A promise of a democratic and resilient Kosovo

Friday, July 27, 2018
Lisa Magno, USAIDKosovo Mission Director Swearing in Ceremony
USAIDKosovo Mission Director Swearing in Ceremony
Lisa Magno, USAID Kosovo Mission Director speaking to participants of the Swearing in ceremony
Astrit Ymeri, USEP


Ambassador Delawie – thank you for your kind words and more importantly, your leadership and unwavering support to USAID, which enables us to achieve our development mission.  To our DCM Colleen, you are a helpful counselor and I value your advice.  To Brock, Margot, and Gretchen, thank you for your wisdom and guidance, for always having our back and a warm embrace to all my wonderful colleagues in E&E.  But I have to save my warmest embrace to Jim and am so happy that you are at my swearing-in.

Prime Minister Haradinaj, esteemed partners in the Kosovo government, thank you so much for being here today.  Today is a special event because this is the first time ever that a USAID/Kosovo Mission Director is being sworn in, right here in Pristina.  I cannot think of a better way to start my tenure as Mission Director.

Kosovo indeed feels like a second home to me.  But let me start by talking a little bit about my first home.  

As my USAID Kosovo family knows, I was born and grew up in the Philippines.  What they may not know is that for most of my young adult life, the Philippines suffered under authoritarian rule.  

After 20 years, the corrupt Marcos regime finally fell and a democratically elected government took the reins of leadership.  The entire country, all of its 7100 islands, was filled with such an intense sense of hope for the future.  And every one of the 60 million or so Filipinos were for the first time, proud to be Filipino.

Fast Forward 25 years later, I did not expect to experience that same intense sense of hope.  It happened on July 22, 2010 as we hunched over a radio at Miller Hall at the Embassy compound.  We listened with bated breath as the International Court of Justice determined that Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence did not violate international law. 

I practically ran back to USAID, and even in the distance I could hear the cheers from my USAID Kosovo colleagues.

The Philippines and Kosovo, my first and second homes – two separate continents, very different histories, and with 30 years apart – both made me believe that hope, truth and a world of possibilities do exist.  Returning to Kosovo, I continue to believe that the promise of a democratic and resilient Kosovo is as real today as it was on that fateful day in July, 8 years ago.  I need you and I ask you to believe along with me.

For it is when we --- USAID with our government partners, civil society, the private sector, and with the women and youth of Kosovo ---

When we work together towards shared goals, that we enjoy the sweetest of rewards.  

I see hope fulfilled in the women’s cooperative which profitably produces jam in Podujevo.  I see hope fulfilled in the elderly gentleman whom I met in Viti who was able to secure his property documents through an electronic kiosk, with no waiting time.  

I see the promise of a better Kosovo in the young community leader in North Mitrovica who leads her NGO with dynamism and fortitude.  And I see pride in every entrepreneur who lands a sales contract at an international trade fair.  Partnerships are the foundation of our development results – thus the image of two hands in the USAID logo.   

As we all know, the promise of a democratic society and a resilient economy for Kosovo cannot be fulfilled without hard – even painful – choices.  Setbacks and obstacles will inevitably come our way.  But we fail only if we let individual differences prevail, when we allow inconsequential issues to fester, and when the interests of a few matter more than the interests of many. 

I am fortunate to have a strong USAID team, and we solidly stand in partnership with you to help achieve that promise for Kosovo.

I am also fortunate to have positive influences in my personal life.  

Jose – you showed me how to question without arrogance, how to dissent constructively, and most importantly you bring levity to our life.

I am also fortunate and extremely blessed to have the father that I had, who was and remains my biggest influence.  At his eulogy last week, I spoke about how he taught me honesty, integrity, and selflessness.   As I take on my mandate as USAID Kosovo Mission Director, I cannot help but think of those lessons from my father.  For it is only with honesty, integrity, and selflessness that I – along with the USAID Kosovo team – can help fulfill the hopes of the women in Podujevo or the youth in Kosovo.  So I ask that as USAID continues to work in partnership with you, that we do so with honesty, integrity, selflessness, pride and hope.

Thank you.  Faliminderit.  Hvala.

Pristina, Kosovo
Issuing Country 

Last updated: April 04, 2019

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