Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

Lulzim Basha and Vuk Yeremich for Kosovo

Adelina Marini, February 28, 2008

The meeting of the foreign ministers of the participating states in the Process for cooperation in South East Europe is taking place today in Sofia. Yesterday, the participating states put en end to the Stability pact for South East Europe and on its place established the Regional cooperation council. According to members of delegations at today's meetings the position of the Serbian foreign minister has become tougher since yesterday. He made a statement in which he reminded that Serbia would never accept Kosovo's separation. Bellow you can see the positions of the Albanian foreign minister Lulzim Basha and Yeremich. There are questions from other media as well:

For the Albanian foreign minister Serbia's behaviour is absolutely no surprise:

LULZIM BASHA: This wasn't unexpected. The failure to achieve a compromise during the negotiations left Serbia with a result it did not want but in the end of the day everyone will understand, including Serbia and the Serbians wherever they are, that independent Kosovo is not directed against anyone. Just the opposite, this is a chance for everyone and especially for the people of Kosovo, including the Serbians there who are ready to go ahead with their lives and are exhausted with being used as pawns by Belgrade in the last century. On the second place, this is a chance for Serbia because it will stop having an alibi and will focus all its energy to meet the needs of its citizens to make their lives better. Third, in the framework of our common future in the EU, boundaries will stop being important and no one will suffer because there will be free movement of people, goods, capital, services. So, if we look ahead what happened on the 17th of February had a serious contribution to peace and stability in the Balkans. This symbolised the removal of the last obstacle toward full integration of the region to NATO and the EU.

Albania was one of the first countries that recognised Kosovo in the first day of its independence. Asked about the future relations between Albania and Kosovo Lulzim Basha said:

LULZIM BASHA: The future relations between Albania and Kosovo could be defined as mutual respect and shared goals for integration to the EU and NATO. We have worked for the achievement of this goal and and we will continue to work hard in spite of current difficulties, which I think will be overcome. Kosovo will be part of this process, it will be a true partner in our approach toward euro-Atlantic integration.

Naturally, the question about the fears of Great Albania was inevitable.

LULZIM BASHA: It's a pity that some politicians prefer to use this rhetoric for putting in fire the fears of their own audience. Sometimes this is caused by short term interests, often pre-election interests. The truth is that the only union Albania and Kosovo foresee for themselves is the EU and NATO.

Albanian foreign minister also said his opinion about the Russian position in the dispute:

LULZIM BASHA: We strongly believe that Russia as an important factor on international scene will understand as soon as possible the necessity to be a constructive power and to help the region on its path toward euro-Atlantic integration. Because this is the road the region has chosen for itself.

And with regard to the fears that Albanians in Macedonia might separate:

LULZIM BASHA: Albanians in Macedonia have a framework, called the Ohrid agreement which is being implemented and we, of course, continue to encourage the Albanians there to implement all points of this agreement. The Albanian political forces in Macedonia are an integral part of Macedonian political life and we support that. They play their role for the consolidation, the rule of law and the economic growth of Macedonia. They also take part in achieving the goal Albania, Macedonia and Croatia to join as soon as possible NATO and in the long term - the EU.

Serbia will ask for the position of the International human rights tribunal on whether Kosovo has announced its independence in accordance with international law. This is what Serbian foreign minister Vuk Yeremich said:

VUK YEREMICH: This might be done by Serbia, by a group of countries or by the General Assembly of the UN. We are considering different options. But we will not protract our actions.

The Bulgarian position about Kosovo until recently was very cautious, added Yeremich:

VUK YEREMICH: We strongly believe that this position will remain like this in the future. It is of utmost importance that bilateral relations between neighbours are not being put under pressure by unilateral actions, violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a neighbour. We should very seriously take all consequences that might occur by recognising this illegal act. Whoever recognises Kosovo, acts unilaterally and this would be considered as an act attack against sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia. I think that we should all understand that at the moment we walk on very thin ice. I sincerely believe that all our neighbours, all participants at this meeting, all responsible members of the Process for regional cooperation, will restrain from any decisions until it is clear whether this decision of the Kosovo authorities was taken according to international law.

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