25 Years of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo: An Anniversary of Success and Cooperation

PeopleDiplomats ♦ Published: July 1, 2024; 10:46 ♦ (Vindobona)

The OSCE Mission in Kosovo celebrates its 25th anniversary and looks back on a quarter of a century of intensive and successful work in the service of peace, democracy, and human rights.

Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti during his address at the reception celebrating the 25th anniversary of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo. / Picture: © OSCE, OSCE Mission in Kosovo, Office of the Prime Minister, ID 571939, (CC BY-ND 4.0)

This journey began on 1 July 1999, when the Mission received its mandate from the OSCE Permanent Council to take a leading role in institution-building, democratization, the promotion and protection of human rights, the organization and monitoring of elections, and the training of the newly established police force.

Partners and friends welcomed each other to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo. The event attracted a diverse crowd of guests, including local and international dignitaries, Prime Minister Albin Kurti, numerous mayors from Kosovo, ambassadors, and representatives of civil society organizations. Mission staff who have been deployed since July and August 1999 were also among the evening's guests of honor, underscoring the mission's continuity and commitment.

Appreciation and thanks

Ambassador Michael Davenport, Head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, welcomed the guests and emphasized the impressive achievements of the Kosovars over the past 25 years. "You have created democratic institutions from nothing, developed a dynamic democratic political environment and a pluralistic media landscape, built a thriving civil society, and established inclusive and accountable public security institutions, including the Kosovo Police Service," he said. Davenport also praised the independent institutions such as the Ombudsperson or the Judicial and Prosecutorial Councils that have been established to protect human rights, including the rights of minority and religious communities.

Contributions and cooperation

In his speech, Prime Minister Albin Kurti emphasized the significant contributions of the OSCE to strengthening democracy in Kosovo. He mentioned the support to the Police Academy, the assistance to public broadcasting, and the support to institutions overseeing electoral processes, such as the Central Election Commission. "At such a crucial time for the security of the region, not just our country, I am grateful for the professionalism, care, and support, as well as the passion for human rights and the rule of law, democracy, and the prosperity of our people and our society," Kurti said.

Regional presence and continuous support

The OSCE Mission is not only present in the capital but also has five regional centers and is active in all 38 municipalities of Kosovo. This broad presence enables regular contact with municipal institutions and local communities. Cooperation with independent institutions, many of which were established with OSCE support, remains strong.

Various speakers, including Lindita Sejdiu-Rugova, Dean of the Faculty of Philology at the University of Prishtina, and Srdjan Sentić, Deputy Ombudsman, provided insights into the close relationship with the OSCE and acknowledged its support in various areas.

Outlook for the future

Ambassador Davenport emphasized that democracy building is an ongoing task and the OSCE Mission remains committed to consolidating Kosovo's democratic institutions, strengthening the framework for the protection of human and community rights, and deepening the engagement of public security institutions with all communities. "The work of building democracy is never finished," concluded Davenport.

The celebrations, characterized by an optimistic and cooperative atmosphere, reflected a shared commitment to future success as Kosovo moves toward stability and prosperity. At the end of the evening, the guests enjoyed a musical performance by singer Rona Nishliu, which further enhanced the positive mood and cohesion among the attendees.