Hoxhaj: Serbia must accept independent Kosovo
Discussing achievements and the European perspective, Minister Hoxhaj noted that in the last three months the Republic of Kosovo has made decisive progress in strengthening its institutions.
Kosovo has maintained institutional stability and there are visible improvements in all aspects of life: democratic government, rule of law and a market economy. The democratization process is going in the right direction, said Minister Hoxhaj.
Talking about the increase of recognition in the last three months, Minister Hoxhaj said that during the reporting period the Republic of Kosovo has made important progress in its attempts to participate in regional and international initiatives.
We have been and remain responsible members of the international community. The number and geographic scope of Kosovos recognition is global. This demonstrates that Kosovos independence is a geopolitical reality. I would like to thank the Governments of Kuwait, Gabon, the Ivory Coast for their decisions to recognize Kosovos independence, added Minister Hoxhaj.
Minister Hoxhaj also talked about Kosovos integration in the European Union as the best framework to secure peace, stability and long-term prosperity in the region.
In 2011, Kosovo made important steps toward European integration and we hope that 2012 will be the year of a European Kosovo, added Minister Hoxhaj.
Addressing members of the United Nations Security Council, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Enver Hoxhaj also talked about the situation in the north of Kosovo.
The current situation in the north of Kosovo is complex. This is threatening the functionality of Kosovo as a multi-ethnic state and this is also a serious threat to peace and regional security. The status quo has been tolerated since 1999, and it was tolerated in opposition to Resolution 1244. In these circumstances, Serbias Government has held, controlled and sponsored a completely illegal system of structures. Security and police units and paramilitary and defense structures are still present and operate in this part of Kosovo, said Minister Hoxhaj.
Furthermore, Hoxhaj added that the operation of illegal Serb structures presents an obstruction to the integration of the local population and implementation of rule of law. This is the only corner of Europe which has not had free and democratic elections or participation in democratic institutions for the last 12 years.
This is the only case in Europe where a state is controlling, through security forces, part of another country. In this area, without law and order, criminal actions and organized crime have flourished. As we have seen, besides the economic implications for Kosovo, Serbia and others parts of the Balkans, this black hole situation has seriously threatened regional security, emphasized Minister Hoxhaj.
Minister Hoxhaj stressed that these illegal security structures of organized crime aim to create a status-quo situation in order to protect their illegal economic activities, such as smuggling, trafficking and others, and with the support of the Serb Government illegal structures have held the local population hostage and have threatened peace and order.
It is important to mention that since 1999, we have been a significant financial contributor to local institutions in this area of Kosovo. Just this year, we invested over 5 million Euros in various projects and we will do even more in the future. Unfortunately, Belgrade has intervened each time and has denied all form of cooperation benefiting the local Serb community there, he added.
Minister Hoxhaj said that the Kosovo Government has been patient for years. We have insisted that the situation must be resolved in cooperation with international mechanisms. We have been and are oriented toward resolving this situation through cooperation and not confrontation. But our approach to give a chance to peace and understanding has been misused by Serbias Government, said Minister Hoxhaj.
Talking to members of the Security Council Minister Hoxhaj noted that Serbia always calls on Resolution 1244; however, Serbia does everything in its power to prevent the implementation of the Resolution in the north of Kosovo and to obstruct the formation of a multi-ethnic character in our society.
The same thing occurred with the Ahtisaari Plan of 2008. Many dispositions of the Ahtisaari Plan are to ensure mechanisms and the best rights for Kosovos Serbs. Up to now, Kosovo has implemented over 90% of this plan and the integration of Serbs throughout the country is a reality. The plan has not been achieved in the north because Serbia has never shown any interest to improve the life of local Serbs, he added.
In addition, Minister Hoxhaj described the situation in the north of Kosovo, which remains unchanged, as blocked and threatening, with trucks, stones and other types of blockades obstructing the majority of roads in the municipalities in the north.
In total, there are 18 road blockades which are obstructing the freedom of movement of people and goods. Even KFOR troops, a force with a mandate in Resolution 1244, and the European rule of law mission in Kosovo, EULEX, are not allowed to pass these barricades. This is a real threat to security in Kosova and to regional peace and stability, said Minister Hoxhaj.
Talking about the war rhetoric which is still present in Serb political discourse, Minister Hoxhaj said that this was confirmed last week by a declaration from a member of the Serb Government, who when talking about Kosovo said that Serbia cannot and will not watch quietly if the red lines are passed. They sent a threatening message and promoted the concept of the balance of fear between Kosovo and Serbia.
We have been patient, hoping that our neighbor Serbia will understand that road blockades and threats are not the solution to our problems. We do not want to be part of destabilizing scenarios and we will not tolerate being threatened by destructive intimidation. We are constructive partners in resolving the issues which confront us, but we will not give up our sovereignty and the functionality of our new democratic state. We will work directly toward improving neighborly relations, always oriented toward dialogue and European integration, he added.
In his speech, Minister Hoxhaj talked about the dedication of the Kosovo Government to peace, stability and a European future for the entire region. This led to the commitment of the Republic of Kosovo to technical dialogue with Serbia which is being facilitated by the European Union.
Our goal is to bring services closer to all citizens. And all solutions we have proposed up to now aim to unite communities and not divide them. I do not believe that there should be or will be ethnic electricity, ethnic mobile telephones or ethnic car registration plates because these concepts are contrary to European values and norms, said Minister Hoxhaj.
In addition, he made clear the position of the Kosovo Government regarding dialogue: Kosovo is and will be part of this dialogue.
We welcomed Serbia after some months boycott back to the dialogue table last week. However, we must not understand dialogue just as a process just participating in meetings without any concrete result. We are very interested in results and in implementing agreements, added Minister Hoxhaj.
Talking about the European perspective of regional states, Minister Hoxhaj emphasized that Kosovo supports the regions integration into the European Union; however, we will never allow a country like Serbia which is aspiring to join, to undermine Kosovos statehood and to control part of its territory through illegal security structures.
Therefore, we believe that the time has come for Serbia to remove its barricades, to dismantle its security structures and to accept a European model of integrated border management between our two countries. We are very determined to implement the Ahtisaari Plan as the best model for integrating Kosovos Serbs. According to this plan, Kosovos Serbs in these three municipalities can enjoy full self-government like no other community today in Europe, said Minister Hoxhaj.
Finally, Minister Hoxhaj repeated that the Kosovo Government is determined to ensure all its citizens the peaceful and prosperous future they merit.
We are determined to integrate citizens in this part of Kosovo with the rest of the state and to retain our internationally recognized borders. We will make every effort to communicate with Kosovos Serbs and we will invest our resources to make possible the creation of free and democratic institutions in the north where people should live free and without fear, he added.
Minister Hoxhaj emphasized that the Kosovo Government will exercise all its legitimate rights to guarantee law, order and peace in its entire territory, while the municipalities in the north are part of Kosovo and always will be.
We will never accept the status-quo, a frozen situation or ethnic partition as is being promoted at senior levels in Serbia. And I think the time has come, after 20 years, for Serbia to define its national interests in the sense of political integration and economic development, and not in the meaning of territory. Serbia must accept independent Kosovo; we remain ready to normalize relations with Serbia. And the political goal of my government is Kosovos integration in Euro-Atlantic institutions, said the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Enver Hoxhaj, during his speech given to representatives of member states at the UN Security Council.