Kurti: The Balkans is threatened by „pan-Slavic hegemony“, only now has the true integration of the Serbs been achieved

Ilustracija/FOTO: KoSSev

The Kosovan PM said that Serbs in the north resigning from their jobs in the police and judiciary does not present a step back in the integration of the Serbian minority. “With my new Serbian minister and his advisor, we now have real integration,” Kurti claims, noting that they “are the two most hated people in Belgrade,” even more than Kurti himself. He says that no head of government before him has had so many meetings with representatives of Serbian civil society, but that they don’t do it publicly. The Prime Minister warned against the “pan-Slavic hegemony” of Serbia and Russia in the Balkans. “Serbia is not a normal country,” he adds, saying that it should “face its past.”

The head of the government of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, gave an interview for the Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger ahead of his visit to the World Economic Forum in Davos.

In the interview, published on the website of the Prime Minister’s Office, he describes Kosovo as a “progressive, pro-European and democratic country” and “a double success story.”

“In 1999, NATO democracies stopped Serbia’s genocide in Kosovo. Since then, we have proven that economic development and democracy go hand in hand.”
When asked whether he will meet with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, he replied that it depends on the EU special envoy, Miroslav Lajcak.

Kurti says that he is in favor of normalization of relations with Belgrade, recalling the words of the US president and German Chancellor – “mutual recognition should be the centerpiece.”

“We are interested in achieving full normalization of relations between the two countries, based on mutual recognition. We are always ready for a constructive dialogue.”
Until now, he added, in the Brussels dialogue, Pristina has always been asked to make compromises and concessions, with the idea that Serbia will “finally recognize Kosovo.”
“But it will never work that way.“

“Belgrade is upset because we are doing quite well even though they don’t recognize us. According to international experts, we have made great progress in the fight against corruption, rule of law, and media freedom,” he said.

On a journalist’s remark that Kosovo without fixing the relationship with Serbia remains pending, Kurti said that he has “enough to do at home.”

“When I wake up in the morning and think about the day’s priorities, Serbia is not the first.”
Still, the Kosovan PM mostly spoke about Serbia during the interview.

On ASM without recognition – it’s like ordering tea without a cup, we are not stupid

When asked about the lack of implementation of the ASM agreement, Kurti said that in the last ten years, 33 agreements have been signed with Serbia, but that “almost nothing” has been implemented.

“Belgrade always insists on municipal autonomy. Why do you think? Serbia wants Kosovo, like Bosnia, to have a state within a state with Republika Srpska, i.e. to become non-functional,” he said, adding:

“I told Vucic that if he really wants to do something for the Serbian minority, he should recognize Kosovo. He cannot say that Kosovo is a ‘fake state’ and at the same time stand up for municipal autonomy within this state. It’s like ordering tea without a cup, we are not stupid.“

The vast majority of Serbs in the north have no problem with Kosovo license plates

Upon the journalist’s remark that it was Kurti’s tough stance on the dispute over mutual license plate recognition that contributed to an escalation of the situation, he replied:

“Would Switzerland accept it if a minority in the country drove with Italian or French license plates for years?”

The vast majority of Serbs in the north of our country have no problem with Kosova license plates – he added.

“A small group is instrumentalized by Belgrade. The armed people behind the barricades are not interested in human rights, but in the territory. They want to preserve the north of Kosovo as a law-free zone.”

He boasted of destroying six drug labs in the northern municipalities and cryptocurrency production labs that have taken advantage of the free electricity.

“Nobody pays electricity bills there,” he stressed.

Until Rasic’s appointment, we’ve had a fake integration

The Kosovan PM said that Serbs in the north resigning from their jobs in the police and judiciary does not present a step back in the integration of the Serbian minority.

“I do not think so. During the last ten years, we have had a fake integration. Serbian officials have largely boycotted the hearings.“

In his words, Kosovo now has “real integration,” after Nenad Rasic was appointed as a new minister in the Kosovo government, and Rada Trajkovic was chosen as his advisor after Goran Rakic from Srpska Lista tendered his resignation.

“With my new Serbian minister and his advisor, we now have real integration. They are the two most hated people in Belgrade, even more than me.”

No head of government before me has had so many meetings with representatives of Serbian civil society

Kurti reiterated that no head of government before him has had so many meetings with representatives of Serbian civil society, noting that they are not doing it publicly for their safety.

“I hired a Serbian adviser at the beginning of my first term. As soon as his appointment became public, he and his wife were so threatened that the young man resigned from his post. Others before him who wanted to integrate have been killed.”

Serbia is “not a normal country,” Vucic described me as “terrorist scum”

Speaking of the Serb President, Kurti reveals that he knows who his dealing with.
According to him, Germany had denazification after World War II, while Serbia has not dealt with its past.

“Aleksandar Vucic has already described me as terrorist scum in his propaganda media. At the same time, Serbian generals convicted of war crimes are given a post at the military academy after completing their imprisonment in Belgrade. What should they lecture there?”
He reiterated that Serbia is “not a normal country”, because it has not distanced itself from the legacy of the dictator Slobodan Milosevic.

“Now add to that the non-distancing from Vladimir Putin and his war in Ukraine,” he stated, noting that since the assassination of the former Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic “the dark forces in Serbia celebrate their return.”

“Belgrade seeks a relationship with its neighbors similar to what Moscow has with Ukraine and Belarus. Therefore, this neighboring is a security risk for us.”

When asked whether a greater conflict be imagined, as in 1990, Kurti said it would be irresponsible to say that there is no risk of escalation.

“Since Russia’s attack on Ukraine on February 24, we have seen indicators of a Pan-Slavic hegemony, such as joint military exercises between Serbia and Russia. Even a few hundred people can cause great damage,” he claims.

Kurti said that Serbia wants to turn Republika Srpska in Bosnia, Montenegro, and northern Kosovo into a sphere of influence, the same way that Russia behaves with Belarus and Ukraine.

“Our problem is that our Western partners believe that Serbia is being driven only by opportunism, it is waiting for the end of the Putin era, and then will be clearly oriented towards Europe. This is naive. Aleksandar Vucic is awaiting Donald Trump’s return to Washington more than the end of the war in Ukraine. Eighty percent of the population has a positive opinion of Vladimir Putin. Serbia sees itself as part of a pan-Slavic, Orthodox sphere outside of Europe,” he concluded.

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