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Speeches & Transcripts November 20, 2019

Remarks by Western Balkans Country Director Linda Van Gelder on the World Bank Group's 20th Anniversary in Kosovo

Dear Minister Hamza, representatives of the Government, the Parliament, the Central Bank and the political parties, representatives of the civil society, academia and the private sector, colleagues from the international community,

Thank you for being here tonight with us to celebrate the World Bank Group partnership with Kosovo!

As you have heard from the video and from Cyril, we have been supporting economic development and improvements in people’s lives in Kosovo since immediately after the conflict. Actually, I have learned that even before, when Kosovo was still part of the former Yugoslavia, a number of Bank projects benefitted Kosovo. For example, the Iber Canal was built with the support of a WB operation.

We are proud of having a country office that is 20 years old this year, mostly staffed by Kosovo citizens. They are the true engine of our engagement in Kosovo and I would like to recognize and thank them for their professionalism and dedication.  They represent Kosovo well in our institution!

You have also heard that Kosovo is a full member of the World Bank. The Minister of Finance and the Governor of the Central Bank are, respectively, the Governor and vice-Governor for Kosovo in the World Bank. They contribute as shareholders to key decisions of the institution, such as the capital replenishment.  In our Board of Executive Directors, Kosovo belongs to a constituency of various countries currently coordinated by Austria.

Our partnership grew over the years, from the post-conflict reconstruction phase, where the focus was on normalization of life and the economy; to the following phase, when we focused on institution building and deepening the fundamentals for a market economy; to today, when we are striving to strengthen the competitiveness of a private sector-led economy, improve the quality and efficiency of public services - in particular those aimed at building and protecting human capital - and strengthen fiscal and environmental resilience and sustainability.

Our partnership has also matured, from the initial phase, where we and other donors were actively driving the identification of priorities, to today, when we try to facilitate the identification of priorities through our technical work, but expect the Government to identify the key priorities that should be supported by the WB and other donors. 

It is when the authorities have a strong vision and when public institutions are capable and transparent that our assistance can be most effective.

To conclude, it is a pleasure to have you all here. I would like to take the opportunity to thank the outgoing administration, in particular Minister Hamza, our Governor and main counterpart, for the excellent cooperation during recent years. We look forward to a fast formation of a new Government. Kosovo cannot afford to wait too long. We stand ready to explore how we can assist the incoming government with knowledge products, technical assistance, and financing to advance economic development in Kosovo and to improve people’s lives.