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News 17 Feb 17

Kosovo Celebrates Independence Day, Trump Sends Congratulation

Officials celebrated the ninth anniversary of Kosovo’s independence, while new US President Donald Trump sent a letter offering support for a “sovereign, multiethnic, democratic” Kosovo.

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Officials at a wreath-laying ceremony at the Adem Jashari memorial on Friday.Photo: Anadolu.

Kosovo officials marked the country’s independence day on Friday with a series of events beginning with a ceremony at the grave of former President Ibrahim Rugova in Pristina.

They also paid tribute at the memorial complex in the village of Prekaz which commemorates Kosovo Liberation Army founder Adem Jashari, who was killed along with 50 other people when Yugoslav forces laid siege to his family home in the village in 1998.

“We remember all those people who sacrificed their lives for the state of Kosovo, those who gave their lives for freedom, especially the Jashari family, who we are honouring today - a family that sacrificed itself for the state of Kosovo and for what we are celebrating today, for laying the foundations of this state,” said Prime Minister Isa Mustafa.

Addressing parliament on Thursday, Kosovo President Hashim Thaci said that over the past nine years, Kosovo has established democratic institutions and worked towards good relations with its neighbours.

“Today we are obliged to continue working so that Kosovo will become part of the EU and NATO… It is our obligation to build a better future for ourselves, but also for future generations,” he said.

Thaci meanwhile published on his Facebook page on Thursday a letter of congratulation he received from US President Donald Trump.

“The partnership between our countries is based on shared values and common interests. A sovereign, multiethnic, democratic Kosovo’s future lies in a stable and prosperous Balkan region that is fully integrated into the international community,” Trump said in the letter to Thaci.

“We look forward to continuing our broad and deep cooperation, focused on supporting increased democratic and economic development, strengthening rule of law in Kosovo, resolving disputes with neighbors, and countering violent extremism and foreign terrorist fighters,” the letter added.

There had been concerns that the Trump administration, in its eagerness to improve relations with Serbia’s ally Russia, might not be as supportive of Kosovo as previous US administrations.

Trump also congratulated Kosovo on its sports-related successes over the past year.

The country became member of the European football governing body UEFA in May 2016.

A few days later, despite strong opposition from Serbia, Kosovo was also admitted as a member of the world football organisation FIFA, allowing it to compete in the World Cup tournament for the first time.

In August 2016, Rio was the first Olympics at which Kosovo athletes competed under the country’s own flag.

Judoka Majlinda Kelmendi then became the first athlete from Kosovo to bring home an Olympic gold under the country’s flag. At the 2012 London Olympics, Kelmendi had to compete under the Albanian flag.

Another success for Kosovo came in May 2016, when the European Commission recommended visa liberalisation, in order to put the country to the visa-free list for short stays in the Schengen zone.

However, the European Commission said that Kosovo must step up its efforts to tackle organised crime and corruption and ratify a border demarcation agreement with Montenegro which the opposition rejects and which has fuelled street protests that ended in clashes with police in Pristina.

In another success in December, the International Telecommunication Union, ITU, finally allocated Kosovo its own telephone code, 383, more than a year after Kosovo and Serbia reached a deal on telecommunications in Brussels.

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama also attended Friday’s commemorations and the parliamentary session on Thursday.

“Day after day, Kosovo proves that it is a radiant example of the coexistence of different kinds of people,” Rama said.


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