25th October 2013: Austrian National Day Cocktail


A particular touching moment was the presentation of the project on the liberation of 13 Brown Bears in Kosovo, that were previously held under terrible conditions in cages. In a joint effort, initiated by the wife of the Austrian Ambassador, Roswitha Brieger, the Austrian animal welfare organisation 4 Paws (Mr.Dungler and his team) together with the strong support of the Ministry of Environment, the Municipality of Pristina and KFOR, all bears were  transfered to their new Bear sanctuary Prishtina near lake Badovce.


Speech of the Austrian Ambassador Dr. Johann Brieger in Kosovo at the Austrian National Day Reception


Honorable Madame President,

Mr. Speaker 

Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Ministers, Ministers

Members of Parliament, 

Excellencies, Generals

Honored Guests,

liebe Landsleute!


Welcome to the celebrations of the Austrian National Day 2013. 

On October 26 we celebrate the moment, when Austria regained her independence and sovereignty after 10 years of occupation in 1955. Kosovo has moved beyond that stage and needs to be commended for that.

Almost exactly one year ago, in October last year, we all felt a renewed sense of optimism as the High Level Dialogue between Primeminister THACI and Primeminister DACIC had just started with the support of Lady ASHTON and Secretary CLINTON. Still fragile then, this EU lead process culminated in the agreement on April 19 between Kosovo and Serbia. An agreement that has been quoted many times since as historic but also as potential blueprint for the resolution of other conflicts in the region and the perfect proof of the not so soft power of the EU and its healing capacity to overcome deep scars from the past.

Who would have thought this possible? 

Next week, on October 28, we all will be witness to the start of SAA-negotiations. On November 3rd, we will see municipal elections for the first time organized in the whole territory – another milestone on the country’s way towards Europe – and we all expect it to be conducted in a fair and transparent manner in every corner of this country and largely free of violence. It is nonetheless good to see a strong KFOR contingent not only in theatre but also here with us tonight under the leadership of COM KFOR General Farina and his DCOM Brigadier General Wessely.

The EU progress report clearly underlined the enormous progress made and you can be proud of what you have achieved in those few years. Austria is honored to have been able to stand side by side with Kosovo on this path as a close partner and advocate of your aspirations. 

These close ties have most visibly been reflected this year with the first ever official visit of Madame President to the Hofburg in Vienna where she met with the Federal President, Dr. Heinz Fischer, who himself is a strong and persistent advocate of Kosovo’s rightful place in the community of nations. 

Shortly before – mid June - Primeminister THACI and Primeminister DACIC met for the first time - outside Brussels and New York - bilaterally at the Europa Forum Wachau in Austria, another premiere, which hopefully contributed to a further deepening of  the mutual understanding.

These activities are the result of strong and robust bilateral relations and we are happy to continue to offer our services also in a broader context. 

Looking at the latest progress report by the EU, it is clear that the accession process – and even the pre-accession process – today is more rigorous and comprehensive than in the past. Even the EU had to adapt to the new environment and get its act together to weather the challenges of the economic crisis. And so do you! Challenges are manifold and the daily work on the path towards the EU is often cumbersome. However, you are not alone and you have to accept the pre-accession and accession process not only as a challenge but rather as a real opportunity for change. Experience has shown that it will not be the big ones that will overtake the small ones, it will rather be the more engaged and faster ones that will overtake the slower ones.

It will be more and more of your own doing, how quickly you will move ahead! Key will definitely be a tangible track record of results of Rule of Law measures over time. EULEX has played a critical role in the past and will continue to do so in the future, albeit in an adapted way in line with an increase of capacity and responsibility on the part of our Kosovan hosts. 

Rule of Law is also the key for the economic development and having lessons learnt during the financial crisis in the EU, the current progress report strongly emphasizes that more needs to be done in this area as well. I am thus happy to report that only last week we did make a small contribution with the signing of the servitude contract between the Municipality of Peja and Kelkos Energy Peja for an investment of approximately 120 Mio. Euros for the building of Hydro Power plants in the Rugova valley, which will be one of the biggest private investments  in Kosova since its independence.

This leads me to the Austrian Business community in Kosova. Many are represented here tonight. You are not only contributing enormously to the development of the country and the regular income for many Kosovan households, you are also very generously supporting our celebrations tonight. Without your fantastic support this would not be possible. My special thanks go to Raiffeisen, Austrian KFOR, BIT Group, Porsche Kosova, Meridian, Kelkos, Sigma, Xella, Plazidus, Hipp, KAG Asphalt and Ceta. Thank you very much again for the great sponsoring tonight.

I also would like to extend very warm greetings to the members of our national Austrian KFOR contingent under the leadership of Lt.-Colonel Markus KOHLWEG. You and your troops continue to do an important job and contribute strongly to the positive image Austria enjoys in Kosovo. Thank you very much for that and also for preparing some well known Austrian specialties like Leberkäse, sausages and Schnitzel tonight. 

Let me also thank my dear wife and my fantastic staff at the Embassy, who have worked tirelessly for weeks to organize this evening and make it all happen.

Before coming to the end, I would like to draw your attention to one project which has touched us a lot during the last year and which has been initiated by Roswitha, my dear wife already in March 2011, shortly after we arrived in Kosovo – many of you already know about that project. It is that positive story that was reported in more than 150 media worldwide, not only in Austria by the ORF, Kurier and Kronenzeitung, but also by the Huffington Post in the United States or even the Nepal Times! It is the story of the liberation of 13 Brown Bears in Kosova that were held in cages before. This was only possible with the unwavering support of the Ministry for Environment (and Minister Dardan Gashi personally), the Municipality of Pristina, which provided the land near lake Badovce, KFOR and especially the Austrian animal welfare organization 4 Paws, contacted initially by Roswitha and who very professionally came to Kosovo in order to build the Bear sanctuary Pristina and transfer the bears to their new habitat. 

To give you an idea of what has been accomplished by joining forces, we would like to show you a short film produced by 4 Paws.

- Film - 

I am very happy to tell you, that we have the founder of 4 Paws, Mr. Heli Dungler and his team with us tonight. Thank you very much for a difficult job well done. They will be happy to share their views with you and I can only invite you all to go out to lake Badovce and see for yourself. Roswitha and I have been there only a couple of days ago and while the sanctuary is still not entirely completed, you can see how much the bears enjoy themselves.

To conclude, I would like you to join us now for the national Anthems of Austria and Kosovo, performed by the wonderful Kosovo artist Riad Imeri, and as an encore one piece from the Merry Widow where he will be joined by the soprano Egzona GERVALLA and accompanied at the Piano by Pranvera HOXHA.

Thank you very much and please join us for the national anthems.



MUSIK von:

1.       Solo – „Brüderlein und Schwesterlein“ ein Stück aus  „Die Fledermaus“ – Johann Strauss (http://www.planet-vienna.com/musik/operette/Texte/bruederlein.htm)  


(Interpreten Riad Ymeri –TENOR und Pranvera Hoxha PIANO)


2.       Duett – „Lippenschweigen“ aus der Operette „Die Lustige Witwe“ – Franz Lehar (http://www.planet-vienna.com/musik/operette/Texte/lippen_schweigen.htm)


(Interpreten Riad Ymeri –TENOR, Egzona Gërvalla-SOPRANO und Pranvera Hoxha PIANO)



Fotomaterial: Mr. Adnan Ruhani


The other photos will follow soon and you can find them under photo gallery http://www.oekg-ks.org/?cid=2,8