President Thaçi at “Chatham House”: Time to reflect on the dialogue

London, April 5, 2019 - The President of the Republic of Kosovo, Hashim Thaçi, at the invitation of the Royal Institute for International Relations “Chatham House”, held today a lecture on the political situation in Kosovo and the region, on the dialogue and the Euro-Atlantic perspective of Kosovo, in London, Great Britain.

Speaking to those present, President Thaçi said that it is worth discussing about Kosovo precisely on these days during the celebration of the 70th anniversary of NATO’s establishment and the 20th anniversary of NATO’s intervention in Kosovo.

“The world got convinced that Slobodan Milosevic, that Serbia, did not want any dialogue, agreement, or peace. Serbia continued the genocide campaign and exiled half of Kosovo’s population from their homes and outside the borders of Kosovo. Serbian forces performed 400 massacres around Kosovo and caused more than 20,000 victims of sexual violence”, said President Thaçi.

The Head of State further mentioned that it was the NATO humanitarian intervention that led to the halt of the genocide and ethnic cleansing undertaken by Serbian forces.

Speaking of today’s perspective of Kosovo, President Thaçi said that Kosovo is now an independent, sovereign state, recognized by more than 100 countries around the world, a member of more than 200 world organizations.

Speaking about visa liberalization, the Head of State said that even though Kosovo’s population is the most pro-European one in the Western Balkans, even though it has met all the conditions for visa-free travel to the EU, unfortunately remains Europe’s most isolated country.

Such a thing, according to him, has happened because “EU countries lack the courage and unity to make decisions on Kosovo. This is unfair and a punishment, especially for the younger generation”, he said.

President Thaçi, in the framework of this conversation held at the Chatham House Institute, also talked about the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia.

According to him it is not easy for former enemies to talk to each other, but “communication and dialogue are the only way to move forward, the only way to achieve peace, otherwise we will remain hostage of the past and the prize will be paid by the next generation”.

“I remain confident and optimist that the reason will prevail, and that our countries will reach a peace agreement. A compromise agreement that will bring benefits to both countries. A legally binding agreement that will bring mutual recognition of the two sovereign countries, the recognition of Kosovo by the five EU countries which haven’t recognized it yet, a safe journey towards NATO and the EU, and membership in the United Nations, and would provide European perspective to Serbia”, stated President Thaçi.

He has added that the Dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia has been dynamic and energetic, and this is healthy for the process and for our societies.

“There are also skeptics and opponents, and I understand them. But, my question to everyone is - what is the alternative of dialogue? How do they see the path forward? To continue animosity and conflict? My answer is NO”, said President Thaçi.

The Head of State has requested for the international community to be unified, especially the Quint states, and that if they are united, Kosovo will be even more united.

“Above all, the agreement is in the interest of Kosovo, in the interest of Serbia, but also in the interest of the international community, in the interest of the EU and the USA”, he stressed.

Adding that the status quo and the frozen conflict can not stand, he said that Kosovo was and remains a constructive partner in this process.

“Agreements can not be achieved through unilateral actions of either party, or by the imposition of conditions. In Kosovo, over 70 percent of citizens support the dialogue and the reaching of the agreement with Serbia. A comprehensive agreement that will close all open issues between Kosovo and Serbia, such as missing persons, refugees, cultural and historical heritage, economic cooperation, community rights and issues such as education, health and similar”, the President added.

President Thaçi said at the end of this conversation that “one thing is certain that there will be no borders based on ethnic lines, and that Kosovo will remain a multiethnic state and society, preserving the spirit of Western values and principles of the liberal democracies that we have built together”.

After the speech, President Thaçi responded to the participants’ questions.