(DES MOINES) – For the first time in history, the President of the Republic of Kosovo will visit Iowa. President Atifete Jahjaga (ah tee feh tee YAH yah gah) will visit Iowa June 13-15 as part of the U.S. Department of Defense State Partnership Program. President Jahjaga will be accompanied by Ambassador Akan Ismaili (ah kahn ish mah lee), Kosovo Ambassador to the United States, Ambassador William Christopher Dell, U.S. Ambassador to Kosovo, Brig. Gen. Xhavit Gashi (“zshah vitt GAH shee”), Kosovo Defense Attache’ to the U.S., and Maj. Gen. Tim Orr, Adjutant General of the Iowa National Guard.
The partnership is a result of the selection of Iowa in March 2011 by the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Defense, and the National Guard Bureau for participation in the Security and Cooperation and State Partnership Programs (SPP). The programs’ goals are to link National Guard states and territories with partner countries to foster mutual interests and establish habitual, long-term relationships.
Evolving from the U.S. Dept. of Defense’s European Command “Joint Contact Team” Program established in 1992, the State Partnership Program is characterized by bilateral reciprocal relationships between the state and partner country. With a current total of 65 global partnerships, the state partner opens doors for its partner country to the full depth and breadth of U.S. capabilities, assisting in the development of democratic institutions and open market economies, as well as generating interagency coordination, cooperation and enduring relationships.
Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia on Feb. 17, 2008. The United States formally recognized Kosovo as a sovereign and independent state on Feb. 18, 2008. As of Nov. 2010, 72 countries had recognized Kosovo’s independence, including 22 of 27 European Union member states, all of its neighbors (except Serbia), and other states from the Americas, Africa, and Asia.
During President Jahjaga’s trip to Iowa, the Kosovo delegation will meet with Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, visit Iowa State University, tour a cattle farming operation and wind energy facilities, meet with community leaders and economic development experts, tour Des Moines University, and meet with senior leaders from the Iowa Judicial Branch and Graceland University.