Spindelegger at the Kosovo-Assembly in Pristina
Spindelegger at the Kosovo-Assembly in Pristina
Check against delivery!
Adress by the
Vice Chancellor and Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs
on the occasion of the
Kosovo-Assembly in Pristina
Pristina, 10 September 2012
Dear Madam President
Mr. President of the Assembly,
Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Ministers, Deputies to the Assembly,
Citizens of the Republic of Kosovo,
President Ahtisaari, International Civilian Representative Feith,
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Today is a historic day for the Republic of Kosovo, its citizens as much as for the friends of Kosovo and the International Community.
With the legal and constitutional decisions of this Parliamentary Assembly the international supervision of Kosovo’s independence is coming to an end.
Kosovo is opening a very new chapter in its statehood.
The Kosovars can be proud of what they have achieved in those few years since declaring independence.
Austria is honored to have been able to accompany Kosovo on its path to statehood as a close partner and advocate of your rightful aspirations.
From the very beginning – the dark days of the Milošević suppression –through the most difficult times of war, and in the state formation, we have always walked alongside our Kosovar friends, giving them every support possible.
Let me just mention one small example: when Kosovar students were driven out of universities into underground facilities, it was Austrian universities offering them study places. It is with pride that I note that also many government members and parliamentarians present here have benefited from these opportunities.
Or our contribution to a safe and secure environment all over Kosovo through KFOR, where Austria is the largest troop contributor from a non-NATO country.
Or Austria’s diplomatic engagement: Ambassadors Wolfgang Petritsch and Albert Rohan are two most known personalities in this respect.
Given our commitment for Kosovo it was only logical that we offered President Martti Ahtisaari to host his office in Vienna. Thus the bilateral talks with Serbia were conducted and the Comprehensive Settlement Proposal (CSP), the basis for the independence of your country, was drafted in our capital. Equally, it was in Vienna, two months ago, where the International Steering Group determined that Kosovo had implemented the CSP, so that we could all meet here to celebrate. It is thus with great satisfaction that I can state that what was started in Vienna could also be successfully closed In Vienna.
Madame President, Mister President (of the Assembly), Prime Minister,
The path Kosovo took over the past years is indeed remarkable. This was also due to the support the young state has received from the many countries represented in this Assembly Hall today.
And it was to a large part thanks to the vision, skills and dedication of President Ahtisaari and his team. Let me thus take this opportunity, as representative of the International Community, to express our profound gratitude and appreciation to President Ahtisaari. Thank you so much, Mr. President! (Applaus).
I would also like to take the opportunity and acknowledge the man, who as our International Civilian Representative successfully led the international efforts, together with the institutions of Kosovo, to implement the so-called “Ahtisaari-Plan”: Mr. Pieter Feith. Pieter, many thanks to you and all your colleagues! (Applaus).
But foremost, ladies and gentlemen, Kosovo’s progress and development since the adoption of the Comprehensive Settlement Proposal are not owed to us internationals, but to the functioning of your institutions, to the work and guidance by your leaders and, most importantly, by you, the citizens of this young country.
Dear citizens of Kosovo,
With the departure of the International Civilian Representative and the closure of the International Civilian Office, the International Community is not going to leave Kosovo. On the contrary, we are here to stay. Only the quality of our relationship is going to change fundamentally.
Today, the international community is transferring full sovereignty from the international to the national level. We Austrians can feel with you. Following World War Two it took ten years until we regained our full sovereignty. But we look back on Austria’s foreign supervision as a benefit creating the solid base for what Austria developed in today.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A transitional period has ended for Kosovo and a new era starts in earnest, your path towards the EU.
Some day in the not so distant future it will be Kosovo herself transferring in turn some of her regained sovereignty to a supranational authority, or in the words of late President Ibrahim Rugova:
“My vision is that our country should be integrated in the EU, to transfer a part of our independence there.”
With the European Union Special Representative, my former colleague and friend Samuel Zbogar, with EULEX and with our embassies – we will, supported by our American friends, continue seconding you actively on your Euro-Atlantic path.
Whether it is your reforms towards visa liberalization, your strife for contractual relations with the EU, your quest for more recognitions and for membership in international organizations – you can count on the continued assistance of Austria in this respect!
Dear colleagues and friends,
The granting of full sovereignty to Kosovo is a clear sign of confidence in Kosovo’s institutions, leaders and people. But with this empowerment and ownership comes also full responsibility.
And the challenges ahead are manifold: managing the dialogue with Serbia, the integration of the North, consolidating the democratic institutions and state structures, the fight against widespread corruption and organized crime, creating a more favorable economic and investment climate.
There is no time to lean back now. Be ambitious in your reform path. Not to please us internationals, but to create a better life for your citizens. A life in safety and dignity for all, regardless of ethnicity, creating jobs and opportunities including for the many young, ambitious and talented people you have in your country - in short: build a positive perspective for the future.
In the light of this new beginning, I am reminded of the words of Mother Teresa when she said:
“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”
In this sense, dear friends, let me congratulate you once again on this day. Let me commend you for your hard work, your passion, your endurance.
Continue in the same spirit when tackling the challenges ahead. With the clear vision of becoming a part of the united Europe. I can assure you that Austria will stand by your side also in this endeavor!
Thank you very much.