On Monday, the United States Embassy in Pristina held a conference to launch the new Threshold Program made in partnership with the Millenium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and USAID, to make an attempt to reduce poverty in Kosovo through economic growth.
Colleen Hyland was present for the conference in the absence of Ambassador Greg Delawie, who is currently out of the country for business purposes. Hyland is acting as the Chargé d'affaires, which is the position for a diplomat that is currently in charge of the embassy in the absence of an ambassador.
Hyland gave a speech commemorating the beginning of the Threshold Program, by acknowledging those responsible for providing assistance and funding to begin the new chapter of fighting poverty in Kosovo.
Among those present for the conference was Kosovo Prime Minister Haradinaj, US Congressman Eliot Engel and Acting MCC CEO Jonathan Nash.
“Congressman Engel, we’re honored to welcome you here this morning, and it seems truly fitting that one of Kosovo’s greatest friends and supporters should be here to help mark this occasion,” acknowledged Hyland. “It only takes a quick ride down the street in Peja named for you to get a sense of the unique place you hold in Kosovo’s heart.”
Engel has supported Kosovo since the war in 1998-99, by contributing to the fight against ethnic cleansing and thoroughly voiced his support for the independence of Kosovo in 2008. The continuation of his support for Kosovo by assisting with the implementation of this program.
“I know we all feel optimism, pride, and determination as we transition now to implementing the $49 million Threshold Program, with the knowledge that the real measure of our collective efforts will be in the impact felt in people’s lives all across Kosovo,” said Hyland.
Hyland also thanked Prime Minister Haradinaj in her speech.
“Prime Minister Haradinaj, we know your government has the weighty responsibility of implementing the program with efficiency and accountability for all of Kosovo’s citizens, and we’re looking forward to partnering with you,” applauded Hyland.
The new foundation aims to boost progress and form better partnerships in the energy sector by providing better access to affordable and reliable electricity by “fostering a market-driven approach to lowering energy costs for households and businesses,” according to MCC’s website.
MCC wants to provide support to poor households by cutting basic energy costs, thus allowing them to allocate their money to other needs such as education or entrepreneurship.
The program will also open up new employment opportunities for women, and aim to reduce obstacles for independent power producers so they can enter this vital sector.
In addition, MCC’s threshold program will work with Kosovo’s government to “strengthen accountability and transparency by increasing the availability and use of data to guide decision-making.”
The program will do this by improving access to court case information, as well as environmental and demographic data. This will help citizens to become more motivated to become involved with their government.
“Kosovo is a young country on the path to Euro-Atlantic integration. Despite progress, it still faces many challenges. At its heart, this $49 million program is about empowering the people of Kosovo to meet these challenges,” said Jonathan Nash in a statement released by the MCC.
The Kosovo Threshold Program was signed on September 12 of this year in Washington D.C by Nash and Kosovo President Hashim Thaci. It will now begin its efforts to improve the country after the conference held on Monday.
“MCC will support the Government of Kosovo in its efforts to strengthen its institutions, rule of law, and governance, and create new opportunities for growth that reduce poverty and advance regional stability,” he added.