Honorable Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mr Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Abdul Razak,
Honorable participating state leaders,
Honorable Mr. Tun Musa Hitam and WIEF Foundation Leaders
Ladies and gentlemen,
I feel much honored to be able to address this respectable forum upon an invitation that the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mr. Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Abdul Razak and the WIEF Foundation have extended to me.
My country, Republic of Kosovo, celebrated the second anniversary of its independence on February 2010. Independence Day constitutes the major and the greatest watershed in the history of my country. It marks the realization of a great dream of the people of Kosovo to gain its freedom following an arduous century of being under Serbian rule, which assumed its gravest dimensions by the last decade of the 20th century, when Serbia responded to our peaceful movement for freedom, independence and democracy with a policy of land burning, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, including those committed against women, children and elderly.
By the late 90s, noticing that political actions did not suffice to stop Milosevic’s brutal aggression against the people of Kosovo, the NATO member countries joined a fight that aimed at bringing to an end ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity that were being committed in the middle of Europe. In the meanwhile, following a long period of a peaceful resistance led by our historic President, Dr. Ibrahim Rugova, the people of Kosovo started to organize themselves, in order to save themselves from the Serbian repression that was exceeding any imaginable dimension.
Consequently, on March 24, 1999, after having exhausted all the options for finding a diplomatic solution, the NATO launched its air strikes against Serbian forces deployed in Kosovo and in Serbia. Serbia was compelled to sign its capitulation following 78 nights of NATO consecutive attacks. Its invasive forces withdrew from Kosovo, leaving behind a nearly completely devastated country. At the same time, within few days, nearly one million people, or half of the population of Kosovo, who were expelled and had found refuge in neighboring countries mainly, like in Albania, Montenegro, Macedonia and in other countries around the world, returned to their homes, in which they have lived for centuries.
Kosovo will never forget terrible tragedies that it has experienced under the Serbian violent rule. However, Kosovo is resolved to look to the future for the best of its people, for the best of the future generations and for the best of all the people of the region.
Kosovo has extended its hand of friendship to Serbia, despite all tragedies that Serbia has inflicted upon us in the past. Even during the UN-brokered negotiations in Vienna that were chaired by the Nobel Prize winning former Finish President Martti Ahtisaari, as a United Nations Special Envoy, Kosovo has offered neighborliness and mutual cooperation to Serbia, but Serbia has opposed strongly any solution or agreement that did not suit its likings. Simply put, Serbia desired a solution that would enable her to rule Kosovo, as if nothing had happened.
No stone was left unturned and still it became clear that a negotiated agreement was not possible. Therefore, President Ahtisaari proposed independence be granted to Kosovo. Nevertheless, Serbia was persisting in the resumption of negotiations, and the Contact Group commissioned an international trio to lead additional talks, in a final bid that fell short of a breakthrough.
Accordingly, on February 17, 2008, the representatives of the people of Kosovo announced the Declaration of Independence unanimously, whereby they committed to a democratic and multiethnic state of Kosovo, in which all the people will enjoy guarantees of their individual, ethnic, cultural and religious rights.
During more than two years of its functioning as a sovereign democracy, the Republic of Kosovo has proved itself an important factor of peace, stability and prosperity in the region. Kosovo has become an active catalyst of good relations and cooperation between countries of the region. It is my pleasure to announce that we maintain excellent relations with our neighboring countries, Albania, Montenegro and Macedonia, as well as with other countries of the region, like Turkey, Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria and others.
68 democracies around the world have recognized independence of Kosovo to date. This is an ongoing process and we except further recognitions in the future. Our country has established diplomatic relations with many countries of the world. We have already opened 20 embassies and 10 consular missions. Accordingly, we can say that we have managed to create a solid diplomatic network. Kosovo has established sustainable democratic institutions and has already completed the process of establishing the core institutions that make for a sovereign state.
