The President: The Security Force is Kosovo’s pride

The President of the Republic of Kosovo, Hashim Thaçi, through a public address to the citizens from the “Adem Jashari” barrack of the Kosovo Security Force, said that the Armed Forces of Kosovo are being composed in full coordination with NATO and our partners.

He said that like we are proud today of the Kosovo Security Force, we will be proud of it as a multi-ethnic, professional and defensive force.

This is the full address of President Thaçi for the citizens and soldiers of the Kosovo Security Force:

Honorable citizens of the Republic of Kosovo,

Honored soldiers and officers,

I am proud and very privileged to be in front of you today.

With your work you have managed to make your parents, your children proud, but above all, you are the pride of the Republic of Kosovo.

Allow me to thank you for this opportunity to address today.

We must reflect together on the achievements so far.

Let us talk about the developments in our country and jointly find common answers to the challenges and opportunities we have ahead.

The quality of our democracy should not depend only on a test of the political representatives with the citizen, only through elections.

I believe that democracy is built and empowered by the constant and direct exchange of our ideas and experiences.

Honored soldiers and officers,

Honorable citizens of the Republic of Kosovo,

Allow me at first to express gratitude for the fact that this year we have passed two important tests of democratic maturity through the successful organization of the elections.

Especially when we remember the fact that these elections were held in an tough political atmosphere, where internal debates were more vivid and dynamic than ever before.

Honorable attendees,

Let us turn our head back and remember our past.

The speed with which Kosovo has managed to turn its fortune on the right path in the last three decades is unprecedented.

We have had the fate and honor to be part of the historic generation which brought this country out of transgression, contempt, maltreatment and submission.

We have done a lot for our country, and for this we are always proud.

But is our work over?

Of course not.

I think we can do much more.

We are close to the date when we mark the 10th anniversary of the independence.

These dates enable us to break away from daily life and to make a joint reflection.

Let us talk about the achievements and challenges we have overcome, and also let us think about the stagnations and the failures - no matter how uncomfortable it is to say and think so.

We need to be completely honest, Kosovo today is undergoing not so easy challenges.

We have managed to consolidate our state by extending institutions in every corner of the country, but in many areas of functioning and governance, there is still work to be done.

Although today we function as a state, many fields still remain outside our state authority.

An unjustified number of international missions still functions in Kosovo, creating the impression that we are at a very early transition stage.

At international level we have achieved a great number of recognitions and membership in international organizations, but we are not yet where we want and deserve to be.

The projects we have ahead are not easy.

We have big challenges ahead, but if we focus and work together, we can face and overcome them.

Honored soldiers and officers,

Honorable citizens of the Republic of Kosovo,

The difficult times can confuse us, but we must not allow obstacles to disturb our vision.

Our past is painful, dominated by oppression and conquest.

We will always remember with pain all the innocent victims of the bloody war.

We will remember with reverence and pride all the martyrs and heroes who gave their live for the freedom that we enjoy today.

The deportation of half of our population, in an attempt for ethnic cleansing, is not forgotten and must never be forgotten.

To someone it may seem that we are talking about an old forgotten history, but no.

We are talking about our history, our brothers and sisters, our relatives and friends, about our suffering.

The suffering is not over yet, because even today many families in Kosovo continue to live without knowing where their relatives are.

With all this historical burden, we will not allow the pain and horror we have experienced to hold us hostage.

We will not think or act as victims because we have won the war, and we have a history of which we are proud.

But the historic task we have in front of ourselves is to gain peace as well.

Our goal remains clear, to build a future of Kosovo as a free, democratic and peaceful country, which will be the homeland of all its citizens.

The Republic of Kosovo as an independent, sovereign, democratic, unique and indivisible country, with European and Euro-Atlantic determination, must be uncontested and integrated into the family of the world nations.

These goals must be achieved with insistence and self-confidence, fulfilling the democratic standards, but not by becoming servile to barren projects, which are often imported and imposed.

Already every day voices are increasing requiring a clearer identity in the way we govern.

For a very long time we have adapted to the needs of the time.

We have made many concessions on issues that should have greater internal reflection and greater respect for who we are.

I invite all to think more about how we can make a Kosovo that reflects the demands, needs, dreams and desires of its citizens - above all.

As I believe in the need for constant reform and modernization, I think we should do this in the best possible manner that fits our country.

The time of international foreign missions in Kosovo has passed.

We remain grateful to the international community for every good it has brought to Kosovo, just as we hold them responsible for all their omissions and failures.

Real partnership functions in a reciprocal way.

The international community can always count on the strong partnership and cooperation with us, as a basic principle.

But now, the responsibility for our journey, to our present and our future, is in our hands.

