Petrit Selimi: "Even Serbia Started to Perceive Kosovo as an Independent State "

By Anna Shelest

Kosovo diplomacy is young, but pretty active. Today it is very important for Pristina for the world to perceive it as an equal partner. And first of all Belgrade.


On April 19th, 2013 a historical event happened, to the mind of some politicians: Serbia and Kosovo signed a treaty on normalization of relations after five years from the moment of declaration of independence of Kosovo. It has opened the way to the European Union for Serbia and has given a hope for full recognition of Kosovo’s independence. We used a possibility to ask several questions to the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kosovo Petrit Selimi, who, in particular, is a national coordinator of the accomplishment of the treaty on regional cooperation with Serbia. He is convinced: the time will come when also Ukraine shall be ready to touch upon this issue, as with the first step of Serbia on the way to final acknowledgment of the territory all other states will have difficult to keep on ignoring this matter.

— How much has the prospect of European integration influenced the desire of Pristina and Belgrade to find a compromise?


— I am sure that the decision of Serbia to sign the treaty on relations normalization was grounded on the need to get a final status of a candidate into the members of the European Union. It was an additional bonus for Kosovo government to show that even Belgrade has started to perceive Kosovo as an independent state, having its or constitution. As the treaty specifies clearly that the law and the constitution shall be observed by everybody and that Serbia doesn’t have the right to block the integration of our country with the European Union no more.


— Is there opposition inside Kosovo towards European integration of the country?


— All main political parties, constituting 2/3 of the Parliament support integration with NATO and the EU completely. According to public opinion polls the support of the European Union and the United States reaches up to 90%. You must remember that we consider Americans and Europeans as our saviors from the army Milošević in 1999. The saviors who gave us freedom. Except for that they are they main upholders of Kosovo independence, which nowadays has been acknowledged by almost 100 UNO member.


— Shall the signing of the given treaty influence the recognition of Kosovo independence by other EU members, which haven’t done this yet?


— I am convinced that this will help a lot. The next day after the signing of the treaty Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta stated, that Romania in near future should discuss the issue of Kosovo recognition in the Parliament. Excepts for that we have already noted the relief of the lines of Greece and Slovakia.


Now we work a lot to explain the countries of the world that “they can be no greater Catholics than the Pope". If the Prime Minister of Serbia Ivica Dačić met as equal with the Prime Minister of Kosovo, and if they already have signed the treaty on normalization, although it is not yet a full recognition, then why should other countries to be ashamed of direct contacts with our republic?


Today we are a sovereign member of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, as well as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Besides, Serbia has agreed not to block the joining of Kosovo of European institutions. We hope that Ukraine shall also draw its attention to this treaty and intensifies interaction with our country.

— Which concessions Kosovo is ready to make to resolve completely the conflict with Serbia and become recognized?


— Final decision regarding Kosovo we have managed to reach in course of the so-called Ahtisaari process. Kosovars were ready for a compromise in 1990-s, during peaceful resistance, but Milošević applied force and destroyed peaceful movement. We also were ready to compromise in course of the talks in Rambouillet (Paris) in 1998, but Serbia refused of the treaty.


We also held talks with the assistance of the UNO special envoy, President Ahtisaari, but Belgrade once again refused of the treaty. World democracies noted, that Servia then was not really prone to agree, that is why they recognized Kosovo as an independent and sovereign state. Therefore, there can be nothing more final as this.


Serbia will face the demand to recognize Kosovo if it wishes to become the EU member – this is for sure. Time does good for our country: the more Belgrade slows down, the bigger problems this will create for it.

— Do you think that Kosovo still need the involvement of the NATO mission within its territory?


— Yes, NATO should be involved.


Serbia does not like the role, which the North Atlantic Alliance will play, but the new Government headed by Ivica Dačić has asked him to the guarantor of the treaty and we are satisfied, as this means greater security for our people. We hop to join the NATO program “Partnership for Peace”. Gradually in future Kosovo defense forces shall reach their “full age”, and we will become the member of the organization as Albania or Croatia. This is yet a distant prospect. Today it is needed for NATO to stay in the republic in small quantity for the people to feel themselves secure inside the country. Except for that, this is also a warning for Serbian nationalists, dreaming to get back in Kosovo and make definite troubles.


Translated by EuroDialogueXXI from Zerkalo Nedeli