In the interview for BLICK, Kosovo's top politician speaks about the change of power, the situation with Corona pandemic and the ongoing conflict with Serbia.

The acting President Vjosa Osmani: We need Switzerland’s help

The Kosovo flag flies at the Federal Parliament. A clearly visible sign of the high-profile visit to Bern: Speaker of the Parliament Vjosa Osmani (38), who is also the acting President since November, has come to talk to National Council President Andreas Aebi (62) about the February 14th elections and the relationship with Switzerland. At a press conference on Wednesday, followed by the interview for BLICK, they both speak of a “new era” in Kosovo.


Blick : Your party Lëvizja Vetëvendosje has grown- thanks in particular to the votes of Kosovars in Switzerland - within a year and a half from 26 to 48 percent of the votes . The expectations of you and Prime Minister designate Albin Kurti are huge. Isn't that too much pressure?


Vjosa Osmani: Of course - but we worked for a long time to get ready. First of all, we want to get corruption under control and create jobs, especially for the younger generation and for women. We still need Switzerland's help in this. The pandemic is of course not making all of this easier for us, if not more difficult.


Blick: The corona numbers in Kosovo are currently more than twice as high as in Switzerland, and at the same time not a single vaccine dose has been administered!


Osmani: We hope that Switzerland will think of us when it receives its vaccination doses - we know that it has ordered more than it needs. We are already talking about a sales contract or a donation. Especially for medical staff and high-risk groups. Switzerland has already given us a lot of support with medical equipment during the pandemic, and I am very grateful for that. But now we have to make sure that we are prepared for the next phase, because the pandemic is not over yet.


Blick: If Switzerland doesn't act fast enough, will you, as Serbia has done, use Russian and Chinese vaccines?


Osmani: We are part of the Covax initiative and hope that in the next few months we will receive doses that would supply 20 percent of the population. That is not sufficient, but we still don't want the vaccines from Russia or China. We are western-oriented in all matters - inclusive of our health issue.


Blick: Albin Kurti, overthrown last June at the instigation of Donald Trump, is now coming back to power, and there has also been a change in the White House. Have you heard as yet from the US President Joe Biden?


Osmani: Yes, he wrote a letter expressing his strong willingness to support the democratic development of Kosovo. At the same time, he is of the very clear opinion that the dialogue with Serbia should end with recognition of Kosovo's independence.


Blick: If the long-awaited solution is reached with Serbia under your new government - what will happen to the Presheva Valley, ownership of which has caused disagreement between Belgrade and Pristina over for years?


Osmani: We are clearly against the idea of the land swap because we believe that this idea is dangerous not only for Kosovo, but also for the entire region and will not bring lasting peace and stability. At the same time, we will raise our voice. Unfortunately, Serbia, although it is a signatory of many international conventions, does not respect the fundamental rights of the Albanians and is carrying out a silent ethnic cleansing. This applies particularly to the Medvegja area, where Serbia bypasses the Albanians, changes their addresses and does not allow them to live there. We hope that our partners will put positive pressure on Serbia and ask the country to respect the human rights and freedoms of the citizens living in this area.


BOX


T: Kosovo's beacon of hope


KEYSTONE


Vjosa Osmani (38) wants to move Kosovo forward. A lawyer, who got her doctorate in the USA, is a mother of twins - and since autumn the acting President of the youngest country in Europe. She run jointly with the Prime Minister designate Albin Kurti at the February 14th elections. Despite of the landslide victory, she is still not entirely sure of her official role: for this she needs the opposition votes in the parliament.