Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Vienna speeches

President Fatmir Sejdiu’s speech:

“Honourable President Ahtisaari

Honourable representatives of the Contact Group

Honourable representatives of international community in Kosovo

Ladies and gentlemen,

Allow me on behalf of the people of Kosovo, democratic institutions and the Team of Unity to express my gratefulness for the great work you have done in Kosovo during all these year and particularly this year which for us marks the conclusion of the process for Kosovo’s independence. My special gratitude goes to UN Security Council, Contact Group and you, president Ahtisaari and your team for the strong commitment to conclude this process which is of special interest to the people of Kosovo, both majority and minorities, as well as in the interest of peace and stability in Kosovo and region.

We have emphasized and we reiterate that there is no other process that is important to the peace of Kosovo as the process that aims at determining the final status of Kosovo. Our instant commitment was and will be that this process is open, transparent and peaceful. As you know, we are working closely with you and your team for realizing this goal. During all rounds of talks in Vienna we have offered detailed documents for the position of Kosovo on a range of technical issues: reformation of local administration or decentralization, cultural and religious heritage, economic issues, etc. Team that were representing Kosovo in the up-to-date rounds of talks have been fully mandated by the Team of Unity (Kosovo Delegation for Status) to research and find the best solutions for these issues and, as such, have fully expressed the positions of the Team of Unity.

We strongly emphasize that we are determined to find the best solutions for every issue that is related to the accessory package of independence of our country. But I want to emphasis before you that we in Kosovo and in the region expect this process to conclude before the end of this year with the independence of our country.

Kosovo since after the war has passed through seven year of status uncertainty. This uncertainty has hindered economic development and has nourished political tensions. A further procrastination of this process is not in the interest of none in Kosovo, of none in the region and we strongly believe that this uncertainty and procrastination is detrimental to the overall stability in South-Eastern Europe. Hence, the process that is known of Vienna process should contribute to a hasty and final settlement of Kosovo status. It is an infrangible will of the vast majority population that Kosovo becomes an independent and sovereign state. This has been the will of Kosovo people for a long time, even long before the repression and genocide during Milosevic’s time”.

Kosovo's President Fatmir Sejdiu countered that independence was “the beginning and end of our position," and that the will of the Albanian majority could not be negotiated.

According to President Sejdiu, one has to recognise two incontestable realities in Kosovo – first, atrocities and the suffering of Kosovo people since 1989 and second, the clear and prevailing desire of vast majority population of Kosovo for an independent and sovereign state adding that Kosovo institutions are ready to offer the widest possible constitutional and practical mechanisms for the protection of the minorities’ rights.

“Soon after independence, Kosovo is ready and willing to open its borders and spirit for regional cooperation, including with Serbia”, said Sejdiu adding that “a full cooperation is only possible when the last unresolved issue in the region – Kosovo gets independence.”

PDK Leader Hashim Thaçi’s speech:

“Let me first thank the Austrian Government for hosting this meeting. I would also like to pay tribute to President Ahtisaari, Ambassador Rohan and their team for their commitment to the status process. My thanks also go to the Contact Group for their continued support to building a better future for all in Kosovo.

Seven years ago, the people of Kosovo tasted their freedom for the first time and has been cherishing it ever since. What we had missed for a century, we achieved in these last seven years.

Today we have come together to talk about peace and about our common Euro Atlantic future also. It is upon us a generation to build the peace for the generations to come.

Peace cannot be merely an absence of war but also a triumph of justice. We on our side have shown that we stand for political and civilized solutions. The people of Kosova were forced to wage an armed war to win their freedom. Even during the war, we proved that we favoured political solutions. In the end, the military alliance of the most democratic nations, NATO, had to intervene to rescue the people of Kosovo.

Today, Kosovo is free and has built its democratic institutions of government from scratch. It has also striven to build political peace and understanding among members of all of Kosovo’s ethnic and religious communities. Kosovo is now awaiting the recognition of its independence having built its sovereign, political and economic identity. A reality with which the people of Kosovo have been living since June 1999.

We have come today, in good faith, to talk not about the past but about our vision for the future. A future that is free of confrontation. And to build understanding between our two countries, which because of their oppressive past are now faced with the challenge of widespread poverty.

