President Ahtisaari, Distinguished representatives of the Contact Group, Ladies and gentlemen, We are gathered here today to wrap up the historical process to determine Kosova’s status, namely the independence of our country. Independence is key to the very existence and the spirit of the people of Kosova, who suffered long Serbian occupation after having gone through many centuries of Ottoman rule, just like the Serbs, our northern neighbors, who turned eventually into our rulers.
Regrettably and against its will, Kosova found itself under Serb and Yugoslav rule throughout the 20th century.With its popularly expressed will and by constitutional means, Kosova declared its independence from the Yugoslav federation, being a constituent unit of it, in the early 1990s, in a bid to walk out of this state creature by peaceful and democratic means, and not bloodstained. This turned out to be an idealist goal that is worthy of pursuit, but turns out often to be unachievable. This democratic ideal of the Kosovars turned out to be unachievable in the face of Milosevic’s hegemony and the proponents of the Greater Serbia ideology, which, under the guise of the preservation of the integrity of Yugoslavia vis-à-vis the centrifugal national forces, was unfortunately, for too long, interpreted as a guardian of the paradigms of a modern world democratic order.The majority of the people of Kosova was on the verge of being exterminated late last decade, when Milosevic and Serbia, employing their political, police, and military machinery, embarked upon their final genocidal drive against the Kosova Albanians, leaving around 15.000 casualties. Over 800.000 Kosova Albanians were forcefully deported from Kosova. Over 120.000 houses were burned down or ruined during the Serbian aggression campaign in Kosova.The political and social consensus on which Milosevic built to crack down on Kosova for a long period of time, culminating with a policy of scorched earth in the spring of 1999, is an unprecedented occurrence in modern history. In Serbia, Milosevic had an opposition to his government, but no opposition for his policy of aggression and genocidal drive against the Albanians and Kosova as a whole.In those evil hours for Kosova, the peace-loving world, our American and European friends, the Euro-Atlantic structures, stepped in to protect the elemental values of civilization – our right to life and liberty – in the face of the barbarism of Milosevic’s Serbia’s military machinery.We, the Kosova Albanians, fought to the best of our abilities politically for these rights and values; eventually we took up arms, too, in the pursuit of these worthy goals. President Ibrahim Rugova, the leader of the independence movement, who will go down in history as the founding father of the Kosovar nation, and Adem Jashari, the legendary commander of the Kosova Liberation Army (UÇK), stand for these two branches of our political and armed struggle.President Ahtisaari,Representatives of the Contact Group,Ladies and gentlemen,We have said at the outset of the process we are about to conclude now that independence is the alpha and omega, the beginning and end of our position. No structural ties with the state institutions of Serbia shall be acceptable to us.The document on Kosova which has been tabled contains painful compromises that we have made, while keeping intact our determination for Kosova’s independence.The state of Kosova, with a population over 90 percent Albanian, provides its minorities a level of rights which minorities in other countries in Southeast Europe do not enjoy. The Serbian language of the 5 percent of the overall population enjoys the same official status with the Albanian language of the over 90 percent of the people of Kosova.Serbs and other minorities obtain with this status package rights and guarantees which ensure their political representation, namely their overrepresentation, but also rights for self-government at the local level which other minorities in this part of Europe may only wish for. We guarantee these rights, because we want to build our destiny and our welfare on our own and our fellow citizens’ happiness alike, and not on the unhappiness of anyone for that matter.The Ahtisaari plan – let me refer to this package in this way, using a now popular label for it – is acceptable to us. The painful compromises that we have made have been aimed at addressing the concerns and demands of the minorities, first and foremost of the Serbian community. I must say, though, that we are afraid that some of the arrangements laid down in this package may challenge the structural functionality of our state.President Ahtisaari,Representatives of the Contact Group,Ladies and gentlemen,We welcome this plan and commit ourselves to implementing it as a constituent and complementary package for the independent state of Kosova, wherein the Albanian majority and the minorities assume their full responsibilities to run the country, fully respectful of the existential needs and cultural and ethnic sensibilities of each other.This is the future Kosova, a modern state which comes to its fruition after a history of long resistance to foreign occupation, having gone through the storms of war and the formidable efforts towards physical and psychological recovery since 1999.We