Ambassador’s Remarks at TechCamp Kosovo: Combating Corruption in the Balkans Closing Ceremony

Ambassador’s Remarks at TechCamp Kosovo: Combating Corruption in the Balkans Closing Ceremony, December 9, 2017

Good afternoon everyone.  I am very happy to be here on International Anti-Corruption Day, to help draw the TechCamp to a close.

This morning I also took part in the closing ceremony for Anti-Corruption Week.  This was the culminating event in a busy week that shined a spotlight on corruption in Kosovo and worked to rally the government, civil society, and Kosovo’s citizens alike to keep up the fight.

The Embassy supported all of these activities because fighting corruption and improving the rule of law in Kosovo are our top priorities.  Everything depends on this – from economic development to education to visa liberalization – every aspiration and ambition of Kosovo’s citizens depends on progress in tackling corruption.

Technology has extraordinary potential to help in this fight.  It can increase transparency, connect the public with information, erase barriers between citizens and their government, and reduce the space for corruption in countless ways.  But it takes dedicated individuals like yourselves to bring that technology to life, and put it to work on behalf of your fellow citizens.

And this isn’t theoretical…in Kosovo there are so many ways technology can make a real difference – and one of the most urgent is in public procurement reform.  I encourage you to join the Embassy in raising your voice to make sure electronic procurement exists across the government by January 2018 and to ensure that your leadership continues to prioritize and monitor ongoing reforms.

You’ve all already shown your commitment to fighting corruption by applying for this program, and by traveling from around the region to be here.  I understand that you spent today working on challenge statements and using the new tech tools to create project solutions.  Whether you plan to use things like “FixMyCommunity” to address local challenges, or use new data mining techniques to draw attention to large-scale, national problems, the work you started this weekend doesn’t end today.

We hope the last two days of training and workshops supplied you with a new technological toolset that you can bring back to your work and communities to do even more.

And you’re all invited to apply for follow-on small grants through our partnership with FLOSSK [pronounced phonetically].  You can also look at continuing your work on fighting corruption and improving transparency through our Democracy Commission Small Grants.   My colleagues at the Embassy are here to support you, and to hear your ideas on how we can best work with you, the citizens of Kosovo, to improve accountability and make a better Kosovo for everyone.

I appreciate and admire your dedication to making Kosovo and the Balkans a better place to work and to live.  While the international community can lend its support in the fight against corruption, real progress can only happen when citizens take the lead.  And that’s why your participation at events like TechCamp is so important.  I thank you for doing the crucial work that will improve your countries’ economic and democratic development well into the future.