Ambassador Delawie’s Remarks at the President’s Reception

Ambassador Delawie’s Remarks at the President’s Reception, September 21, 2018

Good evening.  Thank you very much, Mr. President, Prime Minister, Speaker, distinguished guests, colleagues—it’s great to be here tonight. I have to say I’m reminded to a certain extent of the words that might have been spoken by the great American philosopher, Dr. Seuss, “Don’t cry because it’s over, be happy because it happened.” I believe this is the last of my farewells, and it’s definitely a bittersweet goodbye.  We’ve worked productively together over the past three years, through highs and through lows.  But I leave here feeling hopeful because I know the citizens of this country have the potential to ensure that Kosovo progresses to the next chapter in its story.  But that progress is up to them. This week, on the news, you’ve heard me talk about some recent successes—advances in the rule of law, the strength of the maturing economy, and Kosovo’s flourishing civil society.  You’ve also heard me say that Kosovo is at a critical juncture.  While judicial institutions are slowly building trust among citizens, people need to see that politics does not interfere with justice.  If the first ten years of statehood were about creating institutions, Kosovo’s next decade should be about strengthening institutions.  You must now consistently apply and implement laws to meet your citizens’ needs and protect economic resilience.  With the change of EULEX’s mandate, Kosovo’s own citizens are now fully in charge of Rule of Law; the successes will be yours, as will the failures; there will be no one else to congratulate, but there will also be no one else to blame.

I cannot stress too much the importance of this issue.  Kosovo will succeed as the state we all want it to be only with a firm commitment by leaders at all levels to rule of law.  Those officials who would put their own interest before that of their citizens are striking a mortal blow at the heart of their country.  Beyond these challenges, Kosovo is also at a transformational moment in resolving its relationship with Serbia.  Political leadership—regardless of party—must find common ground on Kosovo’s goals and pursue a way forward that reflects the interests of all its people.  Kosovo desperately needs this spirit of cooperation from its leaders to achieve progress. To accomplish even more, Kosovo must help its most vulnerable groups—youth, women, and non-majority communities—to gain a voice and participate in the country’s success.  Harnessing the potential of these citizens will help Kosovo prosper. These challenges will define Kosovo as a stable state, a reliable partner, and a multi-ethnic success story in the Balkans.  There’s no time to waste, and we will be watching, with the rest of the world, as you tackle these issues.  It’s vital that you put your country and its future ahead of everything else.   The team I leave behind in Pristina stands more than ready to continue our partnership, and the tough messaging when required.  I should warn you that any successes we had really came out of the phenomenal team of Americans and Kosovo citizens whom I am privileged to call my colleagues in the Embassy.  I may be leaving, but they are not going anywhere.  Deputy Chief of Mission Colleen Hyland will be in charge until the arrival of Ambassador-designate Philip Kosnett.  Our steadfast commitment to Kosovo is assured.  We will help, but it’s your country, and your future that you will chart.  I wish you all the best of luck, and I look forward to seeing great things from Kosovo.  Thank you all, and farewell.