have enjoyed generous assistance and aid from the democratic world in the post-ward period. They have helped us overcome our emergency needs and consolidate ourselves from problems resulting from the war and many years of lack of investments in Kosova. We are grateful to all the individual countries and international institutions which have come to our aid in the reconstruction efforts after the war in Kosova.Let me point out that during this period, in aftermath of the entry of NATO troops and the deployment of the UN Mission in Kosova, significant democratic and developmental processes have occurred in our country. On the basis of free and democratic elections, sustainable institutions have been created at both the central and local levels – which have proven themselves worthy and functional.One of the successes of these institutions is Kosova’s economic recovery as well as the beginning of a fundamental transformation of this economy on basis of market economy.A modern legal infrastructure has been created in all areas. Kosova has created a sustainable banking and budgetary system, while conducting at the same time a successful privatization process. Be it as it may, for lack of clarity of Kosova’s status, our economy has failed to develop to its full potentials, as we have been unable to have access to international financial institutions and to engage in an even more successful partnership with foreign investors.In the past several years, Kosova has implemented a range of standards, known as the Standards for Kosova, which have improved the quality of life, democracy, as well as the rights and liberties of our citizens.President Ahtisaari,Representatives of the Contact Group,Ladies and gentlemen,Now is the time for Kosova to be recognized as an independent and sovereign state, on account of its unique ethnic, geographical, historical and legal identity, as well as the democratic and representative structures it has established.Kosova is a sui generis case in the fullest sense of the word. This notion is accepted almost universally today. With Kosova becoming a fully-fledged nation, we assume the responsibilities and obligations incumbent on a country that aspires to becoming part of the international system.Even after achieving independence status, Kosova will enjoy for a period of time a significant international presence – both civilian and military – which we, the legitimate authorities of Kosova, have invited.This presence will be there to assist us in our road towards integration into the Euro-Atlantic family – the house of values we share together with the free and democratic nations of this part of the globe.We have parted ways with Serbia since the 1990s. Kosova’s political elite was in pursuit of modern European values, whereas Serbia’s political elite had reverted to the myths of the 19th century and, through them, to a medievalization of our living environment.Now is the time for both Kosova and Serbia, as independent nations, to embark upon the road to integration into the structures of the European Union and NATO. This is the common future for all the countries of the region. Our peoples want to travel freely, to enjoy the freedoms and opportunities enjoyed by those already part of the European Union. We aspire to the democratic values and legal norms embodied in the European Union, and are committed to the detailed, practical work to incorporate them into our laws and institutions. We know that this is a long, tough journey with a lot of hard work, but we are committed to this route. This ambition should be shared by all our neighbors. I say to all the neighbors, including Serbia: let us move forward along the path of Euro-Atlantic integrations.As President of the country on the verge of internationally recognized independence, I would like to assure you once more that the Kosovar state will provide for the fullest range of protections, both constitutional and institutional, to ensure the rule of law and protection of rights of all people: the overwhelming Albanian majority, the Serb community, as well as other minority communities.We, the representatives of Kosova, assure you that independence for Kosova and recognition of its statehood and sovereignty means peace and stability in the entire region. Therefore, we, as an independent nation, will commit ourselves especially to cooperating with all our neighbors and countries of the wider region.We have no claim or desire for the territory of others, any more than we would tolerate any claim on our own territory.Immediately upon recognition as an independent state, Kosova will exercise its right to membership in all the international institutions and organizations, including the United Nations Organization.President Ahtisaari,Representatives of the Contact Group,Ladies and gentlemen,At the end of this long and complex process, I avail myself of the opportunity – on behalf of the Unity Team and the people of Kosova – to express our gratitude to You, President Ahtisaari, to the Contact Group, to NATO, to the USA, to the European Union, as well as to UNOSEK, for your commitment to bring this process for the definition of the political status of my country, Kosova, to a successful conclusion.Thank you for your attention!
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