Dear guests,

This year is 20 years since the end of the war in Kosovo. The peace achieved with the intervention of the North Atlantic Alliance in the spring of 1999 was, above all, the result of a visionary policy of the United States of America and the European Union. This vision ended once and for all the successive tragedies in these parts of the Balkans and Europe, with the hope of transforming that year's peace through a stability pact and a fresh start for the entire region. The European Union's Thessaloniki Summit in 2003, following this major strategic move by Washington and Brussels, formally opened the European Perspective chapter for all Western Balkan countries.

Kosovo became an (independent) state in February 2008. Along with the first recognitions of Kosovo's independence, came the message of a European perspective for the newest state in the region and in Europe. What happened next involved transforming peace into a permanent state and the long-term stability between the state and the people of this part of Europe. No one in the region or in Brussels can boast of the results of this common project. 20 years ago, peace brought tremendous enthusiasm to all of us, whether politicians or citizens of this part of Europe.

I do not believe that there was a politician or citizen of Kosovo, or anywhere in this part of the Balkans, who could have assumed that 20 years later, this whole region would not become part of the European Union. Who would have believed that the relationship between these states and peoples would not have followed the example of France and Germany in the first 20 years after the end of World War II. In the summer of 1999, no one could have imagined that 20 years later we would still not have a political agreement with Serbia on mutual recognition and no circumstances for good neighborly relations. Great opportunities have been missed to reach this agreement, and we have always been ready to reach out.

Sustainable peace in the Western Balkans largely depends on lasting peace between the state of Kosovo and that of Serbia, that is a comprehensive agreement between Kosovo and Serbia, which cannot end without their mutual recognition as two independent and sovereign nations. This agreement, however, is also known to have a very significant political and economic impetus on the part of the European Union. We are aware of Brussels' speculations, suspicions, and setbacks regarding the Western Balkan nations. We in Kosovo are paying a heavy price for the postponing of the visa liberalization decision for the citizens of Kosovo, so we have been wronged, as have also been Albania and Northern Macedonia. But I am sure that none of this, whether it be for Kosovo, or for our friends in Albania or in Northern Macedonia, raises any questions or doubts about what we should do and how we should treat the European Union from now on.

We seek to become member states of the European Union as soon as possible, because we envisage no other political or historical destiny; indeed, we are not even seeking a different fate or future. Here, I have to refer again to my deep conviction that it would be best for all Western Balkan states to join the European Union together. Of course, in the meantime, they would have to settle all disputes among themselves as nations, that is, our disputes. I am convinced that the Kosovar political scene has the common will to continue talks with the Serbian high authorities as soon as possible, with the strong push of the United States of America and the European Union, for a comprehensive agreement. We don't have time to lose. The time and the international circumstances that are unpredictable are not our allies. There is no alternative beyond dialogue; on the contrary, it also speeds up the process of Euro-Atlantic membership. Once again, thank you very much for your attention and congratulations on this Summit. Thank you!

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