Saturday, January 21, 2012

Atifete Jahjaga

Atifete Jahjaga (born 20 April 1975) is the fourth and current President of Kosovo. She is the first female, the first non-partisan candidate, and the youngest to be elected to the office. She is also the first female head of state in modern Balkans. She previously served as the Deputy Director of the Kosovo Police, holding the rank of General Major the highest among women in Southeastern Europe.

Early Life and Education
Jahjaga was born in Đakovica where she attended primary and secondary school. She graduated from the University of Prishtina Faculty of Law in 2000. In 2006/07, she attended a graduate certificate program in police management and criminal law at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom. She has also received extensive professional training at the George C. Marshall European Centre for Security Studies in Germany and the FBI National Academy in the United States.

Police career
After the Kosovo War, Jahjaga began working as an interpreter for the international police. Later on, she completed training to become an officer and gradually sought promotion to higher ranks, initially to major, then colonel, and finally general major. She was first deployed with the border police and then transferred to the training department.

Jahjaga held the position of deputy director of the Kosovo Police, and briefly filled in as acting general director in 2010. While serving as police officer, she drew the attention of American officers and diplomats who presented her before senior U.S. officials on special occasions. Her pictures with U.S. President George W. Bush during his visit to the FBI National Academy and with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her visit to Kosovo were among the few distributed through the internet before she was placed on the national spotlight as a presidential candidate.

President of Kosovo
On 6 April 2011, she was announced as a consensual candidate for president of Kosovo by the Democratic Party of Kosovo, Democratic League of Kosovo and New Kosovo Alliance, and supported by the US Ambassador in Kosovo, Christopher Dell. Although she enjoyed a reputation as a police commander, she came out of relative obscurity as a candidate for the high office of the state[clarification needed], with most of the public and political leaders unaware of her political leanings.

On 7 April, she was elected President on the first round of voting by the Parliament; of 100 MPs present, 80 voted for Jahjaga and 10 cast a ballot for Suzan Novoberdali. To date, she is the only president to be elected on the first round of voting. Only Kosovo's 1st President Ibrahim Rugova has received more votes, being appointed by the Parliament by a 88-3 vote in 2002, in the third round and winning by a landslide in direct presidential elections in 1992 and 1998.

In her inaugural address, Jahjaga stated that one of her main goals as President is to secure Kosovo's membership in the European Union and the United Nations. "The ideal of all Kosovo is membership in the EU and a permanent friendship with the United States. I believe and I am convinced our dreams will come true," she said in her first speech to the Parliament.

Personal life
Atifete Jahjaga is married to Astrit Kuçi, a dentist, and has no children. Media reports have stressed that neither she nor her husband own real estate and that they rent a modest apartment in Pristina.

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