Historic visit to Iowa scheduled for President of Kosovo

June 13, 2012

For the first time in history, the President of the Republic of Kosovo will visit Iowa. President Atifete Jahjaga (ah tee feh tee YAH yah gah) will visit Iowa June 13-15 as part of the U.S. Department of Defense State Partnership Program. President Jahjaga will be accompanied by Ambassador Akan Ismaili (ah kahn ish mah lee), Kosovo Ambassador to the United States, Ambassador William Christopher Dell, U.S. Ambassador to Kosovo, Brig. Gen. Xhavit Gashi ("zshah vitt GAH shee"), Kosovo Defense Attache' to the U.S., and Maj. Gen. Tim Orr, Adjutant General of the Iowa National Guard.

The partnership is a result of the selection of Iowa in March 2011 by the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Defense, and the National Guard Bureau for participation in the Security and Cooperation and State Partnership Programs (SPP). The programs’ goals are to link National Guard states and territories with partner countries to foster mutual interests and establish habitual, long-term relationships.

Evolving from the U.S. Dept. of Defense’s European Command “Joint Contact Team” Program established in 1992, the State Partnership Program is characterized by bilateral reciprocal relationships between the state and partner country. With a current total of 65 global partnerships, the state partner opens doors for its partner country to the full depth and breadth of U.S. capabilities, assisting in the development of democratic institutions and open market economies, as well as generating interagency coordination, cooperation and enduring relationships.

Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia on Feb. 17, 2008. The United States formally recognized Kosovo as a sovereign and independent state on Feb. 18, 2008. As of Nov. 2010, 72 countries had recognized Kosovo’s independence, including 22 of 27 European Union member states, all of its neighbors (except Serbia), and other states from the Americas, Africa, and Asia.

During President Jahjaga’s trip to Iowa, the Kosovo delegation will meet with Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, visit Iowa State University, tour a cattle farming operation and wind energy facilities, meet with community leaders and economic development experts, tour Des Moines University, and meet with senior leaders from the Iowa Judicial Branch and Graceland University.

Media availability will be provided as follows:

-Wednesday, June 13, 11:15 a.m.: Horticulture Research Station, Iowa State University, 55519 170th St., Ames Iowa (media point of contact Col. Greg Hapgood 515-971-6385)

-Wednesday, June 13, 1:15 p.m.: Couser Cattle Company, 20408 620th Ave., Nevada, Iowa (media point of contact Col. Greg Hapgood 515-971-6385)

-Wednesday, June 13, 2:45 p.m.: Nextera Energy (wind energy facility), 18327 720th Ave., Zearing, Iowa (media point of contact Col. Greg Hapgood 515-971-6385)

-Wednesday, June 13, 7:30 p.m.: City of Johnston reception, Iowa Gold Star Military Museum, Camp Dodge, 7105 NW 70th Ave., Johnston, Iowa (media point of contact Col. Greg Hapgood 515-971-6385)

-Thursday, June 14, 8:45 a.m.: Iowa Partnership breakfast, Hilton Garden Inn, 8600 Northpark Dr., Johnston, Iowa (media point of contact Col. Greg Hapgood 515-971-6385)

-Thursday, June 14, 10:30 a.m.: Des Moines University, 3200 Grand Ave., Des Moines, Iowa (media point of contact at DMU is Kendall Dillon at 515-271-1661 or kendall.dillon@dmu.edu)

-Thursday, June 14, 2 p.m.: StartUpCity Des Moines, 317 6th Ave., 5th Floor, Des Moines, Iowa

-Friday, June 15, 11:30 a.m.: Governor's formal office, Iowa State Capitol, Des Moines, Iowa

Please bring photo identification and business card/proof of media affiliation for access to the media opportunities. Point of contact for media questions is Col. Greg Hapgood, Iowa National Guard at gregory.hapgood@us.army.mil or office 515-252-4582 or cell 515-971-6385.