On 30 May 2018, at the Ministry for Culture, Youth and Sports, a MoU on the establishment of a “Japanese Martial Arts Center” in Pristina, was signed. The signatories consisted of the representatives from United Nations Kosovo Team (UNKT), Ministry of CYS, Municipality of Pristina, Kosovo Olympic Committee (KOC) and the Kosovo Karate Federation under the mutual interest of promoting Sports for the empowerment of Youth and Sustainable Development.
The Parties are envisaged to initiate cooperation for the establishment of this Japanese style martial arts facility, which is foreseen to become a cultural and social hub for the young population in the region. Kosovo’s young athletes have already shown their potential to succeed in the area of individual sports (particularly Japanese disciplines such as Karate, Judo, etc.) with the achievement of their first Olympic Gold medal in 2016, among other international successes. This initiative marks a historical cornerstone in the development of Sports within the region and is a first of its kind for the UNKT to be engaged in.
Below is the speech by UN Development Coordinator Ulrika Richardson:
“I would like to thank the Minister for Culture Youth and Sports of Kosovo, Mr. Kujtim Gashi, for kindly hosting this ceremony for the signing of this MoU, along with deputy mayor of Pristina, Mr. Selim Pacolli, Mr. Besim Hasani, of the Kosovo Olympic Committee, the President of Kosovo Karate Federation, Mr. Ismet Krasniqi, and all present.
This cooperation signifies a great advancement of the Sustainable Development Goals in Kosovo through the promotion of Sports. Martial Arts has been a true success story for the youth of Kosovo, with Majlinda Kelmendi winning a Gold Medal in the most recent 2016 Rio Olympics, and many young Kosovars achieving international success, particularly in Karate and Judo. Martial Arts, especially the disciplines originating from Japan, are known for their strict discipline and spiritual wisdom which includes physical mastery, providing social inclusion, fostering trust among youth and building further peace.
It provides students with confidence in own their bodies and allows them to go beyond themselves to protect others. This is an essential element for promoting confidence, self-control, and wisdom for social interaction and dialogue. It is a particularly important initiative for women in Kosovo, as most athletes who win international competitions in martial arts are women. The promotion of Japanese disciplines also coincides with the next 2020 Tokyo Olympics to be hosted in Japan, and many of the young Kosovar athletes are hoping to earn a place to compete on this prestigious world stage.
To promote such potential at a global level, the United Nations has recognized Sports as an essential facilitator and promoter of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, covering 11 out of the 17 Goals. The UN Secretary General repeatedly notes his appreciation and pride for the cooperation between the UN and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), as well as the values for which the IOC and its sister organization, the International Paralympic Committee, hold. Sports is a strong tool to build bridges of trust for collaboration across communities and regions, as well as between people in creating social cohesion, and sustaining peace in regions where it was once considered difficult to attain.
The United Nations Kosovo Team also recognizes the already proliferated success of Japanese martial arts, and its potential for further encouraging social dialogue, gender equality, and youth empowerment in Kosovo. Therefore, UNKT, the UNDP and other UN agencies express its dedication to this partnership, and endorses any support necessary to the success of Martial Arts and Sports athletes in Kosovo.
This is a great initiative, and we are ready to continue our liaison with our partners to support the establishment of this facility, thereby providing youth with an essential recipe for success.
May the spirit of Sport always win! Thank you.”