(Radio Iowa) Governor Kim Reynolds hosted a welcoming ceremony in the Iowa Capitol for the president of Kosovo.
Reynolds met with Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani in June when Reynolds was on an overseas trade mission.
“Thank you for accepting my invitation to visit Iowa and to attend the World Food Prize and I certainly look forward to our time together,” Reynolds said. Osmani is among the leaders from 65 countries who’ll speak at World Food Prize events in Des Moines this week. Osmani’s first stop, however, was at the Iowa National Guard’s headquarters. Over 700 Iowa National Guard soldiers have done tours of duty in Kosovo and the Pentagon has tapped the Iowa Guard to help develop Kosovo’s security forces.
“Please be reminded that the people of the Republic of Kosovo will always, always carry the deepest appreciation and admiration for the people of the United States of America,” Osmani says. “You stood with us in the darkest hours. When we needed a savior, you saved our lives and, not just that, you walked with us every step of the way.” After the break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, neighboring Serbia launched an attack on ethnic Albanians in Kosovo and the NATO alliance intervened in 1999. Kosovo has been an independent state since 2008. Reynolds notes Iowa is one of two states that host a Kosovo consulate.
“Twenty-five years after first receiving NATO’s protection, Kosovo is paying it forward, acting as a counterweight to malign Russian influence and helping maintain the region’s stability,” Reynolds said, “while helping maintain the region’s independence,” Osmani says the partnerships between Kosovo and the United States are a reflection of shared values, common objectives and strategic interests.
“What truly sets this alliance apart is the remarkable people-to-people connections that have developed over the years,” Osmani says. “One can wholeheartedly say that there exists a deep and genuine connection between the citizens of our two countries and, of course, the citizens of Kosovo and of Iowa in particular.” Osmani is a lawyer and the first female speaker of Kosovo’s Assembly. She was elected president in 2021 — the second woman to lead the country in the past 15 years.