President Thaçi’s speech at the 93rd Rose Roth seminar of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly

17 years ago, Kosovo was a country just emerging from war, from genocide attempt, from a decade of Serb repression and state apartheid and from many decades of discrimination.

It is a pleasure to welcome you here in Prishtina.

It is a pleasure that Kosovo is the host of the next meeting of the Rose-Roth Program of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

I congratulate the Assembly of Kosova for this well-organized event.

I believe that Kosovo today is very appropriate, that we have you here in Kosovo for this third seminar of this year.

Our state is a good opportunity to teach important lessons to the international community.

Kosovo is no longer a source of instability, but in the contrary it is an exporter of peace and dialogue.

This makes Kosovo a good opportunity to learn about similar cases from around the world.

Below I will elaborate a bit about these lessons from Kosovo.

Ladies and gentleman,

17 years ago, Kosovo was a country just emerging from war, from genocide attempt, from a decade of Serb repression and state apartheid and from many decades of discrimination.

But during those heavy days it was the international community, in particular NATO, who were put in charge of restoring peace and order in Kosovo.

The citizens of Kosovo accepted with open arms the KFOR peacekeeping force, led by NATO and the United Nations mission.

A month ago, here in Prishtina I was host of the first commander of the KFOR peacekeeping force, Major General Mike Jackson.

With him we remembered the postwar days and the readiness of the guerrilla force of that time, the Kosovo Liberation Army, to hand over the weapons and to dissolve.

On this initiative the foundations of the future protection force Kosovo were established.

This was the result of the trust between us and you and of the sincere and professional cooperation.

This trust is maintained even today and in fact teaches us that the building of trust between the parties is one of the first conditions to have peace and stability.

Another lesson of those immediate days after the war, which is valid also for one of the major challenges Europe and the North-Atlantic Alliance is currently facing, is also the issue of the refugees.

In 1999, because of the war, more than 1 million citizens of Kosovo or more than half of the population, were forced to flee their country and become refugees in the region and beyond.

But, upon the ending of the war and the establishment of peace, these one million people did not wait neither for the UNHCR nor any other agency, but returned to their homes.

It did not bother them that their homes had been destroyed, that the economy was ruined, that the state institutions should be built from zero.

It was important that they had peace, although still severe, and a guarantee of security and stability, that was NATO.

Even today when we see the waves of refugees, we should be committed to establish peace and stability for them.

They do not desire anything more than to return to their homes, to have peace, to have stability.

They will reconstruct the destroyed homes, the ruined state, as we have done here in Kosovo.

Ladies and gentleman,

Kosovo, thanks to the cooperation with the international community, in February of 2008 has completed the long process of resolving its political status in the international arena.

Part of this process were also the United Nations, the EU, the United States, and Russia.

That month Kosovo has declared the independence in full coordination with the international community.

Since then we have reached far.

A year ago we managed to sign the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU.

This came as a result of rapid and successful reforms in the installation of the rule of law, in the construction of the democratic institutions and paving the foundations of a free economy.

We have built excellent relations with all the countries of the region.

We rejoiced the membership of Albania into NATO, we rejoiced the membership of Montenegro into NATO and rejoice the possibility that Macedonia will also soon join NATO.

Therefore, another lesson from Kosovo is that in the Balkans, NATO means peace, means stability, means tranquility, means development.

17 years ago, Kosovo and Serbia were countries in conflict, our people were enemies.

Today we have a completely different picture.

With Serbia we have started the process of normalization of relations between our two countries.

As a result of this process – which was not easy at all – we have managed to see each other as neighbors, collaborators and to start a new chapter in our relations.

I believe that Minister Tahiri yesterday you informed in detail about the dialogue so far.

Let me just add that Kosovo is ready and in fact requires for the dialogue to be raised to another level, to take another quality.

We are ready for a proper process of cooperation, of friendly and reconciliation relations.

We have never had a better opportunity, as a Kosovo, as a Serbia and as a region, than the coming months, to put our cooperation on secure tracks.

