The Great Semantic Battle
It could be fitting to remember that exactly 13 years ago, we had quite a tragic and hopeless situation with hundreds of thousands of Kosovars roaming as refugees in the Kosovar forests. Kosovar political leaders were gathered in Rambuillet to negotiate a settlement. Up to the very last minutes discussions were ongoing on different words or expressions that would satisfy the century-old quest for freedom of the Kosovars.
The solution was found in a formulation that explained that the final status will take into consideration the will of the people. The political head of the KLA then and the present Prime Minister Thaci took the responsibility and pushed the process ahead to accept the Accords. Albin Kurti was vehemently and completely against, though it was clear that e Kosovar yes would enable our friends to help us.
On 1999 the Security Council approved the Resolution 1244. In order to obtain the Chinese vote (whose Embassy was accidentally bombed) and Russia, the Western allies agreed to the formulation that Kosovo is a part of FR Yugoslavia but also envisaged an Envoy appointed to define the final status, taking into considerations the Rambuillet principles, including therefore the will of the people.
President Ahtisaari with his process, back then also opposed by Vetevendosja even with violent mans, found with finesse a concept in order to push for the independence of Kosovo from its merciless state, calling the process conditional independence itself an echo of the findings of the International Commission on Kosovo founded by then Secretary General Kofi Annan and the former Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson, facilitated by President Nelson Mandela.
You may also remember that the MPs that declared the independence voted so as the representatives of the people not elected MPs in order to avoid the trap of the continuity with UNMIK institutions and thus trigger inevitable suspension of the Declaration. Lacking the international consensus, even within EU itself which is still failing in unifying its policy vis-à-vis Kosovo, an International Steering Group was established - another concept that had to be invented in order to enable a supporting mechanism for the implementation of the Ahtisaari Plan. The very Constitution of the young republic gives a very wide autonomy to municipalities (and most to Prishtina) and special rights to minorities, without calling these concessions autonomy or special status, words allergic for Albanians.
So, the independence and statehood of Kosovo, unparalleled by the sheer and fundamental engagement of the US and the European part of the Quint, always employed language gymnastics to create the widest possible acceptance of the independence. So, on behalf and for the benefit of Kosovo, and in order to cement Kosovos position as an equal member of the international community, allies have used euphemisms and schlagworts of the most typical diplomatic kind when things are to be named neutrally to enable action and progress. Most recent case would probably be the UN resolution on the non-fly zones which was used for the total intervention in Libya in order to help the popular overthrow of the despotic Ghadaffi.
The present technical dialogue was also initiated when Serbia tried to ignore the opinion of ICJ and was proposing new talks on the status. EU and USA in the GA agreed only on a resolution that was meant to close remaining chapters in the relations between the two, while putting both countries on a firm track to the EU.
IN the dialogue, we agreed to use both RKS and KS car plates, but important thing was that the only and undisputed issuer of plates would be Interior Ministry of the Republic of Kosovo and Minister Rexhepi. We also agreed to receive EULEX certified copies of cadastral records, but the only legal authority to ever make a ruling on the property cases would the republican Supreme Court. ID cards issued by the state institutions were also accepted, with a piece of paper attached with some words of denial.
We are yet again at such a juncture in the dialogue when we ought to use the linguistic imagination to enable full and equal participation of Kosovo on exactly 36 regional organizations, from the RCC where we are represented by UNMIK but where financing of regional railway projects is discussed, to the regional financial institutions such as the regional Chart on Small Enterprises. In most of them we are currently not represented, in some we are represented as UNMIK, while on few we participate with Gymnich formula, without the right of signing contracts as a state or be called as Kosovo.
The solution supported by all of those present also at Rambuillet, which the greatest alliance of in the modern times or the Euro-Atlantic family of nations, is for Kosovo to take part as an equal member with the institutions of the independence such as the MFA, but also to enter into contractual relations with EU as a separate entity,
If agreed (and thats a big if), media report that a footnote is to me employed by the name of Kosovo with the reference on Resolution 1244, the very same one that enabled the statehood by referring to the Rambuillet Accords and the will of the people, and the opinion of ICJ on the Declaration of Independence, as two final documents of the nation building.
The Kosovar participation in regional fora is a sine qua non for Serbia to receive EU candidacy but is also a condition for Kosovo to advance the EU integration by being offered two major steps, the Feasibility Study and the later Stabilization and Association Agreement.
The rather unnatural and anti-European coalition against the footnote and other inventions of diplomatic language, consists of a wide gamma of the anti-governmental elements. Vetevendosja from its foundation (which is the opposition to Rambuillet) has refused the linguistic ambiguity insisting on absolutist categories and policymaking based on white and black interpretations (with no grays poor CMYK colors). This is also the main reason why the party has become the favorite subject of the Wahabi caste of the extremists in Kosovo, attracted by the concept of self-victimization of VV and the refusal of the party to confirm with a parliamentary vote the opposition to kids wearing scarves in the primary schools. If you dont believe, check it yourself the overwhelming voting preferences of such groups on various Facebook pages.
That being said, VV is the only party with a consistency (which is in nature of the absolutist explanation, be it in faith or in politics). LDK on the other hand, has roots in the European integration and the ideal. Maastricht and Europe 1992 is as much in the myth of origin of this party (in the anthropological sense and not as a qualification), as mush so as with all the major conservative parties in EU. LDK knows that it would have signed possibly even a weaker deal with even fewer concessions. Scared by VV, they decide to throw out the European agenda to join dutifully the choir.
Maybe the most frustrating section of the coalition against the footnote and other inventions of diplomatic language are the representatives of the media that still call themselves oppressed and the civil society. Last night you could have followed a TV debate in which one of the heads of the major Kosovar NGOs that in its ideological roots and budget EU takes a prominent place said the following: Norway is not part of the EU, so Kosovo should not think that we have no other options and that we have to join them. Nope these are not the words of a certain Kostunica, though they are one must add absolutely the same with the political theory of the president of DSS that thinks that Serbia should drop EU for Russia.
I believe firmly that the Government of Kosovo, and myself as a tiny bit of it, could have done much more for the development of Kosovo. But at least there is a leadership and unrelenting dedication to EU agenda and reforms, unwavering even when the public opinion is incited with nationalist rhetoric as it was during the debates on Prizren stamp, Law on Prizren, the actions in north and many other cases when, as the folk saying goes, one could tell sugar from the styptic.
Author is the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and has been a regular columnist at Express. The opinion is personal and doesnt reflect the policy of the institution.