Therefore, we all have the responsibility to act as a houselord in our country.

Before we blame the circumstances and whoever about anything that seems to us is not going well, we need to make a self-reflection.

Today our society is more polarized, politically fragmented, and everything has begun to be politicized extremely.

I understand how challenging it is for all those who have contributed to this situation.

They must find the strength and overcome this pattern of division and disunity.

The political spectrum in Kosovo may disagree on certain issues, but we dare not lose even one minute allowing the further degradation of the debate.

Violence has no place in Kosovo.

Moreover, violence in institutions and from institutional representatives - is shameful and cannot be justified with anything.

Unfortunately, this devastating internal approach has weakened and is weakening our country.

Attacks on institutions, damage to public and private property, physical duels of MPs, are among the most painful disasters today.

The consequences are far greater than the sensational titles that these situations produced both inside and outside the country.

Therefore, my appeal to everyone is to distance themselves from this kind of behavior and work to build bridges of communication and cooperation.

In Kosovo today, with great ease, issues of common state interest, are questioned and used for daily politics.

We urgently need to rebuild the national consensus on issues of common interest.

I, as President, will continue to make constant efforts to respect and cultivate this element of my responsibility in every aspect of the exercise of my function.

There are some things that should not depend on who is ruling and who is in opposition.

On certain topics, our citizens are determined and unique.

The unity of the citizens should result in the unity of their representatives.

Honorable soldiers and officers,

Honorable citizens of the Republic of Kosovo,

Development and economic growth, employment, education and health are some of the issues that need to be addressed urgently.

The development of agricultural production, the increasing of electricity generation capacity, foreign strategic investment, are the keys to economic growth.

Also, a lot of work has been done to improve the educational infrastructure, to provide the most adequate conditions for teachers, including salary increases.

Despite this, we must re-focus our efforts to further improve the quality of education in order to meet the needs of the labor market.

At the same time, the fight against organized crime and corruption must continue to remain our priority.

The bad image for Kosovo is largely a result of the perception of the high degree of corruption.

Therefore, this situation should change once and for all.

How successful we will be in every field depends on the quality of the rule of law.

There is no field that has been analyzed, discussed and invested on more than the field of the rule of law.

Therefore, there is no doubt about the importance of this sector.

Special approaches and models, often experimental, rarely used elsewhere - have almost become the norm in Kosovo.

Hundreds of millions of Euros of European taxpayers have been spent and continue to be spent on the progress of the EULEX Mission.

How is it possible that with all this unprecedented involvement, the responsibility lies only on the Kosovar side?

I clearly state that our state goal is membership in the EU, and not to have everlasting missions of it in Kosovo.

I believe the time has come for some of our institutions to show more responsibility, and self-confidence.

The lack of knowledge and courage to perform the task honestly cannot be justified.

So my clear message to all the officials who love their job and our state is:

Apply the law completely and indiscriminately, in order not to give anyone a pretext to claim the continuation of missions in infinity.

In the summer of next year, we will see the full completion of the current mandate of the EULEX mission.

If so far we have talked about transition, shrinking, we now need to talk about the closing phase immediately.

We are proud to be part of the civilized European civilization and are committed to defend the Western values we have inherited from our ancestors.

There is nothing more sacred, than to preserve religious and inter-ethnic tolerance.

Therefore, we are and will remain a champion in the fight against extremism, fundamentalism and every forms of terrorism.

Kosovo, like the vast majority of Western states, has been affected by fundamentalist and terrorist elements.

But our security institutions have successfully faced this dangerous threat.

So will it be in the future.

We will be uncompromising against those who intentionally try to violate our culture, tradition and our way of life.

Those citizens of Kosovo who have fallen into the network of extremist, fundamentalist and terrorist ideology will ruthlessly face the force of law.

We will give continuous blows to those who endanger our national and state values.

Honorable soldiers and officers,

Honorable citizens of the Republic of Kosovo,

These are not easy topics for us.

But we are here precisely to deal with tough topics.

Undoubtedly, such is the topic that received a great deal of attention recently regarding the “special court”.

The international community has imposed its establishment.

Our institutions have accepted this because, on the contrary, we would be helpless to prevent the establishment of another international court, under the umbrella of the UN.

We voted at that time to maintain our partnership with the USA, the EU and NATO.

I think that the Special Court will not be able to do what it proclaims - to strengthen the sense of justice for the victims of war.

If there was such justice as trumpeted by the international factor, 100 such special courts should only be created for the crimes that Milosevic’s Serbia has committed in the Balkan states and here in Kosovo.

While the paradox with which we are confronted - is disappointing.

The same Serbia today has the door open to the EU, while Kosovo is kept isolated.

