President Jahjaga’s Annual Speech at the Parliament of Kosovo

Honourable Speaker of the Parliament,
Honourable Members of Parliament,
Honourable Prime Minister and Governmental Cabinet,
Honourable citizens of the Republic of Kosovo,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am addressing you at one of the most critical moments of our young parliamentary democracy, at a time when our country is encapsulated by a deep political and moral crisis, a so far unseen clash within the political class, to which the citizens of Kosovo have entrusted the consolidation and strengthening of the sovereignty and statehood of their country.

In this crisis, the basic democratic consensus which we placed at the foundation of the statehood of Kosovo, and upon which we built our international legitimacy and statehood was gravely challenged. Law and order were gravely challenged. We were challenged again.

In this Parliament, instead of enjoying the historic opportunity, won with lots of toil and sacrifice of many generations, in order to be lords of their own fate and move their country forward, citizens of Kosovo became spectators of an excessive tensioning, of a deep shock, of an un-exemplary violence and of an unseen arrogance during our recent history. At this critical moment for our future, do we really need such an infliction? Is it possible that people to whom the citizens of Kosovo entrusted the state making, challenge that very state for which once they challenged every fear and undertook any challenge?

During these months I have been led by belief that legitimate representatives of the citizens of Kosovo will find courage to overcome their daily agendas, ideologies and narrow party interests for the benefit of the common good, for the oath we swore when we built the very first institutions of independent Kosovo. I am adamantly determined to remain unshaken from the vestiges of Constitution, to be a factor of unity and guarantor of the democratic functioning of the institutions. I have incessantly met both individually and all together, representatives of the position and opposition, to find a way out for this crisis. I have continuously called for re-establishment of political dialogue between the position and opposition, and each time my call has either been refused or conditioned.

I have understood very well and have felt the indignation of the citizens of the Republic of Kosovo for the two agreements signed between the Government of the Republic of Kosovo with neighbouring countries- Republic of Serbia on establishment of the Association of Serbian Municipalities, stemming from the April 19th Agreement, ratified by this Parliament, with the support of the opposition, and with the Republic of Montenegro,  on the demarcation of our state borders, which has not as yet been ratified here.

They are indignations and worries which we all share, because with them we decide on the functionality of Kosovo as a state and the future of young generations; for its many times challenged sovereignty. For our friendships, partnerships, alliances, values. For our path ahead. But, I am convinced that instead of challenging our state, and impairing the trust of the citizens in institutions which they built, solution lies in the missing dialogue on where is this country going and where are we leading this country to. The need for n interlocution between people who have decided to share the good and the bed together in Kosovo. To re-establish a consensus that Kosovo is more important than anyone of us. It is to feel sorry that our political discourse, instead of contributing to a constructive atmosphere, has turned into a patriotism contest with finger pointing at one another. Citizens of Kosovo, who entrusted us to address and uncompromisingly represent their interests, do not deserve the situation which we are serving to them.

During these four months, based upon my constitutional competencies- because tome, Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo is an obligation and not a recommendation- I have engaged in finding institutional and all-inclusive solutions for the two contested agreements. I have carefully listened to the elaboration of the Prime Minister and his coalition partners on the dialogue held in Brussels. I have listened to the objections of the opposition representatives. I have communicated with our partners in relation to our concerns. I have assured them that Kosovo will continue to remain dedicated to the processes essential to itself and to the region.

And I have proposed a concrete plan for the overcoming of the institutional blockade by submitting the Principles of the Association of Municipalities with Serbian Majority to the Constitutional Court for interpretation of their compliance with the spirit and the letter of the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo.

We can all have our opinion on the Association, of the context which brought it to life, but the Constitutional Court, established and voted by this parliament, is the only competent institution to make legal interpretation of the principles of the association. We need to trust the institutions which we have created ourselves and to vest them with power to take independent decisions, detached from the day to day frustrations and vile language which characterizes today’s reality.

I have acted in the same manner with Montenegro, by proposing the establishment of an ad-hoc commission with foreign experts, located at my office or at this parliament, which would evaluate the process of demarcation of our state borders with the Montenegrin state, as the only institutional and credible way to address eventual inaccuracies of the process. I have affirmed that findings of such a commission will be addressed and eventual mistakes will be corrected.

