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Des Moines to Become Sister Cities with Pristina, Kosovo

Des Moines to Become Sister Cities with Pristina, Kosov

November 9, 2018

Iowa’s longstanding relationship with Kosovo becomes even richer this month when the City of Des Moines joins with Kosovo’s capital city, Pristina, in becoming sister cities.

It is a great opportunity for Iowa and Des Moines to be partners with Kosovo and with Pristina specifically. Let’s work to further that relationship culturally, educationally, business-wise and so many other ways.

Pristina, Kosovo becomes Des Moines’ fifth sister city along with Kofu, Japan; Saint-Étienne, France; Shijiazhuang, China and Stavropol, Russia.

Related: Iowa Film Director: Capturing the State’s Special Relationship with Kosovo

While the two cities are culturally different, they are similar in size — Pristina has a population of about 204,721, while Des Moines’ population is estimated at 217,521. Both are capital cities in the heart of their countries and play important roles in finance, commerce, media, entertainment, arts, international trade, education, service, research and health care.

Kosovo already has a sister-state relationship with Iowa. It became the first country to ever open a diplomatic office in the state of Iowa when the consulate opened its doors in Downtown Des Moines (DSM) in 2016.

“When they put their Kosovo consulate office in Downtown DSM, it says we are a player in the international arena,” Roger Nowadzky, chair of the Greater Des Moines Sister Cities Commission, explains.

Iowa Ties to Kosovo

Iowa’s involvement with Kosovo goes far deeper than its state government. Three other Iowa cities — Johnston, Fort Dodge and Norwalk — also have sister-city relationships with cities in Kosovo. Sioux City and Dubuque are working to establish such relationships.

Hundreds of soldiers with the Iowa National Guard have been actively involved in peacekeeping in the small, primarily Muslim country in the Balkans that declared independence from Serbia in February 2008.

The country has also ties with Iowa’s educational system — from the training and technical education provided in Kosovo through Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC), to memorandums of understanding that increase collaboration between Kosovo’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the University of Iowa College of Law.

“We’re in a global economy and we should have a global workforce,” is how Rob Denson, President of DMACC, explains it.

A 57-member delegation from Iowa visited Kosovo last May. Nowadzky said residents of Greater Des Moines (DSM) and Iowa can learn from the people of Kosovo who have survived genocide, came through a civil war, and are tolerant of different religions and political groups. Meanwhile, he said diplomats from the newly formed democracy in Kosovo can learn from DSM and Iowa about nation-building, openness and transparency.

The City of Des Moines’ sister-city relationship with Pristina was facilitated by the Greater Des Moines Sister Cities Commission, which helps to start dialogues between people with similar interests and needs in the areas of business, industry, culture and governments. It was approved by the Des Moines City Council earlier this month, and will be formalized with a signing by the two mayors later this month.

This latest development is a step forward in the Global DSM initiative, a trade and investment strategy by the Greater Des Moines Partnership to establish DSM as a global community through bolstering global trade and foreign investments and leveraging international talent.

Des Moines is truly a melting pot of the world. We have people from all over the world in Des Moines. Let's grow our relationship and grow the importance of those relationships between people from around the world for good relations, good business, good culture and good friends.

Through the Global DSM initiative, the Greater Des Moines Partnership works to establish Greater Des Moines (DSM) as a global community by bolstering global trade and foreign investments and leveraging international talent.

Frank Cownie

Frank Cownie is the longest-serving mayor of the City of Des Moines. He was elected in January 2004 and re-elected in 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2020. He has served in leadership roles on the national and international stage representing issues he is most passionate about: Local control, green initiatives, jobs and the economy.