, so the counting of the candidate votes is faster and completely decriminalized, and that electoral reforms should bring a greater quality in the Assembly of Kosovo, but also at the local level.

A woman President is not enough, and it is not enough only 30% quota, because the potential of Kosovo women is much greater.

I do not know if we will be able to complete, debate and adopt such electoral reform, but I know that this process should take place and there should be a logical end - a simple electoral system, democratic, transparent and focused on strengthening peoples vote and on weakening of various pressures.

I think that you, honourable women in politics, but also from the civil society, should give a significant and powerful contribution to this process.

Secondly, you have to discuss and help me in my reflections on the issue of KSF transformation.

I am aware that this topic and this initiative brought a strange debate – absolute majority of Kosovo citizens, from majority, as well as non-majority communities have supported this proposal and draft law, but we also had remarks from Kosovo friends and main contributors to our freedom and independence.

I am glad that their remarks are not related to our right to have an army, or our security and to think about the safe future of our children, but only to the methodology and chronology of steps.
   
The Draft Law on KSF is based on a process, reform of security architecture, which started since the declaration of independence and resulted with a recommendation for the establishment of army since 2014.

However, nowadays the situation in region and world-wide is not the same anymore.

It is unavoidable the reflection on the increasing role of Russia, discourse and the aggressive actions of Serbia or increasing existential uncertainty in the EU and NATO. 

Our Kosovo is never 100% secure until all our neighbours recognize us as an independent and sovereign state.

Our Kosovo will never forget our past, genocide, murders and rapes until the language and actions of the neighbours are really based on good neighbourliness.

I have led the dialogue with Serbia; I am the initiator to speak for the past and reconciliation and stretch forth our hand to our former enemy, but these actions and this dedication towards peace and dialogue should be followed with a guarantee that the past will never be repeated.

I want Kosovo Serbs involved in the process, to change the name of KSF through Constitution, into a genuine name Kosovo Armed Forces; however, we did not accept Ahtisaari, nor drafted our Constitution so to block our progress or somebody has a veto in our security.

Nobody can have a veto on the security of the Republic of Kosovo.

We can wait for days or months for finding a common language, but surely we will not wait for years for the commencement of KSF transformation.

To my opinion the voice of women is necessary even in this regard. Security sector is incomplete without the voice of women.

Mothers in Kosovo demand security for their sons; mothers and women in Kosovo, regardless of ethnicity, contribute to the security architecture.

KSF transformation is not a product for one day or with one law. It is a process that will lasts for years. We are speaking of an inclusive and careful process.

We do not have money, or time, to spend in vain. We have spent a lot of time so we have to move on and I am convinced that with the USA and NATO support, we will move on.
   
Thirdly, economic development shall be our focus.

I will never again be involved in party politics or provide any statement on the parties programmes, but I am aware that the opening of new jobs is a concern, challenge and preoccupation of all Kosovo citizens, whether in south or north, whether Albanian or Serbs, Bosnians, Turks, Roma or other ethnicities.

Participation of women in the labour market is still unacceptably low. One of the greatest tragedies nowadays in Kosovo is not the interethnic violence – there has been marked a fundamental progress during recent years, especially following the Brussels Agreement.

No, tragedy rests on situations where for years Kosovo citizens cannot find job and this affects especially Kosovo women.

Many of them cannot find a job, whereas many others experience an unacceptable pressure from their families and surrounding people to focus on housework.

Therefore, I appeal on women MP`s to be more persistent for ensuring that law and fiscal and economic reforms must be subject to gender sensitive budgeting.

I appreciate the support USAID and US Embassy put to women employment, but Kosovo politics has to do more in this field.

I am optimist that even programmes expected in the future, as MCC fund, will play a positive role in gender inclusion in economy; however, we all together have to do a lot to improve the employment situation. Maybe the statistics do not speak the reality, but we all are aware that we have to do more in order to enable all Kosovo citizens to provide for their families on their own efforts and provide security for their children and families.

Dear organizers,

These are several issues I wanted to share with you today, but surely the discussion does not begin, or end here.

You have a very busy agenda, with many topics included and Women Week promises a new quality to the discussion of priority issues, ranging from health to education and economy; however, I think that all political representatives of all parties being here today are able and ready to lead these processes.

Thank you once again for the invitation and on this occasion I wish that, in the coming days and weeks, we will be able to discuss on how to move on our common gender balance agenda.