President Thaçi's address at the media conference
Honourable citizens of the Republic of Kosovo;
Please allow me to thank you for your presence today here at this conference.
As I have made it clear before, the sole aim of this joint communication is the increase of transparency and sending of the right messages to our citizens in relation to issues and important developments in our country, especially the public and institutional debate on the dialogue process between the states of Kosovo and Serbia.
Allow me to point out that despite misinterpretations, intentional or non-intentional, rational or irrational statements, possible or impossible scenarios, I see value in the public and institutional debate on the most important process for Kosovo, the dialogue process on normalization, reconciliation and mutual recognition between the states of Kosovo and Serbia.
I say so, because only through an open debate, through careful analysis of all possible options, going one step further, and by taking the courage to openly discuss subjects of options which until today were considered as “taboo”, we together, may be able to find a solution to this process, which must be in full compliance with our state interest.
Allow me to point out that Kosovo has its own state institutions, which must fulfil their constitutional and legal obligations, including the proper proceedings of the dialogue process.
Parliament of the Republic of Kosovo, is the main supervisory institution which will have its final say on the ratification or non-ratification of an eventual agreement, which may result at the end of this process.
I have said it few time snow, that the dialogue process with Serbia and the opportunities of achieving of a final agreement for normalisation, mutual recognition, reconciliation, are very slim.
But, we all have to do our best, to use each opportunity, even the smallest one, in this limited space, to maybe at the end, achieve a historic, definitive agreement in a peaceful manner, through dialogue.
I want to emphasize that dialogue has only one crucial aim: achievement of an inter-state agreement on normalisation, mutual recognition and reconciliation, in a peaceful manner.
For this reason, all the actors involved in this process and this public debate, I want to invite them to emphasize the fact that agreement can only be reached via dialogue.
Agreement may only be achieved through mutual understanding and in peaceful manner, and under no circumstances under threat of war.
Honourable media representatives;
Honourable citizens of the Republic of Kosovo;
Parliament of Kosovo concluded this spring session with a long debate on dialogue.
Unfortunately, all those speeches. Some rational, some fiery and more often than not out of context, did not bring out anything concrete.
At the end, the debate ended without a platform, resolution or even a verbal agreement on the proceedings of this process.
Differences between the parliamentary political parties in relation to this process and the inability to build a wide consensus, are regrettable.
Nevertheless, I still hope in the wisdom and the courage of the leaders of political parties to join together on our common aim, because we do not have time to waste.
Those who believe that Kosovo needs not rush and must not take this process so seriously, who think that time is in our favour, are completely wrong, and do not have the faintest idea on the dynamic developments on the international arena.
Some still waste their energy in discussing whether the final stage of the dialogue on normalisation of relations must take place now or not.
And strangely enough, they purposefully forget the fact that the dialogue on the final agreement has commenced two months ago and so far two important meetings of this final stage have taken place.
The forthcoming meeting will be held in September, and the dynamism of other meetings will rise.
Kosovo must continue to remain involved in this dialogue process in a responsible and constructive manner.
If any of the two sides, Kosovo or Serbia, for whatever reason, refuses the dialogue or pretends to withdraw unilaterally for this process, will be facing serious consequences on its Euro-Atlantic integration process.
This fact is sufficient to abnegate the mistaken theories that Kosovo could hinder Serbia, or is able to prevent Serbia’s EU membership, if it leaves the dialogue process.
In such an immature act, EU as a mediator and leader of this process, but also the USA and other international partners, will identify Kosovo as an unfit and culpable for escaping from the process and for the failure to achieve a final agreement on inter-state normalisation between Kosovo and Serbia.
As a consequence, we all know, that EU would not hesitate at all to, due to lack of Kosovo’s readiness to dialogue an agreement, to enable Serbia’s move ahead towards EU agreement.
And Kosovo would risk to loose EU support and the support of our other international partners, and to remain isolated and hopeless in realisation of our aspirations for EU. NATO and UN memberships.
So, it must be clear to everyone, that only through constructive and participatory approach, may Kosovo gain the international and EU support.
