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Statement by Kosovan CSOs on Kosovo’s participation at the Summit for Democracy

Dear Ms. Kalathil and Mr. Escobar,

We, the twenty-one undersigned representatives of pro-democracy civil society organizations from the Republic of Kosovo, write to you on behalf of our constituencies, in relation to the upcoming Summit for Democracy hosted by the U.S government on December 9-10. It was with great concern that we took note of the news (confirmed by the U.S Embassy in Prishtina) that Kosovo was among a handful of countries in Europe that did not receive an invitation to take part.

The theme and the goals of the Summit are fundamentally important to the work that we do to advance democracy and human rights in our country, with the continuous support of the U.S government. While we do not intend to question the criteria used to invite individual countries to the Summit, as they are under the discretion of the U.S as a host, we would like to ask you to consider our viewpoint on the issue, with the hope that the decision on Kosovo could be reconsidered.

We are on the front lines of the struggle and nurture no illusions about the fragility of Kosovo’s democracy, particularly on the rule of law. We are also highly aware of Kosovo’s delicate security context in the Balkans, which produces stark ethnic divisions and frequent instability. Yet having in mind the continuous progress Kosovo has made over the years in building a vibrant democracy, as well as the special relationship between Kosovo’s people and the United States, we strongly believe that Kosovo deserves to be part of this strategic initiative and would stand to benefit from it.

Kosovo has over the past few years contrasted the negative authoritarian tendencies in other parts of Eastern Europe. Many of our accountability mechanisms have worked very well: there is wide pluralism in the media space; civil society is highly engaged in holding institutions accountable; free and fair elections have enabled several smooth transitions of power. Most of this positive change was driven by an increasingly empowered youth, as well as by women, who have shown to be the
strongest factors of democratic resilience. Weaknesses in the rule of law, articularly on the issue of corruption, remain a grave challenge. But this is not a challenge that is unique to Kosovo.

From a foreign and security policy perspective, the people of Kosovo continue to be the most unwavering supporters of the transatlantic alliance in the Western Balkans and beyond. In fact, no country in the region is more concerned by the malign authoritarian influence of China and Russia, than Kosovo. We understand that Kosovo and the U.S have had areas of disagreements over the years. We also understand, and in many cases share, the frustrations that the U.S has with Kosovo’s political elites. Yet we fail to see any differences in U.S-Kosovo relations that are fundamentally irreconcilable, and which would merit Kosovo’s exclusion from the global pro-democracy camp.

We strongly believe that Kosovo’s participation at the Summit would help advance the state of democracy and human rights in our country and would empower us in our efforts to hold institutions accountable. We thereby hope that the U.S government would be willing to reconsider its decision.

We offer ourselves at your disposal to provide further clarifications and commit to doing whatever is needed to facilitate and enable Kosovo’s participation at this important Summit.
Sincerely,

Signatories (in alphabetical order)

Balkans Policy Research Group (BPRG)
Naim Rashiti, Executive Director
The Balkan Forum
Astrit Istrefi, Executive Director
Democracy Plus
Valmir Ismaili, Executive Director
Democracy for Development
Rezarta Delibashzade Krasniqi, Executive Director
European Policy Institute of Kosovo (EPIK)
Demush Shasha, Executive Director
GAP Institute
Nora Latifi Jashari, Executive Director
Group for Legal and Political Studies (GLPS)
Arbëresha Loxha Stublla, Executive Director
Humanitarian Law Center Kosovo (HLCK)
Bekim Blakaj, Executive Director
Institute for Social Policy “Musine Kokalari”
Visar Ymeri, Executive Director
Kosovar Center for Security Studies (KCSS)
Mentor Vrajolli, Executive Director
Kosovar Civil Society Foundation (KCSF)
Taulant Hoxha, Executive Director
Kosova Democratic Institute (KDI)
Ismet Kryeziu, Executive Director
Kosovo Institute for Policy Research and Development (KIPRED)
Lulzim Peci, Executive Director
Kosovo Women’s Network
Igballe Rogova, Executive Director
Kosovo Law Institute (KLI)
Ehat Miftaraj, Executive Director
Lëvizja FOL
Mexhide Demolli Nimani, Executive Director
Organization for Democracy, Anti-Corruption and Dignity “Çohu’
Arton Demhasaj, Executive Director
Prishtina Institute for Political Studies (PIPS)
Leonora Kryeziu, Executive Director
Sbunker
Agon Maliqi, Chairman of the Board
Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIRH Kosovo)
Marigona Shabiu, Executive Director
Donika Emini*
*Member, Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group (BIEPAG)

November 9, 2021
Prishtina, Republic of Kosovo

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