The elegance of the Meridian House in Washington DC opened its doors for guests of the Embassy of the Republic of Kosovo to celebrate ten years since Kosovo’s declaration of independence. Ambassador Vlora Citaku greeted guests entering the large venue with a bright smile and full of energy.

Guests filled the reception room of the house built in 1919 where they ran into familiar faces and made new acquaintances while sipping on wine.

About forty-minutes in to the reception, Ambassador Citaku stepped up to the platform and delivered a speech, opening with a quote Majlinda Kelmendi, the first Kosovar to win an Olympic Gold Medal. Majlinda is extremely proud of her achievement to win a gold medal, and even more proud to win it for Kosovo. Ambassador Citaku was honored to speak of her native land, as were the next two speakers, Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj.

President Thaci delivered a speech focusing on appreciation for the United States and its efforts in supporting Kosovars in their quest for independence. He doubled down on this assertion by stating that Kosovo is the only country in the world where “Bill Clinton Boulevard runs into George Bush Street.” He was proud to be the president of a country that supports the United States more than anyone in the world and looked forward to cooperation in the future.

Prime Minister Haradinaj echoed President Thaci in a short, to the point speech about US-Kosovo cooperation in the past, in the present, and in the future.

Ambassador Citaku had the pleasure of introducing the special guest of the night, General H.R. McMaster, National Security Advisor to US President Donald Trump. General McMaster began by sending regards from President Trump for the occasion. He continued by speaking passionately about the military cooperation and support the United States provided Kosovo in the 1990s and continues to this day. General McMaster’s energy filled the room when he asserted that the United States believed in Kosovo and its leaders. As he concluded, his final word was “Urime,” the Albanian word for congratulations.

The last and final speaker of the night was Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA).  Senator Ernst served in the Iowa National Guard for nearly 23 years, including when the Kosovo-Iowa Partnership was created in 2013. She spoke fondly of her time working with Kosovars and how important Kosovo is as a sister state to Iowa. Her speech epitomized the need for strong Kosovo-US and Kosovo-Iowa relations.

As the guests clapped and laughed throughout the speeches, one could feel the support for Kosovo coming from all over the United States and the World.

Those in attendance included: Kosovo Foreign Minister Begjhet Pacolli, Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), with Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY) expected, Ambassador of Montenegro to the US Nebojsa Kaludjerovic, Ambassador of Albania to the US Floreta Faber, and Ambassador of Monaco to the US Maguy Maccario Doyle.