DCM Hyland’s Remarks at the Anti-Corruption Week Youth Debate

DCM Hyland’s Remarks at the Anti-Corruption Week Youth Debate, December 14, 2018

Good morning everyone.  Congratulations.  Urime to all of you.  Really, I am very, very impressed.  It is a pleasure to be here and to see young people so engaged in important and complex topics facing Kosovo today.  INPO and the other NGOs organizing Anti-Corruption Week have been incredibly busy with roundtables and public events this week.  In fact, I am doing another one later this afternoon.  They have hosted ministers and senior officials from across the government, and are working hard to hold the government accountable to end corruption.

Civil society engagement – and the willingness of many public officials to participate in these hard conversations – is truly inspiring.  But nothing gives me more confidence in Kosovo’s future than the events like this debate tournament.  You, as some of Kosovo’s brightest students, are the ones who will really have the chance to shape and change your country’s future.  Later today, I will join some Ambassadors from Kosovo’s key partner countries at the closing event for Anti-Corruption Week.  You will hear me remind everyone that the United States is eager to partner with the government, civil society, and citizens to fight corruption.

But the truth is, we cannot fix it.  Only you – the citizens of Kosovo – can do that. It takes individual citizens to point out corruption where they see it.  Whether it is nepotism in hiring or outright bribes, corruption, unfortunately, is everywhere in our societies.  If each citizen of Kosovo insists on hiring the most qualified candidate, or refuses to take a bribe, you could end many of the practices holding this country back from reaching its greatest potential.

As young people, I hope you will feel empowered to step up and be the ones who make a difference.  Right now, you are “just” students.  But given your debate skills, which were just on display and which you’ve just been rightly awarded for, I know I am standing in front of some of Kosovo’s future judges, politicians, civil society activists, and teachers.  Continue to engage in opportunities like this debate tournament and take every chance you can to practice your critical thinking skills and oratory skills.  I am really impressed with how you could disagree and argue without actually fighting.  That is a critical skill.  It is a very persuasive way to win an argument.  Please continue to find ways to get involved in activities that benefit your communities and your country.

I hope you realize this week’s tournament has helped you prepare you to engage in the real debates that will shape Kosovo’s future.  I look forward to seeing how you apply these skills to make sure your country stays on the right track.  Again, congratulations to all of you.  You have done a wonderful job.