Kurti: Serb minister from Srpska Lista, but not in the coalition

The politician expected to head the next Kosovo government, Vetevendosje leader Albin Kurti told N1 that his cabinet will include an obligatory Serb minister who will not necessarily be from the Belgrade-backed Srpska Lista.

“I will respect the constitution but there is a fundamental difference between a constitutional obligation and a political coalition. We are trying to form a ruling coalition which will not need the votes of the Srpska Lista which will be in the opposition. Serb nationality does not mean party affiliation but only nationality,” he told N1 program Director Jugoslav Cosic during an interview for the Pressing talk show.

Kurti said he had not spoken to the Srpska Lista yet adding that he will not “excommunicate them in parliament because they are MPs”. “I feel that the elections in Serb majority municipalities were not free and fair,” he said. According to him, there were cases of one Serb voting 18 times and cases of more votes being cast for the Srpska Lista than there were voters in some areas. He said the blame for that lies with Kosovo institutions. “It’s a bad thing that we had election fraud in communities with majority Serb populations as international observers reported. There were many incidents like those because of pressure from Belgrade to win 100 percent,” Kurti said. “I’m not blaming the Srpska Lista, they are passing on the pressure they feel, that is Belgrade’s pressure on the Srpska Lista and is passed on to the Serb population in Kosovo,” he said.

Asked why he is eliminating Srpska Lista, Kurti replied that Belgrade is paying for obedience and added that Kosovo’s institutions and the international community have to prevent Belgrade from pressuring the Kosovo Serbs. “I have nothing against the Serbs, on the contrary I have many Serb friends in Kosovo. The problem with the Srpska Lista is that they are Belgrade’s tool… and that is a huge problem,” Kurti said.

He said that the government which he expects to form in the next few weeks will start a dialogue with the Kosovo Serbs about economic development, not reconciliation. “Ask the Serbs and Albanians what they need and they will say jobs and justice and that should be a priority,” he said. Kurti said he would also start talks with the new European Union High representative Josep Borell. “We need a dialogue in Brussels along with the dialogue with Serbia,” Kurti said.

Kurti said that his government would replace the 100 percent tariffs on Serbian goods through reciprocity which he said is “the principle for healthy constructive relations”. “We will draw up a list of everything needed for reciprocity with Belgrade,” he said. According to him, Serbia has to do something in other fields before the tariffs are revoked and only then should a dialogue be prepared. “We do not have the luxury of allowing another dialogue to fail,” he said. Asked if he would come to Belgrade for talks, Kurti said the two sides should meet in Brussels. He said his team would have two segments – a political segment which would include the opposition and a team of experts for the various aspects of a future agreement. “The most important things are three principles – no agreement without a dialogue, no dialogue with maps and no presidents around the maps only demarcation experts. That will help us move from ambition and appetites for each others’ territories to civil rights and community needs,” he said and added that he does not think an agreement can be reached by next spring.

Kurti said that he views demarcation as an unacceptable racist concept. “There will always be Albanians and Serbs on both sides of the border. Demarcation yes, but not an exchange of territory because that is not a dialogue for peace but a dialogue leading to future conflicts,” he said. “There can be no reconciliation without trust. We need trust and we don’t have it because we are talking about agreeing on values and we disagree on the facts of the war in which we were all involved. We need to agree on values but reconciliation requires agreement on the facts,” he said. Kurti said he would insist on all crimes being investigated. “The past does not pass easily and it is always in the present. We have to face the past to move forward. There were crimes committed against Serbs and I want us to have normal courts which will sentence Albanians who killed Serbs,” he said.

Speaking about the murder of Kosovo Serb leader Oliver Ivanovic, Kurti said he wants Kosovo institutions and the international community to take a stand on the murder. “The murder of Oliver Ivanovic was the first time in Kosovo’s history that Serbs did not blame Albanians for the killing of a Serb in Kosovo,”he said and voiced disappointment with Kosovo institutions and EULEX.

Asked why he has a flag of Albania on his office wall, Kurti said he would have a flag of Kosovo in his cabinet as prime minister. “The Albanian flag is very old and there is a lot of history in it. The Kosovo flag will be in the prime minister’s office. When the flag of Kosovo was adopted, there was no democracy or history in the flag, just geography and the Albanian flag became the flag of resistance,” he said.




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