Ambassador Delawie’s Remarks at the NDI Reception: “Tomorrow’s Democratic Leadership”

Ambassador Delawie’s Remarks at the NDI Reception: “Tomorrow’s Democratic Leadership”, December 14, 2016

Good evening and welcome everyone.  Thank you President Thaci, Prime Minister Mustafa, and Speaker Veseli for being here with us tonight.  And thank you to our partners at NDI for organizing this event.

This is a special evening.  It’s a chance for Kosovo’s political leadership to meet many of the new voices that will shape this country’s political and social landscape for years to come.

Such new voices must be both heard and empowered to become the change agents that every country needs.

That’s why I’m so pleased that joining us tonight are many women and young people from across the political spectrum who have dedicated themselves to advocating for their fellow citizens.  These individuals stand ready to take their place in Kosovo’s political life – and we need to make room for them.

Inclusivity isn’t just a value I believe in – it’s also a bulwark against cynicism.  Too often citizens believe that government officials and institutions have lost touch with the people they serve.

This perception can harden into complacency, but bringing new voices into the establishment powerfully combats the notion that influence is concentrated in the hands of the few.

And the work you’ve all undertaken through the Women’s Leadership Academy and the New Media School has been incredible.

I was struck by the diversity and sheer good sense of the policy initiatives that you championed – on the environment, corruption, ethnic reconciliation, child care, and so many other important topics.  Well done, all of you.

Of course, there are many different ways for citizens to raise their voices.

Tonight we are lucky to also have with us 20 talented young artists from across Kosovo, who have used artistic expression to advocate for inter-ethnic inclusion and reconciliation.  And we can see their talent and passion on display here tonight.

Free artistic expression is a hallmark of an inclusive and open society, and art – at times provocative or even uncomfortable – can also be an invitation.  A place where people come together to share ideas and gain new perspectives.

The great French artist Edgar Degas said that “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”  And so I thank all of you for helping us to see a difficult issue in a new way this evening.

Whether it is painting or policy, tonight is about joining in, advocating for what we care about, and empowering others to do the same.  I invite everyone in the room to meet the bright women and young people who worked so hard on these policy initiatives, and to ask them what next steps are needed to move them forward.

All of these efforts will help build the prosperous, transparent, and inclusive Kosovo that I know we all want.

It’s a daunting goal, for any nation, but every day I spend in Kosovo I see that it can be done.  I’m so proud to be your partner.  And we’ll keep working together to build a stronger, more inclusive Kosovo.