13.04.2000Kosovo, European integration first, independence afterwards
Albanians of Kosovo have the right to determine themselves their future status, but it should be seen in the framework of its European integration because Kosovo is part of the region, and many national, regional and international factors are decisive on its final status, concluded the Albanian Foreign Minister, Paskal Milo.
In an interview with the independent daily "Koha Jone" on Wednesday, the chief of the Albanian diplomacy highlighted that Kosovo was actually under the mandate of the UN Security Council resolution 1244, but he did not hesitate to say that it was 'temporary' and left open the issue of the determination of Kosovo's final status.
Milo saw Kosovo's future as a question of time, not as a substantial issue, and that divided somewhat different Albanian political forces.
He rejected misinterpretations made at the meeting on a Greater Albania considering them as a by-product of Serbian propaganda, but supported the institutionalisation of meetings of Albanians as political forces, an experience used by other nations in the Balkans.
Extracts from the interview follow:
- The representatives of Kosovo asked for the determination of the political status of Kosovo as something indispensable at the Budapest meeting. Did the Albanian delegation support their demand?
- All the representatives of the Albanian political forces, participants at the round-table of Budapest, spoke out on the determination of the future status of Kosovo. No-one agreed that the actual status of Kosovo according to the UN Security Council resolution 1244 is permanent. Rather the resolution itself leaves open the issue of the determination of its final status.
Differences were noted in Budapest on the question of the sort of the final status of Kosovo. We did not negate the right of the Albanians of Kosovo to decide themselves on their future and did not oppose their option, but we pointed out that the Kosovo Albanians are themselves responsible for taking the decision on their future, and it is up to them to articulate openly their objectives on an independent Kosovo.
According to us, now Kosovo is under the temporary mandate of the Security Council resolution 1244, and the solution to the final status of Kosovo will be determined by the role of a complex of national, regional and international factors.
- While the representatives of Kosovo demanded that its final status should be independence, why didn't the Albanian delegation support this?
- We did not oppose the goal of the representatives of the Albanians of Kosovo for its independence. It cannot be said we did not agree on that issue, but we provided our arguments and elaborated them given the responsibility as representatives of the Albanian state because the future of Kosovo is seen within the process of the regional and European integration. There are two ways to express this, which lead to a conclusion: today or tomorrow an independent Kosovo will be part of the integrated region in the European family.
So, there are no fundamental differences in connection to Kosovo's future, when it is anticipated that it will be part of the European Union. It is a question of time, when different political forces think that Kosovo can be independent and integrated. So, it is a question of time, not a substantial issue.
The Albanian state abides by the fundamental obligations and objectives anticipated to be achieved by the resolution 1244 as the only framework of the mandate of action of the international community. But the practical implementation of the resolution has brought about a lot of difficulties. Its just interpretation, in compliance with the existing realities, would contribute to the immediate normalisation of the situation there.
- The Italian representative at the meeting said that (Socialist chairman Fatos) Nano's idea on the integration of the six million Albanians and not Greater Albania, is a modern way of nationalism. How did you react to this?
- A broad discussion on the so-called Greater Albania was held at the meeting not only by representatives of the Serb opposition but by other speakers among which an Italian representative. They expressed the concern whereby the NATO action in Yugoslavia last year has created the danger for the creation of Greater Albania. In fact, this is a result of the intensive Serb propaganda, and not only of Serbs.
We turned down this and put forward our arguments and the historical point of view that the so-called Greater Albania did never exist as a reality. There have been theses on Greater Greece, Greater Bulgaria, Greater Serbia, but not Greater Albania. We highlighted that Albanians have historically been constricted and have not been characterised by territorial expansionism.
We put forward our undisputable theses and the political approaches of the official Albania and the political forces in Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro on the natural integration of Albanians in the regional and European process. The thesis on the institutionalisation of meetings of Albanians as political forces is not something new in the international and Balkan experience. This should be done as soon as possible, and it does not constitute any danger to anyone either in the region or out of it.
- The Democratic Party (DP) was absent at the meeting. How was this considered by its organisers and participants?
- Certainly, the (DP) absence was not discussed as a separate issue. It was the right of (DP chairman Sali) Berisha to make such a decision.
But, of course, at private meetings that was considered like a kind of escape from responsibilities as a leader of a political party, like an effort not to be confronted with adverse thoughts expressed there.
On the other hand, he did not want "to consume" (his party) nationalism and to have free hands to accuse other representatives of the Albanian politics tomorrow that they were going to organise a so-called second or third Crete.