09 June 2023
On 07 June, the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) organized a farewell reception for its Head of Mission, Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, who is expected to complete his term of office in June 2023. Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu, Assembly Speaker Glauk Konjufca, Prime Minister Albin Kurti, Minister of Internal Affairs Xhelal Sveçla, heads of international organizations, Ambassadors, representatives of political parties, civil society organizations, and media, as well as EULEX staff, gathered to bid farewell to the Head of Mission of EULEX during this official reception.
Wigemark thanked the Mission’s local partners and the EULEX staff for their cooperation and added that bidding farewell is never easy. “When I first came to Pristina as a young Swedish diplomat over 30 years ago, there was an air of repression and depression that would later explode into a violent conflict. Returning many years later and under different circumstances representing the European Union, an organization that my own country did not even belong to when I first came here in the early 1990s, I found a very different atmosphere with energy and hope. And a young population looking for a better future,” said Wigemark, adding: “Channeling the aspirations of ordinary Kosovo citizens, whichever community and ethnicity they may belong to, has been one of my main ambitions as Head of EULEX. It is a path that will eventually lead to full integration in the European Union and a peaceful Western Balkans region.”
During the official reception, the Kosovo President, Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu, gave a heartfelt speech, where she eloquently illustrated what the solid partnership between Kosovo and EULEX can do: “This is one of those cases when we celebrate our partnership, but at the same time express our sadness that one of the people who has contributed so much to this partnership will continue to observe us from a little far away. It is also an excellent opportunity to be able to express our gratefulness, our thanks for everything that you [Mr. Wigemark] have done during these past couple of years, and [our thanks] for representing the diplomat who knows the context, the diplomat who was here when many of us were the children of the thirty years ago among the oppressed, but also the diplomat who nowadays understands and continues to consider Kosovo as a true partner for rule of law, democracy and justice. And as the motto of EULEX says, you’ve managed during these few years to turn EULEX from a Mission with not a very good image -if I may be very honest- to one that everyone considered as a true partner for justice. Because partnerships are what -I believe- is our greatest strength.”
The evening continued with the speech of Prime Minister Albin Kurti, who reminisced about the conversations and deliberations with the Head of EULEX on a variety of topics. “In 2008, when EULEX with its extensive executive power landed in Kosova, I was not that happy. Tonight, 15 years later, when we have to say farewell to Lars, again I am not that happy,” said Prime Minister Kurti, who raised a toast to the Head of EULEX for all that he has done for Kosovo and its people.
Lars-Gunnar Wigemark took office as Head of EULEX in January 2020. He will complete his term of office in June 2023.