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Statement of Ambassador Christopher Dell On the Nomination of Atifete Jahjaga for President of the Republic of Kosovo

April 6, 2011
Secretary Clinton and Atifete Jahjaga. photo: Samir Karahoda

Secretary Clinton and Atifete Jahjaga

Kosovo has passed through a difficult period that tested the strength and the viability of its young institutions.  I think all of us, every Kosovar and all of Kosovo’s friends in the world, have reason to be proud that your institutions passed this challenge.

Not only did the structures and institutions stand up to the pressures, your leaders also proved they are capable of putting the interests of the nation ahead of their personal or partisan interests.  The fact that I am standing here with the leaders of the PDK, AKR and LDK – two members of the governing coalition and the leader of the largest opposition party – is the clearest proof that Kosovo’s leaders can work together for the good of the country.  I hope that today marks a new start for your political system – a time when the endless partisan bickering that has characterized your political life until now can yield to a discussion based on mutual respect for each other and for your respective roles.  In a functioning democracy there is room for difference, but there must also be room for respect.

Beghjet Pacolli is the first person to whom I believe we all should offer our respect.  He has been through a difficult process.  As the Constitutional Court’s opinion last week made clear, he did nothing wrong.  And yet, he has paid a price.  The truth is that throughout this process Mr. Pacolli has put the interests of Kosovo ahead of his own position and his own ambitions.  He has carried himself with dignity and he has shown that he is both a man of honor and a true patriot.  Beghjet has long supported the need for the direct election of the president, and he turned his own difficult situation into a victory for the country.  For that I believe the nation owes him its lasting respect.

Atifete Jahjaga woke up this morning with no idea that her life was about to change.  I know for a fact she never sought this honor.  Yet, consistent with the way she has lived her life, when called to duty, she answered without hesitation.  Atifete is one of Kosovo’s finest and most senior police officers.  She has made defending the rule of law her life’s work: Eleven years ago she took an oath to uphold the law of this country and she has never failed in her duty.  I am confident that as President of Kosovo she will make her responsibility to guard the constitution and protect the institutions of the Republic her first duty. 

At a time when Kosovo’s institutions have been damaged and many question whether Kosovo is capable of providing justice for its people, I believe Atifete Jahjaga will be an important symbol of the country’s commitment to justice, and that her presidency will mark the beginning of a new and constructive chapter in this country’s history. 

The United States has worked with Atifete for many years.  She has earned the admiration and respect of everyone who has worked with her, from Secretary Clinton to the hundreds of American policemen and policewomen who have been proud to serve with her over the last eleven years.  Long America’s friend, she belongs to the country now and I know that you will come to admire her and respect her just as much as we do. 

Atifete is entering on a challenging office and she will need the help of all of us in succeeding.  I call upon the citizens of Kosovo, all its political leaders and Kosovo’s many international friends to offer her their unstinting support. I pledge to her the full and unquestioning support of my country.

Thank you and good evening.