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Kosovo: The international community’s role will be decisive

Kosovo is the last remaining issue pending in the Balkans. The way this problem is resolved is very important, not only for the citizens of Kosovo, but for the rest of the region. A decision on Kosovo’s status is not as important as the way the international community handles the process itself. According to all the proclamations, the negotiations should begin in the middle of this year. Belgrade and Pristina will be participating, as well as the international community, which in my opinion will be the key factor. We are Kosovo’s immediate neighbors and we have to follow developments closely. For us, the most important thing is not the eventual status of Kosovo but whether Kosovo will be a region where law prevails and where there are the mechanisms for implementing the law. This means that the eventual status of Kosovo is a priority for Belgrade and Pristina. For us, the main priority is for Kosovo to become a region governed by a spirit of democracy and legality. It should not be a place where paramilitary and criminal groups prevail; it should not be a source of crime that will spill over into neighboring countries. Kosovo is the region’s black hole and that is the problem. That is the serious danger for us, irrespective of the eventual status. Nevertheless, are you in agreement with the Albanian leadership for independence here and now? The problem is that the Kosovars and the government in Kosovo see independence as the only solution, while Belgrade believes that Kosovo should remain part of Serbia-Montenegro. This means that we are not talking about different viewpoints but about diametrically opposed viewpoints. That is why I think it is the international community that will have the biggest role to play in resolving this issue because I do not believe that Belgrade and Pristina will find a mutually acceptable solution. International standards Many believe that if Kosovo gains its independence then the Albanians in Tetovo and southern Serbia will want to join them. In the recent past, Kosovo has not been independent and yet we have still had problems. That is why I said earlier that for us, more important than the status of Kosovo is the structure of the region so that international rules and standards prevail. The fate of Macedonia does not coincide with the fate of Kosovo. We are not part of the problem in Kosovo, nor are we part of the solution. The future of our country depends on us alone, on how we handle our domestic affairs. Yes, but the question of settling your country’s borders with Kosovo has not been resolved and in fact only the other day Mr Rugova said that he does not recognize them. The borders have been determined; what remains is the technical question of setting them. If I said earlier that the international community will have a decisive role to play in Kosovo, I can openly say that that the international community itself does not question the existence, the territorial integrity and the inviolability of our country’s borders. Since you have spoken rather pessimistically about prospects for agreement between Belgrade and Pristina, do you believe that making prime minister a former senior commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army, Ramush Haradinaj, whom the International Court of Justice in The Hague has questioned over his involvement in war crimes, has helped prospects for the talks? Judging from statements from Belgrade, we can conclude that this will make the talks more difficult. On the other hand, the structure of the government in Kosovo is the result of elections and this is where there is a conflict of rules – if you give someone the chance to participate in an election, then you have to respect the will of the people. Nevertheless, when you are building a government, it must be done in a way as to facilitate the resolution of existing problems on the home front as well as the imminent negotiations