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Recognition is not stopping

Hoxhaj: Political dialogue is not obstructing recognition

Enver Hoxhaj talks to “Epoka e Re”

Kosovo’s chief diplomat, Enver Hoxhaj, said that political dialogue with Serbia will not affect recognition of the Republic of Kosovo. He declared that Kosovo’s diplomacy is functioning as normal and that the process of recognition will not stop. Hoxhaj announced that in the coming days, Kosovo will be recognized by various states which are concluding their recognition procedures, but he did not mention their names. With regard to criticism of the opposition, Hoxhaj said that some political parties lack a vision about how foreign policy works.

Shqipe HETEMI

Prishtina, 8 August – The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Enver Hoxhaj, said on Wednesday that any possible meeting between Kosovo’s and Serbia’s political leaders would not affect new recognition of Kosovo, “but is about improving inter-neighborly relations.” “Technical dialogue had no effect. Kosovo is an independent, sovereign state and almost half of the member states of the UN have recognized Kosovo. There will be new recognition also in the future. No one can stop or block the process of recognition, and even less so will political dialogue with the Republic of Serbia,” said Hoxhaj in an interview for “Epoka e re”.

Kosovo’s diplomatic chief announced that in the coming days, Kosovo could be recognized by various states that are concluding recognition procedures. “I am sure that in the coming days various states, which have almost concluded the procedure for recognizing Kosovo, will do so” said Hoxhaj.

“Epoka e re”:
Mr. Hoxhaj, this year was not very successful for Kosovo with regard to recognition. Up to now, Kosovo has been recognized by a very small number of states. Why?

Hoxhaj: At the outset, I would like to emphasize that this year President Jahjaga, Prime Minister Thaçi, Deputy Prime Minister Pacolli and I have traveled to different parts of the world, where we have held meetings with representatives of various world states in order to raise the number of recognitions. We have also sent other Government representatives who have participated in various meetings, to request recognition by various states. Besides this work, we have asked our international friends, our Euro-Atlantic partners, to help us increase recognition with particular states. Besides official visits, during this year I have met over 40 foreign ministers at the bilateral level, without mentioning other meetings in the margins of various conferences. Throughout this year, the process of recognition has not stopped, and there have been some recognition from different states. I am sure that in the coming days, some states which have almost concluded the procedure of recognizing Kosovo will do so.

“Epoka e re”: Which are those states?

Hoxhaj: It is for the representatives of those states to make public when they will recognize Kosovo, and not for me. It is important though that this recognition occurs quickly.

“Epoka e re”: Regardless of your work and that of other representatives of Kosovar diplomacy, there are very few concrete results. As Foreign Minister, have you identified where the problem lies?

Hoxhaj: The reasons why a state delays the decision to recognize Kosovo are of an internal character and relate to specific political situations. This year, we have worked intensively to increase the number of recognitions. Recognitions occurred and will occur in the future. So, we have done our part of the job, while insisting regularly that particular states recognize the Republic of Kosovo. During this period, we have sent notes about recognition to all states which have not recognized the Republic of Kosovo; we have drafted strategic documents; we have offered background information, historical and political arguments and of international law, why a state should recognize Kosovo. In addition, we have offered models of how a state should recognize the Republic of Kosovo. Hence, there will be recognition and I believe what has occurred this year should be seen as a success. What I have promised, I am doing, because I work 15 hours a day.

“Epoka e re”: On the contrary, the opposition criticizes you for being non-functional.

Hoxhaj: Besides full recognition of the Republic of Kosovo, the MFA has other priorities and in no form and no manner should the entire work of the Ministry be reduced to the process of recognition. The first goal is protecting, presenting and promoting Kosovo’s national interest. We have done so very dynamically. For this, the public can give a better opinion than any particular political subject. The second goal is promoting the political and economic interests of our state. The third goal is representing the interests of Kosovo’s citizens. Up to now, Kosovar diplomacy has been extraordinarily effective, active and dynamic. So, we are doing a good job. But, naturally we can work even harder and better.

“Epoka e re”:
Mr. Hoxhaj, do you agree with the assessment of the former chief of diplomacy, Skënder Hyseni, “that the lack of results in diplomacy is a result of the multiplication of people in this field”?

Hoxhaj: I saw his position on this issue. I can say that this is a lack of vision about how foreign policy works. The more people included in this field, the more dynamic foreign policy is. Every country in the world has representatives assigned to particular issues. It is sufficient for anyone to watch the international media to understand how others operate and to understand that there are representatives, and special emissaries for different foreign policy issues. Therefore, I see nothing wrong with multiplying the number of people involved in this field.

“Epoka e re”: But it is clear that there is irritation and lack of coordination between foreign policy representatives.

Hoxhaj: No, on the contrary, there is full coordination between all actors in foreign policy. Deputy Prime Minister Tahiri has dealt just with dialogue, whereas Deputy Prime Minister Pacolli’s duty is the recognition process and bringing in investment, while as Minister of Foreign Affairs, I have addressed foreign policy in totality, in accordance with the Constitution and Laws.

“Epoka e re”: This year, many recognitions have been announced, but have not occurred. Is the process being damaged by pre-announcements?

