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Soon, 5 recognitions

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Enver Hoxhaj, has announced that in the next few weeks, Kosovo anticipates five new recognitions. “In the coming weeks, there are five countries which we anticipate will make public their recognition of Kosovo”, said Hoxhaj, adding that that in the meanwhile, the MFA has drafted a working plan to increase the number of recognitions of the Republic of Kosovo. And while these recognitions occur, next week, Hoxhaj will travel to New York to participate in the next meeting of the Security Council.

Prishtina, 3 February – The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Enver Hoxhaj, said that internationally and in regional cooperation Kosovo will be represented only as a Republic, as is prescribed in the Constitution.

In this interview for “Epoka e re”, Hoxhaj said that it was not acceptable to remove the title Republic, as Serbia claims. “Kosovo’s recognition is a political and geographical reality. It is an irreversible fact. In every international presentation, Kosovo will be represented by its state symbols, with the title Republic. No one should be concerned about this. We are working to strengthen the Republic”, said Hoxhaj, who also announced that in the next few weeks and months, five countries are expected to recognize the Republic of Kosovo. “In the coming weeks and months there are five countries which we anticipate will make public their recognition of Kosovo”, said Hoxhaj.

He talked about the process of ending the supervision of independence. According to him, the country’s institutions have received strong support from the International Steering Group, for ending the supervision of independence during 2012. He also stated that next week he will travel to New York to participate in the next meeting of the Security Council.

“Epoka e re”: Mr. Hoxhaj, what are MFA’s priorities for this year?

Hoxhaj: This year, the top priority is ending the process of full recognition of the Republic of Kosovo. To this end, we have drafted a working plan, on the basis of which we plan to visit every part of the world, in order to increase the number of recognitions of the Republic of Kosovo. There are some countries which are in the process of making public recognition decisions. In the coming weeks, there are five countries which we anticipate will make public recognition of Kosovo.

Our second priority is Kosovo’s membership in political, financial, economic, trading, educational, cultural and sports organizations. This year, we will have a very dynamic agenda. We will apply for membership to many organizations. In this context, we have a concrete working plan, we know the standards and criteria. At the same time, we have held discussions with partners of the Republic of Kosovo, to support the membership process in these organizations. Recognition and membership make real and complete the constituting of Kosovo as a full partner of the international community or states in the world.

Our third priority is to bring more investment to the Republic of Kosovo. To this end, we have drafted a new strategy in the context of economic diplomacy, where we plan to have more investor conferences or economic forums in various European countries like: Hungary, Germany, France, Slovenia, Croatia and Macedonia. In addition, we plan to hold an investment conference in Japan. Similar conferences are expected to occur in the Gulf States, in Saudi Arabia, in the Emirates, in Kuwait and Qatar.

We also plan to hold a conference in New York or Washington, in order to promote investment in Kosovo there. One of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ objectives will be not just strengthening our bilateral relations with EU member states, but above all strengthening the relations of the Republic of Kosovo with EU institutions. Visa liberalization and contractual relations are critical for us.

This year, we will work hard so that Kosovo joins the European Bank for Development and Reconstruction. As well as this, we think it is important for the MFA together with the Ministry of Integration and other ministries, to make the necessary pressure so that Kosovo signs a stabilization and association agreement, which is the genuine framework for integration in Europe.

“Epoka e re”: How much cooperation with regional countries has the Republic of Kosovo achieved in order to strengthen its position in the region?

Hoxhaj: I think that we must strengthen our cooperation with countries in the region, not just politically, but also diplomatically and economically. This year, I visited Montenegro and Albania. In the coming months, we will have more activities which strengthen Kosovo’s position in the region. In this context of strengthening Kosovo’s international subjectivity, I think that diplomatic relations will be established with more states that have recognized the Republic of Kosovo. We will sign many agreements that are being prepared, and which were initiated last year. In the context of public diplomacy, we will organize various conferences which focus on presenting an objective and real image of the Republic of Kosovo in various countries in the world and engaging various leading personalities from politics, economics or the media, as well as Kosovo’s friends, to promote the state of Kosovo internationally.

“Epoka e re”: Will you have a more prepared agenda for lobbying this year?