During the last three decades, all those who have refused or boycotted the dialogue have come up looser.
Kosovo was involved, has participated in the dialogue and has won.
The immature statements that Kosovo has potential to prevent Serbia from becoming an EU member are very naïve.
Unfortunately, certain individuals, political leaders, have quite often proved that they poses sufficient negative potential to hinder and isolate Kosovo on its Euro-Atlantic processes but not some other state.
In any case, the Parliament of Kosovo remains the sole state institution of representation of the interest of the citizens of the country, which will ratify or not the final agreement between Kosovo and Serbia.
The question that pop-ups quite often is: are the political parties represented at the parliament fulfilling their duty towards the interest of the citizens?
The adequate answer will be given by the citizens themselves, but I think that the time has come to empower even more our voice and will in the decision making process of the citizens of our country.
We have 10 years of functioning as an independent and democratic state, and for all the known reasons, we are among the very few democratic countries that has not yet managed to approve the necessary legislation for strengthening of the decision making role of our citizens, concretely, we still have no right to hold a referendum.
Towards this aim, I am carrying out the necessary inter-institutional consultations, with our international partners as well, so that in a near future, we agree on the procedures for adequate legislation, which will enable the voice and the will of the citizens to be expressed for important and vital issues through the referendum.
Particularly in case of an achieved peaceful agreement on normalisation, reconciliation and mutual recognition between Kosovo and Serbia, I consider as a must the declaration of the will of the citizens via a referendum.
Citizens of the Republic of Kosovo, must be able to become decision makers in such an important and historic process, especially now when we are bearing witness to serious divergences within the political spectrum on dialogue process and eventual final agreement between Kosovo and Serbia.
It is such personal or group ego’s which have delayed us in establishing Kosovo’s Armed Forces, for four years now, since the opportunity has been given to us by the US and NATO. If we would have had the mechanism of the referendum, I am convinced that no-one would have had the ability to prevent for electoral, populistic, or daily interests, the creation of Kosovo’s Armed Forces. If this right was expressed by the citizens of Kosovo, I am sure that they would have massively voted in favour of the establishment of the Kosovo Armed Forces, and today Kosovo would be part of the partnership for peace, and on a sure path towards quick membership in NATO.
Also, I am sure that if the citizens of Kosovo had the right to express their stance through a referendum on the issue of the demarcation with the Montenegro, things which have happened would not have happen, and for the last three years citizens of Kosovo would have enjoyed the visa liberalisation and would not have remained hostage of unnecessary, stubborn populistic vetoes, which delay the consolidation of the state of Kosovo. So, in this case, we must not remain silent on the mistakes which have happen on the non-establishment of the Kosovo’s Armed Forces. We missed the chance for the establishment of KAF in the spring of 2014 and on the second case we pushed for three years the decision on visa liberalisation.
Honourable media representatives,
Citizens of the republic of Kosovo,
The dialogue process and the opportunity to achieve a final peaceful agreement between Kosovo and Serbia must not scare anyone or be classified as dangerous.
On the contrary, all international actors have been involved more than ever before to help both sides achieve an agreement.
As the president of the country, I am at the helm of my state, my constitutional and legal responsibilities, and without hesitation will accomplish all my responsibilities.
But I ask for us to be as together on this as it is possible, for the sake of the consolidation of our state and for our Euro-Atlantic perspective.
For this reason I have asked and will continue to ask for the unity of the parliamentary political parties because I have never run away from my responsibilities.
I ask for such a thing also for the best protection of state interests but also to legitimise the historic political requests of the Albanians of Presheva, Medvegja and Bujanoc to join Kosovo.
I fail to understand the hesitation at the best, and at worst, the refusal of individuals or political parties to join at this historic opportunity and to repair as much as we can the mistake made in the past towards the Albanians of Presheva, Medvegja and Bujanoc.
In respect of this legitimate request, which to me is a real opportunity, I have publicly said that Kosovo must be ready to take into consideration the option of demarcation, correction of the border with Serbia.
