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During a lecture at the Kennedy School of Government yesterday, Kosovo’s president, Fatmir Sejdiu, said that his country—the youngest state in the world—has started to recover from ethnic cleansing and genocide.
Speaking in Albanian through a translator as part of the Kokkalis Program on Southeastern and East-Central Europe, Sejdiu said that Kosovo has made efforts to ensure that there is strong minority representation in the legislature and local governments.
Bleak prognoses of ethnic violence against the Serbian minority have largely been avoided, and Kosovo has been formally recognized by 70 nations and the United Nation’s highest court.
“It has not been easy,” Sejdiu said. “In addition to the political issues, [Kosovo] has an obligation to make a complete transformation of the economy.”
Though the developing nation of about 2 million people has increasingly privatized businesses and encouraged foreign investment, the existence of the state itself remains a contentious issue.
On July 22, the United Nation’s highest court, the International Court of Justice, found that the independence of the state of Kosovo did not violate international law.
“The ICJ has concluded that the independence of Kosovo was the result of specific circumstances,” said Sejdiu, referring to the period of mass ethnic violence. He called the decision “meritorious” and said that Kosovo is committed to having friendly bilateral relations with Serbia, though that state has neither apologized for crimes committed in Kosovo nor acknowledged the sovereign state.
“Despite this very clear opinion of the court, unfortunately, Serbia continues to make efforts to distort the opinion of the ICJ,” Sejdiu said.
Gresa Matoshi ’13, who moved to New York City from Kosovo when she was nine, said that the lecture was particularly poignant because of the UN court’s recent decision.
“I thought [Sejdiu] presented the view of the government very well,” Matoshi said. “I was happy that Harvard invited him to speak, considering all that has happened in the past couple years in terms of independence and the recent ICJ decision.”
—Staff writer Laura G. Mirviss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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