I believe that two concrete solutions offered by the institution which i lead, are the best moderate way, the initial compromise and the first step to a communication beyond daily politics between the position and the opposition. Apart from addressing the disagreements and offer solutions, these proposals will also be a testament to the capability of Kosovo’s political class to put on the first plan the interests of the country. I say it again, Kosovo is more important than anyone of us, and citizens of Kosovo owe us nothing, to anyone of us, to deserve such behaviour.

I use the opportunity to congratulate citizens of Kosovo, who with their patience and wisdom, refused to become part of this confrontation, and have risen above it, through undertaking of continuous pressure on you, their elected ones, to put aside the personal and conceptual animosities and to return to the dialogue with one another.

Tear gas cannot substitute the force of the arguments; neither can we reduce our democracy in numbers. The level of our democracy will be determined by the dialogue between the position and the opposition. So far, lack of this dialogue,
risks to undo the fundamental principle of our political life, to de-legitimize decision making and to render unsuccessful the engagement to establish a country in which law prevails over everyone, same as for the mayor of a municipality which abuses his official position and in order to avoid justice is allowed to flee the country, and for the member of the parliament which endangers the lives of others. Both are loathsome practices, consequences of which suffer the citizens of Kosovo, the only ones in Europe who continue to be denied the freedom of movement.

I believe that we are by now clear that no side will achieve victory. We will not transform violence into a political tool, because that way we will undo, destroy Kosovo. But at the same time, no one enjoys the right to be an arbiter in Kosovo. Our path ahead must be paved with internal dialogue, with a clear strategy for the advancement of our integrative processes, both in relation to other ethnicities in Kosovo as well as with neighbouring countries and our international partners, who stood by us during our darkest period. Our investment is a joint one.

We are wasting to much valuable time to move ahead the very necessary reforms, which would make Kosovo a state of rule of law and a country of prosperity. To develop the economy and not to further diminish our economic growth, already incapable to address the unemployment and Kosovo’s general development. We are severely testing the trust of our friends, without whom the advancement of essential moments in which we find ourselves and further consolidation of our statehood would be impossible.

As a political class, we are, without redress, continuing to painfully test the trust and the patience of our citizens, who have elected us in order to offer them a perspective and a future in Kosovo.

From this very place, a year ago, I issued a warning on the desperation which we had planted in the souls of our citizens by failing to consolidate the institutions after successful parliamentary elections. That desperation translated into the scenes of thousands of citizens who, at the bus station, were deserting their country in time of peace.

I started this year by begging the citizens not to leave Kosovo and I am concluding the year by begging you, honourable members of parliament, to re-establish a dialogue with those who elected you. The distance between the citizens of Kosovo and our institutions is has never been greater. Communication with your voters is not only an obligation of a democratic system to ensure transparency in decision making, but is also a necessity in order not to get detached from their requirements.

In Kosovo we need more accountability. Accountability for the developmental programmes, accountability for activity and non activity. Responsibility lies upon us to find solutions to our challenges, in the same manner as we carry responsibility for the choices we make.

For this reason, I call once again the political subjects to, without wasting any more time, sit on the discussions table. We have the institutions. Processes exist. Compromises are a must. Aims are clear. To re-establish the basic consensus for our road ahead. This road must not exclude anyone because it is a common road until the conclusion of our engagements to consolidate Kosovo as a state.

Our citizens must sense the security which guarantees a democratic order, an independent judiciary, a policy which represents their interests for them. We cannot lose the chance to make our state a place where coming generation can realize their will and their dreams.

I am not saying that the time to bring things on the right track in Kosovo has passed. But I will say that it is the high time that our state becomes a country worth living in it, with an economic and political mobility which ensures regeneration of values and ends corruptive practices which risk to criminalize a whole society.

This also means the fulfilment of obligations we have undertaken on our path towards European Union and NATO.

This year Kosovo has made an important step in establishing contractual relations with European Union, through the Stabilization-Association Agreement, an agreement with bilateral rights and obligations. This agreement will help in implementation of reforms in many sectors, and will deepen the political dialogue between Kosovo and European Union.