Hoxhaj: I cannot say if the process has been damaged. Personally, I have never spoken and do not speak on behalf of other states. Very often, during the two years in which I have been Foreign Minister, I have met my counterparts, prime ministers, presidents of various countries sympathetic to the strong aspiration and trust of Kosovo’s citizens in the darkest time of slavery and during the war for freedom. So, without doubt, those who deserve the credit for why a state recognizes the Republic of Kosovo are our citizens and their irreversible will. The work of the MFA is to represent the state of Kosovo with the best political and intellectual preparation and to make regular and daily pressure to increase the number of recognitions, to protect Kosovo’s interests and to improve Kosovo’s image, and to obstruct initiatives which aim to damage our new statehood.

“Epoka e re”: Israel has made it known that it is reviewing the possibility of recognizing Kosovo’s independence. Do you have information that this recognition will occur?

Hoxhaj: Last year, and this year, we have cooperated institutionally with Israel, and we have had contact at various different levels. However, with regard to when Israel will decide to recognize the Republic of Kosovo, this is an internal issue for this state. It is important that Israel’s political and diplomatic representatives have received explanations and have listened to the position of the Republic of Kosovo, about why it is necessary to recognize the independent and sovereign state of Kosovo.

“Epoka e re”: Considering Israel’s influence, how might this affect eventual recognition in the international arena?

Hoxhaj: The recognitions that come are sovereign decisions of independent states. It is up to each state in accordance with its political, strategic and geopolitical interests to take such a decision. We, as the Kosovo Government, have made maximal efforts to travel in different parts of the world, to pass on our positions to each state that has not recognized Kosovo and to ask for political and diplomatic support. Whereas, with regard to how much recognition by one state can influence other states, this is a debatable issue. With many states that have not recognized Kosovo, we have made maximal efforts to have regular institutional cooperation and to have different channels of communication, with regard to formal and official recognition of the Republic of Kosovo, as well as cooperation in different fields.

“Epoka e re”: Mr. Hoxhaj, it has been announced that in September, political dialogue to resolve the issue of the north will start. How will this dialogue affect the recognition process?

Hoxhaj: Before starting technical dialogue, we had the International Court of Justice (ICJ) situation. Serbia didn’t simply ask a question about the legitimacy of Kosovo’s independence at the ICJ, but it sought a mechanism to block the recognition process to create public international confusion over Kosovo. Luckily, Serbia didn’t manage this. In addition, technical dialogue did not block the process of recognition since last year and this year, we had various recognitions. When Serb diplomats tried to misinterpret technical dialogue, I was present to explain to those states that it was about technical issues. Furthermore, in any possible future meeting between Kosovo’s and Serbia’s political leaders, which relates to the improving of relations between the two states, and improving inter-neighborly relations, without doubt, it is our obligation to clarify to those states that have not recognized our country, that Kosovo is an independent and sovereign state and will always be part of the landscape of independent Balkan states and no one can stop the history of Kosovo’s state building. Thus, any process cannot directly affect recognition of Kosovo.

“Epoka e re”: Even political dialogue?

Hoxhaj: Technical dialogue had no effect. Kosovo is an independent, sovereign state and almost half of UN members have recognized Kosovo. There will be new recognition and no one can stop or block recognition, even less so, the political dialogue with the Republic of Serbia

“Epoka e re”: The problem remains also recognition by five countries of the European Union. Concretely, what constitutes the lobbying strategy of these countries?

Hoxhaj: It is important to note that these countries are not a block and should not be seen as such. These countries have no legal argument not to recognize the Republic of Kosovo. The reasons why these countries have not managed to take a positive decision about recognizing Kosovo relates to the example that Kosovo may set as a precedent for various ethnic groups. However, it is apparent that during these years, Kosovo’s independence has served peace, stability and security in the region, and in no other country in the world, in Europe or other continents has it acted as a precedent, therefore these five states have no political or legal argument for not recognizing Kosovo.

“Epoka e re”: Minister, what have you done so that these countries recognize Kosovo?

Hoxhaj: Last year, and this year, we had genuine institutional cooperation with these countries and we have managed to soften their position toward Kosovo’s European integration. We know that some of these countries have openly come out in favor of Kosovo’s integration into the European Union. Despite the fact that these countries have not recognized Kosovo, as a Ministry we have cooperated regarding all bilateral affairs.

“Epoka e re”: What will be the role of the Diplomatic Academy in affirming Kosovar diplomacy?

Hoxhaj: The Kosovo Diplomatic Academy will draft strategic and topical foreign policy documents. In addition, it will train Kosovo’s diplomats, as well as organizing conferences, forums, regional meetings and seminars for issues regarding foreign policy in general. Its headquarters will be in Prizren and it will have a very professional staff. In other words, it will be a powerful bridge linking Kosovo to big political decision-making centers.

“Epoka e re”: Who will lead this academy?

Hoxhaj:
It could be one of our ambassadors who are now part of the diplomatic corps of the Republic of Kosovo, but it could also be an academic. Our duty is to find the right person and with the necessary professional preparation.

“Epoka e re”: According to you, who deserves to lead this Academy?

Hoxhaj: I am waiting for proposals from my colleagues, and then a correct decision will be taken. Up to now, we have not had any proposals, as the Academy’s board must be established, and then there will be a process of consultation. What is important is that the Diplomatic Academy will be functional within weeks.

(“Epokën e re”)

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