Norwalk Representatives Travel to Kosovo
Representatives from Norwalk are headed to the Republic of Kosovo for an international trip. Councilmember Jaki Livingston, Economic Development Director Hollie Zajicek, and Assistant Police Chief Kirk Westvold are participating in a delegation from Iowa. They join other officials and leaders from around the state that will visit Kosovo.
During their trip, Iowans will meet with diplomats and officials in Kosovo including the President, Prime Minister, U.S. Ambassador, and Parliament members. The sister-city delegates will also visit companies that have an interest in expanding into the U.S. market, and education representatives will work with local schools and universities on important exchange programs.
Economic Development Director Hollie Zajicek says, “We will also be meeting with elected officials regarding cross-government cooperation, working with industries and large businesses to establish expansion opportunities in Iowa and U.S. companies that have interest in expanding into the European market.”
Iowa’s relationship with Kosovo began in 1999 when the Iowa National Guard helped NATO to liberate Kosovo and end the Serbian war on ethnic Albanians. Iowa’s first foreign consulate opened in 2016 in downtown Des Moines and is led by Consul General Artan Duraku.
The partnership continues to grow, establishing sister-cities across Iowa and Kosovo. They include military partnerships, government cooperation, and education programs. The City of Norwalk established a sister-city designation with Vushtrri, Kosovo in 2018 at a signing ceremony in Kosovo.
Councilmember Livingston feels blessed to have such a great relationship with Kosovo, “the partnership we have with Kosovo as a whole has been an amazing and humbling experience.”
Norwalk Mayor Tom Phillips also expressed his gratitude toward the small Balkan nation, “this relationship is more than a cultural opportunity. All who are involved have learned valuable lessons and appreciation for freedom.”
Director Zajicek says Norwalk’s mission in Kosovo is very focused on economic development, trade, and national security. “Our police department has been selected by the Kosovo Police Academy to help establish a cross-training program between the two nations, similar to what our militaries have established.” She says it’s an honor for Norwalk, as the Iowa-Kosovo military partnership has become a model for other states to follow.
Iowa has also been asked to assist the Kosovo government and military officials with a defense and safety equipment manufacturing initiative that will benefit the entire Balkan region and strengthen American ally nations.
The Iowa-Kosovo delegation trip takes place annually and is organized by the Consulate of the Republic of Kosovo and Iowa Sister States. The trip will be led by Consul General Duraku, and one of the founding leaders of the partnership, Iowa National Guard's former Adjutant General, Timothy Orr.
The Iowa delegation will be in Kosovo from July 1 through July 9. This is the first trip for a Norwalk delegation since 2019.