Ambassador Delawie’s Remarks at the Food and Veterinary Agency

Ambassador Delawie’s Remarks at the Food and Veterinary Agency, January 31, 2018,

Thank you very much.  Mr. Gjinovci, dedicated staff from the Food and Veterinary Agency, it is terrific for me to be able to join you today.

I have to say it’s been a great visit.  I was very impressed and I was excited to see the new electronic processing system at work.  It’s always great to see Kosovo’s institutions make progress, and with this new electronic system, the Food and Veterinary Agency has dramatically improved its efficiency, transparency, cut costs, and moreover to improve the health and safety of Kosovo’s citizens.

I’m especially pleased that the new electronic system was made right here by the Kosovo IT company, Cacttus.  I had the chance to talk with Mr. Gjinovci and his team today, and to see the new system up close. It’s clear that it’s doing more than just streamlining their work procedures – it’s facilitating the work of inspectors to ensure food safety based on EU standards, and it is generating government revenues.  More importantly, it is safeguarding lives of Kosovo citizens.

This is really ushering in a new era for veterinary and phytosanitary inspections.  And we’re proud to continue a tradition of working with the KFVA to improve the quality of Kosovo products and services.

There’s another important issue I’d like to mention today.  I want to recognize Mr. Gjinovci for his extraordinary leadership and perseverance in tackling the problem of stray animals in Kosovo.  This isn’t something we have the chance to talk about often, and with so many other challenges to tackle in Kosovo, it can be hard to understand why this matters so much.

The street conditions in Kosovo, especially during these long, cold winters, are harsh, and they are not where the animals should be.  But you don’t have to be an animal lover to see why this matters so much to Kosovo’s citizens.  Unvaccinated, unneutered dogs are everywhere here, making this a critical health and safety issue.  And moreover, as Kosovo develops and modernizes in so many other areas – as we’ve seen here today – it’s time to make progress on this issue as well.  It’s time to treat these animals as any EU country would.

Mr. Gjinovci’s efforts resulted in a first-ever country-wide strategy for the treatment of stray animals, and a budget of one million euros over three years from the Government of Kosovo to implement a program of Catch, Neuter, Vaccinate, and Release in Kosovo.  This method has been highly successful in other countries for bringing their stray animal populations under control.  These efforts were conducted with the input of many animal welfare groups in Kosovo.  So, I urge you to continue to work together, to dialogue, and stay focused on the objective.

Once again, I want to thank all for your efforts, and we’re very proud to partner with you and your team as you begin implementing the strategy this year.

Congratulations again on both of these achievements, and I wish you all a terrific year ahead.