The long-awaited statue of former President Bill Clinton will be unveiled in Pristina at the end of month, the team behind the tribute has said.
Agim Rexhepi, head of the Friends of the USA asociation, which has previously hosted many events to show gratitude to the US for its support of Kosovo, said that the statue will soon be moved to its home on Bill Clinton Boulevard.
“We want to show that we can organise and coordinate an important and meaningful event such as this one with cooperation between civil society and institutions,” he said.
Bill Clinton is viewed as a hero by Kosovo Albanians, following his support for NATO’s intervention in 1999.
Rexhepi said that the idea to create a statue of Bill Clinton was initiated by sculpture Izeir Mustafa after the conflict. It received financing from a commercial bank.
After failed attempts to receive permission to place the statue in the city, Mustafa contacted Friends of the USA for assistance. The approach was greeted warmly and the statue was eagerly assumed as a key project by the association.
“We decided to help him since he became discouraged, and we were able to secure the location of the statue soon after,” said Rexhepi.
In 2007, Friends of the USA obtained permission from Pristina Municipality to use the land directly under a large Bill Clinton poster hanging on the side of an apartment building on Bill Clinton Boulevard.
But even after the support from the municipality and the government was garnered, its backers have still struggled to complete the project, which Rexhepi insists is in its final stages.
“The government has given us 30,000 euros to finance the organisation of the inauguration of the statue, which has to be a great spectacle because of the importance of the work Bill Clinton has done for us,” he said.
As far as the attendance of the former president is concerned, Rexhepi said that he has received positive signals from Clinton’s people.
“He [Bill Clinton] has received an official invitation from the government and, more importantly, the people of Kosovo, who will never forget what he has done for us,” he said.
The official date for the unveiling has still not been announced, as Clinton has yet to confirm whether he will be able to travel to Pristina.
Rexhepi told Balkan Insight that he expects the event will be held around the end of September.
The Bill Clinton Statue is 6m high, with the base included. He is holding the May 24, 1999, document which allowed the insertion of US troops into Kosovo.
The statue is currently in Tirana, receiving a coating of bronze.
Rexhepi added that the area surrounding the future statue will converted into a square, with shrubbery and seating for visitors.