The complete address of the President Hashim Thaçi to the Parliament of the Republic of Kosovo

It is a pleasure and a privilege to address you here today as President of the Republic of Kosovo. This opportunity and duty honours me and conveys responsibilities upon me.

Honourable Speaker of the Parliament of Kosovo, Mr. Kadri Veseli,
Honourable Prime Minister, Mr. Isa Mustafa,
Honourable Cabinet Ministers,
Honourable representatives of the Diplomatic Corps,
Honourable Members of the Parliament of Kosovo,

Citizens of the Republic of Kosovo,
Ladies and Gentlemen;

It is a pleasure and a privilege to address you here today as President of the Republic of Kosovo. This opportunity and duty honours me and conveys responsibilities upon me.
It is a pleasure to follow the footsteps of former presidents, who have served Kosovo with all of their being, and by becoming an example on how we should work for the benefit of our country.

At the beginning of the mandate I swore the oath on front of you, honourable members of parliament, stating that I shall protect the independence, sovereignty and the integrity of the Republic of Kosovo. 

That I shall guarantee the rights and freedoms of all citizens of Kosovo.
That I shall protect the Constitution and the laws of Kosovo.
That I shall protect the peace and the wellbeing of all citizens.

At the “Mother Tereza” Square I promised that I shall be the President of all citizens, in service to all citizens.
Once again, thank you for the trust you have laid upon me.

At the end of this year, I am happy to say that my work is led by these principles and that I have commenced realization of these aims.

Honourable members of parliament,

During this time period, as a President, I have undertaken concrete activities to guarantee the rights and freedoms of citizens of Kosovo, to strengthen the law and order and the integrity of the state of Kosovo.

Our country has by all means the most advanced Constitution and laws in our region.

But  we have identified certain deficiencies, and therefore, I have acted upon immediately, by requesting the changing and amending of the Penal Code,  with intent to correct those discrepancies and to not allow anyone to avoid or abuse with justice and law in Kosovo.
Ministry of Justice and other relevant bodies have commenced with work and are now preparing the recommendations for the necessary changes.

In June of this year, we have started to retake the executive competencies in the judicial sector, which until then were in hands of international organisations operating in Kosovo.

Therefore, aware of the progress achieved in the field of justice in Kosovo, despite all challenges, and convinced in the professionalism of local bodies and in their strengthening through transfer of EULEX competencies, I have  also addressed the  need to work on the issues which are a concern to the citizens of Kosovo:

–    War crimes,
–    Post-war crimes,
–    Attacks and damage to our historic cultural heritage,
–    And the war victims, with particular emphasis on missing persons and victims of sexual violence. 

I am encouraged by the immediate reaction of relevant bodies to act on these issues.

Each step which brings us closer to the truth, is another stone laid on the foundations of our society, as a society of equal individuals.

Everyone must understand that justice does not recognize any limitations related to time, social status of ethnicity.

Another of my initiatives is the activity to bring to conclusion the electoral reform, which has begun years ago and is not completed as yet.

Electoral reform must be undertaken in order to assure the citizens of the Republic of Kosovo that they will be voting in a just, transparent and fair process, process in which the vote cannot be lost or manipulated.

But it shall be the trust to lead the institutions.

My team has completed its task in drafting of the concrete proposals for electoral reform and it now remains upon your political will, honourable members of parliament, to, proposals which have stemmed from  joint consultations with the representatives of the parliamentary political parties, civil society, international mechanisms and so on, convert into decisions of the parliament of Kosovo.

I have convened the National Anti-Corruption Council, where the field experts have debated the most favourable manners to combat this phenomenon in Kosovo.

Corruption and organized crime continuously appear at the top of the list of concerns of the citizens of Kosovo.

For this reason, they are also placed at the top of my list of priorities, issues which must be addressed immediately by the politics and institutions of Kosovo.

Our justice bodies have initiated investigations of corruptive cases.

Investigations, charges and sentences have also touched upon the highest state officials.
This work deserves highest commendations, but more must be done.

I repeat, we are all equal in front of the law.

I have also convened the National Council on European Integrations, which has confirmed that we have no other alternatives but NATO and EU.

But, we also asked that EU thinks strategically about the region and beyond.

I have also convened the Consultative Council on Communities.

I have praised their work on promotion of rights and equality for all communities.

As part of the activity on strengthening and preservation of our state sovereignty, of encouragement of members of border police and Kosovo customs officers , I have visited the Jarinje border point, between Kosovo and Serbia, north of Leposaviq.

Hard work and dedication of the police and customs officers of Kosovo convinced me that state sovereignty of Kosovo cannot be violated by anyone.

Kosovo is one, inseparable, and there will be no barricades but only bridges which join us.

There shall be no wall there, or anywhere else.

The wall shall not be shortened or shrunk for few centimetres, but it shall be removed together with its foundations.

It shall not exist at all.

But, in-between these successes, we have also had many challenges.

The greatest challenge is the non fulfilment of promise given to our international partners.

