President Thaçi requests political unity for the dialogue with Serbia

Prishtina, April 05, 2018 – The President of the Republic of Kosovo, Hashim Thaçi, participated at the conference “Scenarios for the ‘Grand Finale’ between Kosovo and Serbia”, organized by the RIDEA Institute and supported by the Norwegian Embassy.

At this conference, where most of the political leaders were present, President Thaçi has requested political unity for the dialogue with Serbia.

This is President Thaçi’s speech at the conference “Scenarios of the ‘Grand Finale’ between Kosovo and Serbia”:

Honourable participants,

Let me first thank Labinot from the RIDEA Institute and Naim from the BPRG Institute, who gathered us today to address the main topic of this conference or the “Scenarios of the ‘Grand Finale’ between Kosovo and Serbia”.

This conference is a good opportunity to consider the key issue of Kosovo's long-term stabilization, the one of normalizing relations between Kosovo and Serbia as two independent states.

As we know, twenty full years have passed since our war for liberation, nineteen years since the Peace Conference of Rambouillet, ten years since the declaration of the independence of Kosovo, seven years since the beginning of the Brussels talks, while the relations between Kosovo and Serbia are not yet politically concluded.

In all international processes aimed at resolving the Kosovo issue, Kosovo’s leadership has been ready for political agreement with Serbia.

In the past, tens of years have been lost, without our fault and responsibility, many good opportunities have been lost, in the absence of the political will of Serbia’s leadership, to end political and historical hostilities between Kosovo and Serbia, which are more than a century old.

Even in the grave years of the war, even in the years of peace and the building of democracy in Kosovo, even in the years when we became a state, we were ready to make a great historic agreement with Serbia.

This readiness has lacked in Serbia.

However, we are here today together to talk much more about the present and the future of relations between Kosovo and Serbia, namely about what Labinot, Naim and their colleagues, with a sports terminology, have classified as the grand finale of the Brussels talks.

I think that in Kosovo politics and society we still have a broad reconciliation that we must complete the unfinished tasks in our relations with Serbia and the legally binding agreement on the normalization of relations between the two states must be reached.

The conclusion of the political dialogue with Serbia, with the legally binding agreement, is the national interest of Kosovo, which does not know the divisive governmental and opposition lines.

In this process, we must be united to close this difficult and tragic historical chapter to pave the way for Kosovo to be an equal state with all other states in the UN, the EU, the NATO Pact, everywhere.

We as a generation have come a long way.

Kosovo has been liberated. Kosovo has become an independent state.

But, the story of Kosovo of this generation, can not take that final form without enabling the state of Kosovo to be a member of the UN, the EU, the NATO Pact.

Therefore, we owe the citizens of Kosovo to fulfill of goal.

However, when talking about the incomplete dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, it is also true that there is less and less patience for further talks in Brussels without a clear timetable for their finalization, without a clear goal of what kind of content the agreement between the two countries must have, without the clear international mechanisms that will guarantee the implementation of this agreement.

The announcement of the ‘EU Enlargement Strategy with the remaining six Western Balkan Countries’ in early February, as well as many other processes that are known to all of us, have given more light to the perspective of the ‘Grand Finale’ of the Brussels dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia.

On the other hand, in the recent weeks, as the President of Kosovo, I have had many meetings, not only in Prishtina, but also in many Western capitals, with politicians and diplomats of the main Western states, in order to provide Kosovo’s vision for the final phase of the Brussels talks, but also to understand what the positions of the states that are partners of Kosovo in the liberation, independence and stabilization of Kosovo as a state are.

I am convinced that the time has come for a grand political and historical agreement between Kosovo and Serbia.

This also brings me to the very essence of this conference, of what the possible scenarios ahead are?

As we all witnessed, there is no and there can be no ‘Status Quo’ or a kind of frozen situation in the relations between Kosovo and Serbia.

Indeed, in the last two years, we have had a deterioration and not improvement in relations between Kosovo and Serbia, in the absence of the Brussels dialogue epilogue.

Therefore, I consider that the first scenario does not suit Kosovo, nor our region.

In terms of time and based on the terminology used in the ‘EU Enlargement Strategy’, we speak about an urgency to reach a legally binding agreement between Kosovo and Serbia.

The urgency for us and for Brussels, let’s hope for Belgrade as well, implies that this year is the time frame for the signing of this agreement.

Regarding the content of the agreement itself, it already recognizes its own political and diplomatic ‘code’ under the title of a ‘legally binding agreement’.

For us in Kosovo, this agreement has the burden of the mutual recognition between Kosovo and Serbia and the full normalization of relations between the two states.

This agreement, then with its precise and clear terminology, should enable Kosovo to become a member state of the UN, the OSCE and all international organizations.

The legally binding agreement between Kosovo and Serbia should also bring recognition from the five EU states, as well as an accelerated pace of Kosovo’s membership in the EU and NATO.

But the fundamental question raised in this case is whether Serbia will be ready for such an agreement, and if so, then what compromise will it demand from Kosovo?

I have said several times that the correction of borders is an option which carries many dangers, which we all know, so I do not want to go into detail.

We consider that Kosovo has made all the painful compromises so far through the Comprehensive Plan of President Ahtisaari.

Finally, we believe that the EU and the USA together, should be guarantors, not only in achieving this great agreement, but also in its implementation, with very concrete timely deadlines and with international verification mechanisms on its implementation.

We thus know what we want as Kosovo and we also know that it is no longer possible to postpone or delay the conclusion of talks with Serbia in Brussels.

But if I’m going to be quite frank with you, I’m aware of all the political and security risks that are common to these serious processes in their finale.

This will be a very difficult process. But there is no alternative.

And the greatest possible risk, the greatest potential threat, is the failure of our obligation to fully normalize relations between Kosovo and Serbia.

I said it even earlier and I repeat it once again at the end of my speech.

The talks with Serbia, as they have brought together the Kosovo politics at the Rambouillet Conference and the Vienna Process, should also unite us in the Brussels final.

This is the best solution for the Kosovo politics, because this political unity is indispensable on our part to provide all the necessary guarantees for the achievement and implementation of the legally binding agreement with Serbia.

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