WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement congratulating Hashim Thaci as he takes office as President of Kosova:

“I offer my personal congratulations to Kosova’s new President, Hashim Thaci.  I have known President Thaci for many years.  He’s a patriot and a strong defender of the people of Kosova.  I wish him well and look forward to working with him in his new position.

“I would also like to thank outgoing President Atifete Jahjaga for her years of service to the nation.  She was a unifying force during some very difficult and divisive times for her country and always served with honor.  I know her future holds even greater accomplishments. 

“The road to this election was challenging and often acrimonious.  While robust public debate is key to a democracy, too often that debate crossed into violence leading up to the selection of the new President.  All Kosovars must recognize that the time to dispute the process has ended, and now is the moment for the country to come together.

“Like so many, I hope to see Kosova become a prosperous and strong country, with a future firmly planted in the Euro-Atlantic alliance.  That's why it is vital for Kosova to recommit to the democratic structures upon which the country was founded.  Kosova's leaders must work to address corruption head-on and help expand opportunity for Kosova's people.  At the same time, the hold-outs in Europe and around the world must finally recognize the Republic of Kosova. The years ahead will not be easy; building a democracy seldom is.  But Kosova will never meet these challenges if the country remains painfully divided. 

“So, as Kosova turns the page to a new President and a new future, I hope that Kosova will seize the moment to move forward as one nation with a bright and prosperous road ahead.”