Enver Hoxhaj: A new chapter for Kosovo
Deutsche Welle: Mr. Minister, International Steering Group (ISG) yesterday finally ended the oversight of independence of Kosovo, which means that from September this country will have a full sovereignty. What does this decision mean concretely?
Enver Hoxhaj: Yesterday was a historical day for Kosovo. The 25 ISG countries have decided to end the international supervision of Kosovo's independence. This is a great recognition for the work of citizens and the government of Kosovo. This proves that in the past five years we have done a good job in building a democratic Kosovo and implementing necessary reforms. Kosovo is a country built from the scratch, has been transformed and modernized within a short period - that is a huge success. This was recognized yesterday by the 25 countries of the ISG. This decision opens a new chapter in Kosovo's statehood.
DW: Has Kosovo met all the requirements for independence without supervision, because your critics say no.
Enver Hoxhaj: In five years we have implemented most of the Ahtisaari plan. Minorities are integrated into local and central government and in all state institutions. This has been the goal of our institutions. Otherwise, ISG would have probably not given the green light for the conclusion of the international supervision of independence. Simultaneously, in the past five years we have worked hard for Kosovo to become a responsible member of the international community. Membership in many international and regional institutions have certainly provided a major contribution in achieving our goals. This is acknowledged by the ISG.
DW: Mr. Minister, one of the most serious problems regarding the sovereignty of the state of Kosovo remains the north of the country where institutions still have no full control. How will this problem be solved?
Enver Hoxhaj: Regarding the North, our government is positioned very clear: we want to start a dialogue with our citizens, the Serbs in northern Kosovo. Dialogue must be internal in nature. That what we have done deeper inside of Kosovo where the Serb minority is integrated into the institutions, that should also take place in the north. I am convinced that this can do well in the north. Of course, in the last 12 years the north has had a completely different situation because Serbia has made efforts to control this part of Kosovo through its police forces, intelligence and paramilitary groups. It is high time that international community should increase pressure on Belgrade to withdraw the police and these paramilitary groups. Once this condition is met it will be easier for the three municipalities in northern Kosovo to integrate into institutions. Two months ago, we decided to open an office, which will help in creating a northern Mitrovica municipality and the organization of elections there. In this way, its integration with other parts of Kosovo can become a reality.
DW: Mr. Minister, Belgrade has criticized the decision of the ISG with the explanation that Serbs will remain in the hands of Albanians. These days Belgrade will create a new government with Ivica Dacic as Prime Minister. As you look at these developments, what do they mean in terms of relations between Kosovo and Serbia?
Enver Hoxhaj: It is clear that Serbia has seen changes in May, a major turning point. This is one more of a turn towards the nationalism of the 90's rather than the continuation of democratic processes. From 12 years we believed that Belgrade is moving in the democratic path and heading towards the European Union. We believed that the European agenda dominates politics in Belgrade and in the Serbian society. What has happened recently in Serbia is a worrying development which not only to the Republic of Kosovo but also to other countries in the region: Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and Croatia. However, we believe that European Union and its member states will be positioned very clear towards Belgrade with the intention that Serbia's continues along the European path and that representatives of Serbian institutions will not go back in the path of nationalism of the 90's. In general, recent developments in Belgrade represent a turn toward nationalism and this has caused concern in many countries of the region.