Kosovo and Japan—Kosovo, embracing change head on

[YOKOSO]

H.E. Mr. Leon MALAZOGU
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Kosovo to Japan

The war that we had to endure 17 years ago means we have a lot to catch up on with long-established nations, but our resilient citizens have shown that hard work can bring the gold medal as our judoca did in the very first Olympic Games we were allowed to participate in.

Japanese and Kosovars have plenty in common: the code of ethics, traditional dining tables, taking off shoes or the tea ceremony which brings people together. In diplomacy, we share the belief for a world governed by law, driven by the individual entrepreneurial spirit and the enthusiasm for more globalization. We should jointly celebrate as Kosovo turns 10 in 2018, and as we mark ten years of diplomatic relations in 2019.

Kosovo should no longer be seen as a frontier destination. Following the well-tested footpath, Kosovo today has a simple tax system, educated and inexpensive labor force, non-performing loans and debt are the lowest in the region, and the Doing Business Rankings rated Kosovo as 60th position worldwide. A brand-new highway links the landlocked nation to Albania’s main port. The Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU grants our exports free access to the largest market in the world.

Kosovo has benefited from Japanese expertise and support in waste management, music, broadcasting and others. As we begin to translate brochures in Japanese, tourists will visit our world heritage sites, observe traditions and taste our gastronomy. The more Japanese investors see Kosovo for themselves, our trade with Japan should pick up steam. Our coal and mineral reserves are a perfect match for Japanese cutting-edge technology.

Kosovo’s statehood was confirmed by the International Court of Justice and recognized by 112 countries, but we need more to follow. Our foreign policy has unambiguously aligned behind the EU driven by the values it represents. Our religious harmony has made Kosovo a natural venue to promote global inter-faith dialogue. The faster Kosovo can stand on its feet, it can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with its partners.

In an aging continent, a country with an average age of 30 has plenty to offer, especially if we learn from advanced Asian economies how to leapfrog in education and skills. I believe one’s attitude is the most important trait and after tumultuous decades, Kosovars have learned to embrace change head on.

For more information about Kosovo, please visit the official website: www.ambasada-ks.net/jp.

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