Thanks to the commitment for dialogue and cooperation, today the relations between Kosovo and Serbia are no longer a threat to the stability in the region.

But, they are an example of strength that through dialogue to turn to a better future for all.

The region benefits from this as well.

The improvement of relations between Kosovo and Serbia has also contributed to the improvement of the relations between the countries of the region.

The Prime Minister of Albania was last week in Serbia to discuss about the expansion of economic cooperation between the two countries.

This is unlikely to be achieved without the calming of relations between Kosovo and Serbia.

Therefore we say that Kosovo is now exporter of stability and promoter of the dialogue.

Ladies and gentleman,

We are also proud of the successes on the internal consolidation of Kosovo.

We have built multiethnic institutions in which all communities living in Kosovo are represented.

Moreover, even those who once stayed at the barricades in the northern part of Kosovo, even attacking the peacekeeping forces of KFOR and NATO, are now part of the Kosovo state institutions, the Parliament, the Government, the local governance where they are committed for the rights of their community.

With this spirit of cooperation for a better future for Kosovo, we are also working on the establishment of the Kosovo Armed Forces.

We wish that the decision on the establishment of the Army of Kosovo to have the approval of all the communities living in Kosovo.

P The experience we have with the Kosovo Security Force, which we have now, makes us optimistic for this ambition.

The Kosovo Security Force has been set up in close partnership and cooperation with NATO.

It is a force of NATO standards, a multiethnic force, professional, with good gender representation and proven in Kosovo, but also in actions abroad of Kosovo.

Speaking about the Kosovo Security Force, let me allow to congratulate them for another success.

This week, eight members of the Rapid Reaction Brigade received the gold medal in Britain.

It was the first time they participates in this race which is known as one of the harshest of military training.

From here I congratulate these members of the Kosovo Security Force, who proved once again that this force on the degree of preparation is equal to the other armies of the world.

The Kosovo Armed Forces will be a major step on our way in the aspiration to become members of NATO and the EU.

This is our future, this is our social consensus.

We are encouraged by the Berlin Process for the Western Balkans which has returned confidence in the conviction that this region has its place in NATO and the EU.

When we are at this point, let me mention another lesson.

In the Balkans we learn that in international relations there is no vacuum.

We understand that today the EU does not have its mind on expansion.

Financial crises, the wave of refugees, BREXIT are topics that have drawn the attention of Brussels from the Western Balkans.

However, the delay of the EU and NATO to bring the Western Balkan region closer to itself will not leave simply a vacuum.

Other ideologies, from other continents, with other agendas for the world, are trying to penetrate into our region.

These are anxious to fill the vacuum that the delay of the EU and NATO will leave.

Therefore it is essential for the region, but also for the EU, for NATO, for the continent, not to be late in the regional the integration processes into NATO and the EU.

Ladies and Gentleman,

As a Kosovo we have managed to successfully face some of the greatest challenges the world faces today.

We have been successful in combating radicalism and extremism.

We have neither been immune in relation to this threat and citizens of Kosovo have traveled to join ISIS.

But this number has returned to zero.

We have been working in several fields.

We have sanctioned the participation in wars outside of Kosovo by law.

We have informed the citizens about the fraud that ISIS represents.

We have worked with the Islamic community to stop the infiltration of the ideology among the believers.

Therefore we have achieved the successes for which Kosovo is praised by all, for which Vice President Biden has called Kosovo leader and example in the region.

But, Ladies and gentleman,

The battle against radicalism and extremism cannot be won alone.

It can be won only if we are united.

It is therefore important to support Kosovo’s aspirations to become a member of international security organizations.

We are ready and wish to be part of the Partnership for Peace program, we wish and need to be part of INTERPOL.

For this we need the support of all of you.

Kosovo today is a success story.

Our shared success in building peace, stability and prosperity.

But the story is not closed, not finished yet.

For this we are grateful to you for the continuation of your support and cooperation.

Thank you!

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