Assistant Secretary Gordon: Thank you, President Jahjaga for such a warm and gracious welcome and for your words just now. I am delighted to be back in Pristina to see you again.
I think this is my fifth visit to Kosovo in the three some years I’ve been Assistant Secretary. This one comes at a particularly exciting time which was in the wake of the international community’s agreement to end the supervised independence of Kosovo. I was able to congratulate the President and I want to congratulate the people of Kosovo on that important step forward.
As I said to the President, this is a real vote of confidence in this country and a real sign that the international community believes that Kosovo has made enormous progress in the four and a half years since your independence.
I also conveyed back to the President the regards of Secretary Clinton and President Obama who very much admire her leadership and admire the progress that Kosovo has made.
We talked a little bit about regional developments. As you all know, I think, I am arriving after a couple of days first at the Dubrovnik Summit in Croatia where it was a good opportunity to see a number of leaders in the region. It was also very nice to see Kosovo fully represented in the form of the Prime Minister, fully participating with the countries of the region in important discussions.
I also just arrived from Belgrade where I had a chance to engage with newly elected President Nikolic and other leaders. I was able to convey the message to Belgrade that I repeated here, which is that the United States continues to strongly support Kosovo’s sovereignty and territorial independence, and we believe that whatever government is formed in Belgrade it should fully implement the agreements that have been reached in the dialogue so far, and carry on with that dialogue in whatever form is necessary to reach the practical agreements that will help improve the lives of people on both sides of the border, which is what we need to be focused on in the coming weeks, months and years.
I repeat that we strongly support Kosovo’s EU aspirations, just as we support Serbia’s EU aspirations. We hope that Serbia remains on course towards European Union membership, but that I think our European colleagues have made clear, requires it initially to normalize its relations with Kosovo; and I repeated in Belgrade what I repeat here, which is that ultimately Serbia needs to come to terms with the reality of a democratic and sovereign Kosovo. We will play whatever role we can in supporting relations between those two countries.
I was encouraged to hear from the President, just as I heard from the Prime Minister in Dubrovnik about plans in Pristina to increase outreach in the north of Kosovo. That’s a critical component to reassuring all of the citizens of this country, that they belong and are safe and secure. I understand that the Administrative Office in North Mitrovica is set to open soon. I believe that’s a positive step forward and I think will be seen as a sign of this government’s desire to reach out and provide services to all of the citizens of the country.
As the President also noted and I want to note as well, we deplore the acts of those who are trying to stand in the way of such outreach and of the desire of what we believe to be most of the citizens — Serb, Albanian and others — to live in peace and security. We deplore the tragic killing of the couple that returned to Kosovo and we expect to see all efforts made to find the perpetrators and to bring them to justice.
I also complimented the President on her efforts to advance our common goals on the issues that she mentioned which include fighting corruption, which is a message we carry to all of the states of the region, and on building institutions. Those are important efforts that you have undertaken and we applaud what you have done in that regard.
Finally I want to say that we have of course been following the Constitutional Court’s rulings in recent weeks. It’s something we take a great interest in and my only comment about that is the same one that the President made and has made, which is the ruling of the Court should be respected. We have, I want to reiterate, appreciated the leadership that the President has shown. I know she shares a common commitment to implementing the rule of law and the constitution and wants to see the ruling respected and we believe that this President, I think I can speak for my President and my Secretary of State, this President has been a very positive face for this country over the past 15 months internationally, in the region, and in terms of her domestic leadership, and we will look forward to working with her throughout the rest of her term.
Once again, thank you for such a warm and gracious welcome. I’m always delighted to be back here and I wish you all the best.