Kosovo and we all want justice, but we do not accept to be discriminated and humiliated on its behalf, just to please those who cannot endure the existence and success of our state.

Honorable soldiers and officers,

Honorable citizens of the Republic of Kosovo,

Kosovo should complete the transition of the Kosovo Security Force and establish a multi-ethnic army, namely the Kosovo Armed Forces.

We are doing this in full coordination with NATO and our partners.

As you are today, you will be a multi-ethnic, professional, defensive force that will represent your country with pride.

Kosovo needs to have full defense capacity and a modern army that will contribute to peace and stability in the region and around the world.

As you are testifying each time, you, KSF members, are shining in every exercise or competition you participate in.

You are excelling at military academies known in the world.

The uniform that you carry, is the dream of your forefathers, turned into reality.

You are professionals and have a lot to give to different peacekeeping missions.

But first of all, you deserve the chance of accomplishing your potential, - soon becoming members of the Armed Forces of Kosovo.

We are looking towards the future, but we will never forget all who gave much to our country.

At the foundation of our freedom is the contribution and sacrifice of many KLA veterans, who never gave up on the dream of freedom.

We will not give up on our efforts to ensure decent well-being and life for veterans, war invalids and martyrs’ families.

We will do this without damaging the functioning of the state, because I am sure that none of them wants to harm the fiscal sustainability of our state.

Honorable soldiers and officers,

Honorable citizens of the Republic of Kosovo,

We are at a critical time also in our relationship with the outside world.

We believe in the core values of the EU.

The will of Kosovo’s citizens is in favor of EU membership.

If we are given a fair opportunity and a clear perspective, we will do everything in our power to reform, improve and meet all EU criteria.

But to make this happen, the EU must end the isolation of our citizens.

We know very well that today, the European perspective is a hope, desire, goal to us, but not a genuine reality.

Kosovo, as the most pro-European country in the Balkans, is the most isolated state in Europe.

And, on the other hand, the “Young Europeans” today are isolated Europeans.

It is this feeling of helplessness, despair, depression that unites us all in Kosovo: being it politicians, economists, businessmen, artists or ordinary citizens.

With the entry into force of the Stabilization and Association Agreement, the goods of a Kosovar businessman have no obstacles to be offered in the European market,

But this business person himself cannot move to Europe without a visa.

So it is with our artists as well.

Movies and works know no boundaries, but these boundaries apply to their own authors.

Isolation, being left aside, being forgotten, is daily exploited by political and religious extremism in Kosovo.

This isolation is being exploited in order to weaken Kosovo’s long-standing civic and cultural ties with Europe.

Why is Kosovo being treated this way, when it is known that the European Union has been part of building democracy in Kosovo in the years 1999-2008, and then when the EU was part of the state-building process of Kosovo?

Politicians and diplomats, police officers, prosecutors and judges, experts from all fields of the EU and EU member states, are an inseparable part of our successes.

However, they are also part of our mistakes and failures.

There is no European integration without overcoming the imposed and prolonged discriminatory isolation.

Let me be clear, we know that Kosovo will not be ready to join the EU next year.

However, - I believe we are all aware and disturbed by the fact that the process is unfair.

Visa liberalization is a clear example.

Apart from being left as the last, Kosovo was given 95 criteria when its neighbors had only about 50 such.

Moreover, Kosovo has fully met the 95th if interpreted according to the formal roadmap.

The last remaining criterion according to the EU to ratify the agreement on marking the border line with Montenegro must be completed without wasting time.

The Government of the Republic of Kosovo has approved yesterday this agreement which I with the highest state responsibility have signed on August 26, 2015.

Any failure of our state institutions to carry out international obligations responsibly is serving the EU as an excuse to keep Kosovo isolated.

Unnecessary delays, whether they are for the purpose of buying time, or because of personal whims, or of a certain group, are unacceptable.

These delays are harmful not only to the process of visa liberalization, but also to the inter-state relations with Montenegro.

Therefore, the state institutions have to make a decision now because delays lead to continued isolation and weaken our credibility in the eyes of friend states.

We should not allow ourselves to fail to fulfill state obligations and at the same time to blame the EU alone or the international community.

Our institutions have failed for almost three years to ratify the border agreement with Montenegro.

In this manner, not only have we lost the battle of the argument with the EU, but have wavered our trust to our international strategic partners.

The same can be said about the implementation of the agreement for the establishment of the Association of Serb-majority Municipalities in Kosovo.

More than four years have passed since the signing of the Brussels Agreement and its ratification in the Kosovo Parliament.

Unfortunately, the government has not yet fulfilled its obligation for the establishment of the Association, despite the fact that everything is clear and completely legal and constitutional.

