- Kurti and Mustafa to project the new government today (RTK)
- Haxhiu: LVV-LDK agreement could be reached by the beginning of next week (RTK)
- Haziri: There is no issue that prevents agreement with LVV (media)
- Kurti: Association is basically dead (New Perspektiva)
- Kurti: Strengthening our armies should be a priority for both governments (media)
- Kosovo Consulate opens in Dusseldorf (media)
Kurti and Mustafa to project the new government today (RTK)
Leaders of Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) and the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) Albin Kurti and Isa Mustafa are expected to meet today in order to conclude the negotiations on creation of the governing coalition. At today’s meeting, the two leaders will project the plan for the future government. Both political entities are optimistic with regard to the reach of the agreement on coalition very soon, respectively by the beginning of the next week.
Haxhiu: LVV-LDK agreement could be reached by the beginning of next week (RTK)
After the meeting of the working groups of the Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) and the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), Albulena Haxhiu from LVV said all program issues were finalised.
“As far as the governing program is concerned, we have reached complete, 100 percent alignment. On the issues concerning division of responsibilities, there are going to be other meetings before Monday, while reach of the agreement will happen very soon,” Haxhiu said.
She added that there are chances for the reach of the final agreement by the beginning of the next week.
Haziri: There is no issue that prevents agreement with LVV (media)
Lutfi Haziri, deputy leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) said after the meeting with the LVV working group that share of responsibilities and government structure are the matters that will be discussed in the following days among the leaders of the two political entities.
Haziri said the issue of the post of the President of Kosovo was overcome.
“There is no issue that prevents reach of the agreement,” he said.
Kurti: Association is basically dead (New Perspektiva)
New Perspektiva carries an extensive interview Transcript with Albin Kurti, Vetevendosje Movement’s candidate for Prime Minister. Below find the full interview:
NP: What are Vetvendosje’s prime goals for the outcome of Dialogue?
AK: First week in office I will start a dialogue with Serbs of Kosovo. With a bottom-up approach. Dialogue for development, open, democratic, social dialogue with Serbs of Kosovo. First month in office, I will review the agreements that were signed during the six years of the previous dialogue, 2011 – 2017, in order to check the extent of their implementation and their impact on the real life of the citizens of Kosovo. Likewise, in the first month in the office, I plan to meet Mr Borrell, Josep Borrell, the successor of Ms. Mogherini, in order to have a dialogue with Brussels for a dialogue with Belgrade – we have to prepare it well. And I can foresee that dialogue with Serbia may start before elections in Serbia but cannot be concluded before that. Dialogue with Serbia will be one of my top priorities but not the top priority. My top two priorities are jobs and justice; economic development with labor intensive investments and fight against organized corruption, and organized crime and high level corruption. So, I want Serbia to recognize the Republic of Kosovo. Independent state of Kosovo. It will be good for both Kosovo and Serbia, but I am not going to run for that. So dialogue will be at the service of helping Serbia to get normalized. So, as long as Serbia doesn’t face it own past, I don’t think it’s a normal country. Serbia must face its past. So, normalization of relations between our two countries goes through the normalization of the state of Serbia – it’s very important. Ultimately, of course, we see that this dialogue must be concluded with Serbia changing its own Constitution, and Serbia recognizes the independent state of Kosovo. And Serbia pledging to European integration and peace in the Balkans. We are not expecting this to happen any time soon taking into consideration the nature of the regime in Serbia.
NP: What do you think has been lacking in the Kosovo side approach, by the Kosovo government, over the last 8 years, since 2011?
AK: I think Kosovo’s governments, all these years, after the declaration of independence, have been quite passive, non-assertive and, especially, they did not ask from Serbia to face it own past and ready to apologize for crimes committed here 20 years ago and pay for the war damages caused. I think it’s a very unfortunate event that our governments were not at the level of responsibility task to ask this from Serbia. Around 10,000 unarmed and unprotected civilians were killed, over 1,000 children were there among them. Then 20,000 women raped, 120,000 houses and other objects, buildings, burnt down or destroyed, 860,000 Albanians de- ported in the spring of 1999 outside Kosovo, over a million had flee from their homes, and 1200 cultural artefacts they’ve stolen from our museums, and bank deposits and pension funds they also chairs – they didn’t pay a single euro to us for this! And, in contrast, they just now say we want north of Kosovo because we’ve lost Kosovo. And they want to put the priority of their mourning over loss of Kosovo within the Milosevic mindset over the suffering of the people of Kosovo caused by the state which was led by the regime of Milosevic.
NP: How will you implement Kosovo’s legal obligation to establish an Association of Serb Majorities Municipalities?
