The newly elected Kosovo President, Hashim Thaci, in an interview with Voice of America said he will work with all political parties in Kosovo to overcome, what he called, differences between them. He added that his election, which was opposed by the opposition parties, was in accordance with Kosovo laws and Constitution, while denied having made agreements with the representatives of the Serb community in return for their vote. He also said that in Kosovo there is no doubt about the establishment of the special court for war crimes.
VoA: You were elected president two days ago in a session, which was permeated with political tensions, but also clashes on the street. Did this damage your election process?
Hashim Thaci: Kosovo has passed another test, with complete success. We passed an extraordinary, democratic, constitutional, legal, transparent and poltically correct test. So now it is time for all, regardless of ethnicity and political differences, to continue to work together on our priorities for the future consolidation of our state. And this is also my duty as the new President of the Republic of Kosovo.
VoA: Kosovo President, according to the Constitution, must represent the unity of the people of Kosovo. Given the objection of the opposition, will this prevent you from implementing this task?
Hashim Thaci: If you look historically, the president of the Republic of Kosovo elected two days ago, has the highest number of votes out of any president that emerged from political agreements in the Assembly in the past 16 years. Also, the newly elected president is a leader who has won six consecutive elections by votes of Kosovo citizens and the most voted leader in the past decade. Therefore, there is a strong political backing. But, in any case, I will serve all citizens of the country, regardless of ethnicity, regardless of politics, regardless of ideology and religion. I will fully respect my constitutional and legal responsibilities. I will fully respect the independent functioning of the insititutions. On the other hand, I will work with wisdom, peace, understanding and respect for all citizens, civil society, media and with all those who want to contribute to strengthening the rule of law in order to integrate Kosovo as soon as possible in the international mechanisms.
VoA: How will you work with the opposition parties?
Hashim Thaci: I will work with everyone. I have no prejudice against anyone, but I will offer my best will, provide understanding in the sense of hearing their concerns so that we are all united in the common interest of our state. Of course, we are a developing democracy and differences of opinions are healthy, but it is important that this whole process be peaceful and that we develop conclusions in the best interest of our state.
VoA: What are the steps to reduce the gap that exists between you and the opposition now?
Hashim Thaci: I do not think there is a big gap. There are political differences that have occurred. I will work with all my energy, with all my patriotic and political potential, within my constitutional mandate and legal framework, so that the differences in the political spectrum are overcome as soon as possible in the most effective way, in order to address our energy in working for the state.
Voa: There were rumors that your election as president may be contested in the Constitutional Court. Are you ready to deal with this?
Hashim Thaci: Kosovo has carried out its obligations within the constitutional and legal deadlines. We will all work together. We will respect all the independent institutions in their work. We will carry out all obligations with full transparency and accountability. I am a president elected by the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo in a very orderly and transparent process, within the constitutional and legal deadlines. All my energy will be focused in overcoming these political differences, in terms of goodwill. After taking my new post officially in April, there will be concrete initiatives to overcome these differences and to highlight the state agenda.
VoA: Your critics said that to secure enough votes to be elected, you may have made political agreements with the Serbian List. What are these agreements?
Hashim Thaci: I will serve all citizens of Kosovo… Albanians, Serbs, Montenegrins, Turks, Bosniaks, Ashkali, Roma… all communities living in Kosovo. Kosovo is the homeland of all its citizens and everyone should feel good and proud to live in Kosovo. By respecting the non-Albanian communities, Kosovo will be respected even more in the international arena. Minorities are valuable to Kosovo’s society, they have their constitutional, legal and political rights. They are Kosovars. Today, they are part of the Assembly and government, working according to the Kosovo Constitution and laws, therefore we will work at the service of all citizens of the country and I think that inter ethnic tolerance will strongly serve my vision of building a new Kosovo, a European Kosovo, a multi ethnic Kosovo. Only thus can we succeed.
VoA: But, was there any reward in return for their vote?
Hashim Thaci: Serbian MPs are part of the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo. They have their own vision, their program, their goals, so everything has been in coordination with the coalition partners, according to earlier agreements and their voting was a vote of free will in a secret ballot. Therefore, I cannot presume who voted for and who voted against me. But I would like to thank all those who believed and who took part in the voting process. Even those who have expressed their different opinions, I will respect, love and appreciate them and will work together with everyone.
VoA: The political crisis in Kosovo followed a political agreement with Serbia and Montenegro. With your new post, how will you overcome this situation and what will your role be in the continuation of dialogue?
Hashim Thaci: Building good neighborly relations is a prerequisite for Euro – Atlantic integration, but also a prerequisite for peace, stability and regional cooperation. Kosovo will continue cooperation with all neighboring countries. We have excellent cooperation with FYROM, Albania and Montenegro. We will continue with the full normalization of relations with Serbia. We are not the first countries in the world who have fought and are building peace now. So we need to take example of other countries and the only solution is to continue the dialogue. A dialogue that will normalize relations between Kosovo and Serbia, but at the same time strengthens the state of Kosovo. I am confident the agreements reached in Brussels and Vienna, are strong arguments for strengthening our state and not to the detriment of our state.
VoA: You have already resigned from the leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo?
Hashim Thaci: Of course, I have respected all constitutional and legal bounds.
VoA: Are you concerned for the PDK after Hashim Thaci?
Hashim Thaci: I feel very proud to have led a very powerful party, a party that has consolidated and strengthened our country. A party which was more of a movement with broad civic support. A party that has won many elections in the past decade. I feel very proud that at the moment I was elected as president, the PDK was the strongest party in Kosovo.
VoA: Could this change the political scene in Kosovo, given that the political forces in Kosovo mostly identify with their political leader?
Hashim Thaci: I do not think that political parties are the property of political leaders. I think that the political parties in Kosovo are gradually creating space for debate, for joint decision making, so this answer can be obtained from the new leadership of the PDK.
VoA: Even your friends and internationals have warned that major challenges await you during your tenure as president, including the possible accusations by the special court for war crimes.
Hashim Thaci: We will carry out all our legal and constitutional obligations. We have fulfilled all obligations towards this important process, and I was part of this process. I think that this process should be an advantage for Kosovo and a powerful argument for the consolidation of our country towards the international community, therefore there is no concern in the sense of hesitation because we have nothing to hide. We should give strong support to the justice system. We have developed a just war, pure war, war under international conventions… we are winners and we will give our support to this court.
VOA: Do you have personal concerns in this regard?
Hashim Thaci: We have developed a just war, we have fought against the regime of [Slobodan] Milosevic. The laws we violated were Milosevic’s laws, while we respected all the international laws and standards.