USAID Administrator Mark Green Remarks at the Launch of Millennium Foundation Kosovo project, SEEK, supported by Millennium Challenge Corporation, November 12, 2019
Thank you and good morning, everyone.
It is a pleasure to join you to mark this important milestone in the partnership between our two countries. Today’s event is a celebration of what we have accomplished together. And it’s an expression of our joint commitment to all the work that we have yet to do ahead.
But there’s another reason that I am especially proud to be here. You see, some years ago, as a Congressman myself in the U.S. Congress, I helped to create the MCC. I helped to draft the legislation that led to where we are today. And it’s funny as I think back on those days, I recall our original vision. The idea was that where there were countries that had demonstrated a commitment to good governance, economic freedom, to investing in their citizens—that we should have a new tool that would fully leverage those commitments and qualities to secure a brighter future.
We knew that countries which prioritized those principles and areas, we knew that they would be reliable partners for private business. And we knew that we could enter into a unique arrangement to advance our shared development objectives. And so, we created the Millennium Challenge Corporation to supplement, not to take away from, but to supplement our other foreign assistance tools.
We are here today because Kosovo has demonstrated its commitment to those key principles of development. It wasn’t easy, but in just 11 years after independence, this country has become an open democracy with increasingly strong institutions and a rising, market-based economy. As the recent elections showed, the the people of Kosovo continue to push for transparent, citizen-focused governance and an economic future based on community-led growth.
There’s still work to be done. It is the Millennium Challenge Corporation. It is a challenge. Development is a challenge. I was asked recently to describe the work that we do with partners in MCC. I remember the day, some years ago, when I oversaw a development compact in the country where I served as Ambassador—Tanzania. Someone came to me and said, after we signed the compact, “Where is the money?” I said that’s not actually how this works. And they said, please explain. And I said, okay, think of it this way, a wedding is easy, and a marriage is hard. You just had the wedding. We have cut the cake. We’re celebrating. But in the months and years ahead, we must work more closely than ever before to develop these principles, and to reform institutions, and to build something sustainable for the future. It’s important to maintain momentum in the fight against corruption, to prevent politicians from interfering in the judiciary, and to ensure the country’s institutions continue to work on behalf of the people.
It is important to recognize progress year after year. Kosovo’s rankings have improved in important indicators like respect for civil rights, control of corruption, and expenditures in health and education. Because of that progress and because of Kosovo’s successful implementation of the MCC Threshold Program, the MCC has selected Kosovo to develop a Compact. I’m a member of Board of Directors of MCC, and I look forward to seeing that proposal and reviewing it next year and seeing Kosovo continue to make progress on the fronts that I have just described.
Today’s launch of Subsidies for Energy Efficiency advances the Threshold Program. It helps the people and government of Kosovo overcome a significant barrier to growth in unreliable electricity supply and inefficient energy practices.
Through a combination of capacity-building work with energy providers and support for retrofitting homes with weatherization and more efficient energy and heating devices, we know the project will improve electricity reliability and, therefore, quality of life. Importantly, it will also empower consumers to take control of their energy consumption and costs—which will enable households to reinvest their savings as they see fit.
Over time, greater reliability in the energy sector will increase productivity. And lower costs means income-saved and money that can be invested elsewhere.
USAID is doing its part to complement and to try to amplify the important work of this program and MCC. We offer technical assistance to the government to strengthen the legal and regulatory frameworks that govern the energy sector. We work with energy providers to increase the reliability, security, and diversity of the energy supply.
And we strive to harness market-based solutions and private-sector innovation, which is especially critical to this sector.
And we do so because we share a common goal with MCC and Kosovo’s citizens and leaders to maintain momentum in the country’s development journey.
But we focus on this sector in particular because we all know how crucial a reliable and efficient energy sector is to fostering self-reliance.
At USAID, we believe in the desire of every person, every family, every community to want to lead their own bright future…to be self-reliant.
And so where we find people and leaders who are willing to do the difficult things to lift their families and their community up, then we feel an obligation to walk with you along the way.
I think back to those days when we were thinking about this thing called MCC, and I think that if we could look ahead, we would say, yes, Kosovo…Kosovo is the very country, the very kind of people that we had in mind when we were designing MCC.
I know that the whole U.S. Mission team – including colleagues from the Departments of State, Defense, and Justice will continue working closely with MCC to help foster peace, justice, and prosperity for all the citizens of Kosovo. Today is an exciting day, not because of what USAID and MCC are doing for Kosovo, but instead for what Kosovo is doing for itself. We will walk with you along the way, but we expect big things from you—almost as big as the things you expect from yourselves.
Congratulations. This is a great and important day.