Former Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti addressed Christian leaders at the Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast on Wednesday to affirm Kosovo’s ongoing diplomatic relations with the Jewish state since the signing of a normalization agreement in 2021.
“We are a young country – younger, much younger – than Israel,” Hoti said during his opening remarks, referring to the Republic of Kosovo. “Today we celebrated our 15th anniversary.”
“We declared our independence back in 2008," he continued, "and since then we have made tremendous efforts to build our democracy. And we are very proud that, year after year, our country is ranking higher and higher in the global list of democracies.
Hoti has served as a member of Kosovo’s government for nearly a decade in a variety of roles, including as the nation's premier (2020-21) and finance minister (2014-17).
In February 2021, Kosovo became the first Muslim-majority nation to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state. The U.S.-facilitated normalization agreement was signed in a diplomatic ceremony over Zoom, due to travel restrictions related to the COVID pandemic at that time. The two nations’ foreign ministers signed a joint declaration to establish ties and Kosovo’s “formal request to open its embassy in Jerusalem” was approved.
“It was the honor of my life to serve as prime minister of my country. Back in September 2020, when we signed the agreement with Israel – when Israel recognized Kosovo,” Hoti said.
“It was part of the agreement that we reached in the White House together with former U.S. President Trump, when we signed the economic normalization agreement with our neighbor, Serbia. And part of that agreement was the recognition of Kosovo by Israel," he confirmed, adding that Kosovo today is an "open market economy, working hard to be a full member of the European Union and NATO."
Hoti affirmed that his country is “very proud now that we are among the very few countries that have our embassy here in Jerusalem."
He shared that in the next couple of weeks, a large delegation of Kosovo parliament members will be visiting Jerusalem as part of the Kosovo-Israeli Friendship Group.
“We are also bringing a large number of the business community here because we have established the Kosovo-Israeli Chamber of Commerce in Kosovo” as part of the nation's efforts to "increase our economic cooperation between our two countries,” Hoti said.
One year ago, Kosovo signed a new cooperation deal with the Jewish state when Kosovo’s Foreign Minister Donika Gërvalla-Schwarz visited Jerusalem to meet with her then-Israeli counterpart, Yair Lapid. The two ministers discussed bilateral ties, and signed a series of bilateral agreements in the areas of culture, education, science and film co-production.