Ambassador Delawie Interview with RTK, September 4, 2015

RTK: Dear viewers, good evening. Tonight we have here in our studio the Ambassador of the U.S. to Kosovo, Mr. Greg Delawie. Mr. Ambassador, thank you.

Ambassador: Thank you very much, Mr. Kastrati. It is absolutely wonderful to be here.

RTK: Can you tell us and our audience a little bit about yourself?

Ambassador: I’ve been an American diplomat for about 30 years. I’ve most recently served in Washington D.C., where I worked on arms control issues, especially NATO arms control issues, which was very interesting – it was the first time I had ever worked in that area. Before that, I was the Deputy Chief of Mission, the number two at our embassy in Berlin, Germany, which is one of our largest missions in the world. Before that, I was the Deputy Chief of Mission at our embassy in Zagreb, Croatia, which was my first exposure to the Balkan region and I’m very happy to be back, I can tell you that. Perhaps most importantly, I’m from San Diego, California – America’s finest city. I am married, and I have the two best children in the world.

RTK: Recently you came to Kosovo in a new mission. What is your impression so far?

Ambassador: Well, I’ve been in the Republic of Kosovo for just about two weeks. They’ve been very busy two weeks. I’ve met a lot of government officials, I’ve met businesspeople, representatives of the international community, media like yourself, and I’ve talked a lot with government officials. I’ve hiked to the fortress in Prizren last weekend, I’ve visited the Roman ruins in Ulpiana, and a couple of days ago I travelled to the rural area of Planjane to help open a school that we’d helped pay to refurbish. It’s been a very busy couple of weeks, but everyone has been extremely welcoming and I’m really happy to be here.

There’s a lot more to do. I want to in the next few weeks engage more with the young people and civil society and I really want to get to know – as I said when I presented my credentials to President Jahjaga – a whole spectrum of people in Kosovo think about what’s going on today.

RTK:  What are your three top priorities during your mandate here in Kosovo?

Ambassador: My three top priorities – and I said this in my swearing in, which I think is in the Embassy website and people are welcome to go there and look – relate to promoting the economic development, strengthening the rule of law and promoting regional security.

So, economic development and rule of law really go hand in hand because people are not going to invest their money unless they’re confident that the systems are in place to protect their investments. This is important not just for foreign companies that might want to come to Kosovo and invest here, but it’s also important for Kosovo’s own citizens that will want to have confidence they can invest their own money in their country to create jobs here as well.

Rule of law also means applying the same standards here that the international community demands of all other modern states; it means that victims of injustice receive impartial justice for the sufferings they’ve been caused.

And regional security: it’s several things. Most important is continuing the dialogue with the regional states, with the neighboring states, the dialogue with Serbia most recently. Certainly, I don’t want to miss the opportunity to congratulate the Governments of Kosovo and Serbia for concluding agreements last week. I think these agreements will help promote economic prosperity for all of Kosovo’s citizens; will promote democracy in the region and they were really a net benefit for all countries.

I shouldn’t forget to mention also in the regional security area it is important, very important Kosovo’s participation in the counter-ISIL coalition, as well as the programs underway to develop a modern security sector that reflects the sensitivities of all of Kosovo’s citizens.

RTK: The Special Court definitely is the story of the year. How do you evaluate this process?

Ambassador: Look, I know the Special Court was hard for some people to swallow. My Government strongly supports the Special Court because we see Kosovo’s future as fully integrated in all the European institutions and therefore it’s important to provide justice for all victims. I think that the votes on the Special Court – as hard as they were – are reflected considerable political maturity. I think any government can pass legislation that everybody supports. It takes a mature government to pass legislation that not everyone’s happy with, maybe even is unpopular, but is still absolutely necessary.

RTK: Do you consider our political class is ready to move ahead the process in Kosovo?

Ambassador: I have to say I’d be a kind of foolish to give a good answer to that question about a broad class of people, I’ve been here only two weeks. And, I also have to say, I remember the first week of diplomacy school thirty years ago where they told us never to answer hypothetical questions. But, I can tell you this: I think Kosovo has come a long way in the last few years. There’s a strong democratic foundation.  Just think, before the end of supervised independence most of the important decisions for government in Kosovo were made by internationals.  Today they’re made by your elected representatives. So, that’s extremely important. Now, I know lot of people want to see progress faster, they’re impatient. You know, I am, too. Without impatient people important things would never get done. But, it’s important, I think, to recognize that the decisions on the Special Court, on the dialogue with Serbia, on the border demarcation with Montenegro – they all reflected not just political maturity – they were necessary to ease Kosovo’s path towards integration in European institutions.

RTK: Can I get the short answer about the dialogue between Serbia and Kosova, and in the last days they signed the agreement. How do you see in the future this process because in Kosovo we have a different opinion about this agreement?

Ambassador: Well, one of the hallmarks of democracy is that there are a lot of different opinions and those of us in government have to pay attention to all those opinions and then we have to make our decisions about what the most important thing for us to do for a country is. As I said earlier, I congratulate, certainly the Government of Kosovo, and the Government of Serbia, for concluding these four agreements in Brussels a couple of days ago. I see them as win-win agreements. They will improve the lives of all people in Kosovo, they will strengthen regional stability, they will promote economic growth, and most importantly for me, they will bring Kosovo closer to integration in the European institutions that are certainly our desire for the progress of the country.

RTK: And, the last question, Ambassador, is: What is the level of U.S. interest considering the global development?

Ambassador: I think U.S. interest is very high. You’ve probably heard we say a lot our policy about Europe is to promote a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace. Kosovo’s story is a very important part of that overall story for Europe, for us. And, we are committed to Kosovo’s success. Just answering exactly what your question is, just reflecting over last couple of weeks about the level of U.S. interest: We have had three congressional delegations of our members of Congress here in the last month and a half; We have had our Assistant Secretary for European Affairs, Victoria Nuland – she was here; We have had Kosovo’s leadership invited to a couple of meetings that President Obama is hosting in New York at the end of this month. Moving on to other areas, the United States is here in KFOR, it is here with the Peace Corps – one of the most fun things I did in my second day in Kosovo was to swear in a group of Peace Corps volunteers, this is a program that President Kennedy started fifty some years ago, and these about three dozen new Peace Corps volunteers will be working in Kosovo schools teaching English language throughout Kosovo in several different ethnic regions. We are here with the U.S. Agency for International Development which has been working closely with the Government of Kosovo since the earliest days. In fact, I had a great visit with the whole USAID team yesterday and I asked everybody – thirty some people – how long have you been working with us and almost everybody said 15 years, 16 years. But, they’re still just as committed as ever. So, one more thing, I’m sorry, a long answer to a short question: The most tangible representation, I think, of our commitment to Kosovo, is that we are building a brand new Embassy building in Pristina. I am very much looking forward to seeing it right after this. My father was an architect and I haven’t been to a construction site in a long time so that’s going to be a lot of fun for me. But, more practically, more pertinently to your question: We care about Kosovo, we’re building a big building here, we’ve been with Kosovo since the beginning, we are with Kosovo today, and will be with Kosovo in the future, and our aspirations, as mentioned at the beginning, are that Kosovo is fully integrated into all the key European institutions.

RTK: Mr. Ambassador, thank you very much for your time.

Ambassador: Mr. Kastrati, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you.

RTK: We hope will do again an interview because this one is the first one and very short but in the future we will come again to this studio.

Ambassador: I will do my best, I’ve only been here two weeks. Give me another couple of weeks to learn everything about Kosovo and I’ll try to come back.

RTK: OK, thank you very much for your time.

Ambassador: Thank you.