AK: Association of Serb Majority Municipalities (ASMM) is basically dead, due to resistance to people, actions of opposition, and, in particular, decision of the Constitutional Court of 23rd December 2015, which said that none of the 7 chapters of ASMM is in compliance with our Constitution, and altogether 23 articles of our Constitution are basically violated by this ASMM. You can have an association of municipalities but it cannot be one-ethnic because it will go against the character of the Constitution of the independent Kosovo. So, for me it was no surprise that once this decision of the Constitutional Court was published on the 23rd of December 2015, but Serbs of Kosovo protested, only Belgrade. We have 132.000 Serbs in Kosovo. One hundred thousand are grown up people, at least, and none of them protested, no single letter of protest for this Constitutional decision Court! They didn’t care much because Serbs do care, just like Albanians do, for jobs and justice. And TS not this ASMM and I think the name they chose for this is absolutely not a non-starter because in 1991, 14 municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina created their Association which declared independence in January 1992, and in February 1992 got its own Constitution. December 1995 and Dayton, Ohio, international recognition, named the Republika Srpska. So, it’s a non-starter. So, I think we should discuss the rights of the people, the needs of the communities, not about the new con- structures that will render us dysfunctional in a Bosnia-like model. So, in B&H you have Republika Srpska which is not a state but it is a republic within B&H which is a state but it is not a replic. In Kosovo, they want to create the ASMM here as a kind of Republika Srpska light , which would have elements of a state but not a republic, but inside a state of Kosovo that would be- come less of a republic. So, I think those solutions of previous centuries are not welcomed here and they do not do well to Albanians, or Serbs, for that matter. Serbs of Kosovo are under pressure of Belgrade – international observers showed this regarding elections on 6th of October 2019 – they said there was intimidation, pressure on Serbs of Kosovo. There is more democracy in China than in Serb majority municipalities in Kosovo because of pressure from Belgrade, and international reports showed this. You had industrial fraud in May 2017 elections and then in October 2019 elections, and between assassination of Oliver Ivanovic in January 2018. We have to do something to address this. So, if you create ASMM in this context, when Belgrade defines being a Serbs as party membership rather than national identity, party membership of Vucic’s party, then you would just legitimize this pressure from Belgrade, you would give nothing to Serbs of Kosovo. This is why this is an additional argument as to why we cannot accept it.
NP: What do you mean exactly when you talk about replacing the 100% tax with reciprocity?
AK: Reciprocity is a constructive and healthy criteria for good neighborly relations and bilateral relations in general. Kosovo driving license is not accepted in Serbia. If our truck driver with Kosovar goods goes to Serbia, he can get a fine of € 800; the goods that he might have in the truck are not going to be allowed there because the production certificate will write Republic of Ko- owl – they’re not going to accept it! Then in Gracanica you can have a Serb teacher who got her or his diploma at the University of Nis, Kragujevac or Belgrade but an Albanian who graduated in University of Prishtina cannot be taught in Bujanoc, Presheva or Medvegja. And this actually was signed as an agreement in Brussels but not implemented by Serbia. We need reciprocity in our relations, we need symmetry to have fairness in place in our bilateral relations. NP: So you’re talking about reciprocity on these kind of technical issues? AK: Yes, documents, certificates, travel documents, driving licenses, for the freedom of movement of people, services, capital, vehicles, buses, trucks and cars. So, full reciprocity. On the 7th of December 2011, our parliament adopted a resolution for full political, economic and trade reciprocity with Serbia, but no government so far implemented it.
NP: It’s always been the EEAS policy to let two-page leaders report back on what they discussed and agreed in Brussels during the facilitated talks. This has been caused in misinformation and lack of transparency. How would you like a Prime Minister and probably the leader of the, one of the leaders of the Kosovo side, change this?
AK: In the past, they said that, in the end, the agreement will be passed in the parliament with 2/3 majority. I think we should not wait for the end for the 2 / 3rds majority, we should start from the very beginning with two thirds majority. I will create a negotiation team with two levels. One level, professionals and experts, technical level, and other political representation level, where I would like to bring in opposition as well. And bringing them in means that we will create a national consensus. We should not allow Serbia as a wedge in our political scene as we have seen in the previous government, when they were passing with 59 votes out of 120, the majority of those present in the plenary session, they passed the state delegation for dialogue with Serbia; It’s not OK, you can’t do that. So, I will have a lot of internal dialogue for dialogue with Serbia. We need a national consensus. There are many other things that we can quarrel about. Serbia shouldn’t be one of them. And, of course, I will report regularly to the parliament because I would have to chair the team.
NP: You mentioned Mr Borrell who would literally be in a few days time taking up his post as the EU High Representative in a few days. He has said his first trip will be to Kosovo. What thinking and preparations have you already made for this visit? What are your goals with this?
