On Monday, the training wheels come off in Kosovo. That’s the day the international community officially ends its oversight of our country and turns full responsibility for the courts, the constitution, the parliament — everything — over to the people of Kosovo and their elected leaders. This is a huge milestone on our journey to becoming Europe’s newest nation — and a multi-ethnic, free-market democracy.

Emerging after the breakup of the former Yugoslavia and enduring war, genocide and ethnic conflict, Kosovo has traveled a rocky road to independence. It is a project that could not have succeeded without the peacekeeping efforts of the United States and NATO, which contributed tens of thousands of troops to the Kosovo campaign. Today, our success is your success.

But whether Kosovo — whose population is less than 2 million, multi-ethnic and multi-religious, and 75 percent under age 35 — continues its historic progress should concern countries well beyond the Western Balkans. If Kosovo — so far a success story for democratic values — cannot stride confidently toward a European future, then this promising new nation and many similar societies may be tempted to stumble backwards into the mindsets of the past.

Closing the International Civilian Office (ICO) — which was created by the 25-nation International Steering Group (ISG) to guide Kosovo’s early years of independence — and ending its more than four-year supervision of our government is a recognition that Kosovo has evolved into a mature, independent democracy, capable of making its own decisions without foreign oversight.

In fact, the ISG agreed to close the civilian office and move forward with Kosovo’s independence after our parliament approved amendments to the country’s constitution protecting democracy and diversity, including laws promoting cultural autonomy, religious freedom, community rights and decentralized government.

Now that authority has passed from the international supervisors to the Kosovar people, our government is addressing a host of challenges, at home and abroad. Striving to rebuild our economy and tackle unemployment in the midst of a worldwide recession and the aftermath of regional conflicts, we are aggressively seeking foreign investment and wooing companies in agriculture, mining, manufacturing, tourism and clean energy.

To keep our commitment to diversity and decentralization, we have established the Mitrovica North Administrative Office to provide services to the citizens of this Serbian-majority region. The Language Commission and the Dealing with the Past initiative are striving to help every citizen, regardless of religion or ethnicity, to find a place in a shared society and state and to face the future with confidence.

In a similar spirit, we are striving to repair relations with Serbia, recognizing that peace and good relations with our neighbor are essential not only for stability in the Balkans but also for both of our nations to be accepted into the European community.

The Kosovar people understand that full independence also means full responsibility. That is why we are working so hard for democratic consolidation, economic liberalization and ethnic reconciliation. Our progress should be rewarded with full participation in the appropriate international organizations, including integration into the European Union and NATO.

Kosovo’s place within the EU family is well-deserved. Kosovo has held multi-party parliamentary elections and is striving toward a free-market economy with low taxes, sound banking, protections for investors and legislation compatible with the EU. We have already adopted the euro as our official currency and made our national laws available in English to help foreign investors understand our legal system.

At stake are not only Kosovo’s institutions but also democratic values and the European idea. The United States and its NATO allies should be proud that, through their intervention in Kosovo, they helped prevent ethnic cleansing and promoted multi-ethnic democracy.

Now, the EU’s leaders need to make it clear to the people of the Balkans that the road we are traveling — the road toward Brussels, toward European unity — is the right road to reach progress and prosperity.

Almost two decades ago, the Kosovo War served as a catalyst for democratization and European integration. At this milestone moment, we are ready to meet the challenges and continue our historic journey.

Hashim Thaci is the prime minister of Kosovo.