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Bosnia soon will recognize Kosovo’s documents

"All the officials with whom I spoke in Sarajevo, promised that they will take on reinitiating the question of recognizing Kosovo’s documents in the Presidency, Government and Parliament ", said Gashi

Ibrahim Gashi speaking to the newspaper, Epoka e Re,

The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ibrahim Gashi, returned from an informal visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina where he received assurances about recognition of Kosovo’s documents.

In this interview for Epoka e Re, Gashi said that Kosova cannot engage in trade if Bosnia does not recognize its documents. "They are aware that this issue at this time is more costly to Bosnia than to Kosovo. All the officials with whom I spoke in Sarajevo, promised that they will take on reinitiating the question of recognizing Kosovo’s documents in the Presidency, Government and Parliament", said Gashi. He explained that during the two day visit to Bosnia he argued as Deputy Foreign Minister that there can be no cooperation and trade and implementation of reciprocity if Bosnia does not recognize the documents of the Republic of Kosovo. "If they have recognized the stamps, this means that our products can go up to the border, but then the trucks must be driven by Bosnian drivers. The product can enter but not the person. We hope that we will receive a positive response. If it is positive, then we can call my visit successful", said Gashi.

Gashi talked about the work the Foreign Ministry is doing for lobbying. He said that this ministry is now performing well in its work. In addition, Gashi talked about the delay of verbal notes from Gabon and Nigeria, and the recognitions announced a few days ago by Deputy Prime Minister Pacolli. "The verbal notes will come. At that time, decisions were taken by senior state officials, and Presidents, but procedures take longer. I am inclined to believe there is no problem”, said Gashi. However, Gashi said that on principle it is not good to pre-announce recognition. "In principle it is not good to pre-announce recognition, as this can warn Serbia to work on those states", said Gashi.

"Epoka e re": Mr Gashi, you visited Bosnia Herzegovina recently. What was the goal of your visit?

Gashi: I was on a two day informal visit because Bosnia does not recognize the Republic of Kosovo. My visit resulted in informal meetings at a senior level with officials of the Bosnian Government from the Bosnian and Croat communities. The goal of this visit was recognition of the documents of the Republic of Kosovo by Bosnia and Herzegovina. I had a working lunch with the mayor of Sarajevo, Ibrahim Haxhibajriq, together with some former generals from the war in Bosnia who are in the party of Sarajevo’s mayor. In addition, I met the director general of "Energo invest" in Sarajevo, a big company interested in investing in Kosovo. I had a working lunch with the President of the Bosnian-Croat federation. On the second day of my visit, I met the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Security of Bosnia. Then I visited the Chamber of Commerce for the Bosnia Herzegovina Federation’s Foreign Relations, where I was met by the leader and deputy leader of this institution. During this meeting I realized that Bosnia’s businessmen are very interested in investing in Kosovo, because they consider it a good market for investment. No later than the end of October some officials of the Bosnian Chamber of Commerce together with a group of businessmen will visit Kosovo.

"Epoka e re": So your visit reconfirmed respect for reciprocal trading measures between Kosovo and Bosnia?

Gashi: Naturally, during this visit we discussed mostly about this issue. My argument as Deputy Foreign Minister was that the Republic of Kosovo cannot have cooperation, trade or implement reciprocity measures if Bosnia does not recognize the documents of the Republic of Kosovo. In addition, I thanked the senior authorities of Bosnia for recognizing Kosovo’s customs stamps.

Our trucks that import products from Kosovo to Bosnia even in the spirit of this agreement recognizing customs stamps, face difficulties because they cannot get a visa to travel direct to Bosnia. Here I raised our concerns as a state because in the end trade and economic reciprocity measures with Bosnia are in its favor.

"Epoka e re": You received promises during these meetings that Bosnia will change its position regarding recognition of the Republic of Kosovo?

Gashi: The question of recognition of the state of Kosovo by Bosnia is complex because all decisions of Bosnia are taken with consensus between parties, and respectively the three entities constituting Bosnia and Herzegovina. Considering the position of Republika Srpska, which is the same as that of Belgrade toward Kosovo, we are sympathetic toward other members of the federation which are ready today and consider that recognition should occur immediately. So, Bosnia’s cooperation in this phase should develop in the spirit of freedom of movement of people and goods, and later to attempt to change the position of the Serb party in Bosnia regarding recognition of the Republic of Kosovo.

