The Speech of the President of the Republic of Kosovo Atifete Jahjaga at the American University in Kosovo

As leaders, but also as citizens of the Republic of Kosovo, we attached great importance to the debate about the need to reform.

Dear students,Ladies and Gentlemen: As leaders, but also as citizens of the Republic of Kosovo, we attached great importance to the debate about the need to reform. Today, however, I want to talk to you about what reform means for us as citizens and institutions of our young country and the region, and why is it important that we as a society make a great leap forward. I choose to speak about reform with you today because I see its successful conduct and our prosperity as a country tightly connected with what is taught in our schools and the hard work you must put into your studies.Education of Kosovo’s young generations and the development of our human resources – our greatest asset – are the key to our economic development and a guarantee to our viability as a state. A strong education will secure the future of our country.In our Constitution, we “the people of Kosovo” pledged to “build a future of Kosovo as a free, democratic, peace-loving country that will be a homeland to all of its citizens.” We guaranteed that the rights of every citizen, civil freedoms and equality of all citizens before the law and in everyday life would be upheld. And, we promised that we would be a factor of stability in the region. These are commitments that I as the President of Kosovo, a unifying leader of all its communities, peoples of different religious denominations and political affiliations, take very seriously. I am convinced that these responsibilities represent a set of principles in which every Kosovo citizen wants to build upon. I say this because after many years of repression, a war that has left our homes destroyed and our lives shattered, as a society we have shown remarkable resilience, courage and a desire to transform. We have set goals and we have achieved them. We have rebuilt our lives. With our international friends, we have determined the best ways to succeed in state building. We have opened our hearts and minds to a peaceful integration of all communities and their full participation in our institutions. Jointly we have laid the foundation to create a state of its citizens, a principle that remains unique in the Balkans. Together we have built an independent and an inclusive country.On a strategic front, we have laid out a path for the future. We want Kosova and the whole region to be prosperous and democratic. A member of the United Nations, European Union and NATO as the main guarantee of peace and stability in the Balkans, and in a permanent friendship with the United States of America.In this path toward the European integration, the countries of the Balkans should not confront each other but work together.But we also have expectations from EU to keep the gate open, to integrate Western Balkan countries and create opportunities for you, the youth of Kosova, to travel freely, meet your peers throughout Europe, to cooperate in joint projects and exchange ideas and experiences.By committing ourselves to the goal of European integration we have agreed to further reform in our institutions, our judiciary, our education and our economy.Such an engagement places responsibility on all of us to succeed in Kosovo and I strongly believe we owe that to ourselves, the generations before us, but most importantly to you and the generations to come.But the integration into the EU and NATO has to mean more than earning a membership for the sake of earning it. We should understand it as a process that we undertake to improve ourselves and our society, to strengthen our values and create a law-abiding society that is fully dedicated in making Kosovo a country of which we continue to be proud. This process of reform needs to be coupled with concrete results. We must eradicate corruption and organized crime, a hidden tax that takes a huge toll on the wellbeing of our families, of our schools and our international standing. And I am personally committed to this fight We must create a strong court system, efficient and transparent, depoliticized and responsible to the needs of all our citizens. That is the only way through which we will build trust in our institutions.We will build a viable economy, undertake structural reforms to open our companies up to foreign investment and support our local businesses while they build quality and become more competitive as they enter the European market. This approach will help us create much-needed jobs so that when you graduate you can contribute your knowledge, your innovation and your skills to our country.And for that we need your support. I, as the President of Kosovo, within my constitutional authority, am taking the lead to tackle corruption and organized crime and coordinate our efforts in this process of European integration.Dear students, The needs of our young country are great. But this should encourage us and together we can achieve our goals. Our record shows that our citizens have risen to the challenges we have faced in the past. On this historic moment as we shape our future, think how you can best serve your country. As students of this University, which is born out of love and desire of the people of Kosovo for quality education and as a monument to our permanent friendship with the United States, you together with your peers from other Universities, are uniquely placed to lead this transformation.As you are reading the great thinkers or plotting the supply and demand graphs, I encourage you to use your time and your Facebook and Twitter account to think and talk about how you can help Kosovo, and at the same time yourselves, succeed and make this vision come true.The Republic of Kosovo is now a country with a clear perspective. In this age of globalization, we have an educated youth that breaks all the barriers and communicates freely with its peers across the world.We are building a modern society focused on developing our resources, especially the human potential that represents one of our greatest assets. And we, as the representatives of the institutions, welcome and cherish the fresh approach that you bring to the table because in it we see the potential for our country’s development and prosperity. We will continue to support and invest in your education, in you youth of Kosovo, because I am a firm believer that it is the greatest investment that we can make for it helps us cement a secure future for Kosovo. I urge all of you to continue to foster an environment that is open to a respectful debate of ideas and responds to the needs of our country and the region. As I have pointed out recently, we should always bare in mind that our stride for progress takes place in the context of globalization and technological advancement. The global marketspace of ideas and knowledge demands people who have initiative and expertise, people that are creative and team players. This age of integration provides you with unlimited opportunities to expand your horizons, and I urge you to never lose sight of that.The future of Kosovo, the direction in which our society will go, and our strategic goals are dependent upon you and your will to shape yourselves into active citizens.And most importantly you will spread the values, you will continue to inspire and be inspired, and to dream big because we aspire a better future for the country that we are building together. With you as future leaders of the country our future is secure.And with that, I congratulate you on this new beginning.

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