AK: Well, I want to see if Mr Borrell will break with Ms Mogherini. It’s important that know this. There is an open wound from the last two years of secret talks between two leaders regarding land swap or territorial exchange. Our president apparently had two years to convince people of Kosovo to engage in this adventure. He failed to do so, instead he triggered the biggest protest against himself ever in Kosovo’s afterwar periods, namely the 29th of September 2018 protest, when tens of thousands of people turned out on the streets of Pristina under the motto ‘A people doesn’t subjugate that one man ‘, that a man, that an individual being. So, we will need to close this wound. Their land swap project failed. The idea is not dead yet. I will propose three principles to close this wound. Number 1: No deal without dialogue. Because that’s what they were trying to do, secret talks for a deal, for a quick fix. And they were concentrated a lot on the fiesta after the deal rather than the dialogue before the agreement. Second principle: No dialogue with maps. We can discuss what should be the rights of the people, how we are going to relate to each other as two countries, what can we do to work together and cooperate, bilaterally or multilaterally; what are the needs of communities on both sides of the border. But we can’t do this with maps, as if we are some WW1 army generals with not that sharp pens over maps trying to redraw and play with fire of geopolitics. But no dialogue with maps! And principle number three – well, because maps will exist, we know that – No maps with presidents around them. Only experts on demarcation. No presidents around maps. So wherever there are maps, I don’t want to see presidents around. This is principle number three. And look forward to dis- cuss this with Mr Josep Borrell. This is crucial. To prepare the future dialogue, we have to close this wound.
NP: You said you wanted to talk to the Serb community, and you were saying that to several years – it is very much one of your key goals, to have normalization with them. I can’t believe that you will only start doing this on Day 1 of the new government! How much talking have you al- ready done with Kosovo Serb citizens, what are your learners and what are your immediate aims to resulting from this?
AK: I met with many Serbs all over Kosovo while I was in opposition but they were very often meetings which they were afraid might get public and then they get hit by parallel structures of Serbia. So, now there will be a different phase because we will be in the government and we will be able to protect them. Because it was difficult for me to meet with the Serbs of Kosovo while our government was engaged in talks with Serbia about them, instead of talking directly to them. So, as opposition, it was difficult to do this dialogue from below while we had this other dialogue from above, of powerful governments on both sides. On the other hand, to have a successful dialogue, you need to be able to support it materially, financially, which government can do. If Albanian farmers and Serbian farmers in one village agree about seeds and fertilizers and food processing, and agricultural market and how the state should subsidize it, then we can back them up. So, I think now it is much better and I look forward to meet with them and accomplish some joint projects. Not a dialogue for reconciliation. I don’t need to reconcile with a Serb from Gracanica. What did they do to me? I didn’t do anything to them either. They are reconciliation will take place when Serbia recognizes Kosovo, and faces its own past. You know, reconciliation is about the past, agreement is about the future. Reconciliation is about facts, agreement is about values. With Serbia, even when we agreed on the values, we did not agree on the facts. What happened in Kosovo, they don’t want to recognize, they don’t want to acknowledge. I think that they do not want to recognize the independence of Kosovo because they do not want to recognize what they have done here. So, it has been shown as insufficient to agree on values, let’s say European integration, peace, democracy, development, security, cooperation and all these things, as long as we don’t agree on facts. They agree on values when you don’t agree on facts renders fragile every agreement. And this reconciliation should not happen between Albanians and Serbs from Pristina and Gracanica. Dialogue from below therefore should not be dialogue about reconciliation, but dialogue for development, jobs and justice. And, you know, mafia, organized crime, is multi-ethnic. So, let’s do some multi-ethnic fight against organized crime which is multi- ethnic. Jobs and Justice.
NP: When are you planning to meet President Vucic and / or Ms Brnabic?