"Epoka ere": The decision to recognize customs stamps of the Republic of Kosovo will speed up recognition by Bosnia?

Gashi: I consider that recognizing stamps is important. We should bear in mind that Republika Srpska constitutes 75 per cent of the products exported to Kosovo. This means that 75 per cent of products entering Kosovo from Bosnia are from Republika Srpska. This means that they have a considerable economic interest in recognizing the documents and stamps of the Republic of Kosovo, and to change their political position toward Kosovo’s recognition.

"Epoka e re": How strongly do you believe that Bosnia will recognize documents with the words Republic of Kosovo?

Gashi: Many states that have not recognized Kosovo have found ways to recognize the documents. I described to them many cases when Kosovo citizens have traveled with Kosovo passports, for example, to Greece, Cyprus, Slovakia, Romania, Egypt and China, but not Bosnia. In this context, when we consider that both states have a Diaspora, this means that 1.5 per cent of Bosnians in Kosovo cannot travel to Bosnia even though their families are there. During this visit, I found greater understanding among the authorities that I met in Sarajevo. All of them are aware that this is not just an economic, but also a political, issue. Kosovo cannot engage in economic exchange if there is no recognition of documents. They are conscious that this issue at this time is more costly to Bosnia, than to Kosovo.

All the officials with whom I spoke in Sarajevo promised that they will take on reinitiating the question of recognizing Kosovo’s documents in the Presidency, Government and Parliament. If they have recognized stamps, this means that our products can go to the border, but from there onwards the trucks must be driven by a driver from Bosnia. Products can enter, but not people. We hope that we will receive a positive answer. If it is positive, then we can call my visit successful.

"Epoka e re": Mr. Gashi, how active is Kosova’s diplomacy considered to be?

Gashi: The Foreign Ministry is one of the most active ministries in this Government. Maybe what I’m saying isn’t modest, but I’m basing this on many visits at the senior level to many strong states in Europe and the world. Seen from this dimension, we consider that we are doing a good job with regard to lobbying for recognition and affirmation of the state of Kosovo in the international arena. On the other hand, even with regard to its internal organization the ministry has been working intensively. The Foreign Minister is interested to convey to the world an image of recent events since July 25 and onwards. In an orderly manner, we have sent letters that explain the position of the state of Kosova. We do this through our Ambassadors. We confirmed the position of the state of Kosova with regard to all recent developments in Kosova. Naturally in this context I must thank our diplomats who maintain a clear official position of the state of Kosova. In addition, we are attempting in the consolidation plan for missions to fill vacant spaces. Considering all these elements, I can say that the Foreign Ministry is very active and is performing well.

"Epoka ere": Are there tendencies between the Foreign Ministry and Deputy Prime Minister Pacolli to take the merit for recognition?

Gashi: From the establishment of this Government, and the appointment of Mr. Pacolli in the position of First Deputy Prime Minister, there has been good cooperation. This can be seen also during the joint visit to New York of Mr. Pacolli and Minister Hoxhaj. They are there together. They are lobbying and receiving confirmations for new recognitions. The most recent case, the Ivory Coast, confirmed recognition to them both in a joint meeting. This suggests there is no divergence, but instead dynamic and very intensive lobbying by Mr. Pacolli, who has spent weeks on end lobbying in Africa, and by Mr. Hoxhaj, who has had visits in another zone. So, they cannot always be seen together. But Mr. Pacolli and Mr. Hoxhaj are entirely in accordance and cooperating. I would like to say, without modesty, that as Deputy Minister and I am a sort of link and my mission is to ensure that contact between Minister Hoxhaj and Deputy Prime Minister Pacolli is always present and functions permanently.

"Epoka e re": Why haven’t we received verbal notes from Gabon and Nigeria?

Gashi: We have referred to the statements made by Mr. Pacolli. The verbal notes will come. This was a period when decisions were taken by senior state officials and Presidents. But now the processing of the issue takes a bit of time. I am inclined to believe that there is no problem for these recognitions.

"Epoka e te": But does it cost the state of Kosovo when it is announced that a state has recognized us without receiving a verbal note?

Gashi: I am also against making public announcements of recognition. I say that in principle it is not good to announce recognition, because it can warn Serbia to work on those states. But the activity of Mr. Pacolli was public as he was received as an official of the state of Kosovo by various Presidents of many states. That fact cannot be hidden. But I believe that after lobbying activity by the highest leaders of the state of Kosova in New York by the end of the year, we will have new recognition.

("Epoka e Re")

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