15 October 2022
On 15 October, the Kosovo Association of the Blind organized a conference to mark the International White Cane Day, where the Deputy Speaker of the Kosovo Assembly, Saranda Bogujevci, the Director of the Office for Good Governance at the Prime Minister’s Office, Habit Hajredini, the Chairperson of the Kosovo Association of the Blind, Daut Tishuki, the Chairperson of the Kosovo Disability Forum, Bujar Kadriu, the Deputy Head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, Kilian Wahl, and the Head of the Press and Public Information Office and Spokesperson for EULEX, Ioanna Lachana, discussed the achievements and challenges faced by blind people in Kosovo.
During the conference, the Kosovo Association of the Blind awarded a plaque to EULEX for its contribution to creating equal opportunities for blind people.
The EULEX representative thanked the Chairperson of the Association for the award and pledged to publishing the upcoming findings and recommendations of EULEX's justice monitoring reports in Braille.
Read her full speech here (as delivered):
Dear Deputy Speaker of the Assembly,
Dear Chairperson of the Kosovo Association of the Blind,
Dear representatives of the government, disability organizations, international organizations and civil society organizations,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am pleased and proud to be here today, representing EULEX, the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo. As you probably already know, our Head of Mission, Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, is currently in Brussels for meetings, so he could not make it to this conference, although he would very much like to.
This interaction with you is at the core of what we are trying to do: to discuss the achievements and challenges blind people face in an open environment, as already done by the Chairperson of the Kosovo Association of the Blind.
Such interaction makes us all more aware of the realities faced by persons with disabilities, but also helps us recognize the contribution that persons with disabilities make to the well-being and the diversity of our communities and our society.
The difficulties faced by blind people are incomparably higher and more complex, which obliges us – as individuals, and as institutions – to do our part to ensure that everyone can be an equal member of our society.
Needless to say, one doesn’t need to read the several reports in order to understand the discrimination people with disabilities face daily, which is caused by the lack of access to physical infrastructure, education, medical care, justice, or employment opportunities. Taking a walk around would suffice to get a glimpse of the situation on the ground.
In such a setting, it is worth asking ourselves what we have done for things to be different or better.
As a rule of law mission, we are striving to facilitate the access to justice for everyone, including people with disabilities. The numerous physical and architectural barriers are just some of the dimensions that should be tackled. But recognizing the importance for persons with disabilities of their individual autonomy and independence, it is equally important to ensure that information is provided in an accessible format.
This is key for persons with visual impairment.
In a recent meeting with the Chairperson of the Kosovo Association of the Blind, our Head of Mission committed to soon start publishing the findings and recommendations of EULEX’s monitoring of the justice system in Braille.
This is a small step in the right direction. Along with a donated vehicle to the Kosovo Association of the Blind aimed at facilitating their daily work.
Recently, we also donated IT equipment and furniture to the Kosovo Paralympic Committee and in partnership with other international organizations, we supported the Kosovo Para Sport Games 2022.
Surely, this is not enough; creating an inclusive society is a responsibility for all of us. This is why we will keep on promoting the rights of persons with disabilities, as foreseen by the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024.
Thank you for your commitment!