Kurti to the Guardian: Serbia to face its own past, instead of looking at Kosovo through military binoculars

Gazeta Express
21 Tetor 2019 10:11

Vetevendosje leader and winner of 6 October elections in Kosovo, Albin Kurti, in an interview with the Guardian has condemned the EU’s decision to halt further Balkans enlargement, saying it showed western leaders had forgotten the lessons of two world wars and instead were in retreat in the face of fascism and populism.

Kurti said the stance could damage the chances of Kosovo reaching a deal with Serbia, which has refused to recognise it as independent since the end of the 1998-99 war, as Belgrade has less incentive to act without the prospect of EU membership. “The EU was formed as a response to fascism, but is now running scared in the face of populists and fascism,” Kurti told the Guardian.

Criticising French President Emmanuel Macron for blocking Northern Macedonia and Albania from starting EU accession talks, Kurti said: “You cannot say first we need internal reform in the EU and then external enlargement – they go hand in hand. Europe is such an important historical project that no one man can be its author, directing or leading it. We have always seen that when [the outgoing EU Commission president] Jean-Claude Juncker said there would be no further expansion in the next five years, the situation in the Balkans got much worse.

“Yes, the EU is important for the Balkans, but the Balkans is very important for the EU. Berlin and Paris should know this well, and it is really sad, for all of us, that they forget this. In a couple of decades, historians will write there were not two world wars, but just one world war with two episodes, and it all started in Sarajevo.”

He told the Guardian that the 100% import tariffs that his predecessor slapped on Serbian goods will be lifted only if there are full reciprocal measures on freeing Kosovo’s trade into Serbia. He said Belgrade also had to end its international diplomatic campaign to persuade countries to derecognise Kosovo. “If they want to start dialogue, they should explicitly stop the slander about our right to statehood,” he said. Serbia, for instance, has opposed Kosovo’s membership of Interpol, Unesco and the Council of Europe. “Serbia should face its own past, instead of looking at Kosovo and Albania through military binoculars. Serbia needs some introspection,” Kurti told the Guardian. Kurti said he was totally opposed to land swaps with Serbia, an idea pursued this year by Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic and Hashim Thaci, the president of Kosovo. “Whatever new border you form, there will be Serbs or Albanians on the other side, and they pretend you can do it peacefully.”

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