I expect that both sides in the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina next Monday will accept the “European proposal” as a good basis for reaching an agreement.
I don’t know if anything will be signed that day, but I expect that these talks will give new impetus and progress towards the basic agreement. The European perspective of both Kosovo and Serbia depends on it. There have been a lot of delays since the beginning of the Brussels negotiations, and that is why it is high time for a more serious breakthrough towards long-term normalization, which opens the perspective for the entire Western Balkans, says Šaip Kamberi, deputy of the Party for Democratic Action, for Danas.
Is the Franco-German proposal acceptable to you?
I have not had the opportunity to see the document. But based on what is known in the public, that the “French-German” proposal – which is now, in fact, a European proposal – represents a good basis for further discussions. I would say that it is a good basis for the Basic Agreement, the much-needed normalization and a clearer European perspective of the region.
What we are advocating is that the principles contained in the future agreement, especially in the area of human and minority rights, minority self-government, have universal value and should not be exclusive to only one community.
DPK Vice President Vljora Citaku says that Prime Minister Aljbin Kurti will sign an agreement with Serbia at a meeting in Brussels on Monday, according to the French-German plan, which foresees the formation of the Union of Serbian Municipalities. Why is it so controversial that Serbia gets the ZSO established by the Brussels Agreement?
I can neither confirm nor deny what Mrs. Citaku said, because I am not familiar with the final position of Prime Minister Kurti and his Government. As far as the ZSO is concerned, actually, according to the Brussels agreement, Serbs in Kosovo should get it, not Serbia. Because that’s exactly where the problem lies. If the ZSO is won by Serbia, not the Serbs in Kosovo, it justifies the fear of many in Kosovo who believe that through the ZSO, Serbia wants in its hands an instrument through which it can de-function the state and through which it can, at any time, destabilize the situation in Kosovo.
Advocating for the rights of Serbs in Kosovo is one thing, advocating for the formation of a political-legal mechanism through which Kosovo will be destabilized in the future is something completely different, which would harm the future relations between the two nations and states. In Kosovo, they fear the new Srpska, which, as practice shows in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is being used to destabilize this country.
So what should ZSO, in your opinion, be and what powers should it have?
However, it remains up to the parties in the negotiations to agree. I must repeat our position, which is the universality of principles in the field of human and minority rights and minority self-government.
You asked Escobar that the Presevo Valley be included in the dialogue. Why, what are you looking for and do you have the consent of all the Albanian parties from the Preševo Valley?
In May, it will be 22 years since we have been involved in a dialogue with official Belgrade in efforts to improve the position of the Albanians of the Preševo Valley. In this period, we have signed three agreements (2001, 2009 and 2013) which Belgrade does not respect. So 22 full years of political advocacy, efforts and frustrations created by that unfinished dialogue. Now, when we are fully aware that the “regular” dialogue does not produce the promised and expected results, we have to ask for help from those agents who mediate the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia. We see the Brussels dialogue as the last possibility of affirming the political position of the Albanians of the Preševo Valley. So far, no Albanian party has expressed a position against my demands.
Did you have the meeting with Lajčak that you were looking for?
Not yet, but I expect that Mr. Lajčak as well as the US special emissary for the Balkans, Mr. Escobar, will give me the opportunity to talk.
Recently, together with the members of SDA Sandžak, you were a guest of Aljbin Kurti, were there any specific requests?
Nothing special. And so far we have had the opportunity to meet Prime Minister Kurti several times. We also expressed our position to him on the necessity that symmetry and appropriate treatment of national minorities must be a key element of the future agreement between Kosovo and Serbia.
Do you expect that in the end there will be mutual recognition of Serbia and Kosovo?
The normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia is crucial for the stability not only of the relations between the two nations but also of the entire Western Balkans. It is quite clear that the European Union and the USA will not allow a new conflict or a new hot spot on European soil. That is why the normalization agreement and the European perspective have no alternative. That’s why I believe that, regardless of the current rhetoric, the interests of one side and the other, the interests of the region will prevail and that, first of all, relations will be normalized, as a prerequisite for complete mutual recognition.
In Belgrade, the Kosovo Independence Day was celebrated in the office of the Liaison Officer of Pristina, for the first time, without negative reactions from the authorities. What does that mean, is it dropping the ball before the continuation of the Brussels dialogue? Actually, like many others, I was invited as a guest, so I don’t know the details of how it was all organized. In any case, like other dignitaries, I attended the organization organized by the Kosovo Liaison Office in Belgrade, which operates there on the basis of the previously signed Brussels agreements.
Unlike the representatives of the government, the celebration of Kosovo’s independence day met with fierce criticism from your fellow deputies, from the right. It was judged that the gathering should have been banned, and comparisons were heard that Cyprus would not allow such a thing on its territory?
I think that in an interview for your newspaper, a couple of years ago, I said that the problem of Serbia’s democratization is the equal responsibility of the opposition and the government. Unfortunately, when it comes to Kosovo and the Albanians, that right-wing opposition is more radical than the reformed radicals. Tabloid journalism, of obscure right-wing portals, also leads the way in Albanophobia.
They have some imaginary truth of their own, far from the reality of life, which is absurd, and they demand that people blindly respect it. Such an imagined truth does not help Serbia’s democratization or its European perspective. Such an opposition, which imagines Serbia attached to the eastern empires, actually damages Serbia itself more than anything else. What I persistently try to point out at the sessions of the National Assembly is that Serbia must be capable of building different ties with Kosovo with new values.
This year, while the consultations on the formation of the Serbian government were going on, it seems that you were in the mood to be part of at least some local authority. How did all the mothers get a piece of the government pie, except you?
Equal, equal and unconditional integration is not a matter of mood. It is a matter of respect for human and minority rights, constitutional principles and the three agreements we have with official Belgrade.
For 22 years, we have been demanding to be evenly and equally integrated. We believe that integration should start “from below”, from state institutions and public institutions that operate on the territory of municipalities where Albanians make up the majority or part of the population. It would be unnatural for that process to start “from above” to get the position of one or two state secretaries, and there is not a single deputy prosecutor in Bujanovac, if there are only two of the 12 judges at the Basic Court, or if there is not a single Albanian in the Health Center (hospital). in Vranje with over 500 employees.
These are the anomalies of the system of a country that aspires to be a part of the European Union, a geographic-political entity, which considers differences to be an asset rather than a flaw.