Ambassador Dell Remarks at Velika Hoca/Hoqe e Madhe
May 24, 2012
Minister, thank you so much. Now, I have to tell you the real story of why we’re here. A week ago I was waiting to have dinner with the Minister and he was very late because he was here in Velika Hoca and was late coming back. And I said, in compensation, you have to take me there next week.
Frankly I had always wanted to come and I feel ashamed that I didn’t come sooner, because many times I have been a guest at the Decani monastery and enjoyed their tremendous hospitality and I always wanted to meet the genius in charge of the wine, to come to the source and see the wine for itself where it is created.
So before one more word, I would just like to say Zivili and let’s have a little sip of the wine. Thank you Father. Zivili. Gezuar.
In some ways, I am almost glad I waited this long to come here. I can’t think of a better moment to have come than now. For two reasons, and they stand, I think, in sharp contrast to each other. But, both ultimately a good news story, I hope.
First, we are here after the Law on Velika Hoca has been passed by the Government, the Parliament of Kosovo, and I was very encouraged today that the mayor offered his full commitment to us to see its complete implementation as quickly as possible. And I think we all agree that is a good news story, not just for Velika Hoca, but for all of Kosovo.
On the other hand, just a few nights ago we witnessed a terrible incident where a couple of returnees’ homes were burned in the town of Klina. And we were all frankly shocked by this. We know those families. The U.S. Embassy has worked with them, and has visited them in their homes and it was very sad to see that some isolated individuals in the larger society of Kosovo still believe that can kind of action can be tolerated and is acceptable.
The victims of this are good people, and they are good citizens of this country. They have demonstrated their desire to live here, just as the citizens of this village of Velika Hoca have demonstrated their desire to remain a part of this society.
And I am really heartened that the Government of Kosovo has not only condemned what happened, but has also demonstrated its commitment to protecting the rights of all the citizens by already dedicating resources to rebuilding the homes that were destroyed.
And better still even, that Minister Tomic is here with us today to offer six more families the opportunity to rebuild their homes here in Velika Hoca and further strengthen this community. And I take the Government’s position on both of these incidents, one in reaction to a bad thing, and one a very welcome and generous gesture, as a good news story for the future of Kosovo - not only the Kosovo we know today, but the Kosovo that is going to exist after the end of supervised independence in September.
For me the good news story is that individuals like Minister Petrovic and Minister Tomic are a part of the Government and they have chosen the path of cooperation. This is the way to protect the rights of minority communities here, by integrating yourselves into the system, and ensuring that your voices are heard and that when decisions are taken, your interests are looked after. And for me again, that is, I think, the most hopeful sign for this country after the end of supervised independence.
So to finish, Ministers, I want to thank you, on behalf of the United States, for your willingness to engage, to work for the good of your community and your people.
Father Marko, I want to thank you for your hospitality and the wonderful wine. Next time, though, you have to do something about the weather, since now it is raining.
Hvala puno. Faleminderit. Zivili.