We find ourselves now at crucial turning point to build the peace and a safe future for the present generations and those to come. We have no time to lose. War ravaged our economies and destroyed our societies. It also caused an historic delay on our path to Euro Atlantic integrations.

It is the duty of democratic forces to make up for this historic delay so that in a near future we can become a dignified part of the European family. Dialogue and tolerance have no alternative, as President John F. Kennedy once said, “we should never fear to negotiate and we should never negotiate out of fear”.

Understanding and reconciliation must prevail between our two nations. Only at peace with ourselves can we build our future.

Ladies and Gentlemen, let me now present our vision of what the future state of Kosovo will look like:

A state co-operating with neighbouring states, demonstrating mutual respect for each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity; a member of the United Nations (UN); a future member of European Union (EU); a future member of NATO;

A state working towards a single national identity where all citizens will be equal under the law; dual-nationality, by agreement; Kosovo will have its state symbols reflecting its civic identity.

A state respecting the rule of law; legislation in the interests of all citizens; a constitution in line with those of Western democratic nations; an independent and impartial judiciary system.

A multi-ethnic and multi-religious country; against discrimination on the grounds of group identity, race, gender and religion and where minority rights are protected; multi lingual, Albanian and Serbian will be official languages of Kosovo. Additionally, members of minority communities shall have the right to communicate in their own languages at all levels of government; a signatory to the European Convention for Human Rights, the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and all other relevant human rights treaties.

A state within existing borders, consistent with the basic principles of international law; NATO security guarantees that include the development of a future Kosovar defence troops integrated into NATO; part of the struggle against terror, organized crime and trafficking.

A state with a modern democratic society and functioning government; modern, professional, career civil service; election reform that will include open lists to make the Assembly more responsive to the needs of all citizens; government salaries that are competitive with the private sector; free, independent media and a thriving civil society.

A state with a developed economy; Euro as currency; free trade agreements with neighbouring and other states; free movement of people and capital; respect and legal protection of private property; facilitating international investment; creating a favourable framework for free enterprise and small and medium business; favourable conditions for the Diaspora.

A state ensuring social welfare; providing a safety net for those unable to provide minimum basic standards for themselves and their families; regulated pension provision; European health, education and safety standards; care for war and labour invalids.

A state which fully supporting the integration process of displaced persons and protection of cultural heritage of all Kosovars; sustainable and safe return for all refugees to their homes; an agreed decentralization plan in line with civic principles.

A state which welcomes and strives towards the continuing involvement of NATO, the US, UN and the EU in securing peace and security in Kosova; continuing international assistance in the development of its democratic, judicial and civil institutions; continuing international assistance in the renewal and regeneration of its economy and infrastructure.

The new Kosovo will be a state of all its citizens, built on strong foundations of democratic values of Western civilization. The independence of Kosovo is the will of Kosovo’s citizens. All Kosovo’s citizens will be equal under the law. Kosovo’s diverse communities will be able to promote their values and enjoy the respect and understanding in the new state.

Kosovar Albanians fought against oppression and barbarity and never against the Serbian people. The Albanian people of Kosovo will preserve with dignity the respect towards their fellow Serb citizens in Kosovo. The dark past must not hold us hostage. We must take pride in our democratic future.

Ensuring full rights for our Serb citizens, enabling the return to their homes and property, ensuring conditions for their dignified life in Kosovo do not represent compromises but opportunities for us. We also ask for your support for the return of displaced persons.

These are all obligations and commitments of Kosovar politics. We believe in and are making efforts to integrate the Serb community into the institutions and society of the new Kosovo.

In addition, we seek to enhance our already very good relations with our neighbours, Albania, Macedonia, and Montenegro. We are determined to build good neighbourly relations with Serbia too. Our strategic goal remains integration into Euro Atlantic structures, the EU and NATO.

We cannot change the past but we can always choose a different future. We can only succeed by working together. The bitter past has shown that we cannot live in the same house. But I am sure that our political independence is the only way toward good neighbourly relations and cooperation.

Independence is the only solution for Kosovo. Indeed, it is the best solution for Serbia and the international community. Kosovo is committed to implementing the ultimate status agreement.

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