President Thaçi in Berlin: Our history and our fate lie within the European familyBerlin, May 8th, – President of the Republic of Kosovo, Hashim Thaçi, on the first day of his official visit to Berlin, delivered a keynote address to the German Council on Foreign Relations.
In front of many German state representatives and diplomats, representatives of the civil society and media outlets, President Thaçi said that Germany has proved itself to be a great friend and supporter of the Republic of Kosovo.
He also stated that the people of Kosovo not so long ago did find shelter in this country, during the worst of times, and while a considerable number of those who sought shelter have returned to their homeland, a number is also well integrated into German society.
“Germany has supported Kosovo and Kosovars during their darkest times, through participation in NATO intervention. Germany is also one of the largest donors and investors in Kosovo, and is helping Kosovo in many sectors, from rule of law to investments in energy sector” added President Thaçi.
According to the President, Germany’s role in support of Kosovo in the international arena remains crucial, as Berlin today has become one of the strongest symbols of the European democratic values and ideas.
President Thaçi, speaking in relation to Kosovo’s European perspective, stated that tomorrow, May the 9th, Europe Day, is a public holiday in Kosovo, and Kosovo is dedicated to its Euro-Atlantic perspective, while over 90 % of the Kosovars support Kosovo’s EU and NATO membership.
“We want to become members of the European Union and we want to join NATO as a member state. We want this to take place as quick as possible. We cherish the same hopes and wishes for all our neighbours in Western Balkans. Our fate and our history lie within the European family” said Presdient Thaçi.
He also pointed out three important issues, which he shared with the participants at tonight’s address.
“First, it is the time to conclude the bilateral issues. In our region, there are many open issues between the 6 states. The most sensitive issue is the relations between Kosovo and Serbia. This is not a new issue. It is a hundred years old problem, and we tried to normalize relations, and now the time has come to do more than just constructive communications”- said Presdient Thaçi.
President Thaçi also pointed out that Germany was one of the first countries to recognize Kosovo’s independence, followed by 116 other recognitions, and membership in around 200 international organisations.
“Second, we have lost decades in crisis and wars, and in our region we must concentrate in interconnections between our states. Interconnections became the focus of Berlin Process, which is one of the most important German diplomatic initiatives on Western Balkans”, added Mr. President.
According to him, Kosovo is eternally grateful to Germany, and other EU member states which share the same position with Germany, for bringing back Western Balkans on the agenda and its enlargement process.
President Thaçi, in the presence of many participants at one of the most prestigious foreign policy institutions in Germany, said that Sofia Summit is a historic event, as for the first time ever, all leaders of the EU member states will meet with the leaders of the six Western Balkans states.
“ We are all very interested to utilize to our benefit the positive momentum which resulted from the European Commission’s Strategy on Western Balkans, approved in February of this year” –added President Thaçi.
As the third issue, President Thaçi mentioned the need for Germany to be bolder and even more direct in Western Balkans.
“For a certain number of years, we suffered a lack of diplomatic focus in the Balkans. Today, nationalism and extremism are more dangerous than a year ago. We cannot remain on this status-quo forever. But, for the agreement between Kosovo and Serbia, we require greater engagement of our friends in Berlin, Brussels and Washington”.
According to President Thaçi, there are certain ideas which he will be discussing with Chancellor Merkel tomorrow, on how to engage Brussels 100 % on the next stage of the dialogue.
“I am convinced that chancellor Merkel will be providing the necessary directions, the due time and the necessary frame work. Why do I say this? I say it because I strongly believe that Kosovo, Serbia, and Western Balkans believe in Germany”, said President Thaçi.
On the other hand, Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger said that EU needs greater leadership.
“I agree with you Mr. President, and with the message you shall be conveying to chancellor Merkel tomorrow. Leadership by EU is necessary, particularly one from Berlin. Without it, things will just not happen”, said Mr. Ischinger.
President Thaçi and Ambassador Ischinger also said that EU must not delay the visa liberalisation and that it must happen during this calendar year.