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Thursday 16 May 2024 | Written by Supplied | Published in National


Cook Islands seeks lessons from Kosovo’s path to IMF
MFAI director International Affairs and Trade Mackenzi Wichman, left, and Jetmira Berdynah-Shala, Ambassador-designate for the Republic of Kosovo. MFAI/24051531

Officials within the Cook Islands Foreign Service were able to engage with Kosovo’s recently accredited Ambassador to the Cook Islands, Jetmira Berdynah-Shala, as part of her programme of engagements in Rarotonga last week.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration (MFAI), the interaction focused on the sharing of perspectives and approaches to small states diplomacy and statecraft, and Kosovo and the Cook Islands respective voyages to statehood.

It was an interactive session enriched by Ambassador Berdynah-Shala’s personal accounts of Kosovo’s diplomatic endeavours over its nation’s 16-year journey since declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008, the statement said.

Mackenzi Wichman, MFAI’s director of International Affairs and Trade, said: “It was a privilege for our Foreign Service to be able to hear first-hand from Ambassador Berdynah-Shala’s of Kosovo’s voyage to statehood, the trials and tribulations along the way and the challenges that persist which require navigation by their diplomats.”

“While Kosovo’s foreign policy has a Euro-Atlantic focus and ours is rooted in the Blue Pacific, there were a number of similarities in approaches to statecraft common to most small states – upholding the international rule of law, cultivating good relations with neighbouring and far countries, and accession to international organisations that can support our development agenda.”

Valuable insights were also availed on the International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion delivered in July 2010, the Court concluding that “the declaration of independence of Kosovo adopted in February 2008 did not violate international law” and the early accession of Kosovo to the International Monetary Fund, becoming the 186th member of the IMF in 2009.

Wichman said MFAI, working with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management, are presently engaged with the IMF to advance Cook Islands’ membership application.

“Kosovo’s voyage to statehood and securing membership of the IMF, among other international organisations, emphasises the importance of having powerful allies – in Kosovo’s case the United States, Germany and France, among others, who have been able to amplify Kosovo’s advocacy and international efforts, to garner international assistance when and where required,” she said.

“What also resonated with our officials in the engagement with Ambassador Berdynah-Shala was the dogged determination cultivated in Kosovo’s diplomats to serve their people unreservedly – an integral part of the advances Kosovo has made in a short period of time on the international stage.”

During her visit, Bendynah-Shala presented her Letters of Credence to the King’s Representative Sir Tom Marsters and met with Foreign Minister Tingika Elikana.

Relations between the two governments are managed through MFAI in Rarotonga and Kosovo’s Embassy in Canberra, where Ambassador Bendynah-Shala is resident.

Among a handful of initiatives to be advanced in the months ahead is uptake by an MFAI diplomat of a fully-funded diplomatic training opportunity offered by the Kosovo Foreign Ministry in the year ahead, the statement said.