Kosovo President Hashim Thaci is making an appearance Wednesday in an unusual forum for a head of state visiting Canada for the first time - a briefing session with the House of Commons foreign affairs committee.
A notice of the appearance initially posted by the committee suggested Thaci would be answering questions about Kosovo’s climb from the chaos and corruption it went through following a bloody civil war nearly two decades ago, iPolitics.ca reports.
Cameron Ahmad, press secretary to Prime Minister Trudeau, and Adam Austen, a senior communications aide to Global Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, confirmed on Monday to iPolitics that Thaci will be meeting with Freeland - but will not be meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Canada was one of the first to recognize Kosovo after its declaration of independence in 2008, and Thaci subsequently received support from U.S. President Barack Obama and the White House.
Canada has provided $135 million in development assistance to Kosovo since 1992, but Global Affairs describes current support as “small grants through the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, to assist local partners in Kosovo with projects aimed at improving respect for the rule of law and human rights, increasing citizenship and combating corruption.”
Despite controversial allegations stemming from his war leadership with the Kosovo Liberation Army and his role in Kosovo following the war, a 2016 power-sharing agreement Thaci reached with Serbia won support from Europe and the U.S.
A Global Affairs Canada posting describes bilateral relations between Canada and Kosovo as “good” but adds: “The development of Kosovo into a democratic, multi-ethnic state that fully respects human rights is essential for peace, political stability and economic progress in the Balkans.”
Thaci is scheduled to be the first head of state welcomed to Canada by newly installed Gov. Gen. Julie Payette in early afternoon Tuesday, following the unexpected visit to the Commons Foreign Affairs committee earlier that day. The appearance was finalized almost at the last minute, as confirmation was not been reached in the week prior to Parliament’s November recess last week. A source said the visit was planned through contacts in one of Parliament’s international exchange associations involved MPs and senators.