World news story

The Queen's Birthday Party 2018 in Kosovo

HM Ambassador, Ruairí O'Connell's speech during the Queen's Birthday Party.

The Queen's Birthday Party 2018 in Kosovo
The Queen's Birthday Party 2018 in Kosovo

Mister President, Mister Speaker, Mister Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Ministers, Ministers, Mayors, MPs, Generals, Professors, Journalists, Leaders of Business, Friends

It is really so wonderful to see you all here tonight. Thank you for joining us to celebrate the 92nd Birthday of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second.

The reign of our Queen has marked a remarkable period of change and development. She has seen Britain transform and grow for over 60 years. Throughout all these momentous changes, she has been a symbol, and a source, of stability and perseverance, an example of public duty.

Britain too has seen great changes, as has Kosovo. Tonight, we celebrate not just the Birthday of our Queen, but also the 10th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Kosovo and the UK. 10 years ago we launched a new phase of our relationship. It is a source of pride that we were the first country to recognise Kosovo, and to establish diplomatic relations. It is a source of personal pride that I was there to witness – and in my own modest way, help - the birth of Kosovo as Europe’s Newborn country.

Today we are celebrating a relationship that has blossomed over ten short years. When I think of the relationship, I think not just of our diplomatic relations, the founding documents of which are on display here tonight. I think also about the support the UK Government has given to Kosovo in that time, to help build a better Kosovo for all. I think about our growing co-operation against crime, where Kosovo is now helping us catch criminals who threaten us both. I think about the growing co-operation between the Kosovo Security Force and the British Armed Forces; we have trained your officers and other ranks for ten years, but as I speak here tonight, a Kosovo Security Force officer, Ismail Hoxha, is training British soldiers in the United Kingdom. I think about the protection that the British Army has given to Kosovo through KFOR, but also think about the extraordinary act of bravery of Dervish Gashi, a former KLA member, who saved many lives during a terrorist attack in London. I recall the ceaseless diplomatic lobbying that the UK has done to integrate internationally, but I also recall the solidarity Kosovo has shown to the United Kingdom, joining the fight against ISIS and speaking out against the awful chemical attack in Salisbury.

Altogether – I see a relationship that is becoming a true partnership.

Finally, remembering that no-one has ever been criticised for speaking too short, I would like to thank our Diamond Sponsors for this evening, and all our other sponsors who have made this celebration, and the Brit Talks earlier today, possible. Your enthusiasm to get involved shows the strength of the relationship between the UK and Kosovo! I want to thank my team, who have worked tirelessly for weeks to pull this huge event together. I want to thank my wife Elida and my family for all the support they give us. And I want to thank everyone here for being a living part of the relationship between Kosovo and Britain. Here’s to the next ten years!

Now finally, I would like to propose a toast on behalf of the British Government to the President and the people of Kosovo. Here’s to your health!

Published 20 April 2018