04.09.2020

Prime Minister Hoti: The White House’s support – crucial for Kosovo

 

 

Washington, 4 September 2020

The Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo, Mr. Avdullah Hoti, in the course of his official visit to the United States of America, today at the White House, in the presence of the President of the U.S.A, Mr. Donald Trump, signed the Agreement for normalization of economic relations between the Republic of Kosovo and Serbia

After the signing of the agreement, Prime Minister Hoti addressed the media in a press conference, whereby he provided details from the agreement.

Full speech of Prime Minister Hoti:

Thank you very much for your presence. We have just signed the agreement in the White House, which is a great step toward full normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia – relations which will be normalised by mutual recognition between the two countries.

I will present before you the key elements of the agreement, which I believe you have received. This is an historical agreement, in terms of its importance, and a step toward the final agreement. An agreement signed in the White House, from where only good news has come from for Kosovo, in the presence of President Trump and his Administration in the White House, and after a long work with the National Security Advisor and other staff members, Ambassador Grenell, and other staff members of the President Trump administration, together with the Government cabinet, and representatives of parties in the coalition, ministers, our Ambassador in Washington, and our excellent community in the United States of America.

There are two main topics, two key points of this agreement, because as you know the agreement for normalisation of economic relation between the two countries is the first step toward full normalisation and mutual recognition between the two countries.

 

First: major infrastructural projects, as we have notified in advance, including the Prishtina-Merdare Highway, which also includes the Prishtina-Merdare railway, and the feasibility study for the project connecting Prishtina to the Adriatic Sea, and significant financial support to Small and Medium Enterprises.

Also, energy investments by bringing gas to Prishtina, and building a gas-based power plant and gas distribution network in Kosovo.

All these agreements amount to EUR 1 billion, funds that will be made available by the MCC, the DFC, Export-Import Bank of the United States. There is also a clear commitment by President Trump, and his Administration, that all these projects will start to be implemented within one year. This is the commitment we have received by the Administration of President Trump.

Second: The second vital element of this agreement is the mutual recognition with the state of Israel. I just had a telephone call with Prime Minister Netanyahu, in the presence of President Trump, and expressed my gratitude for the readiness of the state of Israel to recognise Kosovo and agreed to promptly establish diplomatic relations between the two countries and we will not have any delays in this regard, and as soon as we return to Prishtina, will take all necessary actions to ensure that Kosovo has, as soon as possible, its embassy and diplomatic staff with full capacities in the state of Israel.

I think this is extraordinary news for the state of Kosovo, after more than two or three years of hiatus in new recognitions and consolidation of statehood in the international arena.

The support from the White House is vital to our journey where we belong, i.e. the big Euro-Atlantic family, which means integration in the EU, membership in the UN, membership in NATO and full membership in all international organisations.

These are two key things of this agreement. Certainly, there are other elements of the agreement, which you have received, such as the operationalization of the Merdare Border Crossing Point, where the entire custom and police staff of Kosovo and Serbia will be placed. There is also our readiness to enter the mini-Schengen zone, which was promoted a year ago by Albania, North Macedonia and Serbia.

Additionally, recognition of diplomas and the issue of certificates issued by the institutions of both countries, so that the citizens completing their education or training can move freely in terms of employment in both countries.

We have agreed to a feasibility study, i.e. the U.S Department of Energy will perform a feasibility study for the Ujmani Lake, in terms of how the water of the lake will be used in the future, such as for irrigation and as source of energy, that is all, this is the truth with regard to the issue. There other topics within the agreement for which we have committed in accordance with USA’s policy with regard to market regulation, telecommunication, or religious rights or the rights of certain persons at world level, or at level of liberal democracies, as is the case with Kosovo. These are the main points. We have also received the commitment, and were asked for a one-year moratorium to our membership in international organisation, not for new recognitions, but only our membership in international organisations, whereas Serbia is obliged to cease any campaigns against the membership of Kosovo in international organisations and against new recognitions of Kosovo. The recognition by Israel today is a sign of the decisiveness of President Trump and his Administration to push forward the final project for the consolidation of the statehood of Kosovo and its integration in the great Euro-Atlantic family. These are the key points of the agreement. I would like to really thank the Administration of President Trump, and all those involved in the process, members of the cabinet, collaborators, our ambassador here, and our community for their support during this process.

I am aware that in these last few days and weeks we have not been fully open and transparent, naturally at the request of Ambassador Grenell and the White House Administration, as we wanted to first conclude the agreement and then present the agreement before our citizens in Kosovo and Serbia, and in the region.

 

I have great expectations that these projects, as I have always said, will change the economic landscape of Kosovo, and that of the region. I am convinced that the railway project, the Highway and the railway leading to the Adriatic sea port, and the gas from the North Macedonia, in a period of 3-5 years, will turn Kosovo into the main hub or the steep where all types of infrastructures intertwine at regional level and beyond.

We should consider this agreement as an immense step toward the final agreement of mutual recognition.

I would like to thank the leaders of political parties in Kosovo, the President of the state and the presidents of political parties for their support to this agreement. This agreement is not only of this government, but rather of the people of Kosovo. These are commitments of the people of Kosovo toward the American people, toward President Trump and the United States of America.