European Politics and Institutions

Balkans Forum

Kosovo in Europe and the Balkans

13 July 2011

Enver Hoxhaj, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kosovo, began with a story of how Kosovan citizens perceived the 2008 declaration of independence – predictability, stability and security. This illustrates the way they perceived the situation before independence. It is a pragmatic approach.  The Kosovan government has had two goals for the last three years – first, to build a new state from scratch; and second to strengthen Kosovo’s international position. Kosovo has been engaged in implementing the Ahtisaari plan and more than 90% of the plan has been implemented. The Minister said that Kosovo is a multi-ethnic society as was part of the Ahtisaari plan. At the same time it has been able to adapt the constitution around the principle of citizenship, not ethnicity, and create other institutions that are important in terms of state building. With respect to strengthening Kosovo’s international position, the country is recognised by 76 states, and has been admitted to membership of the IMF and the World Bank.

The main process beside state building and international recognition is the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, initiated by a UN resolution of last September. The dialogue is not about status, sovereignty or territory, or about changing the nature of the constitutional order. It is mostly about how to improve the life of the people, how to have regional cooperation, and how to prepare the people, and both countries for a European perspective. Three agreements have been reached, and perhaps another three if Serbia was more flexible on this issue. Pristina is going to be very serious, very committed – understanding the dialogue not just as a way to solve the daily problems of the people, but also as an instrument to build trust, to work in good faith, and ‘to put the past behind us’. Dialogue could support normal relations with Belgrade – not just regional cooperation but moving towards regional reconciliation, and then recognition. Serbia has to come to terms with an independent Kosovo – this is the final goal of the process.

Kosovo is also taking part in the dialogue to make its EU perspective more concrete. At the moment, from all nations in the Balkans, only Kosovo is excluded from the EU agenda, including visa-free travel. Kosovo is asking for the road map to work to fulfill the criteria. When Kosovo took part in the Ahtisaari process, it did so in order to process to gain statehood. Today it is taking part in a dialogue with the Republic of Serbia in order to gain membership to the EU. It is the same goal.

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