It is a great honor to sign this Extradition Treaty between the government of the United States and the government of the Republic of Kosovo. This is a historic occasion, as this treaty will supersede that signed between the government of the United States and the Kingdom of Serbia in 1901. This agreement, one of the most modern in the region, will enable our police and prosecutors to cooperate more effectively and bring criminals to justice on both sides of the Atlantic. The ability to extradite criminals between our two countries will be an important tool in the struggle against terrorism and against transnational crime. It will contribute to regional security by ensuring that our countries do not become safe havens for criminals. The United States-Kosovo Extradition Treaty is also a mechanism that increases Kosovo’s international credibility.
Kosovo’s international credibility is also enhanced when it successfully battles domestic corruption. And I am proud that the United States government is working closely with Kosovo in this effort. From our highest level cooperation with the President’s anti-corruption council, to our grassroots work with civil society organizations that battle this scourge, the entire United States mission here is committed to help Kosovo prosecute, punish, and prevent corruption. We train prosecutors, police, and judges to help identify and punish this practice. We work with civil society and media to uncover corrupt practices and educate the public about how to respond when faced with corruption. And we work with businesses to ensure they understand how to avoid falling victim to corruption.
Fighting corruption is not possible without strengthening the rule of law. To that end, just since September, we have trained almost 1,200 justice sector professionals. We have also launched the USAID $9.3 million “Justice Sector Strengthening Project.” Altogether, over the next year, my government will spend over $12 million in development aid and expertise focused on this issue.
Our efforts to end corruption are not limited to who we work with, however. They are also evident in who we will not work with. The U.S. government and embassy will not meet with officials who have been indicted or convicted for corruption. That policy has meant that in some of my travels around Kosovo I have been unable to meet with certain mayors and other public officials. It complicates the Embassy’s work, but it is the right thing to do. I believe that officials who are indicted or convicted of abusing the public’s trust should not be allowed to continue to exercise those jobs unless they are cleared or have completed their debts to society. If you have been indicted for corruption, we know who you are and we will not do business with you.
Since the President has just returned to Kosovo from Washington and will be relinquishing office soon, I would like to take this opportunity to express my government’s gratitude for her service. She has made Kosovo’s case around the globe, won Kosovo new friends, and focused attention on important issues such as corruption, wartime sexual violence, and violent extremism. We particularly value her work helping Kosovo qualify for substantial development funding from the Millennium Challenge Corporation. This service will provide a lasting legacy throughout the country.
Her service will provide another valuable legacy as well, having showcased the important role that women can and should play in government. In America, March is Women’s History month. This is a month when we remember the trailblazers of the past, including the women who are not recorded in our history books. We honor their legacies by carrying forward the valuable lessons learned from the powerful examples they set. President Jahjaga has definitely been such a trailblazer here. I hope she is just one of the first among many female leaders who will work to ensure a positive future for Kosovo and its people.
The treaty we are signing here today is another clear sign of the commitment by the United States to work with Kosovo towards a more positive future. I welcome the opportunity for even greater cooperation in the next few years.