Last week President Atifete Jahjaga of Kosovo visited the University’s Blavatnik School of Government. The lecture, entitled “Kosovo’s Path to Statehood and its European Future”, was witnessed by officials, faculty, staff and some of the School’s first students.
The presidential visit follows an EU-brokered accord between Kosovo and Serbia, reached on Friday 19th April, which aims to normalise relations between the states. Kosovo broke from Serbia in 1999 after the Kosovo War, and was overseen by the United Nations for nine years. In February 2008 it declared its independence and has been recognised as an independent state by 96 countries, Serbia not among them.
Relations with neighbouring Serbia were described as “cold and unfinished” by the President during her visit, but significant progress has been made with the recent EU agreement and a meeting between President Jahjaga and President Tomislav Nikoliq of Serbia in February.
President Jahjaga defined the five year old state as “a country that seeks to build its future without forgetting its difficult past”. The President spoke of the country’s success in moving on from violence and the measures being taken to establish mutual respect between Serbia and its former province. She explained that the country’s major problem of corruption and organised crime was being tackled by the creation of the National Anticorruption Council.
As the Balkan Region’s first female Head of State, President Jahjaga asserted that democracy requires “full engagement by all the layers of society”.
The Dean of the School, Professor Ngaire Woods, stated, “Here at the School, we talk a great deal about what true leadership requires. President Jahjaga brought to life what this means in practical terms as a Head of State working to heal the wounds of a difficult past in her country. Everyone who attended her lecture was inspired by her commitment to create a transparent, stable and inclusive society for her people. We were honoured to have her deliver a Leadership Lecture at the Blavatnik School of Government.”
A representative of South East European Studies at Oxford (SEESOX) called the visit “particularly timely” in light of recent events, and continued to say that “The importance which Oxford attaches to South East Europe is demonstrated by the existence of SEESOX, which studies the region and holds a series of seminars and workshops on it. We invite readers of Cherwell to visit us.”