To stand true to our Constitutional and legal premises, whether on establishment of  the Association of municipalities with Serbian majority , or approval of the border demarcation with Montenegro.

This agreement is a just one.

It is in accordance with our Constitution and interests of our country, which would further the consolidation and integrity of our state.

Reactions against them have only harmed the most innocent ones, the citizens of the Republic of Kosovo, which cannot as yet travel freely to the European Union.

The reaction against them was an agenda of pure political interest and professional ignorance, and not in any case a national cause or victory of arguments.

This is why our state shall stand by all its international obligations which it has taken upon itself.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Honourable members of parliament,
Citizens of the Republic of Kosovo,

As part of promotion of human rights and freedoms, I have participated in and supported the march of the LGBTI community and have supported the activities of the organisations which provide help to the victims of sexual violence during the war.

I have visited he Croatian community in Janjeve and Montenegrin community in Gorazhdec, Peja, to ensure them that Kosovo is a homo of all of us.

That n our state everyone is equal, and free to find their own happiness.

And please allow me to reconfirm today, that no individual or group shall remain marginalized, forgotten or expelled in our society.

In our Kosovo there is room for all those who see Kosovo as their homeland and their home.

Honourable members of parliament,

I have visited and met with many businessmen and entrepreneurs all around Kosovo, the chambers of commerce of Kosovo and of the region.

I am encouraged by the successes achieved by the farmers and cattle growers of Kosovo.

Investments undertaken over years in agriculture have started to pay off in Kosovo, through creation of large returns, which contribute to the wellbeing of our citizens.
By entering into force of the Stabilisation-Association Agreement, our farmers and cattle growers, viticulturists and wine makers now have access to the largest world market, the European Union.

I have dedicated large part of my working time to the representation of our state in international stage.

At the Brdo-Brione Summit and South Easter Europe Cooperation Process I have confirmed that Kosovo’s independence has brought peace and stability to our region.

During visits to Slovenia and Malta, we have not only confirmed our god relations between our countries, but have also explored opportunities for economic development.

We have opened a representative office of the Republic of Kosovo in Canada and have agreed with the Canadian authorities to further intensify bilateral cooperation.

At the Vatican, I have had a private audience with the Holy Father, to whom I confirmed once again the fact that Kosovo is unshakable in its promotion of Euro-Atlantic values.

I have invited the Holy Father to visit Kosovo, and this visit will be realised in a most suitable time period.

We do have the confirmation on this from the Holy Father himself.

In Vienna I have met with the President of Austria and in Tirana with the whole leadership of Albania.

At all these forums, state integrity and sovereignty of Kosovo has been pointed out and the consolidation of our statehood has been prised.

But, a special part of this year’s achievements of Kosovo, remains its participation at the Rio Olympic Games.

Owing to the excellent performance of its sportsmen and women, especially due to the Majlinda Kelmendi’s Gold medal, the doors have opened to the meetings with heads of states and governments from all around the world attending the Rio games, with which I have discussed Kosovo, our young and small country, but with great potential.

It was a pleasure to meet diplomats from all over the world and to use the opportunity to demonstrate once again the integrity and sovereignty of Kosovo and the constructive role it is playing in international arena.

I was also present at the first game of our national football team in Finland, where I witnessed the first ever points gained in an international game.

Playing of this game was made possible only after Kosovo became a member of FIFA and UEFA.

After a quarter of a century in isolation, our footballers and our representatives in other sports are free to develop their talents, to compete, to dream and to work towards making of their dreams come true.
As every other Kosovar, during the games and victories of the sportsmen of Kosovo, I felt great happiness and pride with our flag and our anthem.

These are the stones upon which we build our love and respect in our society, for our state.

Honourable members of parliament,

I have had the opportunity to walk together with Kosovo in building of history, during our most important decades.

We knew which concrete engagements are required by each period, and this is why we are successful today.

Once the requirement was to engage for freedom and equality.

We had the courage to ask for freedom, even when no one else hoped and believed.

We were ready to sacrifice everything in order to gain the freedom.
After the freedom, we had courage to dream and realize the independence.

I am proud that in all these processes, liberation of Kosovo and proclamation of its independence, we, together with you and all citizens of Kosovo, have been the main pillar of the realization of these aspirations.

And as we knew then that it was the time for sacrifice until independence, we also know that today is the time for integration.

It is time for dialogue and reconciliation, within Kosovo and in the region.

For this reason, during these months I have met with family members of missing persons and war victims.

It hurts a lot to see that our war wounds are still bleeding.

Maybe the wounds shall never heal, but we must at least end the agony, especially the agony of family members of the missing people.

We must learn the lesson from this bitter past, and never allow for horrors which we have seen with our own eyes and felt in our own hearts to be repeated again.

We shall never allow that hearts of any Kosovar children is filled with hatred and suffering.
It is my aim, and I believe yours too, to fill the hearts and minds of young Kosovars with love for one another, for their country and their future.

