Ambassador Delawie’s Remarks to Communities Reception

Ambassador Delawie’s Remarks to Communities Reception, March 29, 2017

Mirë se vini, Dobro došli, Bujrum, Shukar Aljen, and warm welcome to Ministers, Parliamentarians, officials, and activists from Kosovo’s diverse communities.

I’m excited to welcome you and hear about your concerns, successes, and dreams.  Your rich cultural tapestry is what makes Kosovo so special.

Your success is Kosovo’s success.  For Kosovo to excel, it needs to provide a welcoming home and prosperous future to Albanians and Serbs, but also to Ashkalis, Bosniaks, Croats, Egyptians, Goranis, Jews, Montenegrins, Roma, and Turks.  So please take advantage of our gathering tonight and speak with me and my colleagues about your priorities and the ways the Embassy and USAID can help you achieve them.  This includes saying hello to Dianna Palequin, our Assistance Coordinator for Europe (wave hello), and our USAID Mission Director Jim Hope.  I also invite you to continue your good cooperation with Scott Lang, Maja Markovic, and Antigona Mustafa, who are just a call away.

I am happy to see recent successes such as the Education Ministry’s quota on non-majority registration at all public universities that allowed some minorities to register for the first time in architecture, medicine, and at the PhD level.  But significant improvements are still needed in education, employment, housing, and health care.

I am encouraged that the Parliament’s Committee on the Rights and Interests of Communities produced the first-ever report on how Kosovo’s institutions have yet to fulfill the Law on Civil Service 10 percent employment quota.  While the findings are not what any of us would like, your engagement with institutions to seek legal solutions is encouraging, and deserves an institutional response.

I would like to extend a special greeting to the President’s Communities Consultative Council members here tonight.  Your recent enthusiastic engagement with our Advancing Kosovo Together, Engagement for Equity, AGRO, Empower Private Sector, and the National Democratic Institute’s Parliamentary Support programs have already produced benefits, and I am confident your ongoing discussions will produce lasting economic gains.  We hope to see all groups involved in our community-driven programs, and we are committed to assist NGOs that would like to benefit from our programs.  Inclusion needs to become an everyday reality in Kosovo, not just an aspiration.  In this spirit, we are proud that our Embassy’s Public Affairs Section is able to co-sponsor events commemorating Kosovo’s various national days, and I look forward to participating in more of them.

Inclusion means every community’s voice is heard, particularly historically discriminated-against groups.  This can mean advocating for increased participation of non-majority women in political and economic spheres, creating new agricultural opportunities for minorities, or providing new street lighting in a small village.  These projects are fundamentally about building trust among diverse groups, and between citizens and their local governments.

Dear friends, ensuring equal opportunity and success cannot be done by governments alone, but government plays an integral role in guaranteeing equal rights.  More needs to be done to pass the Roma and Ashkali strategy, including coordinating assistance for the Egyptian community.  Bosniaks and Goranis should be more involved in the management of municipalities to improve the well-being of your communities, and conditions should be in place so Goranis can return to Kosovo schools.  Turks have tremendous talents to offer Kosovo and we welcome the recognition of diplomas in the Turkish language.  Jewish cultural heritage and history is also important to commemorate and we welcome the planning of a Jewish-Albanian cultural center in Prizren.  We also hope plans to integrate Croats and Montenegrins will move forward.

Please continue to work together using Ahtisaari’s protections at the Parliament, in Parliamentary Committees, in the President’s Cabinet and through the Prime Minister’s Communities office to shape your future.  The United States shall remain your steadfast partner.

Faleminderit shum! Hvala! Teshikular, Najsi tekere and Thank you very much!