It is terrific to have you all here. I’ve got to find your travel agent though first thing and complain that your plane really should land with the luggage! And I think some of you, we’ve got the former warm city caucus, because I’m from San Diego. And the weather out here these days is just really not acceptable for me!
It is wonderful to be able to welcome and swear in the six of you as Peace Corps volunteers. It is the second time I have been able to swear in the PCVs since I’ve been here five months or so. The Peace Corps presence in Kosovo is about a year and a half old or so demonstrates the United States’ continuing commitment to the success of Kosovo. We are determined that Kosovo will continue to develop its democracy, its economy, its rule of law and that we will do all we can in the United States to help that.
You will be playing a very vital role in that. I’ve heard you all have great experience coming from somewhere else. That’s terrific because to achieve real things, you need more than just work. You need knowledge and facts. You need experience. Clearly you have that from other Peace Corps stints or other stints in your life.
We are trying to achieve during the three or four years that I’ll be here three key things. You’ll play an important role in all of those. First is to work with the government of Kosovo on improving the rule of law. The fight against corruption is a very important part of that of course, but there are other things as well. Second is economic development. The unemployment rate here is around 30%. Youth unemployment is about 60%. That is clearly a very important factor for the lives of Kosovo citizens and we are working on that. That issue is one along with other economic development issues.
And then finally regional security issues. The relationship of Kosovo with other countries in the region, Serbia, Macedonia, etc., as well as helping Kosovo deal with the problem of countering violence extremism, which is an issue not just for Kosovo of course but it is an issue in the United States. But you are scattered throughout the country, I see, from north to the south, from east to the west. That’s terrific. You’ll be playing an important role in the developing projects in each of the places you’ll be going.
We look forward to having you here. We look forward to your contributing to U.S.-Kosovo relations and especially look forward to your contributing to the continued development and success of Kosovo. It is an honor for me to be here and I wish you the best during your time of, what do we say? Short term, high impact service as Peace Corps Response Volunteers.