Kosovo’s benefits are a plenty, especially in attraction of foreign investments and creation of as good as possible conditions for a sustainable development of the country.

Our path to EU is also conditioned with the dialogue on normalization of relations with Republic of Serbia, similar to Serbia’s conditioning of its European integration with the full disbanding of its illegal structures form Kosovo. Chapter 35 will annul the dualism imposed by Serbia in Kosovo from the end of the war, and guarantees that Serbia’s path to EY will exclusively depend on the fulfilment of obligations to Kosovo, all the way to signing of obligatory agreements which will ensure recognition of independence of Kosovo.

Dialogue continues to remain a must to us. At the dawn of declaration of independence and after the ending of the conditioned independence, we inherited a complicated reality, a country ethnically divided and a challenged sovereignty.  Direct dialogue with Serbia in a framework of European integrations with EU mediation and US support, is the last moment to force Serbia to dissociate itself from Kosovo. Serbia to officialise the irreversible reality that it has by now accepted. That we as a country enliven in practice the promises ingrained in the Ahtisaari Plan and later in the Constitution of Kosovo for the protection of the Serbian minority and to guarantee their viability in Kosovo. Upon this pledge, we achieved to become a state. This obligation which we undertook legitimated us as a state, in a process which carries the seal of the International Court of Justice, and which is irreversible.

We are witnesses that dialogue as a process and its results is being contested all over. Government, as the undertaker of the dialogue, and other institutions as well, are under continuous public pressure to justify the constructivism and determination we have shown during these years in Brussels.  At many meetings this year I have adamantly asked for implementation of agreements reached in Brussels, as proof that dialogue must not only contains fulfilment of  EU standards in paper only, but that as a process, it shall instigate the reconciliation between the two nations and the two states.

I continue to believe that Kosovo has no other alternative for the re-establishment of its sovereignty on all of its territory and for the protection of its territorial integrity, through the accommodation of other ethnic communities, within our institutional and social life. This accommodation must be full and sincere.

On this undertaking we require a much wider consensus, which I believe would result with a stronger subjectivity at the dialogue table in Brussels. We need to insist in clarity from our partners. We need to define to detail what we mean by normalization. And to explain such a clarification to our citizens and to argument it to them. To be clear in our requests. More active in what we want from this dialogue. To set the agenda- the missing persons, the stolen pension fund. To think about reparations for damages caused by the war.  And at the end, we all need more transparency and constructive debate on the dialogue process.

In front of us we have a greater battle of values, which transcends the narrow context of Kosovo. We are often faced by aggressive politics of a state, Serbia, which has still a lot ahead to de-Nazify itself. We need to demonstrate that we have the strength and the courage to rise above this temptation because we have aligned on the right side of history.

We need to understand that exactly due to the conditions in which we were created as a state, the values which we embrace, we will be judged harsher than the others, we will always be held against a higher standard. This means that we have no margin in which to err, and that there is no room for mediocrity.

Of course, I cannot also hide my disappointment with the decision of the European Commission to further delay the recommendation to allow the freedom of movement for the citizens of Kosovo, a fundamental value of European project. We have fulfilled the criteria prescribed in the guidelines for visa liberalisation, despite the fact that criteria and recommendations for Kosovo have been added continuously.

However, I consider that or delays to in time fulfil the EU requirements, even a single technical recommendation, have given space to various EU services to delay the reporting and to delay the final evaluation.

Up to this point, we have seen European integrations as a dual carriage way, with mutual responsibilities and obligations. I consider that Kosovo has fulfilled its obligations. It is now time that EU does its share.

We will not back off from our European path and we will tenaciously follow our right which makes this path irreversible and alternative less for Kosovo. We are not a burden to EU; Kosovo and its citizens are an added value to European Union. With hard work and dedication we will convince the sceptics that when given the opportunity, Kosovo has a great potential.

We are dedicated to NATO membership and I assure you that with the creation of the Kosovo Armed Forces, this aim will be realized.

