Kosovo, moving forward fast forwardThe Republic of Kosovo, having declared its independence in 2008, is the youngest country in Europe today, in both age of population and of statehood. It has been recognized by 111 countries throughout the world, and has made tremendous progress towards Euro-Atlantic integration as a democratic, multi-ethnic and secular country deeply committed to European values.
The Republic of Kosovo, having declared its independence in 2008, is the youngest country in Europe today, in both age of population and of statehood. It has been recognized by 111 countries throughout the world, and has made tremendous progress towards Euro-Atlantic integration as a democratic, multi-ethnic and secular country deeply committed to European values.
The end of the war of 1998-99 found Kosovo heavily damaged in all aspects. With over one million refugees, over 80% of schools destroyed, and no institutions in place whatsoever, Kosovo found itself at its nadir just at the turn of the new millennium; however, looking back now, it has certainly risen to the challenge.
The Kosovars remarkable motivation to rebuild, coupled with the international communitys commitment, has transformed Kosovo from a war-torn place into a country thriving.
Today, Kosovo has the highest average economic growth in all of South Eastern Europe in the last seven years; it has the first female president elected in the Balkans; it is safer than many Western European countries; it has one of the most modern constitutions globally, one that bans discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender, religion as well as sexual orientation; and it boasts a very rich ethnic and religious diversity that give a particular charm to this new country.
Our civic democracy grants constitutional protection to all our ethnic communities, with around ten of them peacefully cohabiting in Kosovo, identifying with an equal variety of faiths Sunni Muslims, Catholic Christians, Orthodox Christians, Sufis, Protestants, Jews, as well as many other groups are all free to live and love in Kosovo.
Kosovo is historically known for always nurturing religious diversity, but in the recent years this tolerance has been gaining even more international recognition thanks to its annual interfaith conferences. Kosovo is now being cited as a global example of a country where many faiths live in perfect harmony.
Apart from bilateral relations, Kosovo is also making its place in the world of multilateral organizations we are now members of two UN specialized agencies, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, as well as of the International Organization of La Francophonie, the International Olympic Committee, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, The Venice Commission, and many other sports and regional organizations.
Kosovo has also finalized negotiations on the first contractual agreement with the European Union, the Stabilization and Association Agreement, and it is expected to sign it very soon. In the spirit of good neighborly relations and contribution to regional peace and stability, Kosovo has shown exceptional goodwill in the dialogue facilitated by the EU between Kosovo and Serbia, reaching several landmark agreements on practical issues.
So what remains to be done?
Kosovos foremost and biggest potential and simultaneously, challenge is its youth. With an average age of 28 and half of the population under 25, we are faced now with the challenge of providing them with a better future and a positive outlook where our youth has a chance to truly be part of the globalized society spreading today. Recognizing this, the Republic of Kosovo has formally applied to become a UNESCO member this year.
UNESCOs purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through education, science, and culture; aiming to build the defenses of peace in the minds of young men and women.
It is just what Kosovo needs. This membership will not only enhance our education, science and culture, enabling them to benefit from shared knowledge and best international practices, but it will also share Kosovos wealth of heritage with the entire world.
We have tried our hardest to overcome the stereotypical evocation of grim images at the mention of our countrys name by showing the world what Kosovo is really like, and you now find all foreign visitors to Kosovo describe it as young and vibrant. Joining a global platform such as UNESCO will certainly help us share some of this extraordinary energy with the rest of the world lets avoid the isolation of these young people by helping Kosovo become a UNESCO member!