During the summer, I went again to honour and remember the war victims and to encourage the justice institutions and inter ethnic reconciliation.

This time I went to Gacke, in Lipjan..

There, at the memorial plaque, at the centre of the village, which commemorates 14 Serbian farmers and workers, I laid a bouquet of flowers.

I said it there, and I reiterate it now again, that this act, and other acts of violence are acts which have been acts against the freedom and democratic future of Kosovo and not only perpetrated upon victims and their family members.

A crime is a crime, against whomever it is directed to or whoever it is perpetrated by.

And today I pray with sadness and I express once again my heartfelt sorrows for all the civilian victims of all communities, killed during and after the war.

In the month of August, I remembered the killing of two and wounding of four Serbian children at the village of Gorazhdec near Peja, which was committed in 2003.
At the centre of the village, I stopped for a while with the local residents, Serbs.
There were different opinions after these visits.

I knew that there are still people who were hurt r poisoned by inter ethnic hatred.

I call upon all of you here , to immediately rise above hate and intolerance.

Some said that it is to early for such things, I consider it that we are late.

At the end of the day, victims were a product of the historic hell of Serbian-Albanian relations, and relations within the region, which were never nurtured by will for understanding and reconciliation, but only with hatred and animosities.

Strangely enough, attacks against such activities were joining up at theri respective extremes.

Some legitimate questions were raised: why was I honouring Serbs when it was them who killed us? When the text inscribed in Cyrillic letters on plaques said: “victims of Albanian terrorists and NATO aggression”

They said that it was the values of the war of people of Kosovo were being violated.
 That the martyrs and the sacred KLA war and the people of Kosovo were being offended.

On the other side, the way to old accusation against Albanians were also continuing.

In all this midst, the wisest reaction was that of the family members of the victims, both Albanian and Serbian, who only had one single request: “we want the truth”.

Therefore, let us all sacrifice a certain amount for the truth.

The truth must not hinder of or fear anyone.

I was aware and convinced that I was doing the best for the country.

I knew what was written on the memorial plaques in Cyrillic script.

I do not agree with the inscription, as it is a preconception and a lie.

But this must not prevent us from honouring the victims.

By such an honouring, we do not violate the values of liberty or the KLA war.

The values of our freedom and of the KLA war are violated by those who perpetrated those crimes and are justifying them today.

Our endeavour to justify the crimes by saying that they were perpetrated  on behalf of a national cause, must be a reason for conscience gnawing, because the subject of national cause is being abused in detriment to the interest and the future of the state of Kosovo.

Those who have committed these crimes, individuals or groups, have offended and violated the values of freedom and the KLA war itself.
We must standardize the values of the liberation and must not allow anyone to degenerate them.

The special tribunal is not a product of wrong political decisions.

It must not be seen as a punishment, but as an advantage for the country.

International pressure on its establishment has arisen a result of a bad experience in protection of witnesses.

I believe in God and in moral values, in conscience, justice and reconciliation, by not acusing or offending anyone for anything.

But by inviting everyone for justice, solidarity and inter ethnic reconciliation.

Ladies and gentlemen
This year we have established contractual agreements with EU and initiated political dialogue with NATO.
These two issues we have pinpointed as our aims and on these we have full political and social consensus.

We would have liked that our journeying towards NATO and EU is a speedier one.

But this does not solely depend upon our desires and engagements..

EU and its member states today have upon them great challenges and need to rethink their relations and their position inside EU itself.

Responses will not be swift or easy either.

Kosovo, more than all other states of the western Balkans, is suffering the consequences of such a complex situation.

As a consequence, we ate the last ones in the region in EU integration process and are unjustly isolated by EU on visa free movement in Schengen zone.

Despite this bitter fact, EU into which we aim to adhere, more than Brussels or European Commission, European Parliament of the Council of Ministers, is the EU of values, for which we are all engaging.

Peace and dialogue, regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations, tolerance and cohabitation between ethnicities and faiths, all inclusiveness and human rights and freedoms. These are the values which we prescribe to EU, but are also values by which we want to be led and cohabitate with.

We live in a world more dynamic than ever, with trends and moves full of unknowns.

But we have managed to identify our strategic viable alliances. We have decided on special relations with the United States of America and for cooperation with EU until our full membership in this organisation.

We are determined on good neighbourly relations and regional cooperation.

We are determined to not accept as principles or ideology in our society, extreme and radical ideas of any denomination or ideology, ideas which exclude communities and individuals.

Kosovo is home of all of its citizens, an example of dialogue and reconciliation, tolerance and cohabitation.

Kosovo is an example on how to find strength in order to overcome the bitter past, full of wars and pain, and to build the future in peace and prosperity.

This is what I have been working on this year.

This is what I will be working on during the next four years.

We offer cooperation to the local institutions and international partners on strengthening and development of our country, to be side by side with the civilized world.

This is an obligation of ours. Our citizens expect this from us. This is what we shall engage on.

Thank you.

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