Therefore, public opinion must have things clear.

As much as the EU is guilty of isolating Kosovo, the state institutions are also guilty of failing to meet their obligations, giving the EU an excuse to keep us isolated.

I have no doubt that our citizens will find a way to overcome isolation.

We have found ways to overcome even more difficult situations.

Honorable soldiers and officers,

Honorable citizens of the Republic of Kosovo,

Every day it is becoming clearer that there is no unilateral European integration.

Kosovo is not recognized by five EU member states.

The EU seems convinced that some of its members may continue to not recognize Kosovo’s independence.

Consequently, it makes it impossible for Kosovo one day to join the EU.

This is the kind of dual thinking that is not expected by a democratic and transparent institution.

Does Kosovo enjoy a European perspective or not?

Can some countries, because of their internal problems, terminate the hope of 2 million people to join the EU one day?

How long do we have to pretend as we are integrating and for how long will we continue to behave like we are the problem?

The integration process can be long and slow, but at least we need a concrete perspective.

The current approach is unstable.

If there is no vision and courage and political will, I fear that not only we won’t have steps ahead, but worse, we will regress, because patience is being lost with the weakening of EU credibility.

Sometimes we get the impression that the more we try, the more skepticism is produced in some EU countries.

Kosovo is a unique case and our experience has no parallels with other cases in the EU and elsewhere.

The fear that recognition or advancement of Kosovo will have a negative effect on these countries is irrational and a wrong approach.

The European Union has realized that there is no other better way to secure long-term peace in our region, apart from the membership of all Western Balkan states in the EU.

I want to say clearly that the European Union is only empowered by opening the door to the people who are still out of it.

This should be a rapid strategic decision of the EU and in no case an endless technical and procedural process.

The most appropriate action and decision of the EU would be the membership of the five Western Balkan states in bloc, at the same time.

I consider and hope that the European Commission and the EU member states shall consider our reality.

To include this reality in the road map when drafting the expansion strategy, which will be made public early next year.

Even in relation to our neighbors, Kosovo is a factor of stability and cannot be overlooked.

No one will ever break us, that’s for sure.

All those who are interested to have a cooperation with us should treat us as equal.

We are for a regional stability and cooperation, but the cost and benefits must be evident to everyone.

Kosovo has more than five years since it has entered in the dialogue with Serbia, facilitated by the European Union!

I believe that if there is political will in the EU and our international friends, we will be able to move to a new, more ambitious and meaningful stage so far.

We are committed to dialogue, because through it we have managed to advance the consolidation and state integrity of Kosovo.

Today, as a result of this effort, we have extension of the institutions throughout the territory of Kosovo.

Today we have a unique and inclusive justice system, we have a police across the country.

We must now conclude this process with a final historical agreement on normalization and reconciliation.

This process must end with interstate agreements, an international treaty that provides long-term peace, mutual recognition, and enables integration into Euro-Atlantic structures.

As I have said, this must be our common effort, so I will soon propose a model for the creation of a comprehensive political team.

This team will create enough space for all representatives of political parties and civil society.

The United States will be more directly involved in this dialogue.

We should think more about regional cooperation with all countries in the region.

We are all witness to many initiatives within the European integration process to advance cooperation with everyone in the region.

Such an ambitious initiative is also the regional economic zone, which will enable the free movement of goods, services and professionals.

I support such ideas, but we as Kosovo will respect the obligations we receive.

But this can only be done once barriers are removed and only when Kosovo is treated as equal.

We have full commitment to peace, stability, but we want to walk before we run.

It should be made clear that this kind of co-operation between neighbors should result in the service of everyone, not of agendas and the facilitating of the progress of just some of the countries in the region.

One more thing, co-operation happens only by being treated equally and no one else besides us can speak in the name of Kosovo.

Moreover, the efforts of any state to dominate or guide our region in what form is in vain.

The dreams of the past should be forgotten because they divide us.

Only the future based on civilized and reciprocal values can bring us together.

Honored soldiers and officers,

Honorable citizens of the Republic of Kosovo,

Allow me to conclude this public address for you and the citizens of the Republic of Kosovo wherever they are, reiterating that: Kosovo and its citizens are an autochthonous European people, so our future, including the values we represent, is natural and secure within the European Union, NATO and the UN.

Kosovo will succeed in successfully concluding the period of suffering and conflict with Serbia, signing the Treaty of Peace and Reconciliation.

The citizens of the Republic of Kosovo want to see their elected political leaders united in all issues of national and state interest.

Therefor it is my duty, your duty, the duty of all of us, to work for our general benefit.

I hope good luck will be with us in the realization of our good intentions in the service of our citizens and our state.

Thank you for your patience and attention!