Published on: 09 January 2017

Interview of Minister Ditmir Bushati for "Panorama" Newspaper: Haradinaj case has affected Kosovo’s marrow and undermines the dialogue with Serbia

Interview of Minister Ditimir Bushati for "Panorama" Newspaper



Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati considers unjust and condemnable detention by the French court of the head of AAK (Alliance for the Future of Kosovo), Ramush Haradinaj. In an interview for "Panorama" newspaper, Bushati said that detention has affected the ‘marrow’ of the State of Kosovo and undermines its dialogue with Serbia. While praising the unification of Albanian parties’ positions in Macedonia, Bushati stated that their platform is an innovative effort that goes beyond party programs aimed at addressing substance. Asked about the risk of change of the US policy towards Albanians in the Balkans, the Foreign Minister stated that despite change of US administration, the role that US will play in the region will continue to be essential for the further democratization of the region.

Pursuant to a Serbian arrest warrant, the French justice detained and left in prison the head of AAK, Ramush Haradinaj. What is the purpose of Serbia through this warrant we know that Haradinaj has been acquitted by the Hague tribunal?

Detention of former Prime Minister, is unjust and reprehensible. The charges against Haradinaj began in 2004 when then-prime minister, left office to go to The Hague to face international justice. Both rooms of the Hague Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia freed him of all charges. These are universally recognized facts. Therefore, the issuance of arrest warrants by Serbia, abuse with Interpol and neglect of international justice decisions is a deliberate act that aims to destabilize Kosovo, to denigrate the image of a personality and through him taint Kosovo Liberation War.

How would you comment the criticism of opposition leader Basha about the attitude of Prime Minister Rama towards the Haradinaj case?

I felt sorry for the party in the name of which Basha speaks. He failed to be even in the level of Berisha, who did not allow himself to consider the case of Haradinaj as a matter out of which he could extract political gain.

How do you find the statements of Vučić, Prime Minister of Serbia and President Nikolić about detention of Haradinaj?

Their statements show that they live in the dark past, unfortunately being part of those who still think that politicians can make political gain of Kosovo. The use of "Victimology" as a political method, combined with the "theatricality" and "aggression", can produce surprising effects in the short term, but it is totally counterproductive in the long run.

Do you expect that Haradinaj's arrest and Serbia's position will have an impact on the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue enabled with the support of the European Union?

I cannot say what will be the decisions of Kosovo. Dialogue is a process which Albania has supported since the very beginning, believing that it is in favor of Kosovo and as part of its commitments to friends and partners, with the European Union. This process is not to satisfy Serbia, but to normalize relations between the two neighbors.

After six years of dialogue, I think time has come for a "reassessment of commitments". The EU must first be vocal and engaged to prevent attitudes and actions that undermine the process of normalization. It should at the same time be engaged not only in reaching agreements, but also to ensure their implementation. On the contrary, the agreements would turn into worthless paper. Note the ambiguity that exists on the wall that was set up in Mitrovica. A process that was encourages and mediated by the EU as a process to build bridges is threatening to turn into process for building of walls. As it usually happens in such cases, a wall that requires only few days to set up, requires years to return to a bridge through diplomatic negotiations and mediation.

With the passing of time, the view that Serbia is the spoiled of the West which, at the same time, is flirting with the East is getting crystallized. It conceives the dialogue with Kosovo as an opportunity to "return" to Kosovo, questioning the functionality of the newest state in Europe. Dialogue with Kosovo has opened to Serbia the doors of the EU, although Serbia is still stubbornly refusing to join the EU positions in the common foreign and security policy. The contrast could not be greater when Kosovo is requested the special court, is denied free movement on sui generis criteria, is suggested models of structures and arrangements which, being untested and considering the aggressive and continuously tolerated implication of Serbia by the EU, can result useless for its operation in the future.

Haradinaj case has affected Kosovo’s marrow. Therefore, I would not be surprised if this case also affects the progress of the talks. Who could think that we can go to Brussels to agree on often sensitive issues when such intentional destabilizing actions are taken? Normalization between Kosovo and Serbia requires wisdom, patience and the willingness to continue. Normalization does not happen by creating obstacles or raising walls where bridges and contacts should be strengthened.

This attitude of official Serbia seems to prove the statements of Kosovo politicians that the issues between Kosovo and Serbia will not get resolved by the meetings of Prime Minister Rama with Prime Minister Vučić.

Jean Jaurès, socialist leader of the early twentieth century suggested that we should distinguish the distance between "ideal" and "real". Serbia's actions are far from ideal and our attitudes are realistic.

Normalization of relations between Albania and Serbia depends on the pace of versatile normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia, and the implementation of commitments undertaken by the latter in the process. In support of the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, we will continue to ask Serbia to respect agreements reached, not to block Kosovo's membership in regional organizations, not to take destabilizing steps against Kosovo and encourage Serbian community in Kosovo to participate in its legitimate institutions.

I do not believe that anyone has missed the fact that Prime Minister Rama said about Kosovo in Belgrade exactly what he has said in Tirana, in Brussels, Berlin or Washington. Certainly, the fruits of this commitment approach will take time to materialize. Although I have heard and read carefully any criticism in this regard, none of the critics has so far presented an alternative platform to enhance regional cooperation and promote the European path of the Western Balkans  

It seems that the Albanian parties in Macedonia are unified on a single platform. What role did Tirana diplomacy play in the finding of this compromise and do you think that there will be another stand of Albanian parties that will participate in governance?

Albanian parliamentary parties have both, the great responsibility, and also the chance to give Macedonia a stable majority and affect the country out of the crisis, re-enter the path of reforms and the process of Euro-Atlantic integration. Through their ballot, voters have asked from political actors of the two constituent components of Macedonia a new contract for the land

This is exactly what we said to Albanian political actors: to show themselves up to the long-term interests of the Albanians of Macedonia, to assume the responsibilities required from them, to respect the demands of their constituents, to rise above the ideological divisiveness and come together through a program that runs on best of their choices and Macedonia.

In this context, we support the agreement of the Albanian parliamentary parties, which constitutes a clear and coherent platform to respect the spirit of equality in Macedonia. We also support the creation of an intra-party table, as a mechanism for coordination and harmonization of political action, as well as for internal and external communication.

The platform emphasizes the spirit of the Ohrid Agreement, a cornerstone for stability and development of Macedonia, and the need to promote measures to strengthen European, democratic and multi-ethnic Macedonia. This statement is a diagnosis of those issues that have not found the solution by incomplete implementation of the Ohrid Agreement. The platform is an innovative effort that goes beyond partisan programs aimed at addressing substance. Of course, it is required that the Albanian political parties detail the instruments through which the objectives of the platform will be implemented, along with the relevant deadlines.   

It is obvious that through this platform, Albanians aim at a more democratic, stronger and more integrated Macedonia. A Macedonia where equality and dignity are cardinal concepts.

It is said that foreign secretary of Trump administration is pro-Russian and the USA can leave the Balkans. Will there be changes in US policy for the Albanian factor in the Balkans?

The USA are a strategic partner for Albania and Albanians and an indispensable factor for the democratic stability and security in the region. Every stage of consolidation and construction of our state is inextricably linked to the US contribution. Their role will continue to be essential for the further democratization of Albania and our region, despite the change of administrations.

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