Prime Minister Mustafa, Minister Stavileci, Justice Rama, AUK President Thomson, and of course 67 of Kosovo’s brightest public servants – good afternoon.
Let me start by saying I’m a public servant just like all of you. In fact, I’ve served my country for 30 years.
I believe that dedicated, innovative, and skilled public servants are critical to a country’s progress and prosperity. When you enter a career in public service, you need to accept that the citizens are going to decide who your bosses are. You also need to accept that they may make a different choice than you would.
In my career in public service I have worked for every American President from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama; that is a wide ideological range. Without getting into specifics, I can tell you that it would be impossible for any one person to agree with all the different policies of these presidents, even just in the foreign affairs field.
But I nevertheless enthusiastically supported all of them, because I realized that it was the American people’s job to pick the leaders, and my job as a public servant to execute the decisions that those leaders made. In the U.S. it is the obligation of public servants to do their best to implement whatever policies their bosses design – within the law – or to resign. But sometimes that is easier said than done.
That is why the public policy and leadership training program is so important. It is an investment in your personal and professional growth. It reflects your potential for leadership. Your commitment and hard work will strengthen Kosovo and produce positive change for all citizens.
I am pleased to see that this first group comes from a wide range of ministries and public institutions. It is great to see that more than 1/3 of this class are women.
Evidence around the world demonstrates that the countries where women play a significant role in government, politics, and governance are more prosperous, stable, and inclusive.
For both women and men, it was no easy task to get into this program. The selection process was a full and open, merit based competition and only those applicants of the highest caliber were offered admission. You were selected because of your educational attainment, experience in the public service sector, and potential to be future leaders in your areas of expertise. You all should be proud of being selected for and finishing this course.
And your role in shaping Kosovo’s future is particularly important.
Equipped with the skills and knowledge you have attained through this course, you are now in a better position to transform the different institutions in which you work. This is your challenge going forward.
We hope and expect what you have learned ultimately translates into improved public service to the people of Kosovo, more accountable and effective rule of law, and increased economic development. Rule of law and economic development are two of my highest priorities here in Kosovo. These are tough issues. The international community will help, but you must be on the front lines, shining a light on both the good and the bad you see in your places of work.
I want to take a moment to pause here on this idea, particularly at this point in Kosovo’s history. The United States remains committed to Kosovo and its development, but the country’s future is ultimately in your hands. We are looking to you to move your country forward on its path toward Euro-Atlantic integration, to demonstrate that the government is working for its citizens, and to show that change can occur from within – and without violence on the streets or in the Assembly.
I would like to thank the team at the American University in Kosovo for your outstanding leadership in implementing this program and educating Kosovo’s public service employees.
In the coming years, the United States will be able to offer this educational opportunity to many of your colleagues. The goal is to further the professional development of Kosovo’s public service workforce.
Martin Luther King, an American civil rights activist, once stated, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically.” I hope you use these skills in your work to steadily improve Kosovo in every aspect.
Congratulations to all of you on your successful completion of the program and best of luck in all.