By Dr.Vjosa Dobruna, Ambassador of the Republic of Kosovo to the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
The new King and Queen, tulips, ICJ and ICTY or football – when it became public that I was nominated as Ambassador of the Republic of Kosovo to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, I was amazed how much people in Kosovo knew about my potential duty station. The well-developed internet, media and the diaspora had obviously provided a plethora of information to the patients in my pediatric praxis, the women shelter I worked with, to friends and acquaintances.
They talked of the new Queen Maxima, the interests and accomplishments of the Royal Family as such, the beautiful Dutch flowers available in Kosovo’s capital Pristina and elsewhere. All Kosovars appreciate Queen Beatrix’s support of the people of Kosovo during the NATO intervention and afterwards.
The Netherlands, known for its strong agriculture industry far beyond tulips, has also especially contributed to Kosovo’s agricultural development. A sector that is key to the Embassy of Kosovo’s efforts to increase the economic cooperation between the two countries. The Embassy in partnership with Dutch and Kosovar institutions organized for example a conference on promoting investment in Kosovo, which resulted in pledges of multi-million Euro investments by a consortium of companies from the Netherlands, Kosovo, the Republic of Korea and Japan. Over 37 million Euros alone were allotted to the production of exquisite mushrooms in Kosovo intended for export to European countries.
Aside from Royal Family and tulips, particularly The Hague is discussed for one more reason: as the seat of the two United Nation courts ICJ and ICTY. Whereas the ICJ is praised for its ruling that Kosovo did not violate international law when declaring independence from Serbia six years ago, the opinion on the ICTY is far less positive. Kosovars and other citizens of former Yugoslavia who had suffered under extensive violence and ethnic cleansing incited by the Serbian regime were enthusiastic that this court will bring justice and reconciliation. The result was less than what was expected.
Far more positive were conversations I had on the most popular sport in Kosovo: football. Every sport fan knows of Ajax Amsterdam. Recent icing on the cake for our football enthusiasts was Ajax’ generous invitation for eight professional trainers from Kosovo to attend the training in the ‘Amsterdam Arena’.
The areas to build bridges between Kosovo and the Netherlands are numerous and go far beyond economic development and sports. The Embassy uses every opportunity to foster the bilateral relations with the Netherlands, promote Kosovo, its rich heritage and culture, and the further integration of Kosovo into the European framework where Kosovo belongs.