Dear ladies and gentlemen,
As any newly-created state, our country needs the support of friend countries. Fortunately, we have not lacked this support so far. We are very appreciative of all those countries that have helped my country to recover, including the countries that you represent and that have provided a significant support in this regard. Therefore, the people of Kosovo count on your further support.
As Kosovo has emerged from a war that had nearly shattered its economy, economic recovery remains one of the major priorities for the institutions of Republic of Kosovo. To this effect, we have made some concrete steps, especially in the fields of energy, mining, transport, banking sector, agriculture, education, etc. Though results were not missing, we must confess that there is still room for intensive actions that would help boost an economic growth in our country and its integration into the family of developed countries.
Therefore, this conference is a good opportunity for me to invite all your countries and businesses that you represent here to invest in Kosovo, for Kosovo offers many opportunities for businesses to thrive. Republic of Kosovo is located at the centre of the region and it has adopted a very modern legislation, in full compliance with the most advanced European and international standards. This system provides investors with full investment guarantees. Furthermore, International Financial Reporting Standards have been installed. Kosovo provides best business opportunities in the South-East Europe, because of the low taxes and administrative facilities that it provides to foreign investors. Our modern network of telecommunication and the stable banking system represent another advantage.
I hereby want to remind that my country is in possession if inexhaustible mineral resources, which include, in particular, lead, zinc and coal, but gold and silver as well. Nearly 40% of lignite reserves that are to be found throughout Europe are located in Kosovo and this is a very good opportunity to invest in the field of energy. On the other hand, Kosovo has a very fertile soil, which provides good opportunities for producing cereals, fruits and vegetables. In a word, all the conditions for having a developed agriculture are ripe and only immediate and serious investment is needed.
Education is another segment to which Kosovo is paying a primary attention. Youth is certainly the major asset amidst copious resources that Kosovo possesses. More than 52% of the population in Kosovo is under 28 years of age. Owing to the fact that the Kosovo youth is very well educated, as many young people have finished their studies in various university centers around the world and have now returned to assist in the recovery of our country, Kosovo stands a real chance to regain its pace in development.
An economic stability that was maintained in my country during the worst days of the global financial crisis, which has not had a discernible impact in Kosovo, serves to support my previous statement. On the contrary, though it saw a light drop in foreign investment, Republic of Kosovo managed to reach an economic growth of 5% last year. Besides that, our banking system remained intact during the times of the crisis and remains such. We have also created a stable budgetary system, which guarantees a further economic growth.
In the same vein, I also want to emphasize that good results were achieved during the privatization of socially owned enterprises and that, in full accordance with word economic trends, we have developed private sector and foreign investment attraction strategies.
In conclusion, I invite you and especially you participants coming from the countries that have not recognized Kosovo yet, to do so as soon as you can. By recognizing the independence of Kosovo, you will not only support the legitimate right of the people of Kosovo to live in freedom, but you will also contribute directly to stability in our region.
Allow me to point out that Malaysia is one of the countries that have recognized the independence of Kosovo swiftly, by expressing thus its commitment to the freedom of my people and stability in the Balkan region. On behalf of Republic of Kosovo, I avail myself of this opportunity to express, once again, my sincere appreciation for the people and the state of Malaysia and for other countries that have acknowledged our right to living in freedom and independence.
As you may know, Kosovo has been recognized by all the countries of the region, with the exception of Serbia, and by the vast majority of the EU member countries. Kosovo has acceded to major international institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, where also countries that have not recognized the Republic of Kosovo formally have casted votes in favor. This undoubtedly indicates that our country enjoys a strong support and that claims by those who oppose our right to freedom are ungrounded.
Kosovo has seceded from a state that does not exist any longer i.e. from the former Yugoslav Federation, which has dissolved following tragic wars set off by Milosevic’s Serbia. Kosovo was a constitutive part of a multinational federation. Seven countries have been created from the remnants of that federation and Kosovo is one of them.
We look forward to your support to our efforts to make our country a real success story!