Albanian Daily News
'Montenegro's independence brings Kosovo's liberty'

Albanian Economic Tribune - Jan 24, 2000

The leader of the Albanian Democratic Party on Macedonia, member of the ruling coalition, Arber Xhaferri, said in an interview with daily ‘Koha Jone’ that Macedonia will support the radical KLA political leader Hashim Thaci in the Kosovo elections in the near future.

Xhaferri said that Thaci’s political party coming out of the guerrillas of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) deserved support.

Concerning a possible meeting between Thaci, the Albanian Socialist leader Fatos Nano and himself, Xhaferri said he was open for any meeting which would do away with the conflicts.

In his opinion, Montenegro should be very careful in choosing the way to achieve its independence.

Following are excerpts from the interview:

- What are the latest developments in Macedonia?

- The major development has to do with the dismantlement of the old system. Retaining the old structures, which did not undergo changes during the period of democracy, they aimed to maintain in place the old politics which more or less was harsh towards the Albanians. I think that with the dismantlement of these structures, the old mentality is going to be erased and alongside with it the stereotypes in the ethnic relations in Macedonia.

- What did the Macedonian Albanians benefit after last elections?

- We have a President who is also the president of Albanians. Secondly, elections demonstrated the determining role the Albanians play in Macedonia. We showed that the Albanians constitute a political factor which should not be sidelined. As for the other political effects, which have to do with the position of the Albanians, I can say that they slightly depend on the President, who is a representative figure in the framework of power. We have other relations with the Macedonian government, i.e. with our partners of the coalition about the University and the other demands by Albanians. The issue of the University will be resolved until July 2000. A big problem and a great demand of the Albanians will be cleared up. Then, we will set up a TV channel. Later on, we will discuss of other issues such the change of constitution, decentralisation of powers and so on.

- What will be the consequences of an eventual conflict in Montenegro on the Albanians and the Balkans as a whole?

- Over the last ten years, two plans of actions were put forth in Yugoslavia: the Serb model which asked for self-determination right for the Serbs and the Albanian model which asked for the right of self-determination for the administrative entities in the framework of ex-Yugoslavia. The Albanian model helped maintain the peace in Macedonia and Montenegro while the Serb model incited the war in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. The war did not reach Macedonia since no Serbs can be found here.

I think that the situation in Montenegro is very tense due to the big dilemmas first of all created by the Montenegrins themselves and then by those out of this Republic. Because Milosevic is like a rider who wants to ride the bike without stopping otherwise he risks to fall down.

He aims to create new conflicts and I think he will target the Albanian areas in Presheva, Bujanovc and Metvegje. But, I think he will not succeed.

In the meantime, Montenegro will make use of the extremely weakened position of Milosevic, I am referring to the Montenegrin political leaders, to achieve the independence of the Republic. But, there is a big dilemma which Milosevic has already noticed. In an interview with a Belgrade daily, Milosevic expressed his opinion that the referendum could be allowed for the Montenegrins.

But, he hopes that more than half of the Montenegrins or Serbs in Montenegro will not vote for the independence of Montenegro. So, a very cautious process should be followed in Montenegro to reach the independence. This will positively influence on the Albanian idea in the Balkans because if Yugoslavia will not exist, there is no reason to exist an idea on the re-confinement of Kosovo within Yugoslavia.

- You announced a meeting among Nano, Thaci and Xhaferri last year-end. When do you think it is going to be held?

- We have discussed about holding meetings among political leaders in order to avoid at least those conflicts which are amplified by the mass media. We would like to extend the participants in these meetings in order to involve interested people from all walks of life. But, we should not forget that the dominant political figures are those who have always been.

Hashim Thaci is the dominant figure in Kosovo, Fatos Nano is in Albania, whereas we have an important role in the political stage of Macedonia.

Concerning the time when this meeting is going to be held, I can say that this depends on the others.

We are open to any meeting with all the representatives of Albanian political parties.

- Will you support Thaci in the near elections in Kosovo?

- I think that Thaci’s structures played a major role in the liberation of Kosovo. So, it is fair and a moral right to give support to Thaci in these elections.

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