Honourable Members of Parliament,
Citizens of the Republic of Kosovo,

Many challenges lie in front of us, and they should not be masked. But, at the same time, I would also like to mention some concrete results in different fields, reached thanks to the determination of thousands of women and men who, through their self-sacrificing engagements, want to see Kosovo as an advanced county and, to those Kosovars who, at the moment when they were given the opportunity, have surmounted all the expectations. I am thinking here of the case of the Officer of the Kosovo Security Force, Ismail Hoxha, who days ago excelled at the British defence academy. Majlinda and Nora, and other sportsmen and women following on their steps, who continue to be Kosovo’s best Ambassadors. Hundreds of girls and boys with scholarships at schools with global reputation, who are returning to Kosovo with enthusiasm, to transform their country. There is much hope for a society in whose midst there are such idealists. It is our obligation to multiply their voices and their talents.

As the President of the country, within my constitutional prerogatives, this year I have engaged in addressing of some of structural problems which are a hindrance to development and generation of new workplaces.

An issue to which we have shown little institutional attention during these post war years is economic development. During all these years we have failed to make economy a main strategic and political priority. For this reason, structural problems as are high unemployment, poverty, low productivity and competitiveness, low domestic produce, low level of innovation and unsatisfactory performance of private sector, must not come as a surprise.

The fact that our living standard is not only far from the EU standard, but also below the regional average, must also not come as a surprise.

The most promising tool to achieve and preserve economic prosperity is the free competition. Political and economic institutions of the country are obligated to create conditions for free competition to work, because economic development is an obligation and at the same an expression of healthy patriotism. Without strong economy, we cannot have education, healthcare, security or army.

We must understand that it is a duty of institutions to create preconditions for development and not dependence of citizens on business and politics.

We must understand that we face a global economic dynamism, induced by digital revolution, which is placing new requirements upon the society,  bringing forth a dramatic displacement of new methods of production, of work and new manners of thinking.

We must understand that the fastest way to transform the institutions, the society and our economy is through education, innovation and application of new technologies.

Reconnection of Kosovo’s economy with the global economy can only be done if this criteria start to be applied. If not, trade deficit will remain high, foreign investments will be low, unemployment high and dependence on remittances permanent.

Proper economic policies are not only those that concentrate on creation of economic growth at all costs, but those which remove the barriers which prevent the growth. In this spirit, at the beginning of this year, I have presented to the Government of Kosovo, through Prime Minister Mustafa, a list of economic measures, which needed to be undertaken immediately, in order that some of these barriers are removed. Some of the proposed measures are the drafting of the new law on public procurement and the new system of electronic procurement, in order to lower the level of misuse and of corruption, different tiers of VAT, in order to ameliorate the poverty, drafting of the law on strategic investments in order to attract foreign investments and so on.

I expect the government to expedite the engagements so that this package of measures is approved in the next coming months and that reforms benefiting the society are not brought to a halt.

Economic development without the rule of law is impossible. For this reason, I continue to insist on electronic procurement in order to increase transparency in one of the most problematic sectors in this stage of transition.

We are undertaking steps to build an independent system of justice in Kosovo, in service to the citizens. Fighting of corruption and organized crime has intensified, but there is still a lot of work ahead of us. With all the legal and institutional reforms, concrete results depend on political will and the courage of prosecutors and judges to be uncompromised in this fight.

During this last year, judiciary has significantly raised the number of cases brought against the officials for corruptive cases.

According to the World Bank “Global Governance Indicators”, Kosovo has this year improved corruption control for 16 % compared to last year.

We have a joint responsibility to show our patriotism by being uncompromised in the fighting of corruption and organised crime and in law enforcement towards building of a state of law.

Reforms are necessary in other institutional spheres too. After continuous engagements of my Office, I have the pleasure to inform you that few hours ago, Millennium Challenge Corporation, an American governmental agency, established by US Congress, has informed me that Republic of Kosovo has been selected to benefit from the funds which amount to few hundred million US dollars, in support of the economic development and eradication of poverty.

This assistance had been made possible only due to institutional dedication of the Republic of Kosovo to the democratic principles, economic freedoms, fighting of corruption and significant improvement of indicators.

