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Dialogue has no alternative (Koha Ditore)

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Brussels-based correspondent Augustin Palokaj recalls in his opinion piece that “dialogue has no alternative” was the most frequent sentence used by EU officials and diplomats whenever someone had remarks about certain developments in the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia. Palokaj writes: “There is no doubt that dialogue has no alternative. One needs to be crazy, an extremist or radical to argue against dialogue. This is about dialogue as a principle of resolving conflicts and disagreements. But as far as dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina is concerned, the problem is not about the dialogue but rather the way it was initiated, continued, the results it has produced and how these results are being implemented … Dialogue was initiated at the most inappropriate time for Kosovo, even though before dialogue Kosovo was believed to have a great advantage because Belgrade and the opponents of Kosovo’s independence lost their legal argument and could no longer say that ‘independence violates international law’ because the most competent institution in the world for ruling on such matters said otherwise. Dialogue was initiated at a time when Kosovo’s top leader, regardless of the position he holds, Hashim Thaci, was mentioned in Dick Marty’s notorious report and world leaders found it difficult to meet him. At the same time, elections in Kosovo were seen by many observers as a process of ‘industrial-theft of votes’ and fraud. Problematic issues were also the election of Behxhet Pacolli and then Atifete Jahjaga as President. It was a mistake to enter a dialogue that would have such a big impact on the country’s future, assuming such great responsibilities for the country’s future and under those circumstances. Another mistake was and still is the fact Kosovo’s leaders never said told the whole truth about the objectives, topics and the format of dialogue … The European Union too had the wrong approach, because they thought that it was possible to continue dialogue pretending to respect both the Constitution of Serbia and the Constitution of Kosovo. The Constitution of Serbia notes that Kosovo is part of Serbia, whereas the Constitution of Kosovo notes that Kosovo as a sovereign and independent country. This approach has placed the EU in a position where it does not tell the whole truth about dialogue and allows both parties to lie to their public with their different interpretations. As a result, citizens were not informed or were misinformed about something that was initially believed to be aimed at improving their lives. The members of parliament were uninformed too. EU officials, who nowadays say that ‘everything needs to be discussed and decided in the Assembly’, preferred in the past that the Assembly should not have to adopt agreements with Serbia before they are reached in Brussels, but after they were signed and presented as a done deal. All the while threatening that those who oppose this will be ‘enemies of peace, of Europe and the United States of America’ … Dialogue should have been better prepared and criticism against it should not be seen as opposition to dialogue as a principle or to blame the critics of dialogue for preferring war. In fact, with the exception of Vetevendosje, no relevant political party in Kosovo was against dialogue. But the whole legitimacy from the beginning to this day was sought more from international backing than from the public in Kosovo”. Palokaj further asks: “how is it that members of the Kosovo Government can talk with Belgrade without any problem, but not with the opposition. Why is dialogue with Belgrade more important than Kosovo’s political and institutional stability? There is increased evidence of the wrong approach for not having internal dialogue in Kosovo about the dialogue with Belgrade. As a result, dialogue in Brussels has not normalized relations with Belgrade and has in the meantime caused internal chaos in Kosovo”.

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