Hoxhaj: Last year I visited 34 states at the invitation of their foreign ministries. I don’t think there is another ministry in the region which has made official visits to 34 states. Besides this, I have met about 60 leading figures, including presidents, prime ministers and foreign ministers, which have not yet recognized the Republic of Kosovo. So I have visited many countries that have not recognized Kosovo. Some visits were public and some were not public for various reasons. This year, we will have a very clear lobbying agenda. In many world countries, in Latin America, the Middle East, Asia or Africa, as Kosovo’s representatives we will make our request for recognition. We have fixed some dates which are almost confirmed for visits to countries in the next few weeks.

“Epoka e re”: Mr. Hoxhaj, while you are talking about how the Republic of Kosovo will be presented in the world, in the region it is anticipated to be represented only with a footnote...

Hoxhaj: I think that the position of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo has been very clear with regard to this. Kosovo is an independent and sovereign state. Kosovo’s recognition is a political and geographical reality, so it is an irreversible fact. In every international presentation, Kosovo will be represented by its state symbols, with the title Republic. No one should be concerned about this. We are working to strengthen the Republic.

“Epoka e re”: How risky is it if Kosovo accepts being represented only with a footnote?

Hoxhaj: The Republic of Kosovo has entered into technical dialogue with the Republic of Serbia, which is a dialogue addressing the question of regional cooperation. However, I can assure you that in the meeting held between Prime Minister Thaçi and the special envoy of Ms. Ashton, Mr. Cooper, he was very clear that for us it is unacceptable to remove the title Republic. Kosovo will be represented as a state in every international meeting or conference.

“Epoka e re”: Still in the north there is no law and order. What steps has the Kosovo Government planned for this during this year?

Hoxhaj: Certainly the situation in the north has not changed in the sense of removing barricades, although we must bear in mind that what happened in July 2011 changed the core of the situation, being the most important act of extending the Republic of Kosovo’s territorial sovereignty. 2011 was a successful year for Kosovo, BUT we must make pressure internationally for the removal of barricades in the north in all ways possible.

“Epoka e re”: How much does the situation in the north affect Kosovo’s image?

Hoxhaj: Last year and this year, starting from the Government, the Presidency, the Kosovo Parliament and Kosovo’s citizens, we raised our position that the situation in the north may put into question the entire security architecture of the Balkans.
Dismantling parallel structures, removing Serb police, paramilitary structures and MUP members is something which is now supported by the 25 states which support the process of ending the supervision of Kosovo’s independence. So there is apparent progress in the north. Many relevant states who are important actors internationally are well aware of the situation in the north. This year, in the Security Council or in meetings with foreign ministers we will raise the demand of the Kosovo Government that these parallel structures must be dismantled.

“Epoka e re”: Do you think that Kosovo’s institutions have the capacity to end supervision of independence by the end of this year?

Hoxhaj: The debate about ending the supervision of independence should be seen in geographic, political, historical, social and cultural terms. If we consider the entire meeting at Vienna on January 24, the conclusions of this meeting, the strong and unilateral support given by all member states of the International Steering Group, it is clear that during 2012 supervision of independence will end. The meeting of Prime Minister Thaçi with party leaders in Kosovo which occurred these days, and which produced a Resolution in the Kosovo Parliament, supporting this process and the necessary obligations, demonstrates that Kosovo in the last four years of state formation and state building has achieved considerable progress.
Our state is much stronger than it was four years ago. The work we have done implementing the Ahtisaari Plan, the sustainability of institutions, social and economic sustainability and political stability is incomparable with other states in the region.
If we compare Kosovo’s progress in the last four years with Bosnia’s lack of progress over 16 years, there is not even debate there about ending a mission of international supervision. In addition, with the challenges facing our neighboring state of Macedonia, in creating a multi-ethnic society, I think we are an example of success in the region.

“Epoka e re”: Mr. Hoxhaj, next week on Wednesday you will participate in the next meeting of the Security Council. How prepared are you for this meeting?

Hoxhaj: In the next Security Council meeting we will discuss the report of the UN Secretary General. My duty as Foreign Minister is to inform those present about the progress of the Republic of Kosovo during this period, its consolidation of statehood, strengthening its international subjectivity, and technical dialogue with Serbia. In addition, I will inform those present about the situation in the north of the country, which unfortunately remains unchanged. Furthermore, I will talk about the successes we have had in the European agenda of the Republic of Kosovo during 2011, and the fact that 2012 for the Kosovo Government is a year of European Kosovo.

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