Žbogar and Çollaku met the recently selected grantees under the 10th round of our Young Cell scholarship scheme (07/06/2016)

Addressing of the Head of EU Office in Kosovo/EU Special Representative, Samuel Žbogar, to the recently selected grantees under the 10th round of our Young Cell scholarship scheme

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Dear Minister Çollaku,

Dear grantees,

Dear representatives of the Young Cell Scheme Alumni Board,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a special pleasure for me to be here with you today, on the occasion of welcoming the recently selected grantees under the 10th round of our Young Cell scholarship scheme.

Just to explain, Young Cell Scheme is an EU Postgraduate Scholarship Programme for Kosovo, aiming to contribute to the creation of an effective, efficient and transparent public administration in Kosovo at all levels.

A record 450 students, which is the highest number ever, applied for the 2016-2017 Programme. Out of those, 251 are women and 25 are members of minorities. I thank them all for their interest.

We were able to award 38 scholarships this year. I would like to congratulate all the new grantees who have been selected, and who will take up Master studies in the next year in different universities throughout the EU in the upcoming school year.

You all underwent a very demanding and competitive selection process to make it here – I was told by my colleagues who participated in the process that you demonstrated an impressive level of knowledge, intelligence and rhetorical skills – which I believe makes you strong candidates for best Master programmes in Europe.

Being awarded with the scholarship is a big personal achievement, but you are at the same time also becoming an important asset for Kosovo. Kosovo's public administration will in the upcoming years undergo many important reforms, the process of which you will be able to witness first hand when you return to Kosovo.

This is especially important in the context of approximation of the Kosovo legislation with the EU acquis and the Stabilisation and Association Agreement.

I am sure that you are as excited about the prospect of contributing to Kosovo's European future, as you are right now about scholarship and your further academic path abroad.

The Young Cell Scheme has been one of our longest running programmes in Kosovo, and as Minister said one of the most successful ones and one we are particularly proud of. The programme was successfully initiated back in 2004, while the current round is already its 10th one. The newly awarded grantees, who will continue their studies in different fields of law, public administration and economics, will upon the completion of their Master programmes join the family of some 250 Young Cell Scheme alumni from the previous nine rounds.

The Young Cell Scheme offers them employment in Kosovo's public administration upon return from the studies. But, it is not just scholarship and the job, this is how the EU contributes towards the creation of a highly professional and skilled civil service in Kosovo that will be able to work for its people and respond to significant challenges that all modern public administrations.

As the Minister said we have an impressive track record of Young Cell Scheme alumni from the past nine rounds – some of whom made it to the positions of senior officers, directors, secretary generals, cabinet members, and even a Minister – who are therefore already involved in steering Kosovo's European processes.

A novelty in this round of the Young Cell Scheme has been also the introduction of a pilot scheme for the existing civil servants. Together with Kosovo authorities, we considered it is important to further capacitate the existing public administration. Two of the awarded grantees who will take up Master studies this year come from the public administration, and I am convinced that the combination of their professional expertise with their newly acquired academic knowledge will be of particular value for Kosovo.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As stressed on numerous occasions before, public administration reform is a key priority for both the EU and the Government of Kosovo.

Our continued support to the Young Cell Scheme corresponds to the importance that the EU attaches to the need for continued public administration reform, as also stipulated in the Stabilisation and Association Agreement.

I would like to thank the Ministry of European Integration for a constant support and an active role in this programme throughout the years. I know that many of your colleagues at the Ministry were themselves the Young Cell grantees, and that you are therefore well aware of the added value of this scheme for Kosovo. This is why I would like to encourage the Ministry of European Integration, as well as the Ministry of Public Administration, to remain committed to the integration of this year's grantees into Kosovo's public administration immediately upon their return from abroad.

Special thanks go also to the Young Cell Scheme Alumni Board for your constant involvement in the promotion of the Young Cell Scheme, for the sharing of knowledge and experience with the candidates and with the grantees, as well as for serving as excellent examples of how to contribute to Kosovo's European future within the civil service.

Let me also use this opportunity to thank the British Council for the successful and very professional facilitation of this programme, and for maintaining excellent relations with a wide network of European universities that have throughout the years recognized the importance of this programme for Kosovo.

I wish the grantees all the best in the further academic achievements, as well as in the professional careers once back to Kosovo. I hope that the upcoming school year will bring you very excitement, and hope you will enjoy. We can all help to make Kosovo a place that we want it to be.

Good luck and thank you for your attention.