Kosovo has this year made advances on the ranking of its democratic rights, mainly due to the proper proceeding of the elections of 2013 and 2014. In fighting of corruption, improvement of the coordination of the law enforcement agencies has enabled Kosovo to finally pass the corruption control indicator.

Now that Board has reached a positive decision, institutions of Kosovo, in coordination with each other, and in a wide scope consultation with the civil society and business community, must present a clear programme for assistance based on transparency and state ownership.

List of priorities is a long one, but we must prioritize sectors in which the effects of this assistance will be long terms and will improve the quality of life of the citizens. It can be as wide as remaking of the healthcare sector, deep reforms in education or building of the infrastructure in order to create employment opportunities for the youth, especially in the field of technological innovation.

Meanwhile, institutions must continue to address the indicators, keeping up high the level of internal reforms, quality of institutional democracy, addressing of corruption, investment in healthcare and education, level of participation of girls in primary education and trade policies. 

This year I have expressed my deep concern for the cost which the citizens of Kosovo are required to undertake in order to search for healthcare services abroad. In an attempt o slightly ameliorate this, I have dedicated myself to building of a Paediatric centre, a 22 million Euro donation of the United Arab Emirates, foundations of which will be laid in few short months. This centre, which will become functional by 2018, will include oncology, cardio surgery, and paediatric emergency, a hospital which will possess the most advanced paediatric technology in the world. I hope that such a paediatric centre will manage to ease the burden of the citizens and to offer improved services to the young generation.

Honourable Members of Parliament,

We must be attentive to the continuous threats to our security. Apart from the conventional threats, today we are also facing threats of non state extremist structures, which have also spread to our country.

Institutions of Kosovo continue to remain vigilant to this challenge to our national security. This year we have been witnesses to attempts by these terrorist currents to extend their influence by continuing the recruitment of citizens of Kosovo to join their bogus terrorist causes in Syria and Iraq.

Our response as institutions has been immediate and has resulted to be successful. This year we have seen a drastic decrease of the number of Kosovars who have joined terrorist networks, due to sensibilisation on this problem and due to our determination to act and not to allow Kosovo to become a shelter for terrorist.

Our actions have also gained a legal shape, through approval by this parliament of the law which penalizes the participation of Kosovars in foreign wars, which also punishes inciters and recruiters of this cause. We have strengthened our regional cooperation and we continue to provide valuable contribution to the global coalition in order to confront this evil.

We have demonstrated by now that security institutions of the Republic of Kosovo are fully determined not to allow these elements and their activities to find room for themselves in Kosovo; but our engagements and those of our allies to uproot this challenge to the security of our citizens will depend on a wide and all encompassing cooperation which addresses the causes of violent extremism.

In order to help strengthening of the society and endangered communities to address this problem, my Office has managed to include Kosovo as a beneficiary state of the Global Fund for Community Engagement and Resilience, with headquarters in Geneva, established as a global endeavour to, through public-private partnership, in cooperation with Governments, civil society and private sector, support the engagement of states in addressing of violent extremism and radicalism.

Kosovo’s access to the 25 million dollars fund will enable various initiatives in Kosovo to obtain the necessary financial help for prevention of this phenomenon. Through this fund, we will have the opportunity to establish new partnerships and become participants in various initiatives which will help civic empowerment in playing of an active role in prevention of violent extremism.

Honourable Members of Parliament,
Citizens of the Republic of Kosovo,

This address of mine is my last address to this Parliament prior to the conclusion of my mandate as the President of the Republic of Kosovo.

During these five years there has not been a greater honour for me than to be the President of Kosovo. I say to you in full sincerity, that there is no greater privilege than to be at the helm of a society, which, under the repression, ethnic cleansing, and whose existence has been threatened, has never stepped back from its dream to make a state. Which continues to strongly support the most advanced values of humanity. A society which with pride praises its partnership and strong friendship with the United States of America. Which aims without being discouraged to become a European Union member country. To, today, despite difficulties and harsh debate, pave its own path, a society which is unshaken in its endeavours to making Kosovo a dignified place to live in.

Thank you.