I reiterate, there will be somewhere around 400 kilometres or demarcation between Kosovo and Serbia, the correction of the borders between the states of Kosovo and Serbia. Whoever presents any other option, let them be sure that they will be facing this problem sooner or later, as will Serbia. I expect a strong support, and professional advice from NATO in this respect.
Now, the state institutions and the citizens of |Kosovo must be clear in relation to the legitimate request of the political representatives of the Albanians of the Presheva valley, request which they have institutionalised to join Kosovo.
Our answer to this request must be clear and not muddy or camouflaged with conspiracy theories.
The state of Kosovo, our institutions, must not close their eyes and ignore such an historic and unrepeatable opportunity.
We must join together and say yes to this rational and just request which may be realised in an entirely peaceful manner.
I cannot be more clear and direct than this.
This opportunity will not be there forever, we must understand this, in Prishtina and elsewhere.
If we lose such a momentum, then the crocodile tears of a later date will be entirely useless.
But in any case, I assure the citizens of Presheva, Medvegja and Bujanoc that all to the end, I will endeavour to realize their political will and their historic right.
As the president of the Republic of Kosovo, not even for one moment, I will not be held hostage to personal, party or group interests which today hesitate to work towards this aim.
I am determined to lead this political and historic battle all the way to the end, as this is in conformity with the state and civic interests. When I say battle, I speak in relation to Serbia. The battle is fought in the table of discussions, through the dialogue process, negotiations, and those represented there gain credits as well.
Honourable media representatives,
Honourable citizens of the Republic of Kosovo
Beginnings of the Albanian historic processes have allways been difficult, sometimes they even seemed like a dream which will never come true, but the reality was different. I am sure that during these joint endeavours as part of the peaceful dialogue, I will be joined by those who today openly criticise me and my cause of the correction of the border with Serbia in a peaceful manner, in order to enable the Albanians of Presheva, Medvegja and Bujanoc to realize their political will, their centuries long ambition.
I do not want to sound at all pessimistic, but I must say that if I fail in attempting this historic act, I will not be ashamed, as I have tried to correct this historic injustice.
But I cannot say that many people will have the same fate, who without any political or historic arguments hesitate to align on the side of justice.
And at the end, to shake away all the dilemmas, eventual peaceful agreement between Kosovo and Serbia, even if the same includes the correction of the borders in a peaceful manner, this under no circumstance means the opening of the Pandora’s Box or a domino effect.
All our international friends included in this process, strongly support the achievement of a peaceful agreement between Kosovo and Serbia, as two sovereign states.
But we must be clear, we live in the 21st century and states of the region which have suffered the crimes during the last century, have learned the lesson.
The main lesson which the states of the Western Balkans have learned is that solving of the open inter-state issues through dialogue and in a peaceful manner is the only manner.
For this reason, as part of this inter-state dialogue of Kosovo and Serbia we enjoy the full support of the relevant international decision making factors, in achieving of a peaceful agreement and by not excluding in no way the option of border correction.
I do understand the hastened reaction of individuals and political parties related to the correction of borders as a final peaceful option.
But, we have no other options, in order to attach of Presheva, Medvegja and Bujanoc to Kosovo, without agreement with Serbia on border correction.
Whoever has an idea on how could this be achieved, I will gladly listen to them and will support them in their engagement, but not with an option to go to war.
In case we are successful in this endeavour, the case of border corrections between Kosovo and Serbia will in no manner be a precedent.
Around the world, we have tens of cases of peaceful border corrections.
Such a relevant example took part only two years ago between the establishing countries of the European Union, in 2016, between Holland and Belgium.
These two states managed to correct their border in a peaceful manner without the need to fire even a single bullet. Instead, they lend the hand of understanding and reconciliation.
We are also aware that the character of multi-ethnic states is a core value of every democratic state.
Furthermore, it is a fundamental EU value and principle.
Kosovo and Serbia want to become EU members.
Hence, under any circumstance, in case we achieve the final agreement, we will ensure that this value is preserved and affirmed.
Thank you very much for your attention.