Partition of Kosovo “will never happen”
Kosovo’s Prime Minister Hashim Thaci has stated that Kosovo and Serbia “should normalize their relations”.Source: Tanjug
He stressed that he would never allow the northern enclave, inhabited mostly by Serbs, to break away.
“Kosovo has decided to have a dialogue with Serbia, to normalize relations. Kosovo will benefit, Serbia will benefit. This means the end of an era of conflicts in the region and quicker integration of all the countries (into the EU),” he told AP.
The fate of Kosovo's Orthodox Christian Serbs and the firm grip that Serbia has on northern Kosovo are the main sticking points, AP points out.
Some Serbian officials have said that partition is the best solution, but Thaci said that redrawing any borders would set a dangerous precedent for the Balkans, reports the agency.
He said Serbs in northern Kosovo must integrate into Kosovo Albanian society, but that task had been made more difficult because they "have been deceived now for 12 years by Belgrade that there will be partition”.
“That will never happen. Partition implies changing the borders for a minimum six countries," Thaci stressed.
Another source of division is a 2010 Council of Europe report by Swiss politician Dick Marty that alleges the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army, including Thaci, killed Serbian civilian captives during the 1990s and sold their organs. Albania and Kosovo have repeatedly denied the claims, AP points out.
Earlier this month, Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor Vladimir Vukčević said that a witness had come forward and testified "in detail" about the allegations, which the EU is now investigating.
Thaci dismissed the claims as "science fiction," though he acknowledged "they have harmed my image, and the image of Kosovo."
The Kosovo PM said that over 90 countries had recognized Kosovo's independence, including much of Europe.
AP reports that Serbia insists it will never recognize Kosovo, which it views as a national heartland, but the EU wants Belgrade to normalize ties with Priština as a precondition for EU membership.
"We need to start. The more delays we face, the more difficult this process will become. Therefore both Kosovo and Serbia should fight to catch up, in order to have a faster integration process," Thaci was quoted as saying.
The EU is slated to release a report Oct. 10 on Kosovo's progress on preparing for a Stabilization and Association Agreement, the first step in the long path to membership, despite the fact that about, 5,600 NATO-led peacekeepers are still in charge of security and a 3,000-strong EU mission has the final say in legal matters.
Corruption, organized crime, smuggling and high unemployment remain huge problems, AP underscored.
"We have worked very hard, but I am aware that we need to do more," Thaci said. "We are now seen by the world as normal functioning country."
Kosovo, with about two million people, predominantly ethnic Albanians of Muslim faith, belongs to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, but cannot have its own telephone prefix because it does not belong to the UN.
Kosovo's membership at the UN is blocked by an ally of Serbia: Russia, a veto power-wielding member of the Security Council, which must approve any new members, explains AP.
"After normalization of relations with Serbia the path to the UN will be opened," Thaci claims.