Ambassador Kosnett’s Interview with TV Opinion, December 18,2018
TVO: Welcome Mr. Ambassador. What is your knowledge about Prizren’s city cohabitation in this city and in general about Prizren city?
AMB: Well, I first visited Prizren about fifteen years ago when I previously worked at the American Office in Pristina and I always remembered it as a beautiful city full of history and culture with wonderful people. In particular, I am very impressed by the multi-cultural aspect of the city—people of various backgrounds and from various communities living together in harmony in a way which I think has great lessons to teach for all of us.
TVO: Your first meeting was with the Peace Corps volunteers, is that possibly a message for citizens of Prizren but also for Kosovo as a country?
AMB: I think that Peace Corps is a wonderful program and I was very excited when I was asked to return to Kosovo to learn that in the time I was away that we began this program. The Peace Corps provides not just education and programs for people in other countries, but a window into America. I think it is always inspiring for me to see young Americans far away from home learning about other countries, teaching about America—because these sort of people-to-people connections are even more important than the connections between governments.
TVO: You visited also an Orthodox Church and the Bajrakli Mosque, what is your message from these visits?
AMB: I greatly enjoyed visiting the mosque, visiting the church, and meeting with spiritual leaders who are dedicated not only to their faith, but also to the future of Kosovo. I think that we have a lot to learn from the spiritual leaders who are dedicated to bringing the country together, not through programs and policies, but just by living together with their neighbors and listening and finding out about their lives. And let me just add I think that visiting the Bajraklee Mosque, visiting St. George’s, is a reminder about the enormously rich cultural capital that Prizren has. I think all the people of Kosovo, really of the entire region, should be proud of the heritage that Prizren represents and we should all work together to tell Prizren’s story to the world.
TVO: Thanks to the United States of America, that is so. Who else did you meet during your visit here in Prizren?
AMB: My wife and I, and my colleagues from the Embassy, met with the representatives of several non-governmental organizations focused on enriching the cultural life of Prizren and the country. For me, this is an important reminder that there is more to life than politics and security and law enforcement: we need to make sure that we are investing in the cultural life of the country for our youth.
TVO: What is the importance of a municipality to build a life in the country in general?
AMB: Well, I have a lot to learn—I have been back here very short time and I look forward to meeting with many more people from many different fields before I start offering that sort of advice.
TVO: Does this mean that you are going to pay attention to the municipalities as well, and not just to the capital city?
AMB: Absolutely. You know I love living in Pristina—it is a wonderful city. I have been very pleased to see the progress that has been made here since I last lived in Pristina. My wife and I look forward to visiting every corner of Kosovo, to making friends from every different community, to really understanding the country, because you can never understand any country just by staying in the capital.
TVO: Ambassador, one of the assistances that the Embassy provided to the city of Prizren has been in restoration of the fortress and you also mentioned that you had some meetings with several representatives of the various NGOs does this mean that you are going to continue to help and to support the cultural heritage of Prizren?
AMB: I do not have anything to announce today, we certainly want to understand Prizren’s needs and see if we can match those needs with resources available in the United States. This is a long-term process and I think what’s most important is we see the investment in financial terms but also in human terms that the people of Kosovo are making in their own country and that’s really inspirational.
TVO: Each Ambassador has his or her own mandate in their time, what is your focus going to be during your mandate here?
AMB: Some of the issues that I will be focusing on are the natural result of the political priorities of the day: regional security, trade investment, anti-corruption. In addition to that I am very interested in advancing conversation about America’s experience of being a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, religiously diverse society and talking to friends in Kosovo about how our experience and Kosovo’s experience can help us both to build a better future
TVO: There is an “urban legend” here in Prizren: if you drank from the water fountain you will come back. I don’t know whether you drank water over there or not but we hope that you are going to come back to Prizren again.
AMB: I certainly look forward to coming back many times.