Balkan-Forum Launch

Kosovo has a lot of strong men and women – it also needs strong institutions

Ambassador Per Strand Sjaastad's speech at the launch of the project “Advancing Kosovo’s Institutions, Democratisation & Regional Cooperation”.

| Prishtina

Prime Minister, Deputy Chairman LDK Mr. Haziri, Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,


Let me first say that it is always a pleasure to attend events organized by the Balkans Group and Director Naim Rashiti. The Balkans Group plays an important role in promoting progress and development in Kosovo, to the benefit of all, the way I see it.


The Balkans Group takes a broad and holistic approach to dialogue and inclusion. The Group facilitates meeting places, seminars, research documents and advise to policy-makers. The objective is to help the political system to deliver results. This new project by the Balkans Group – and supported by Norway - is about the strengthening of institutions, democratization, dialogue and regional cooperation.


Kosovo has a lot of strong men and women – it also needs strong institutions. History shows that no country has been able to develop and reform without strong institutions.


Kosovo has made great steps and progress since independence in 2008. However, further improvements are welcome and needed.

Democracy is the best political system invented, and is a great value in itself. However, it does also have to produce results and deliver stability, wealth and progress to citizens

There are some basic lessons learned when it comes to making democracy work as intended and I hope can be an inspiration for Kosovo:

  1. One must have well-informed voters and people must trust that politicians do what they say, in the interest of society.
  2. One must have plenty of inclusion and open debates in decision-making, including women and youth – striking deals in the back room should be the exception, not the rule.
  3. One must be able to show pragmatism and create consensus among political parties. This is necessary to carry out big reforms in areas such as education, health, pensions and infrastructure. The principle of constructive government and constructive opposition.
  4. One must have accountable, clean and non-corrupt politicians, who serves the public and the national interest.


The risk of failing to deliver stability, wealth and progress to society and citizens is much bigger if these four basic principles are not being developed and in place. Hence, I am very pleased that the project addresses most of these basic features.  


Kosovo needs more consensus and engagement in the dialogue with Serbia, across party lines. Not all parties have to be part of the state delegation, that should be respected - but everyone should engage in a constructive way, in the parliament or other arenas. Fragmentation will only make Kosovo weak - more consensus will make Kosovo stronger.  


Let me also say that the European Reform Agenda and the Stabilization and Association Agreement, are two very important drivers for reform and progress in Kosovo. These drivers have a positive impact on good governance and the rule of law, as well as the functioning of markets and the economy.

Kosovo authorities and political leaders have repeatedly stated that Kosovo wants to follow a path of reform, modernization and reach European standards.


Modernization equals change, which sometimes may be difficult. There will always be some parts of society that do not embrace change. Some people may be afraid of losing privileges, of increased competition or of demanding business rules. It is necessary for politicians to make the hard decisions and show the way, to the great benefit of the whole society in the long run. I do also believe that the project by Balkans Group will help to move Kosovo in the right direction.


Thank you for your attention!