President of the Republic of Kosovo, Mrs. Atifete Jahjaga, opened today the conference on economic cooperation in Chicago, United States of America.
Conference will be presenting opportunities and conditions for investment in Kosovo.
At the same time, “Global Opportunities” conference will also be addressing the synergies of cooperation between Kosovo, State of Illinois and Israel
At this conference, President Jahjaga is accompanied by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Ms. Hykmete Bajrami.
At the address delivered on this occasion, President Jahjaga said:
Dear Mr. President of the American Israeli Chamber of Commerce,
Dear representatives of the Albanian-American Association of Intellectuals, Businessmen and Activists,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to be with you here this morning and to take part in this conference on global cooperation opportunities, with a particular focus on business cooperation opportunities between the Republic of Kosovo, the United States, and Israel.
I would like to thank all those who, through their work in organizing this event and the meetings that I will have throughout the day are enhancing the relations between our countries and nations.
With Israel, and the Jewish people, we have a powerful bond that unites us.
This bond is found in the parallels of immensurable suffering and painful histories of our nations as they faced persecution, wars, and extermination.
It is found in the extraordinary story of rescue of thousands of Jews during World War Two by the Albanians in Kosovo, Macedonia and Albania.
It is found on the support Kosovo’s people found in Jewish activists who advocated for an end to repression and as refugees who were offered shelter in Israel during the most difficult moment in our history. My husband and his family were among them.
In different context and circumstances and in different stages of human history, we both have powerful stories of how our societies came together to build our own states. They are stories of survival and of resilience. We are persistent in building our democracies and becoming equal members of the international community that strive for prosperity.
This common thread of progress, of moving forward should also be the foundation of our friendship and mutual cooperation.
And it is very fitting that as we hope to embark in new beginnings we do so in the United States, this country that we are so indebted to for coming to the rescue of Kosovo and its people, for believing in their desire to build a country in democracy and at peace where once repression and discrimination were the law of the land. For a chance to write their own story. To speak up for themselves. To be the masters of their own fate.
The United States is our key ally. They have walked with us hand in hand to help us build a society in the spirit of liberty, democracy and rule of law.
Kosovo today breathes differently from what it did a decade ago. We have completed our emergency response of rebuilding and reconstructing a country that only 16 years ago was completely neglected or destroyed.
Today our challenges are similar to those of developing countries. What followed in Kosovo since the declaration of independence is a major transitional change in our economic system, from a centralized to a market led-economy that emphasizes individual freedom. ———-
Our citizens were given the freedom for the first time to choose how to produce, sell and use their own resources, while respecting other’s rights to do the same. The economic freedom Kosovo citizens enjoy today, has lead to higher incomes, lower poverty levels, more employment and a better standard of living than previously experienced in Kosovo.
We remain committed to cultivate the values of freedom and democracy and to allow the private sector to develop, which we consider to be the backbone of our economy.
We are aware that the private sector is a product of the environment in which it operates. For this reason, our focus is to improve the business environment and the rule of law, as paramount to our development.
We want to ensure that all the relevant preconditions for a sustainable development are met, including the legal and institutional protection of the economic system, strengthening of unhampered competition, fiscal responsibility, as well as the creation of the much-needed infrastructure, including rebuilding of highways as a way to interconnect to new markets and strengthening energy security.
Over these years, Kosovo has drafted laws that is in line with best EU standards and that facilitates economic development under the conditions of a market-led economy. Our legislation ensures national treatment and legal protection to foreign investors, prohibits discrimination against them and protects them from expropriation.
We have adopted the Euro as local currency and consequently our country does not run any currency management risk or exchange rate risk. In line with this, the Euro has strengthened our macroeconomic stability, as inflation continues to follow the Eurozone levels.
We have created a tax system that is very simple and implies a very low tax burden on businesses.
The government continuously reviews fiscal policies and plans to introduce financial and non-financial incentives to boost Foreign Direct Investment.
Our labor market is very competitive, the labor law is very business friendly, and we have the lowest operational costs in the region.
No matter how encouraging these developments in our economy are, we cannot rest satisfied, because there are still major challenges to tackle. Unemployment and poverty are among the first ones. Sustainable and long-term economic growth is possible only if the great potentials of our country are utilized. Our goal is to develop a competitive economy that serves all its citizens by combining the potentials of human resources, natural resources, and of the private sector.
Such a development cannot occur in isolation from the region, the world and the international value chains.
Our economy cannot become more competitive if it continues to face structural limitations such the small local market, low export capacity, limited opportunities for innovation, and lack of capital.
We need to attract more Foreign Direct Investments that will bring the necessary capital, know-how and market linkages for our private sector.
Our vision is to strengthen the cooperation with the world, in particular with our friends like the US and Israel, in order to develop our economies and unleash our tremendous capacities for development and innovation.
For this reason, I have brought with me a number of businessmen and businesswomen from Kosovo’s sector of Information and Communication Technology, as we want to devote a big part of our efforts to establish our primary cooperation in the field of technology and innovation.
We are all facing the same global challenges, which also arise due to the extremely fast changes in technology.
We live in the digital age, where nanotechnology, artificial intelligence and robotics are everyday features of our life. Scientists speak about the Third Industrial Revolution. And Kosovo wants to be part of it. In fact, Kosovo has all preconditions to become part of it.
Our main resource is our young, well-educated and multilingual population, not only in Kosovo itself, but also throughout the world, everywhere where our diaspora is located. I am therefore delighted to see in the audience a significant number of our diaspora people, who have been educated here in the US, have gathered experiences throughout the world and are ready to support their home country Kosovo with ideas, capital and knowledge.
From our part, institutions and governments of our three countries must remain in dialogue to find solutions for the needs of the businesses and to pave the way for successful cooperation. Once the level playing field is established, it is upon the private initiative to take the lead and do its part.
With this in mind, ladies and gentlemen, I wish you all inspiring and fruitful discussions. May you develop ideas for cooperation that support and enrich our countries and our development efforts.