AK: Well, I was supposed to go to Berlin now in a conference with Ms Brnabic but she canceled that because she had some other things to do. Of course, we different settings, we’re going to meet, for I’m not much of an event to be honest, you know. And it’s not that, of course now I will be participating at different levels and I will be meeting them for sure. But dialogue under the facilitation of Brussels, that’s a separate thing while these others things around, they may occur. NP: Dialogue and normalization are linked to Kosovo’s EU membership, or its future EU membership – how important is that to you? And what would you change in your government’s policy to deliver improved SAA implementation? AK: We want to join the EU. Sooner, the better. Even though we know that it is not going to hap- pen any time soon. I think best would be all 6 countries in the Western Balkans to join into the EU at once, by 2030 or something like that. Just like the 10 countries from the Baltic states and Cyprus joined on 1st January 2004. If Serbia enters the EU before Kosovo and Albania, I can foresee that Greece did nothing to Northern Macedonia what they will do to us. And if we join at the same time, it is going to be much easier for all countries around us, like Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Greece to accept it. Meanwhile, I believe we need a sort of mini Marshall plan, just like the US did a Marshall Plan for Western Europe, we need a mini Marshall Plan for the Western Balkans. Let’s say divided towns like Mostar and Brcko, like Mitrovica and Shkup / Skopje, and also to bridge skills gap, like labor market equity education, because there is a huge skills gap that causes migration of youth, and we have to fight authoritarianism, we have to fight corruption; we need democratisation and we have to be careful about the membership negotiations for Serbia into the EU did not democratize Serbia; Serbia was opening chapter after chapter in these EU accession talks and this did not increase the quality of democracy inside Serbia. Freedom House, Transparency International noticed a lot of regress there – so joining the EU should help countries democratize further not the other way round. We have to make sure of this. And normalization of relations be- tween Kosovo and Serbia should not be at the expense of normalizing Serbia itself and normalizing Kosovo itself. They are not only normalization of relations between units but normalization of units themselves as well, of these two states. Serbia is not a normal country because it’s not a democratic, plus it didn’t face its own criminal past. Kosovo is not that normal country because of corruption and lack of development; and also the divided town of Mitrovica. So we have to normalize, to heal these two countries. And, you know, in psychology, normalization means the absence of confusion between reality and fantasy. We must get rid of the confusion between reality and fantasy. So, normalization means also the second sentence of Serbia’s Constitution has been removed from there.
NP: I’ll go to my last questions, and it links back into when you were talking about values and facts. Is there any sign of thinking how to improve the atmospherics, to create a trust so issues can be solved in other fora and the Dialogue leads to what I call an acceptance of Kosovo’s existence and does not remain a procedure combined with a policy of trying to undermine this; a policy of coexistence and acceptance of Kosovo, recognition of Kosovo, which puts peoples, human security and stability first?
AK: I think that in the end, we need to support progressive voices all over the region in civil society and in politics. Not only strong politicians who can deliver, but also voices of dissent, value-based ones, who might not seem powerful enough but maybe this is so because they have not been helped and supported from the outside enough, because many of the changes that happened in Europe is because of outside support, including D-day in Normandy, as we know, which helped a great deal to end the WW2. So, there is more support needed from outside the democratic countries, progressive ones, liberal voices who are against authoritarianism, and so on and so forth, so this is one thing that should be done. Then, I think, it is important to notice how much the EU and the Balkans are important to each other. Not only the EU for the Balkans but also the Western Balkans for the EU. Maybe in a few decades historians will write that in the 20th century there were not two world wars (1st and 2nd). It was one with two episodes and it all started in Sarajevo, as we know. Balkans is very important, you know. Let’s do something to include them at once in the EU and some intellectuals, some diplomats, some political- cyans, should come up in the EU and say Western Balkans 6 Initiative for 2030, I don’t know, some new (Vaclav) Havel in EU, who would come up and say this. It is important, you know, some vision not just being cautious, just like this, how it can get worse, what we can lose, but you know like, Mr Juncker said “not enlargement in my mandate,” as if he can control historical processes, you know, and we got Brexit. So it’s like, if Europe isn’t going to expand, it’s going to shrink, it’s such a serious project. And Balkans has a huge diaspora in Europe, I think we should address them as a great potential for democratization and development. Our best professors and students are not in Kosovo more, they are in Germany, Switzerland, UK, Scandinavia. Also, our most successful business- men are not in Kosovo anymore, with the exception of these tycoons, oligarchs, who are one digit number, but successful businessmen are not here. They are brainwise and moneywise they should be used as a way to really rejuvenate our countries, 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and 20 years after the wars ended.
Kurti: Strengthening our armies should be priority for both governments (media)
Albin Kurti, leader of the Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) visited on Friday areas in Albania affected by the terrible earthquake. He met with Deputy Prime Minister Erin Brace and MPs Lindita Nikolla and Eglantina Gjermeni.
“Strengthening the armies of Albania and Kosovo should be a priority for our governments, because it would help to cope with such situations, which unfortunately come unexpectedly,” Kurti wrote on his Facebook account after the visit.
Kosovo Consulate opens in Dusseldorf (media)
Kosovo’s Acting Deputy Prime Minister and Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Behgjet Pacolli attended the inauguration of the Kosovo General Consulate in Dusseldorf.
He said that the inauguration of this consulate was aimed at strengthening Kosovo’s relations with Germany, providing better and effective consular services to our diaspora living in the area around Dusseldorf in the NRW.
According to him, this consulate will promote economic and trade relations with the largest economy in Europe.
“I am happy that during my mandate Kosovo’s diplomatic and consular network has expanded and we are closer to our diaspora,” he said.