Kosovo this week celebrates its 10th anniversary of independence it won with the assistance of the Iowa National Guard, and Maj. General Timothy Orr, the Iowa National Guard’s adjutant general, will be in Kosovo Thursday to help mark the occasion. 

But first there was business in Iowa. This morning, at the newish River Center across the street from Principal Park in Des Moines, Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj spoke of the partnerships with Iowa that eventually resulted in the opening of the Kosovo consulate — Des Moines’ first — in the Saddlery Building above Court Avenue Brewing Co. 

The session over breakfast was largely ceremonial, with Kosovo Ambassador to the United States Vlora Çitaku, the Des Moines-based Consul General Xhavit Gashi, Iowa Sister States exec Kim Heidemann and Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey in attendance. 

Afterward, Jay Byers, CEO of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, said his organization has been working with a couple of businesses based in Kosovo that are considering operations in Iowa. He declined to name them. 

In an interview, Prime Minister Haradinaj said that his country hopes to build trade with Iowa, but that the early work has involved relationship-building.

“I am very happy to be here to see how much is possible to happen, not only in the military but also with the economy, with the joint energy of the Iowa people and the Kosovar people,” the prime minister said.

“It’s early in the exchange. Our consulate here makes it possible. It connects people. The people of Iowa did a lot for the republic through their love and passion as the Iowa soldiers served” in Kosovo during the war, he added. “Gen. Orr is very well-respected in Kosovo.”

“Trade, business, investments” are in the mix of discussions, both Iowa activity in Kosovo and Kosovar businesses in Iowa, Haradinaj said. 

The consulate opened in Des Moines in January 2016. 

Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia formally on Feb. 17, 2008.