The President in Vienna: Kosovo needs membership in the United Nations Family

Vienna, May 30th 2018 – The President of the Republic of Kosovo, Hashim Thaçi, attended the promotion which the Vienna Diplomatic Academy has made to the biographical book “New State, Modern Statesman”, in the presence of many personalities of Austria’s public life.

At this promotional event, speakers were the Director of the Vienna Diplomatic Academy, Emil Brix, Ambassador Albert Rohan, Ambassador Wolfgang Petrisch and the Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama.

President Thaçi spoke about the latest political developments in Kosovo and in the region, about the European perspective of Kosovo and the normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia.

He also said that our modern history is closely linked to Vienna, with Austrian diplomats, Austrian universities and Austrian human rights activists.

“From Christine von Kohl to Otto von Habsburg and from Alois Mock to Rohan and Petritsch, Kosovo has always found support here. This support was based on well known principles and knowledge about the Balkans”, said President Thaçi.

The Head of State said that Austria did not discover the Balkans during the 1990’s, but Austria knew the Balkans very well, because our history is connected in many ways.

“The sword and the helmet of our national hero, Scanderbeg, known by the nickname “The Champion of Christ”, are found in Vienna. Hasan Prishtina, one the greatest historic personalities of Kosovo, sought refuge in Vienna when Serbia re-conquered Kosovo on 1918”, said President Thaçi.

He added that Vienna is also the place where President Marti Ahtisaari and Ambassador Rohan undertook the talks on Kosovo’s final status.

“For me personally, Vienna also has a meaning, because when I was a very young boy, after graduation from high school, before I joined the student ranks, I visited Vienna”- said President Thaçi.

He also stated that it were the Austrian diplomats, Jan Kickert and Ambassador Wolfang Petrisch, in the summer of 1998, the first European diplomats who contacted and invited President Thaçi and his friends, to convince them to become part of the political process.

The Head of State reminded that this was not easy at all for them, but it were the Austrian Ambassadors who had the courage to trust them.

“They had the patience to listen to us. For this reason, I will always remain grateful to them”, said President Thaçi.

President Thaçi also spoke about the discussions he had in the meeting with Chancellor Kurz.

“Sebastian is a strong supporter of Kosovo’s international position, and he personally is very involved in helping the integration of the Western Balkans in the European Union. We discussed about the visa liberalization process for Kosovo’s citizens and how Austria is one of the largest investors in Kosovo”, said he.

Speaking about the final stage of the dialogue with Serbia, President Thaçi, pointed out that we can move ahead, engage for compromise and help the people in Kosovo and Serbia to achieve normalization and historic reconciliation.

“Or we can get entangled in status quo and invite the forces of extremism, nationalism and external dangers to ruin the whole process we have achieved. I believe, and so do the majority of the political parties in Kosovo, that now we must move ahead towards the permanent solution”, said President Thaçi.

The Head of State has also mentioned the three crucial elements required for the dialogue to be a success.

“We are in need for a stronger and more focused engagement from Brussels, in order to achieve a legal framework agreement between the two sides. It is not sufficient for Brussels to ensure a meeting room and a few restaurants. Brussels must invest to achieve the solution. It must invest resources, people and time to close this chapter. I believe Ms. Mogherini shall do this”, said President Thaçi.

He also added that process needs for Washington to remain engaged as well.

“I met with Wess Mitchell, the new Deputy Secretary, and I have also met a few times with Vice President Mike Pence, and there is great interest in the United States of America to help the Balkans. The last few weeks I have also had meetings with President Macron and Chancellor Merkel and there is also a strong will in Paris and Berlin to help us achieve this agreement”, he said.

According to President Thaçi, Chancellor Kurz also is a supporter and welcomes this agenda, and is ready to help and expedite the process during Austria’s leadership of the EU Presidency.

Whereas, as the third element, President Thaçi has mentioned that the solution should be favorable to both parties.

“It cannot be measured in kilometers of territory, but in the progress towards future EU integration. We must offer maximum security and opportunity to the Kosovo Serbs, but also an equal place for Kosovo in the United Nation’s family”, said President Thaçi.

The President has also stressed that Kosovo is ready for dialogue and compromise, for the agreement and for European relations with Serbia.