Dear Participants of the 9th World Islamic Economic Forum,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me begin by saying how honored I am to be here today, in this distinguished forum, among so many friends and hosted in one of the dearest countries to my people, to discuss the common ideals of development and our common challenges in a world that continues to struggle with recession and the economic and financial crisis that has not spared any corner of the world.
In particular, I am pleased in this Forum to represent for the first time my country, the Republic of Kosovo, which though geographically far removed from most of you, joins very much in sharing the same values as you, those of the democratic world. I am also grateful that this Forum takes place here in London, a city where many young men and women from my country have found the great opportunity to pursue their dreams and the capital of a country that has stood by Kosovo’s people and helped them tirelessly in their quest for freedom and prosperity.
Because of this continuous support that helped us find peace and become masters of our own fate and which enabled us to give birth to Europe’s youngest state, we have now opened a new chapter in Kosovo, one where its citizens no longer live in fear and intimidation, into a place where we are striving, together with our allies – with you – to turn into a country of strong hopes and great opportunities.
As we have seen with the latest economic downturn, particularly in Europe, creating opportunities and maintaining hope for a better future that so many of our citizens hinge on, takes more than the solutions provided by a sole country because more often than not our fates are intertwined.
Today, no country in the world can be immune to the familiar list of grievances – ethnic and sectarian strife, political deadlock, economic deprivation, scare natural resources, discrimination, inequality, the widening gap between the poor and the rich, between the developed and developing.
In the past, at different times, any of these ailments could have accounted for particular societal breakdown that happened in isolation only for history to judge them. But today no longer does it matter whether you are geographically or strategically removed. The tremors in one country cannot be contained to that country alone.
Yet, this new era – as never before in the history of humanity – has also heralded new chances of cooperation. In this age of integration and participation, the issue of inclusion has become much larger. Around the world, countries and people historically divided or placed on the sidelines by means of repression, social convention or prejudice are now stepping forward to take their place at the table.
I come from a part of Europe that has remained outside the European Union and where history has known more cleavages then unity and cooperation. Southeastern Europe has had a history of destruction and reconciliation between people has been a difficult process. Still, in the last decade, the countries of the region have seen a remarkable progress as they moved toward prosperity.
Kosovo is determined to stay firmly on this path. We are set on protecting our long tradition of multiculturalism and religious tolerance. We are bent on giving each and every citizen equal rights, chances and responsibilities. We are proud that in rebuilding our country women have taken a central role. And we are committed to create a country where its men and women have the opportunity to unleash their full potential. Only then can we rest assured that we have set Kosovo on its road to growth and prosperity. And let me share the good news. Kosovo has moved to the world top 5 reformers in the World Bank doing business report.
This part of Europe has many opportunities and offers many capacities to become part of the developed world and to become part of the global economic renewal. This region is a strong bridge given its cultural and religious diversity and it place a crucial role for peace and stability.
The inclusion of Southeastern Europe will reduce the danger of the renewal of conflicts. It will make the governments of the countries in the region responsible to advance the wellbeing of their citizens, and to change the outlook on the democratic values that will bring about more economic prosperity. We are small countries with interdependent economies, that continue to be underdeveloped, that resolve the problems with difficulty, but which are striving to adapt to open market and that have almost wholly weathered the global financial crisis in part due to the banking stability.
As a region and as respective countries our capabilities are great. A young labor workforce, educated and talented, great opportunities for investment and for attracting foreign capital, a business climate that is increasingly improving throughout the region, including the Republic of Kosovo. As a whole, the region is in search of an another chance to prosper and to be an inseparable part of common solutions to our common problems. Societies in transition should not forever remain dependent on donations. They should strive for economic cooperation of mutual benefit, toward an economic interdependence that would never produce a zero-sum outcome.
We have gathered here today to search for new ways to improve our citizens lives and increase the sustainability of our countries through cooperation.
In doing so, our main focus rightly lies on the economic development, the common denominator, to provide what our citizens want – jobs, strong economy, sound education and sustainability – so that the next generation can have more opportunities than we did.
The conversation that we have started in this forum highlights that the answer to our joint success is inclusion because through it every country will be invited to shoulder the responsibilities and above all to interconnect our economies in search of new ways to resolve the crisis that each and every country faces.
We must find the points of convergence through goodwill and mutual benefit, not merely as predetermined by geography or history, because many of us here share more than that. We share tradition and commitment to the same values that can only strengthen the bonds
between our people.