National Press Club

Kosovo Making Strides, Foreign Minister Says

July 6, 2009 | By Peter Hickman |

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Since declaring independence 16 months ago, Kosovo -- whose population is mostly ethnically Albanian -- has taken major steps to establish "democratic and accountable institutions in which all citizens are equal under the law," the country's minister of foreign affairs told a June 30 Newsmaker.

Skender Hyseni, who is also a member of parliament, said his country is building its diplomatic service and by the end of the year will have 18 embassies and nine consular missions open and fully functioning. Hyseni said Kosovo has been recognized by 60 countries, including 22 EU member states, and three of the four bordering countries, Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro.

Kosovo also has signed articles of agreement with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, marking formal accession of the Balkan country to both organizations, he added.

Hyseni, who studied at Bloomsburg State College in Pennsylvania, said Kosovo has also "unequivocally declared its unwavering desire to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European family of democracies, which maintaining strong ties of special relationship" with the U.S.

Also among his nation's key priorities, he said, is regional security and cooperation with neighboring countries, including Serbia, which he criticized frequently during the Newsmaker for its "intransigence" in negotiating Kosovo's political status, unwillingness to discuss issues of mutual concern and "lack of readiness to agree to anything whatsoever."

Still, Hyseni said "We and all the countries of the region hope that, in due course, the Republic of Serbia will join in the efforts to establish an environment of cooperation and understanding in the region, including the normalizations of relations with the Republic of Kosovo."