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Honourable Speaker Veseli,
Honourable Prime Minister Haradinaj,
Honourable Cabinet Ministers,
Honourable Members of Parliament,
Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
fellow Europeans and friends of Europe,
We are gathered today to celebrate the anniversary of Robert Schuman's declaration which started the path toward peace and unity in Europe.
The founding fathers of the Union sought to end conflicts in Europe by replacing the use of force with the force of law and with cooperation.
We have come a long way since that time. European integration has gradually, brought together 28 countries with approximately 510 million people.
Even the idea of conflict between European powers is nowadays unthinkable.
The European Union today is the world second largest economy; one of the most prosperous parts of the world, where technological innovation, environmental protection, climate change management and sustainable development continue to flourish.
These all have been achieved through commitment of all member states to the common principles of liberty, democracy and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and of rule of law.
In the turbulent and often unpredictable times we live today, it is important that our friends worldwide look at our Union and see a strong partner committed to peace and prosperity.
Across the globe we are the biggest trading partner, the biggest investor, the biggest donor for humanitarian and development aid.
It is important that we remind ourselves of these achievements not only to revel in our success but also to put the challenges facing us into perspective.
Ladies and gentlemen, friends of Europe, colleagues
We also here today to mark the very important work the EU is doing in Kosovo.
Let's remember that member states once enemies are now friends and partners in our Union. We had war but we now have peace and prosperity. We want this to be our message for the Western Balkans partners.
Winning peace requires more than stopping violence. The people in the Western Balkans, the people in Kosovo, expect and want more.
They expect progress and prosperity; they expect jobs for themselves and for their children. They expect security and respect for human dignity, a pluralistic society, equality and rule of law.
Their expectation is also ours. This is why the EU has been instrumental in international efforts to build a new future for Kosovo since 1999.
The EU today is Kosovo's biggest trade partner, biggest investor and biggest donor.
Indeed since 1999, Kosovo has received more than €2.3 billion in EU assistance and close to €1 billion in support to international presence.
The EU has also been helping Kosovo to build and improve its institutions and offers advice and assistance towards its socio-economic development.
The Western Balkans strategy, adopted in February, sends a very strong and unambiguous signal about the European perspective of the entire Balkan region.
But it also details the roadmap to get there. Kosovo has made progress in recent years. But a lot remains to be done.
It is important that Kosovo, and its neighbours, also seize the opportunity of the new momentum created. The best way to do that is by delivering on Kosovo's commitments; in bolstering Rule of Law and Education, in implementing the reforms agreed in the European Agenda.
Our support will remain unwavering but at the end it is you, Kosovo's leaders- Kosovo's people, who are the owners of the process.
Your efforts are the ones that will decide what kind of future Kosovo will have.
I am confident that the desire and ambition for progress exists and I hope that they will be matched by the right policy choices.
I am encouraged to see that the European Perspective brings everyone together. Consensus and unity of purpose is needed by all Kosovo's political forces and all Kosovo's communities.
As Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice President of the Commission once said:
"Europe is what we, Europeans, make of it- every single day, each one of us"
And if you allow me, I DO think that Kosovo is one of us.
For this reason two years ago we established a tradition of honouring an individual or an institution in Kosovo that have been promoting and advocating the European idea in Kosovo. Our first winner was Majlinda Kelmendi Kosovo's most successful athlete and last year the ward went to Erzen Shkololli a renowned Kosovo curator and artist. You will shortly hear the name of the winner of the third European of the Year Award but before that I would like to give the floor to Speaker Veseli.