US recognition of Kosovo ‘a mistake’

It has already been decided so now it is too late. I agree with you. I have the feeling that we are moving too fast on the Kosovo issue. But we should have slowed things down two or three years ago, not now. By encouraging this move we raised the Kosovars’ expectations too high and are now faced with a real dilemma. There has not been the deep reconciliation that was necessary to move forward to the next stage. The problems that emerged in the past are still there today. The Serbs have not adjusted to the existing situation. I don’t think they can have Kosovo as part of Serbia again, but gradual acceptance of that reality is a far cry from a hasty independence for the region. In Bosnia there is also a problem that has not been properly solved. Once Kosovo is independent, no one can guarantee that the Serbs in Bosnia won’t try the same thing. At this point, I honestly don’t know what will happen. What is certain is that we haven’t yet seen the end of the problems in Kosovo. Why has the US chosen to clash with Russia and put pressure on the EU over an issue that does not affect its strategic interests? The US is indeed putting pressure on the Europeans. The Spanish are the ones who have been the most annoyed about it. The message in this is that every part of a country that creates enough fuss for the government of that country will declare its independence. It is true that there are some particular circumstances in Kosovo. On the other hand, it is the heart of Serbia’s existence. Emotionally, it is still Serbian. How serious is the risk of seeing something similar in other areas? It opens up an enormous Pandora’s box. There are a large number of issues and areas. Russia is citing, or rather very cleverly exploiting, Kosovo to justify its stance in Chechnya and elsewhere. We could have handled the issue very differently at no great cost to NATO. Much more time should have been given, but that didn’t happen, and the Kosovars will declare their independence, we will recognize them and the EU will have an internal dispute. How do you evaluate the situation in the broader Balkans? The Balkan region needs a lot of help. From the economic viewpoint, Yugoslavia should not have been dissolved. What happened was completely illogical. Perhaps your government was wiser about this than others. Perhaps. Of course at the time we were accused of trying to suppress the right to self-determination. At any rate, the Balkans needs help. I would say that the region is ripe for the creation of a free trade zone. What about Greece’s role in that process? Leaving Turkey out of it – although it is also a very important country – I would say that Greece is the only center of stability in the entire region. It isn’t occupied with what it is, what it wants, while all the other countries in the region are still answering those questions. Greece is the natural leader in the region. Greece is trying to become part of the energy transport network to European markets and has signed agreements with Russia. I don’t see anything wrong with that. On the contrary, I was not happy about the monopoly created by Gazprom’s entry to Serbia. Personally, I would like to break Russia’s hold on Europe with a pipeline linking Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan via the Caspian Sea, Turkey and Greece with Europe. That would not affect Russia, it would simply not allow it to strangle Europe.